Las Vegas is the self-proclaimed “entertainment capital of the world!” In this city there’s always something to do, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Dine at the finest restaurants, enjoy non-stop gambling and watch world-class shows.
By the numbers
Population: 623,727 (city); 1,951,269 (metro area)
Elevation: 2001 feet / 610 meters
Time zone: GMT -8 (GMT -7 Daylight Saving Time); Pacific Standard Time (PST)
Average Annual Precipitation: 4.17 inches / 10.6 centimetres
Average January Temperature: 48.5°F / 9.2°C
Average July Temperature: 92.5°F / 33.6°C
Did you know?
Las Vegas is Spanish for “the fertile valley”.
More than 100,000 marriage licenses are issued in the city each year.
The city is located 228 miles (367 kilometres) northeast of Los Angeles and 23 miles (37 kilometres) west of Lake Mead and the Arizona border.
Gambling capital, vacation paradise or premier business destination; these are all definitions of the city that never sleeps. Reality takes a hike when you enter the world of glittering casinos with their 24-hour gambling excitement. The scarcity of clocks adds to the fantasy of those taking time off from the real world. As a family vacation destination, the city offers the ultimate in entertainment for all ages. As a business destination, Las Vegas wins hands down with the volume of facilities and services available for either large conventions or small business get-togethers. Multitudes of upscale eateries are at your fingertips for a business lunch or dinner and after-hours entertainment is plentiful and diverse. Whether you are planning to move here, attend a business meeting, skydive, get married or just relax and enjoy, you will find Las Vegas to be a city like no other in the world.
The Strip: Las Vegas Boulevard
This fabled three-mile (4.8-kilometre) area holds more hotel rooms than any other city in the world. You will find the most famous and remarkable resorts such as Bellagio with its Italian Renaissance aura and Caesars Palace, the glory of Rome, Vegas-style. Old standbys include the Flamingo Las Vegas and the Mirage, with its white tigers and erupting volcanoes. See the Paris Las Vegas with outstanding replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe and magnifique Parisian atmosphere and charm. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is also an impressive hotel with a nice casino that is very popular with the most trendy of visitors and celebrities. At the “bottom,” or south end, of the strip, risen from the ashes of the Hacienda Hotel, now stands the magnificent Mandalay Bay with its tropical atmosphere and a pool with waves you can actually surf. At the top of the Strip, you will find the Stratosphere Tower visible from miles away. It was the highest free-standing building in the western half of the United States, at the time it was built. Thrill seekers can spin 900 feet (274 meters) above the air, with only the city lights beneath their feet in this heart-stopping ride. From gondola rides at Venice-inspired St Mark’s Square to admiring art at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art or taking in neon views from the top of The High Roller, the sheer variety of things to do will leave you spoiled for choice.
Downtown: Fremont Street and the Arts District
The original Las Vegas, where people hung out in the 1930s and early 1940s, is still thriving, but with a modern face known as the Fremont Street Experience. Some tourists actually prefer this area to the Strip because room prices are generally lower, it’s an easy walk from one casino to the next and it’s reminiscent of the early, nostalgic days of Las Vegas. In addition, there are famous hotels such as The Plaza (formerly known as Union Plaza), overlooking Fremont Street, and the classic Golden Nugget. For nostalgia buffs, there is also the Golden Gate Hotel Casino, renovated to its earlier classic glory and appearance and still famous for their shrimp cocktails. Downtown Vegas is also home to another monument to its infamous past with the Mob Museum.
The 18b or the Downtown Arts District is where you’ll find quirky galleries side by side bohemian boutiques, bars and lively cafes. The heart of the city’s creative movement, this neighbourhood is in a constant state of reinvention and growth. With more of a local vibe than DTLV or The Strip, this is the place to experience a different, more alternative side of the city. Drop by on the first Friday of the month for a lively atmosphere fuelled by art events and explore the art houses and studios that feature everything from famous to upcoming artists that call Las Vegas home.
In recent years, hotels have sprouted up near the Strip, which are conveniently accessible by shuttle bus, taxi or car. Some of the better known of these are The Orleans, the Rio Suites and the Gold Coast on Flamingo. Further north on Sahara, is the Palace Station, the granddaddy of the Station Casinos. To the east, there’s the sprawling Las Vegas Convention Center and further south, between Flamingo and Tropicana, east of the Strip, you will find the “must-see” Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
This has become something of a phenomenon in itself. The Boulder Highway was once a sprawl of small motels and businesses, leading from Fremont Street out to the city of Henderson and beyond that to Boulder City and Boulder Dam, also known as Hoover Dam. But in recent years it’s become the “Second Strip” with its proliferation of large, popular hotels and casinos including the Boulder Station Hotel and Casino, one of the first properties to offer child-care at a nominal fee for children of both guests and non-guests, and Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino, which has become the high standard of western-theme resorts with its Mystic Falls Indoor Park.
Located in the far northwest section of the Las Vegas valley, Summerlin is a planned community with homes, shops, recreational activities, festivals and concerts. A wonderful accommodation in this area is the Suncoast Hotel and Casino. Outdoor adventure is just a hop-skip away here and the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area located to the west is a great place to escape the frenzy of The Strip. Nearby, the Shelby American, Inc. Headquarters offer self-guided tours of their manufacturing facilities, a real treat for automobile fans.
North Las Vegas
The city of North Las Vegas has the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a major tourist attraction in itself, as well as Nellis Air Force Base, one of the strongest military bases in the United States and home to the flying Thunderbirds. As far as accommodations are concerned, there are several popular spots including The Fiesta and Texas Station Hotel and Casino. There is also the Santa Fe in northwest Las Vegas. Much more low-key than its larger-than-life neighbour, Las Vegas still has plenty to offer visitors. Topmost on your list should be a helicopter tour. Operators like 702 Helicopters take visitors on a thrilling ride over major attractions like the Las Vegas Strip, the Grand Canyon and the Las Vegas Valley! If you love an active lifestyle, then the Aliante Nature Discovery Park is a great way to spend a fun day out with the family.
Beyond Las Vegas
For day trips that are well worth your time, check out nearby Boulder City, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam to the east and southeast. To the west, there is Red Rock Canyon and beyond that is Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.
Dining and drinking
Once a vast wasteland of buffets, Las Vegas has come of age when it comes to dining and drinking. Las Vegas has transformed from a mecca of 99-cent shrimp cocktails into a major international culinary destination, with a mind-blowing collection of many of the world’s best restaurants and chefs all within several miles of each other. Visitors now have their choice of fine dining experiences, both on and off the strip.
Las Vegas, and especially the Strip, has quickly become a hotbed of upscale fine dining establishments, attracting world-class celebrity chefs from all corners of the globe. If you like a fine dining experience with a spectacular view, ascend to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas for an evening at the elegant Eiffel Tower Restaurant. There is not a bad seat in the house since the room has stunning 360 degree views of the Las Vegas Strip, the fountains at the Bellagio and Red Rock in the distance. Bouchon is world renowned chef Thomas Keller’s Vegas venture, offering the very best French bistro cuisine inside the Venetian Resort & Casino. Another celebrity chef who has made himself a home in Las Vegas is Bobby Flay, whose Mesa Grill inside Caesars Palace Hotel Casino brings real southwestern flavour to Sin City. Visiting the Mohave Desert does not preclude enjoying fine seafood. Chef Emeril Lagasse produces award winning lobster, fish and crab delights of the Big East at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House inside the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. Awards have also been garnered by Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at the Mandalay Bay, a restaurant dedicated to sustainable seafood.
If you would rather have quantity and quality, there are some great buffets on the Strip. In fact, buffets are less expensive than fine dining and you can have all-you-can-eat lobster, steak and dessert for one price. Some of the best, though rather expensive, buffets are on the Strip. Le Village Buffet can be found at Paris Las Vegas, where you can sample as much as you can stomach, all from various regions of France. For a more upscale all-you-can-eat experience, it doesn’t get much classier than The Buffet at the Bellagio, complete with a champagne brunch on weekends. The Buffet at Wynn also boasts numerous cooking stations, including sushi, risotto and of course, dessert. Spice Market Buffet, located in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, is a contemporary buffet featuring international delicacies from Mexican to Middle Eastern and is a consistent winner of best buffet in Vegas awards. The Treasure Island Buffet is a tried and true classic, which also boasts an impressive Sunday brunch buffet. Another brunch hotspot is Sterling Brunch at Bally’s Casino Resort. While it is only open for Sunday brunch, and is one of the more pricey buffets, it is well worth the effort and money.
Being one of the entertainment capitals of the world, Las Vegas has no shortage of theme restaurants. Perhaps you’d be tickled by dining with a cyborg from the Terminator, or Freddy from Friday the 13th. If so, drop in at Planet Hollywood where you will see authentic movie props and maybe a real star or two. For something a little more casual, Burger Bar serves up everything burger, right down to the dessert.
Just like the action never stops in Vegas, there’s also a lot of restaurants that go round the clock with you, so no matter what the time, you can always find something to satisfy your appetite. Le Cafe Ile St. Louis, overlooking the Paris Las Vegas casino floor, has all the atmosphere of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, offering French and American specialties, and the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian offers over 20 desserts to satiate any late night sweet tooth yearnings. Café Bellagio is an upscale coffee shop with gorgeous views any time of day.
If you’d like to save some money for the slots and shows, there are several cheap places to grab a meal. There are several good dining options at the Miracle Mile Shops @ Planet Hollywood, like Ocean One Bar & Grille, which will really suit your budget. Backstage Deli at the Luxor is a New York-style deli that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to New York, don’t miss their famous triple-decker sandwiches. At the Bellagio, Noodles can give you a taste of Asia without the cost of getting there. They also have dim sum on weekends. Ready for something sweet? Le Creperie in Paris can help, with numerous different dessert crepes, as well as savoury options for dinner.
Downtown Las Vegas has both historic and new restaurants. Although you’ll still have to deal with the crowds, the prices will be more reasonable than on the Strip. If you want casual fine dining Second Street Grille is a great place to have Pacific Rim cuisine. Grotto Ristorante at the Golden Nugget Hotel Casino is a beautiful Italian restaurant that uses only the freshest ingredients. Binion’s Steakhouse is the perfect place to have quality steak or seafood, make sure you try the Chicken Fried Lobster.
Off the Strip
If you don’t want to deal with the crowds and the prices of the Strip or downtown Las Vegas, the restaurants off the Strip have plenty of great choices. For a taste of south of the border, head to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to Pink Taco, where you can get tacos, burritos and other Mexican favourites.
Las Vegas has always been known for its numerous, affordable buffets. And while the days of the 99 cent all-you-can-eat prime rib are waning, there are endless quality options available. The Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino features the award winning Carnival World Buffet extremely popular with tourists and locals alike. Ports o’ Call Buffet at the Gold Coast Hotel Casino is another local favourite, with seven live cooking stations.
Mr. Lucky’s 24/7 Cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino serves up classics like pizza and burgers with a ’50’s diner feel 24 hours a day.
Outside the City
If you need a break from hustle and bustle of the touristy Las Vegas, you can find the real deals outside the city. Go to Amigo’s Mexican Cantina for a Mexican meal paired with a margarita. If you want an all-you-can-eat option try the international buffet is the Feast Buffet, located a little ways outside the city at the Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino.
From the talented to the absolutely amazing, Las Vegas offers the best in magic, theatre, dance, song, comedy and, of course, games. Gambling draws the majority of tourists and Las Vegas houses a variety of games in each venue. Every casino is vying for your attention and some even have creative themes that will dazzle your imagination. However, whether you want to play poker all day and night, shop until you drop, or go to a museum, Vegas has it all.
It’s not called Sin City for nothing; Las Vegas has one of the hottest nightlife scenes in the world, so no matter where you are, there’s always something to get into. The Grand Canal Shoppes is host to a celebrity favourite, TAO Nightclub. Coyote Ugly at New York-New York may not be a celebrity magnet, but it’s sure to guarantee a rowdy time. Omnia Nightclub, one of the hottest clubs in the city is located at the swanky Caesar’s Palace and its soundtrack of the top tracks spun by the best DJs draws crowds that dance till dawn. If pool parties are more your scene, don’t worry, the folks at Encore Beach Club at Wynn Las Vegas or Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage have you covered. Nightlife staples like the Atomic Liquors have been around for decades, while upscale spots like Parasol Bar offer an elevated experience complete with panoramic views and celeb sightings! Although the Strip may seem like the centre of the action, there are plenty of spots off the strip to dance the night away.
Las Vegas’ main draw has always been the gambling, and nowhere in the world has this city beat in the gaming department. Whether you’re a high roller or stick to the penny slots, Las Vegas has you covered. Caesars Palace Hotel Casino is a Vegas classic that has all kinds of gambling from high limit slots to all kinds of table games. The MGM Grand Hotel & Casino is the largest casino-entertainment complex in the world, at 171,500 square feet (15,933 square meters), providing plenty of room for whatever kind of gambling floats your boat. Harrahs Las Vegas Casino & Hotel boasts the “friendliest dealers” in Vegas. The Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino is a fun place to gamble away some time. Head downtown to visit some of Las Vegas’ historic casinos. Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel is a heaven for the hardcore gambler with their world famous poker room, which is where the World Series of Poker started and it is the home of the poker wall of fame. The Golden Nugget Hotel Casino, another longtime favourite has won over 40 gaming awards, including Best Casino and Luckiest Casino.
They don’t call it the entertainment capital of the world for nothing. Las Vegas constantly has tons of shows, both long-term engagements as well as those just passing through. One of the biggest headliners in Vegas is Elton John and his The Million Dollar Piano show at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, where the music legend performs some of his greatest hits from over the years. The Excalibur Hotel and Casino invites you to be King Arthur’s guest for dinner where you can eat with your fingers and enjoy the Tournament of Kings. Many of Vegas’ stages are technical wonders, but none can compare to the presentation area for O in the Bellagio, a 1.5 million gallon tank of water used by the performers of Cirque Du Soleil. One of the most popular Cirque Du Soleil shows is the Beatles tribute, Love, at the Mirage Hotel. The House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino always presents great entertainment in an intimate setting. For a show that won’t even dent your wallet, there’s always the free shows of the Fountains at Bellagio or the explosive volcano at the Mirage.
For live theatre, check out the oldest running small theatre in the valley, the Las Vegas Little Theater.
Vegas really does have everything a city could offer, and this does not exclude shopping. World-renowned designers have all opened shops here, making it so Vegas can rival any fashion capital in the world. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace offers everything from gourmet food, to world-class shopping, and even a moving statue show! The Miracle Mile Shops @ Planet Hollywood has over 150 specialty stores, and 15 restaurants to suit your every desire. The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian will make you feel like you’ve been swept off to Europe for a shopping spree. The Via Bellagio is a hotbed of famous designer brands like Chanel and Gucci. Crystals is one of the most modern and trendy malls on the strip, dominating the centre of the strip with 500,000 square feet (46,452 square meters) of fashion, food and entertainment. The Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, just 30 minutes off the strip bring you savings on such brand names as Coach and Kate Spade. Downtown, you’ll find the Gamblers General Store, where you can buy anything that has to do with gambling to commemorate your trip.
While Las Vegas may seem like nothing but a hive of debauchery and decadence, it’s not entirely culture starved. History stays alive at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum where the dinosaurs move and sharks swim up to greet you. Las Vegas history extends further back than the flashy casinos. Visit a slice of early history at the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort Historic Park, the first non-Native American structure built in the city. Modern Las Vegas history was built on neon advertising; The Neon Museum provides a look at some of those historic signs. To take a trip to the dark underbelly of the classic Vegas days, The Mob Museum downtown covers the infamous relationship between Sin City and notorious mobsters and crime organizations. The arts have always been an important part of this city’s culture. The Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery shows works by local artists as well as national figures in the art world. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art features works by such famous artists as Monet and Picasso.
While Vegas is certainly known for non-stop action, there is also an abundance of places you can go and experience pure relaxation. Vegas is full of luxurious spas, where you can get practically any beauty or relaxation treatment under the sun. Spa Bellagio is a classy, serene facility offering a variety of body and relaxation treatments. The Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian Hotel offers everything from a fitness club to mud baths and even healthy gourmet food. The Spa at Four Seasons is a five-star spa offering all the treatments you would expect from the Four Seasons. They also have private spa rooms for those who want a little more privacy. The Spa at Wynn Las Vegas offers a number of unique, Asian-inspired treatments, utilizing everything from sake to feng shui. Qua Baths & Spa inside Caesars Palace has such features as a Roman bath, as well as a variety of treatments designed especially for men. Nurture Spa at Luxor offers you a serene, calming day with one of their many treatments or signature facials. Oleksandra Spa & Salon offers a special package for everyone, from men to expecting mothers, there’s something for everyone here. Located off the strip in the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort Spa & Golf, Aquae Sulis Spa is another top choice which focuses on various water treatments, including a hydrotherapy pool.
Las Vegas has worked hard to reinvent itself as a family destination, so bring the kids along. There are lots of great entertainment venues built with them in mind. The first child-oriented hotel-casino was Circus Circus, complete with a Circus Midway full of carnival games and trapeze acts. The Circus Circus Adventuredome is a theme park built under a large dome so that the kids can ride the roller coaster year-round in climate-controlled comfort.The kids are sure to love The Roller Coaster and the Coney Island Emporium arcade at New York-New York too. For educational fun, visit the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary and Orchards. Another experience sure to please everyone is the Fremont Street Experience, a light and music show covering downtown Vegas. M&M’s World Las Vegas at the Showcase Mall isn’t your typical store, where kids can delight in all aspects of this candy-coated treat. The Gondola Rides at the Venetian are a fun family outing, and cheaper than taking them all to Italy. The Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage Hotel Casino is fun and exciting for parents as well as the youngsters.
If the noise of the city becomes too much to handle, there’s a hundred and more things to explore in Las Vegas’ natural environs. You’ll find everything from scooter tours, racing, bike tours, river expeditions, skydiving and more. Explore the desert scenery as you hike around the Valley of Fire, where you’ll find ancient petroglyphs and wonderful rock formations. Another great way to explore the area is by kayaking down the Colorado River, which offers a different view of the untamed landscape. If you’re more about relaxation, then there’s golf to be had at Angel Park while the Stratosphere Tower’s Skyjump is ideal for adrenaline addicts.
Las Vegas may be known as the “Sin City,” but it has a lot of great attractions. Certainly, the casinos and nightlife are what bring visitors here, but there so much more to do. There are several historic and interesting sites, that are perfect for guided or self-guided tours.
Las Vegas Strip
The Strip is without a doubt Las Vegas’ number one attraction. Start with a visit to the exciting Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay with its rare green sea turtles and golden crocodiles. Start wandering down the Strip and check out the iconic casino hotels along the way like the Tropicana and Planet Hollywood. Take a break to step inside the opulent and modern Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on your way to watch the Bellagio Fountain show. Keep going and pop in to the Venetian for an unforgettable meal at Canaletto in St. Mark’s Square. When you’re done, stroll across the street to the Mirage and check out the spectacular Volcano eruption.
The Hoover Dam is one of Nevada’s proudest possessions. It displaces the Colorado River and creates Lake Mead, a large man-made waterway. You’ll find a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants found within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. At night, try the Lake Mead Cruise for dinner and dancing, as well as beautiful scenery. There is even a nearby theatre, the Regal Boulder Station, that shows contemporary films.
Fremont Street Experience
In the centre of downtown on Fremont Street is the Fremont Street Experience. Along the Fremont Street Experience is part of the Neon Museum, where you can enjoy historic Las Vegas neon signs. Step into Binions and visit their world famous poker room to check out the Wall of Fame. For a taste of some Las Vegas history, check out the Mob Museum, not far from Fremont Street. If you get hungry, then head to Grotto Ristorante in the famous Golden Nugget.
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
The exhibits at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum include many different types of dinosaur fossils and various mounted animals. Nearby, Hennessey’s has a classic Irish pub atmosphere with the food and drinks to go along with it.
Las Vegas was created to provide entertainment, so don’t forget to tour local landmarks either on your own or with a guided tour. If you want a guided tour you have plenty of options.
Las Vegas Tours
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Papillion-Neon Light ( +1 888 635 7272/ http://www.papillon.com/ )
Scenic Airlines ( +1 702 638 3300/ http://www.scenic.com/ )
Grand Canyon Tours
Adventure Photo Tours ( +1 702 889 8687/ http://www.adventurephototours.com/ )
Grand Canyon Airlines ( +1 866 235 9422/ http://www.grandcanyonairlines.com/ )
Grand Canyon Coaches ( +1 702 577 9056/ http://www.grandcanyoncoaches.com/ )
Scenic Airlines ( +1 702 638 3300/ http://www.scenic.com/ )
Death Valley Tours
Adventure Photo Tours ( +1 702 889 8687/ http://www.adventurephototours.com/ )
Pink Jeep Tours ( +1 888 900 4480/ http://www.pinkjeep.com/ )
Horse Back Riding Tours
Cowboy Trail Rides, Inc. ( +1 702 387 2457/ http://www.cowboytrailrides.com/ )
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All Las Vegas Tours Inc. ( +1 800 566 5868/ http://www.alllasvegastours.com/ )
Sun Buggy Fun Rentals ( +1 866 728 4443/ http://www.sunbuggyfunrentals.com/ )
Awesome Adventures ( +1 866 999 9961/ http://www.awesomeadventureguide.com/ )
From its earliest beginnings, Las Vegas has catered to the traveler. A nomadic tribe of Indians called the Paiutes settled the area around the turn of the last millennium and occupied most of the area from Mt. Charleston to the Colorado River. Several traders and explorers including Jedediah Smith in 1826 and John C. Fremont in 1844 traveled through the area and made contact with the Paiutes. By 1851, Mormon president, Brigham Young, in his endeavour to create the State of Deseret stretching from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, made Las Vegas one of his important stopovers. To this end, he sent missionaries to colonize the region and convert the Paiute. The location they selected to establish their fort was on a promontory overlooking the Las Vegas Valley, which is now the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Washington. The Old Mormon Fort still has remnants of its original building. Eventually the settlement disbanded and most of the Mormon settlers returned to Utah.
However, a mining boom at nearby Mt. Potosi fostered a new influx of travellers, mainly miners who used Las Vegas as a centre for food and supplies. There was no permanent settlement there until 1865, when a group of prospectors, including Octavius Decatur Gass, acquired the rights to the Old Mormon Fort. For the rest of that decade, Gass ran a prosperous business at the Fort, rebuilding many of the structures and farming the land, offering food and shelter to the travellers on the “Old Mormon Trail” (the Salt Lake-Los Angeles wagon road), as well as offering provisions to the nearby miners. Gass was less of a businessman than a prospector at heart and eventually bad business deals forced him to turn the property over to Archibald Stewart and his wife, Helen, who had only intended to stay there temporarily. However, after a feud at nearby Kiel Ranch, which ended in the murder of Stewart, his widow stayed on to run the ranch and see it prosper. This period was from 1882 to 1902, when she sold the ranch to Montana Senator William Clark. Clark was instrumental in overseeing the establishment of the railroad from Utah to California. Acquiring the rights to the Ranch and its abundant water supply ensured that Las Vegas was to become a major stop for railroad travellers. In 1905 an ad was placed in prominent major newspapers concerning “first class inside lots” going for as little as 200 dollars a piece in Clark’s Las Vegas Townsite. This encouraged squatters and investors alike, and the auction on May 15, 1905 produced a flurry of sales. Soon hotels and homes sprouted up all along the main downtown area of Fremont Street, as well as schools, a hospital and other essential businesses such as ice plants.
Las Vegas essentially thrived for the next 20 years because of the railroad; it played host to travellers by providing entertainment and liquor. The liquor was restricted to a certain area, Blocks 16 and 17. This area naturally evolved into a red light district as well. During Prohibition, this section was especially popular. During this period, the city founders realized that as the roads were improved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, this would promote more tourism and they began to build ranches to appeal to the potential visitors. Kiel Ranch became a popular dude ranch and gained notoriety as a place where people came to wait out their quicky Nevada divorces. In 1931, the combined advent of the building of Boulder Dam (later renamed Hoover), the creation of Boulder City plus the legalization of gambling, ensured a new boom in the prosperity of southern Nevada.
World War II increased the Las Vegas economy even more. In 1940, an air base was established (now known as Nellis Air Force Base) in the northeast part of town. A huge plant, Basic Magnesium, was built for the manufacture of bullets and bomb casings, etc. The plant was instrumental in the establishment of Henderson, just southeast of Las Vegas and now one of the fastest-growing communities in Nevada. In the early 1950s a new kind of entertainment was born: watching the atomic bomb testing, which took place at the nuclear test site, just 70 miles northwest of Las Vegas. A famous Life Magazine photo captured one of the mushroom clouds rising above the waving cowboy, “Vegas Vic” of Fremont Street. In fact, the opening of the now closed Desert Inn was timed to coincide with one of the blasts.
In recent decades the hotel industry has re-invented itself again and again. Just when everyone was predicting a severe depression, especially when Atlantic City emerged as a gambling destination in the early 80s, Las Vegas managed to come up with a new twist. Even today, with the proliferation of gambling in many of the 50 states, Las Vegas only seems to become more popular. Theme hotels have become abundant, starting with the Mirage in the late 80s, followed by the Excalibur, Treasure Island, Luxor and the MGM Grand. More and more soon popped up including the Stratosphere, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Paris Las Vegas, Venetian, Mandalay Bay and many more. When will the boom end?
Getting there and getting around
From the Airport
Car Rental: Car rental agency desks are situated in baggage claim, and courtesy vans shuttle you to the vehicle pick up area. Rental car companies include:
Advantage (+1 800 777 9377 / http://www.advantage.com)
Alamo (+1 800 462 5266 / http://www.goalamo.com/)
Avis (+1 800 331 1212 / http://www.avis.com/)
Budget (+1 800 922 2899 / http://www.budget.com/)
Dollar (+1 800 800 4000 / http://www.dollar.com/)
E-Z Rent-A-Car (+1 800 277 5171 / http://www.e-zrentacar.com)
Enterprise (+1 800 736 7222 / http://www.enterprise.com/)
Firefly (+1 888 296 9135 /http://www.fireflycarrental.com/)
Hertz (+1 800 654 3131 / http://www.hertz.com/)
National (+1 800 227 7368 / http://www.nationalcar.com/)
Payless (+1 800 729 5377 / http://www.paylesscarrental.com/)
Thrifty (+1 800 367 2277 / http://www.thrifty.com/)
Zipcar (+1 866 494 7227 / http://www.zipcar.com/)
A Cab (+1 702 369 5686)
ANLV/Ace/Union/Vegas-Western/Virgin Vally (+1 702 888 4888)
Checker/Yellow/Star (+1 702 873 2000)
Deluxe Taxicab Service (+1 702 568 7700)
Desert Cab Company (+1 702 386 9102)
Lucky Cab Company (+1 702 477 7555)
Nellis Cab Company (+1 702 248 1111)
Western Cab Company (+1 702 736 8000)
Whittlesea/Henderson (+1 702 384 6111)
Airline Shuttle Corp (+1 702 444 1234 / http://www.airlineshuttlecorp.com)
Bell Trans (+1 702 385 5466 / http://www.bell-trans.com)
Showtime Tours (+1 702 895 9976 / http://www. showtimetourslv.com)
Supershuttle (+1 800 258 3826 / www.shuttlelasvegas.com)
RTC of Southern Nevada (+1 702 228 4800 / http://www.rtcsn.com)
I-15 links Vegas with Salt Lake City (northeast) and Los Angeles (via I-10) and San Diego (southwest). Highway 95 approaches from the bombed out desert northwest of town and from due south at I-40.
Getting into town is as easy as finding and heading north via the aptly named Paradise Road. Connecting to Las Vegas Boulevard or I-15 (the quick way into downtown) simply requires making a left turn at any of the major streets named after casinos (i.e. Tropicana, Flamingo etc.). Access I-215 from the airport if you are heading east to Lake Mead.
Greyhound buses come and go from the station on Main Street to all points across the nation.
+1 702 383 9792
ODS Limo (+1 702 789 3098 / www.odslimo.com)
A series of trams connect certain casinos with each other, with stops along the way. Monorail and tram routes include:
Las Vegas Monorail – MGM Grand-Sahara
Mirage-Treasure Island Tram
Bellagio-CityCenter-Monte Carlo Tram
Mandalay Bay-Excalibur Tram
Citizen’s Area Transit (CAT) operates several bus lines running throughout the city and Henderson. The Strip has a bus called The Deuce that runs up and down 24 hours a day
Citizen’s Area Transit (CAT)
+1 702 228 7433
Surprisingly, bicycle travel is a popular and easy way to see the city and get from point to point. But considering the immense desert heat in the middle of summer it may not be your thing. For those who brave the elements, be sure to carry lots of water and check with a bike shop on the best routes around town. The local hills have some most excellent mountain biking trails.