Las Vegas Travel Guide
Introduction to Las Vegas
While it is far from being one of the largest cities in the United States, Las Vegas is a city that needs no introduction, as most people that are at least vaguely aware of what this dry corner of America has to offer travelers.
Fine restaurants (and gluttonous buffets).
And the list goes on.
Las Vegas has earned its unofficial title of being the Adult Disneyland to the world by catering to just about every adult desire, and in a big way.
While much of what this city has to offer revolves around its casinos, that isn’t all there is to this place. Its downtown contains more authenticity in a block than the Strip has along its entire length, the dry deserts that lie outside Vega’s man-made decadence have their fair share of tales from this nation’s past, and the mountains to the west are a veritable playground for those that take joy in being physically active.
Why you might come here to embrace your inner hedonist, don’t be afraid to wander away from Las Vegas Boulevard … you might like what you find!
Cultural Experiences in Las Vegas
Being one of the brightest cities in the world due to its extremely high concentration of casinos, it’s no surprise that Las Vegas is home to the Neon Museum. It is an institution dedicated to the old method by which these gambling dens marketed themselves to people on the streets, as the wild and festive colour combinations that this sign technology permitted in those days drew in curious tourists looking to try their luck at various games of chance.
Situated outdoors over six acres in a sculpture garden of sorts that is referred to as “The Boneyard”, many decommissioned signs from the Las Vegas of yesteryear lay ready to be photographed and discovered, but note that tours of these behemoths need to be pre-arranged with their main office, as walk-in visitation is not permitted at the moment.
While some folks like to pretend that the business connections behind the founding of Vegas were all clean and legitimate, the honest truth is that that organized crime played a major role in the setup of the first casinos in Vegas in the 1930’s, as thousands of money hungry workers flooded into the area to build what would become the Hoover Dam.
The Mob Museum examines the mafia’s connection to the growth of Nevada‘s largest city, as well as the history of their activities through the years across the United States of America. Films, photos, and collections ranging from Tommy guns to the first slot machines that they put in their casinos are available to be viewed, making this place of great interest to anyone who has taken a liking to films like Casino, Goodfellas, or The Godfather.
Casinos and mobsters aren’t the only illuminating thing relating to Las Vega’s past. From the 1950’s through to the early 1990’s, the barren desert north of the city was home to a variety of tests of the nuclear arsenal that the United States military was amassing during the course of the Cold War.
The National Atomic Testing Museum documents the story of this fascinating and terrifying period in American history, as it reveals the experience of observing an above ground atmospheric nuclear test through film (believe it or not, Vegas casinos had viewing on their roofs of tests done in the 50’s, before the adverse affects of these events were widely understood), as well as the tools used to evaluate the effectiveness of the blasts.
Other exhibits worth seeing here include a decommissioned B53 nuclear warhead, as well as an exhibit on Area 51, a military base long rumored to contain the remains of alien spacecraft.
Other Attractions in Las Vegas
Unquestionably, the #1 reason why people visit Las Vegas is to indulge in various adult-friendly activities contained within its many casinos. Mostly located on the Vegas Strip just outside the city limits of Las Vegas (though many are starting to relocate and open in downtown Las Vegas after a period of decline in the 20th century), patrons gamble with their savings in the hope of spinning it up to a larger amount via a variety of games that range from standbys like blackjack and poker, to newcomers like Pai Gow.
If wagering your hard earned money doesn’t appeal to you, there’s plenty more to do in the casinos that doesn’t involve putting it all on black. Live shows have long been a major draw card for these resorts, which is a tradition that continues to this present day.
Criss Angel will spellbind you with some of the world’s most mind-bending illusions in magic today at Luxor, while The Blue Man Group will astound and amuse you with their act at the Monte Carlo. Those seeking out the dry wit and mentalist trick’s of Penn and Teller can take in their show at the Rio, and those that want to watch famous singers like Bette Midler and Boyz II Men belt out some of their best known tunes will be accommodated at Caesar’s Palace and The Mirage respectively.
If the hectic nature of the Vegas Strip is starting to wear you out, head into downtown Las Vegas to check out the Fremont Street Experience. Consisting of five pedestrian-friendly blocks that contains plenty of shopping and dining during the day, this enclosed structure comes alive at dusk, when the arched canopy above your head explodes with light and color, as it is equipped with an array of LED lights that will put on a show that will be unlike anything you have seen before!
While gaming, drinking and attending shows can be good fun for a few days, it isn’t the best way to treat your body. Start the process of getting back in shape with a trip to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located only 15 miles or 24 kilometers west of downtown. Hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking are just a few of the way locals and in-the-know travelers maintain their active lifestyle in a city where it is all too easy to just sit around and do nothing.
As the name suggests, rusty sandstone canyons, peaks and cliffs abound here, so even if you aren’t the most athletic person in the world, coming here to expose yourself to a bit of nature certainly won’t hurt you!
Red Rock Canyon is great. The many different rock color patterns impress, but look also for the small animals that struggle in that hot and dry environment. I’ve found an endangered nail-sized red frog near a small puddle.
Thanks for the other tips, though 😉