Las Vegas

Las Vegas

From the largest golden nugget in the world to the worlds largest light beam, atop the Luxor, the Las Vegas Strip is ranked by Forbes as the 2nd most visited US attraction, receiving 31 annual visitors a year, and it’s easy to see why. Sin city is dubbed as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” and offers classics, featuring everything from an indoor theme park to a tropical dolphin habitat, to newer favorites like CityCenter, an $11 billion one stop miniature “city within a city.” Discover dozens of themed hotels, including 17 of the 25 largest hotels in the world, which represent the New York skyline, the Eiffel Tower, a pyramid and even a full-sized.

Also experience a variety of thrill rides, free animal habitats, and some of the biggest celebrity performers in the country. Some hotels pools are more like water parks with sandy beaches, lazy rivers, wave pools and lush, tropical landscaping. Try out all the slots (and even gamble in the airport), visit the world’s largest gift shop and discover why Vegas is also a great family destination. Those still on the fence about whether or not they should go need to check out my post on 12 Reasons Why You Should Visit Las Vegas Before You Die. Whatever you do, just remember that what happens in Vegas stays on USCityTraveler.com! Vegas is a 4½ hour drive to LA (270 miles), 4½ hours from the Grand Canyon (275 miles), 1½ hours from Death Valley National Park (the world’s hottest place) and 5 hours from Phoenix (285 miles).

 

Top 20 Attractions

 1. See a free show, such as the world famous Fountains of Bellagio elegantly combine water, music and light, resulting in the most ambitious, choreographically complex water feature ever conceived. The magic all happens in an 8.5-acre lake in the middle of the desert, which explodes with 1,214 spritzers shooting water up to 460 feet in the air. The water rockets and dances are perfectly choreographed to over 30 songs including artists like Frank Sinatra, Celine Dion, Elvis Presley or Gene Kelly. It takes place every half-hour between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and every 15 minutes from then ’til midnight. I used to also recommend the Pirates of TI, but this show recently closed for good.

2. Go on a roller coaster - The Circus Circus‘s Adventuredome (formerly Grand Slam Canyon) opened in 1993 is a 4-acre indoor amusement park with 25 rides and attractions, making it the world’s largest indoor amusement park. The park is a little run down, but it’s still a great indoor place to take the kids to escape the heat. Their popular flume ride was recently removed and replaced with a large new roller coaster called El Loco, which features a 70-foot drop. Come in October to experience the Fright Dome, as the park is transformed into an eerie Halloween-themed fun house. Admission is free to the park, but it costs $5-$8 per ride, or you can simply get a daily pass for $27 for adults and $17 for children.

Or roller coaster junkies may want to head to the New York New York to take a ride on The Roller Coaster (formerly the Manhattan Express), which goes at a maximum speed of 67 mph, lifting you 203 feet with a 144 ft. drop. It opened in 1997 at a cost of $25 million and has been a huge hit ever since, welcoming over 1.4 million riders. The ride’s trains are actually themed to New York taxicabs and the ride circles around the hotel, going up over the casino and into the hotel itself. Tickets are $14.

The Stratosphere 113-floor tower is the tallest freestanding observation tower in America, offering panoramic views of the Las Vegas skyline. It’s also home to some of the world’s highest thrill rides and the tallest controlled free fall in the world, SkyJump Las Vegas, which lets guests plummet from the equivalent of 108 floors, at 855 feet. Also try Insanity to extend out 64 feet over the edge of the tower, at an angle of 70 degrees, try X-Scream, a giant teeter-totter that propels riders headfirst at 27 feet over the edge of the tower. If you’ve come out of all of those rides alive and well, then you’ll wan to be sure to be shot up 160 feet into the air from Big Shot. Admission up to the tower is $18 for adults, $12 for seniors and $10 for children. Big Shot $13, X-Scream $12, Insanity $12, SkyJump $99 (tower admission is waived for SkyJump).

 

Mirage Volcano

Life-like fire affects light up the night sky outside the Mirage.

 

3. See the Volcano at the Mirage. This man-made volcano is a real treat, especially for those who have never seen a volcano before. It’s complete with sound realistic affects alongside spewing smoke and fire from 100 feet above the fire. The volcano, situated on three water-covered acres, is 54 feet high and circulates 119,000 gallons of water per minute. Made by the creator of the Fountains of Bellagio, it opened in 1989 and was given a $25 million redesign in 2008. Admission is free and it takes place every night from 7 pm till 11:00 p.m. 

4. See A Big Headliner like Celine Dion, Elton John and Shania Twain at Caesars Palace, Donny & Marie at the Flamingo, Boyz II Men at the Mirage, Taylor Hicks at Paris Las Vegas and now… Britney Spears at the Planet Hollywood. The Britney Spears Piece of Me allows pop diva Britney Spears to showcase her signature style and energy as Britney performs her infectious dance hits, along with tracks from her eighth studio album. It is designed to have a nightclub feel. Planet Hollywood’s venue houses the world’s largest indoor projection theater and offers an explosive, theatrical experience. The award-winning superstar sold 100 million albums worldwide and garnered a string of hits including “…Baby One More Time,” “(You Drive Me) Crazy,” “Oops!…I Did It Again,” “I’m A Slave 4 U,” “Toxic,” and “Womanizer,” among others. Britney’s Las Vegas show is slated for a two-year residency, with the possibility of an extended run. Shows sell out very quickly.

Popular adult shows include the Chippendales at the Rio, Stripper 101 at the Planet Hollywood (where you can learn how to pole dance), Thunder from Down Under at the Excalibur, X Burlesque at the Flamingo, Jubilee! at Bally’s and Crazy Girls at the Riviera.

Or consider seeing a magic show from the best in the business, as deft-defying acts are performed right before your very eyes. People are chopped in two and cards magically disappear into thin air. Whatever you do, just don’t let the kids try any of these acts at home. Magicians include Penn & Teller at the Rio, David Copperfield at the MGM Grand and a Cirque du Soleil show called Criss Angel Believe at the Luxor.

After the show’s over, consider going on a special behind the scenes tour. Jubilee! Backstage Tour at Bally’s is one of the best of these tours, as this tour allows you to explore the theater with a Jubilee Dancer for a chance to learn all the works behind nightly shows. It all takes place on one of the most innovative stages in the world. You also get to see where costumes are kept and watch a make-up demonstration and costume change. Don’t leave the tour without taking a picture with one of the showgirls! We feature it on our list of the Top 10 Behind the Scenes Tours in AmericaThese tours take place Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and start at 11 am. The price for admission is $19.50 and only $14.50 with the purchase of a show ticket!

 

Planet Hollywood

The new Britney show serves as a replacement to former playmate Holly Madison’s long running Peepshow.

 

5. See a Cirque du Soleil show, which includes 8 shows ranging from mysterious, funny and sensual so you can pick the one that appeals to you and your crew. KA at MGM Grand, O at the Bellagio, Mystere at Treasure Island and The Beatles Love at The Mirage are some of their most popular shows. The Cirque hires former Olympic gymnasts to catapult themselves all over the stage, risking their lives in outlandish costumes just for your amusement. Prices can be as high as $165 a ticket.

6. Visit Caesars Palace - See the Fall of Atlantis Show, which is where King Atlas tries to determine which of his children will be the ruler. The siblings try to destroy each other, poisoning the kingdom with their greed. Finally, the gods decide to step in and settle the dispute, launching the Fall of Atlantis. A 20-foot winged beast appears from behind Atlas’ throne and watches over the destruction as Atlantis is consumed by fire and then flooding water. Caesars is also well known for for being “the shopping wonder of the world,” as it is home to 160 stores at The Forum Shops. Also consider dining alongside your favorite movie memorabilia at at Planet Hollywood, experience the taste of Wolfgang Puck’s seasonal American cuisine at Spago, the delectable fine chocolates from Max Brenner, homemade Italian delights from Trevi, or the Cheesecake FactorySee the Fall of Atlantis free of charge, every hour on the hour Sunday – Thursday, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – midnight.

 

Fun Fact: The lottery is actually illegal in Nevada! The State of Nevada is actually prevented by law from running a lottery (even thought they are the world’s home to legalized gambling). Go figure!

 

7. Get A Good View of The Strip. As previously mentioned, The Stratosphere observation deck offers incredible views at 869 feet above the strip. Another great option is to visit the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas. The Eiffel Tower Experience is perfect for those of you who have always dreamed of going to Paris and going up in the Eiffel Tower, but never gotten the chance. Your time has come! This half scale, 541-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower is located 460 feet above the heart of the Strip. Eiffel Tower Experience Observation Deck daytime Pricing (9:30am-7:15pm) is $10.50 for adults and $7.50 for children. Evening Pricing (7:30pm-Close) is $15.50 for adults and $10.50 for children.

 

Paris Las Vegas

Fun Fact: Prostitution is NOT legal in Las Vegas but it is legal in other counties in Nevada!

 

8. Visit Venice right on the Vegas strip, to go down the Grand Canal in an authentic Venetian gondola on 15-minute Gondola Rides, at the Venetian resort. Couples can kiss under each bridge for good luck, perform a marriage proposal, or simply bring the kiddos along for the fun ride. If you see the white and gold wedding gondola spinning around these waters, you’ll have see a couple who is tying the knot. Two courses are located at this 5 star resort, your choice of either indoors or outdoors, adults are $18.95 (Gondola Seats Four), or get a private two-passenger gondola for $75.80.

9. See the Freemont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas, featuring free outdoor shows that last an average of about six minutes long. What makes these shows so unique is that they are projected on the largest screen in the world, spanning 1,500 feet in length, the size of five football fields! The screen contains 12.5 million synchronized LED lamps, including 180 strobes and eight robotic mirrors per block. It features music video shows including Ophelia’s Dream, Bad to the Bone, Don McLean’s American Pie, A Tribute to Queen, We Will Rock You and We are the Champions. New shows are created each year and are rotated in and out. The Experience can choose from a library of about 15 shows at any given time. Show times are every hour on the hour from 8:30 p.m. – midnight. While here, also experience the Fremont Street Flightlinez, four zip lines are sure to impress anyone visiting the downtown area. While downtown, also visit The Neon Museum, which showcases iconic Las Vegas signs on a two-acre campus, including the outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard and a museum housed inside the former La Concha Motel.

Venetian

Ride the gondolas at the Venetian.

 

10. Visit CityCenter - Internationally renowned artists from the 20th and 21st century including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Richard Long, Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen, Frank Stella, and Henry Moore are currently part of the CityCenter Fine Art CollectionThe Gallery at CityCenter is currently displaying Chihuly at CityCenter. Spanning 4,350 square feet and featuring Chihuly’s sculptures, drawings, editions and a number of prints are on display.  You won’t want to miss the Water features in Crystals mall, either.

11. Shop till you drop. See the fashion shows at Fashion Show Mall, featuring an 80-foot runway that rises out of the ground, more than 1,000 times a year for instant fashion shows. Fashion Show Mall is located right across from the Wynn and it’s anchored by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Bloomingdale’s Home and over 250 other stores and boutiques. Visit stores like Prada and Dolce & Gabbana at the newest and more architecturally impressive mall in town, CityCenter’s Crystals mall. But nearly every hotel has it’s own shopping area and a mini-mall of its own.

 

CityCenter

The entrance to Crystals Mall.

 

12. Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas - This 41-acre, state-of-the-art water park opened in 2013 to feature 25 attractions, which include a 1,000-foot-long lazy river and a 260-foot-long multi-lane racer water slide with 6 lanes. The Hoover Half-Pipe drops 40 feet before the raft goes vertical, shooting up the side of the Hoover wall and sending you back down as you experience sheer weightlessness. Or ride the Royal Flush Extreme through an enclosed tube before being dropped into a giant bowl. It was built at a cost of $50 million and the park plans on expanding each year, as they have had an overwhelmingly positive response to this park. In fact, they actually had to cease selling season passes, half-way though their first-season! It’s about a 20 minute drive from the strip. Adults are $39.99; Seniors and children are $29.99.

13. Wynn Las Vegas- The longtime fan of the exquisite craftsmanship of Ferraris, Steve Wynn has created the ultimate tribute to the Italian carmaker with the opening of Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati. The Penske Wynn Ferrari Maserati is Nevada’s first and only factory-authorized Ferrari and Maserati dealership and it’s located right on the strip at the five Star Wynn Las Vegas resort. See more than a dozen vehicles exceeding prices of $700,000! Extremely rare and sought after, the cars draw thousands of people to the 10,000-square-foot showroom each day. Vehicles include the 2003 Ferrari 360 Spider F1, the 2005 Maserati Coupe GT and the 1995 Ferrari F50. You can even see Wynn’s $1.4 million Enzo Ferrari, which is not for sale. Less than 35 visitors are allowed in at one time, so be prepared to wait in line for a few minutes. Adjacent to the showroom is North America’s first Ferrari store. The 3,500-square-foot shop offers visitors the chance to purchase any number of items emblazoned with the Ferrari logo, including coffee cups, tote bags, books and toys. The admission is a reasonable $10.

 

Wynn

Take a look around the Wynn. Oprah’s favorite hotel in town!

 

14. LuxorBodies…The Exhibition is gross, disgusting, cool and educational, all at the same time.  Prepare to witness with your very own eyes, real full-bodies and organs! The Exhibition showcases 13 whole-body specimens and more than 260 organs and partial body specimens. These real human bodies have been meticulously dissected, preserved through an innovative process. Authentic human specimens illustrate the damage caused to organs by over-eating and lack of exercise encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. Anything this amazing comes at a price. Also at the Luxor, experience Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit, which describes the “unsinkable” Titanic, which was said to be the most technologically advanced ships of it’s time. Shortly before midnight on April 14, 1912, four days into the ship’s maiden voyage, the ship struck an iceberg and sank two hours and forty minutes later, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board. This 25,000-square-foot exhibit features numerous items from the Titanic, including an unopened bottle of champagne with a 1900 vintage, a piece of Titanic’s hull, a full-scale re-creation of the Grand Staircase, as well as a newly expanded outer Promenade Deck complete with the frigid temperatures felt on that fateful April night. Ticket prices for Bodies… The Exhibition are $31.00 for adults and $23.00 for Children. Prices for Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit is $27.00 for adults and $20.00 for children.

 

Luxor

There are over 125,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas: it would take over 340 years to spend an evening in each room.

 

15. Venetian- Madame Tussauds Las Vegas - This two-story, 30,000-square-foot museum features several exhibits with uncanny wax likenesses of stars from the worlds of sports, music, movies and more. Guests are allowed to touch and take photos of the wax figures and some of the figures will even react when people get close. Whisper into Jennifer Lopez’s ear and she’ll blush. Hold Elvis’ hand and he’ll talk to you in his famous Southern drawl. Guests can pose with Johnny Depp or take a snapshot with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They look so lifelike, you can tell the folks back at home that you met them and they’ll never know the difference. The “Sports Arena” includes an area where guests can putt with Tiger Woods, shoot baskets with Shaq or stand next to tennis great Andre Agassi. The most unique part of the attraction is the Las Vegas Legends room, where guests can see figures that can’t be seen in the other Madame Tussauds locations around the world. Here, you can see the performers who have made Las Vegas famous including: Liberace, Tom Jones, Judy Garland, Bette Midler, Siegfried & Roy, Wayne Newton, Marlon Brando, Bugsy Siegel, Lance Burton, The Rat Pack and more. Admission is $25.00 for adults and $18.00 for children.

 

Fun Fact: The majority of the Strip is actually not in the city of Las Vegas: it’s technically just outside the city. The Stratosphere is technically in Las Vegas, but almost everything to the south is technically not!

 

16. Lied Discover Children’s Museum - The museum features hands-on exhibits in the arts, sciences, nature, music and humanities; a traveling exhibition gallery; an Early Childhood Pavilion and an eight-story Science Tower in 22,000 square feet of exhibit space. Both children and adults can enjoy more than 100 different interactive science, art and humanity stations. The facility opened in 1990 and is considered one of the larger children’s museums in the country. The first floor is ideal for children five years old and younger, but teenagers and grown-ups can definitely enhance their science and history knowledge. Young ones can also take “make-believe” to a whole new level with a variety of dress-up clothes and a performance stage. Children can work at a bank as a teller and even withdraw money from an ATM. Children can either purchase groceries or work as stock person or a cashier. Admission is $8.50 for adults and $7.50 for children.

17. How could you come to Vegas without seeing the Welcome To Las Vegas Sign?  Possibly one of the most famous landmarks in Vegas, simply reading “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” on the front and “Drive Carefully” and “Come Back Soon” on the back. This sign was built back in 1959 at a cost of $4,000 and was added to National Register of Historic Places on May 1, 2009. This sign also has a 12-car parking lot, convenient for getting the best pictures while remaining safe.

18. See a conservatory. Go on a nice peaceful stroll through the Bellagio conservatory & Botanical Gardens, where 140 expert horticulturists decorate gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for each season- Holidays, Chinese New Year, spring, summer, and fall. Another popular free conservatory is the Atrium inside the front entrance to the Mirage. Step into this lush indoor rainforest that’s housed under a 100-foot-high dome. See palm trees that reach 60 feet above relaxing waterfalls and see your favorite types of plants, such as birds of paradise trees, over 300 orchids and 1000 bromeliads. Four full-time gardeners spend over 160 hours each week to maintain the more than 100 different types of plants in the atrium.

19. Visit an aquarium, like the one at Caesars Palace, to view more than 100 species of ocean life in a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Watch as a diver feeds the tropical puffers, flounder, sharks, etc, each day at 1:15 and 5:15 p.m. Get your questions answered and learn interesting facts about these lovely creatures. Tours of the aquarium’s facilities are offered Monday through Friday at 3:15 p.m. The Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium is North America’s only predator-based aquarium and exhibit, featuring sharks, sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, moon jellies and the rare golden crocodiles. With a total of over 2,000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of seawater. Considering the steep admission price and average species, I would leave this one off my list, especially if I was rushed for time. The aquarium at Caesars is free, while admission to the one at Mandalay Bay is $17 for adults and $11 for children.

 

Those gold doors are only a fragrant of the extravagance to found here.

 

20. Visit an animal exhibit like the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo resort, where you can watch a flock of live Chilean Flamingos as well as swans, ducks, koi, and turtles in this beautiful habitat with islands and streams, surrounded by foliage Imported from around the world. Best of all, it’s free!

While the lion habitat at the MGM Grand has closed it’s doors for good, lions still take center stage at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat (1990) at the Mirage, which is home to white lions, Lions, white tigers, Golden Tigers, Black panthers, leopards, and Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins. 2.5 million gallons of water are located at the Dolphin Habitat, above and under water viewing is available to watch these playful animals swimming, tail walking across the water, catching fish or bonding with each other. Admission to both exhibits at the Mirage is $15 for adults and $10 for children.

 

Dolphin and tigers and bears, oh my!

 

Must-Sees

Take in a show- You can’t go to Vegas without seeing a good show.

Eat at a good buffet- The Bellagio and Wicked Spoon Buffet at the Cosmopolitan are two of my favorites. You can’t go to Vegas without chowing down at one of the cities top buffets. Remember, lunch prices are cheaper.

(Free) The Bellagio Fountain Show- Hands down, this is a must see for everyone. Be sure to catch it!

Gamble- It’s what made the city famous, why not spend a little?

Swim- Cool off from the hot desert heat storm at your hotel pool or at the “biggest ‘n baddest” water park in Nevada – the brand new Wet ‘n Wild Las Vegas water park. Check out this list of the best hotel pools in Las Vegas.

 

Mandalay Bay has the best hotel pool in town but the one pictured above, at the Monte Carlo, is actually quite impressive for the hotels reasonable prices.

 

Transportation

Monorails: You will find three free monorails throughout the strip and one that cost $12 for a one day pass. The paid monorail goes across the entire strip (it doest connect to downtown or the nearby airport) but isn’t really practical unless you are staying right off the strip or in one of the hotels it stops at; many think it’s way over priced. The three free monorails (one connects Mandalay Bay-Luxor-Excalibur, another connects the Mirage-TI, and the CityCenter one connects the Monte Carlo-Aria-Bellagio) should be used by everyone, regardless of where you are staying.

Buses: Heading downtown? Your best bet is to take advantage of the $2, 24-hour, Deuce bus that stops at many hotels.

Taxis: You will want to take a taxi to and from the airport but I am warning you know, these drivers will purposely take you way out of your way onto highly trafficked streets just to run up your bill. This happened to us, our driver charged $24 on the way there and then, after he received his tip, told us that we could find a much cheaper taxi on the way back to the airport. Sure enough, the second driver only charged $11. So pull out a map or your smart phone and calculate the quickest, cheapest way to get to your hotel, don’t get scammed.

 

Shopping

Coming Soon!
 

Vegas Budget Tips

Tix 4 Tonight- This is the best place to get restaurant and show tickets for up to half price off. They are completely legit with over 7.5 million tickets sold and they have nine locations conveniently located throughout the strip. I think every Vegas visitor should look into this place.

Go On A Weekday- While Vegas is known for providing dirt cheap room rates, you will find that hotels often charge over double the weekday room rate on weekends so you should definitely consider going during the week.

Gamble Responsibly: Anyone 21 or over has to try their chance and the slots but don’t come expecting to win anything at all because the casinos have a much better chance at coming out ahead. Tip: The downtown casinos give about 11% higher payouts.

Coupons: You will find coupon books all throughout the city, each giving valuable discounts for many of the cities best attractions.

Tip: Just because you can get a popular hotel on the strip for $30 doesn’t mean you should (i.e. The Circus Circus). You’ll end up wasting your valuable vacation time waiting for the next bus, walking to the monorail, or waiting for a taxi. Stay right in the heart of the strip (the CityCenter area) and you won’t regret it.

Here’s some more budget travel tips.

 

Restaurants

Vegas is well known for it’s exception shrimp, with more than 60,000 pounds of shrimp consumed each day in Las Vegas – which is more than the rest of the USA combined!

Eiffel Tower Restaurant - Just above the Strip on the 11th floor of the Paris Las Vegas’ half-scale Eiffel Tower replica, enjoy fabulous French cuisine, breathtaking views of the Las Vegas strip and get great service. Guests are brought up to the restaurant in a glass elevator that opens to the electric activity of one of the city’s top kitchens before being escorted to the dining room, where panoramic views and exquisite cuisine take center stage. Dine with views of the nearby Bellagio water fountain show.

Aureole - Located at the Mandalay Bay, this restaurant is best known for having the largest wine tower in the world, a four-story, temperature controlled glass and steel wine tower that houses 10,000 of their award-winning 50,000 bottle list. The tower is made accessible by an elaborate pulley system presided over by “flying wine angels” dressed in black spandex Calvin Klein.

Top of The World – Located 800 feet above the Las Vegas strip, atop the Stratosphere, this unparalleled dining experience offers breathtaking views of the city as it revolves 360 degrees every 80 minutes.

Picasso – Dine while admiring $30 million worth of real Picasso paintings. Located within the Bellagio, this thirteenth time recipient of the AAA Five Diamond Award is among the best in town. It’s run by celebrity executive Chef Julian Serrano, who serves cuisine inspired by the regional cuisine of France and Spain where Pablo Picasso spent much of his life. The restaurant boasts a wine cellar stocked with more than 1,500 selections from the finest European vineyards. You can also dine outdoors to watch the Fountains of Bellagio or simply admire the views of the strip.

Le Provencal – Take a step into the countryside of France, where the waiters and waitresses perform French and Italian songs for their diners! In relation, they also serve French/Italian cuisine, including the Chicken Pesto Penne, Le Provençal Bouillabaisse (a shellfish stew served table-side in a large, cast-iron pot), the Antipasto Platter, Herb Roasted Chicken, the Grilled Salmon Scampi and the tender Ribeye with Herb Butter. They also have flatbread pizzas, pastas, chicken and seafood specialties. It’s actually somewhat casual and not as expensive as one may think.

Jayde Fuzion - Located at the M Resort in Las Vegas, this restaurant was shown on The Food Network as Seonkyoung Longest won Restaurant Express and ultimately won this incredible restaurant, which she currently operates. If you see Seonkyoung, tell her Taylor sent ‘ya! Their signature dishes are Samgyeopsal Lettuce Wraps, Crab Salad, Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl), Korean Street “Tacos,” and the Five Spiced Duck Sliders. Seonkyoung says “It is my first restaurant and I am very proud of it. I’ve never seen a restaurant like mine. I have spent so much time creating the menu and working with all the chefs to make it a one-of-a-kind Asian dining experience. Right now, I’m in love in the crab salad, which is a popular dish and I made it on Food Network’s Restaurant Express show. I also love the gochujang pork and kimchi fried rice that we offer.” Seonkyoung says this is her favorite restaurant in America!

 

TAO Las Vegas – This restaurant holds the tile of being the highest grossing independent restaurant; it raked in 60 million in 2009 alone! It features three different areas: a nightclub, the Asian Bistro, and another called The Beach. It located in the Venetian and is a great place for celebrity spotting, past guests include: Drake, Tyga, Kim Kardashian, Madonna, Jay Z, Usher, Rihanna, and so many more! Stay at the adjacent Palazzo (as pictured below, also a celebrity favorite).

 

The Palazzo is a favorite among celebrities.

 

Beacher’s Madhouse – This LA favorite recently opened in Vegas at the MGM Grand, with a grand opening party hosted by Miley Cyrus. This club offers the energy of a circus and the atmosphere of an A-list Hollywood party. To join the madness, experience seekers enter the theatre through an inconspicuous speakeasy-like passageway hidden behind a library bookcase, and travel through a tunnel leading them from their ordinary existence into a fantasy-filled realm filled with world-renowned spectacles and all-new dramatic performances. Shows are held five nights a week – Wednesday through Sunday. The cheapest tickets start at $75.

Carnival World Buffet – Located at the Rio Hotel & Casino, this is the largest buffet in the world with over 300 dishes. This buffet has a little bit of everything, including over seventy varieties of desserts. Some consider it to be the best buffet in Vegas.

Rainforest Cafe – Step into this indoor jungle and discover one of the most realistic indoor rain forests ever created, complete with cascading waterfalls, lush vegetation, tropical rainstorms, beautiful aquariums, trumpeting elephants and wild animatronic gorillas, jaguars, and elephants. A “thunderstorm” goes off every now and then, where the “”animals” go wild and thunder and lightning appear to sound off in a dramatic yet exciting experience. The menu includes a wide variety of options, including pastas, seafood, salads, sandwiches and pizzas. Order their “volcano” sundae and they start yelling “volcano” and make quite a spectacle! Pick up a souvenir on the way out at their large, iconic gift shop. Located inside the MGM Grand.

Hard Rock Cafe - The most state-of-the-art Hard Rock Cafe in the world features 42,000 square feet of pure unadulterated rock n’ roll. The fairly new cafe, located next to the MGM Grand Hotel, provides three-floors of non-stop action and features the world’s largest Rock Shop. An interactive “Rock Wall”, interactive “Microsoft Surface” tables, hi-speed Internet access, a contemporary lounge and bar, and patio dining are yours to experience while enjoying an unobstructed view of the world famous Las Vegas Strip. A Hard Rock Live multi-function venue on the 2nd floor rocks with concert seating for 1000, while state-of-the-art in-house audio visual equipment offers mind blowing imagery and sound. The cafe also features a built-in stage with an attached Green Room that will be occupied by artists from around the globe.

The Heart Attack Grill – Adults looking for something totally off the wall will want to head to this hospital themed restaurant – complete with nurses, wheelchairs, and all the workings. But let me worn you – if you don’t finish your burger the nurse will spank you!

 

Serendipity 3 outside Caesars Palace is one of my favorites! Kim K. always comes here when she’s in town!

 

Hotels

Where not to stay would be a better question! Where is else on earth can you find 17 of the 25 largest hotels in the world? Location, location, location: pretty much every thing to do in Vegas is right on the strip, so it’s best to get a hotel right in the center of the strip, so you can easily walk in both directions, or stay at one of the hotels along the monorail. While everything is located along one street and may be seen in the distance, remember that each hotel is huge, so walking from hotel to hotel can be quite tiring. Don’t over plan your days and remember, you Can always walk to one end and catch a taxi.

So, why are the hotel prices in Vegas so much cheaper than elsewhere in the US? Not only is it the strong competition, it’s also because casinos need bait to reel you in to stay at their casinos. Food, airfare, and hotel prices are reduced in an attempt to get you to gamble. Works perfectly for no gamblers like me!

3 Star- Circus Circus (Avg. price $29-$92) What I love most about Vegas is the fact that you can stay in one of the largest, most highly themed hotels in the world, for such a small cost. The Circus Circus is one of the few 3 star resorts in the country that I actually look forward to staying at. Sure, it’s rundown, but how many other hotels have their very own indoor theme park?

 

 Life’s a circus here at the Circus Circus.

 

3 star- Excalibur (Avg. price $37-$119) Go back to medieval times to stay in this castle that’s just about fit for a king. Opened in 1990, it has 3,991 hotel rooms, and a 100,000 sq. ft. casino. Three popular shows, a 4-D ride, 4 pools a fitness center and a 13,000 sq. ft. spa, where you can get the “royal treatment,” are some of the exciting amenities.

3 Star- Stratosphere- (Avg. price $126) How many other hotels have their own 110 story observation tower with 3 extraordinary thrill rides atop it, the opportunity to jump off a 110 story tower, a revolving restaurant and so much more.

4 Star- MGM Grand- The second largest hotel in the world and THE largest hotel in the western hemisphere, with 7,372 rooms. This hotel is on the list because it is the largest hotel in the United States with 5,044 guest rooms and thirty floors. Up to six lions are shown daily at the lion habitat which has a viewing tunnel underneath it and a lion themed gift shop. They also have the largest casino in Las Vegas. Sports fans rejoice at Free: lion habitat

4 Star- New York – New York- (Avg. price $71-$203)- A fine display of Vegas’ nod to families. The front facade really sets the stage for this Manhattan themed hotel, with a miniature Statue of Liberty, roller coaster, and recreations of The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building are apart of the hotel building itself.

4 Star- Mandalay Bay- (Avg. price $122-270) Makes our list for one reason: no, it’s not the tacky looking facade (this place really is showing its age), it’s the pool, which is the best in town! What better way to get out of the heat, from the lazy river to the wave pool, this is likely to be the nicest hotel pool you’ve ever seen! It was featured on our list of America’s Ten Best Hotel Pools.

5 Star- Bellagio- (Avg. price $179-$353) – The most successful LV resort of all time isn’t getting any younger, some may go so far as to say it has seen better days, but I believe it’s the best of the best. From the world rewound complimentary water show to the beautiful conservatory, meticulously kept to change for every single holiday (even Chinese New Years!)

5 Star- Aria- (Avg. price $125-$310) My favorite hotel in the entire nation. Star of the futuristic, technologically-advanced CityCenter complex, Aria takes center stage as one of Vegas’ newest and hottest, places to see and to be seen. Enter a 61-story, five star resort that opened in late 2009 with 4,004 rooms in two towers. Guestrooms greet you as you enter (literally addressing you by name) while the lights and TV turn on and curtains open to reveal spectacular views. From a single control panel, you can personalize every aspect of your space, including a “good night” button that cuts the lights, shuts the drapes and activates the do-not-disturb sign. You can customize the lighting, temperature and tunes to wake you in the morning. The hotel also has wireless Internet (included in room charge) it says is eight times faster than the average U.S. guestroom, along with a 42-inch LCD with a “smart panel” for connecting laptops, game consoles, cameras, MP3 players and more. Replacing the conventional keycard, RFID (radio frequency identification data) cards sense when you’re near your room and unlock the door as you approach. Nut it’s all gonna cost an arm and a leg, huh? Not necessarily. One of my favorite things about Las Vegas is that the hotel rooms are so much cheaper than other large American cities. The Aria is a great example of this, as rooms start at just $125 a night.

 

Dine at Julian Serrano in the Aria Resort and tell ‘em Taylor sent ya!

 

5 Star- Trump International Hotel & Tower (Avg. price $92-188)- At the Trump Tower you don’t just get what you pay for, you can get a luxurious 5 star resort for just $92 a night. Best value on the strip, this is the cheapest of his hotels, by far (the others seem to stay in the $400 range!!). It is a block or so off the strip, but within walking distance to the strip.

5 star- Cosmopolitan (Avg. price $157-$401)- This new, swanky, super- luxurious, 3,000 room, 52-story upscale resort is a little over priced but still one of the best places on the strip. Based on price and luxury, I actually prefer Aria over the Cosmopolitan, both apart of CityCenter. The main difference between the two is that each of the Cosmopolitans rooms comes with a balcony, a rarity in Vegas due to the fact that people get suicidal after losing all their $ in the casinos. They’ve been advertising a lot, you’re probably familiar with them.

5 Star- Wynn (Avg. price $164-$402)- Steve Wynn has created a paradise for romantic couples and high rollers alike. You can pay $500 per round to play golf at the only golf course on the strip, buy your newest sports car at the on-site Maserati dealership, or catch a Broadway hit like Spamalot.

 

Nearby Attractions 

About 300 miles from Vegas- Why not drive or take a helicopter or bus to see the Grand Canyon, one of the first national parks in the United States.  277 miles  long, the Grand Canyon ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles and attains a depth of over a mile.  Nearly two billion years of the Earth’s geological history have been exposed as the Colorado River and its tributaries cut their channels through layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifted.  Consider walking on the Grand Canyon Skywalk Entrance fees: Private vehicle, $20. Individual, $10 (good for seven days).

Primm, Nevada-  Buffalo Bills (1994) is located 48 miles southwest of the Vegas Strip on the California/Nevada state line.  If you choose to do the drive, a little less than 45 minutes, you can get in the action for some major fun! t only does this resort have a buffalo-shaped swimming pool, the Adventure Canyon Log Flume Ride, the first interactive log ride in the world, with a 35-foot, Ghost Town Motion Simulator Theaters and the Turbo Drop, a towering attraction that fires riders straight down at 45 mph, but It’s also home to the Desperado, one of the tallest and fastest roller coasters in the world, with a 225-foot drop and speeds in excess of 85 mph!  Desperado is only $8 while the other rides are a little pricey.

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Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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