Heading to Las Vegas whether by air or road, you will witness an arid and dry desert with rocky outcrops.
So dry and desolate, it reflects a burnt orange glow. Arrive in the evening and you’ll receive a completely different welcome.
Blinded by the bright lights of Las Vegas, the infamous ‘strip’ is sure to capture your full attention. The Luxor Casino with its blaring light from the tip of the pyramid beaming into the dark sky, the Eiffel Tower looming over the centre of the main drag and the Bellagio’s fountains dancing.
Your attention is snapped in every possible direction not knowing where to look and what to take in first. A flurry of excitement whirs inside you – you have finally arrived in the City of Lost Wages, I mean Las Vegas.
Where to start in such a contrasting city with so much to see and do? Apart from exploring every casino from top to bottom of the strip, here are a few pointers for the first timer of what to see and do on The Strip.
Eiffel Tower viewing platform at Paris
The view is amazing. On one side you can see Luxor’s Pyramids flashing in the background and on the other, there is St Mark’s Square at the Venetian, the Stratosphere piercing the skyline in the distance and the Disney castles of Excalibur to your left.
The restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, overlooks the Bellagio where you have the opportunity to witness the infamous fountain water works every 15 minutes. While you are there, take time to wander through the quaint imitation Parisian streets, past baguette shops and cafes. Be sure to check out the three-quarter size Arc de Triomphe!
Manhattan Express Roller Coaster at New York New York
Ever travelled on the underground in New York or with a crazy New York cab driver? It can be a pretty hairy experience! Why not take it to the next level and board the Manhattan Express.
A yellow cab roller coaster that twists, turns and loops through the cluster of buildings forming a small scale NYC fronted by the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building towering at the back. The Brooklyn Bridge sweeps along the front of the city as you fly past taking in views of the Strip from a different perspective.
Mirage Volcano Experience
Witness an absolute audio and visual spectacular. Beginning with smoke flowing from the top, followed by orange flames of fire which then spurt ‘lava’ 100 metres into the air. The volcano gurgles and bubbles before breaking into sporadic explosions all to the beat of tribal drumming music.
Flames puff out the sides of the volcano as the lava continues to shoot skyward and illuminate the night sky. Hundreds of smaller flames dance in the water below, licking the base of the aggressive mountain. The volcanoes choreographed eruption to the suspenseful music makes it spectacular. The volcano erupts every half an hour from 8pm daily.
The Bellagio famed for its iconic fountain show. Having seen this in many movies, I really was not expecting too much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Starting with soft smoke across the rippling waters of ‘Lake Como’, the fountains shoot upwards and the dramatic show begins. The fountains dance and sway to the music, (This Kiss by Faith Hill) and light up the lake and the sky.
Crowds line the circumference of the lake, the Eiffel Tower the perfect backdrop with almost everyone singing along as these jets of water shoot into the air performing like acrobats twisting, turning and swaying taking away everyone’s breath. Fountains dance every half an hour from 3pm – 7pm and every 15 mins from 7pm daily.
Welcome to Las Vegas sign
The famous ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign is located a couple of hundred metres past the Mandalay Bay Hotel in the centre median strip. Not much to see here apart from the sign itself, but well worth a quick visit and a selfie. You will pass the famed Little Church of the West as you make your way here.
Pool at Mandalay Bay
The pool, also known as ‘The Beach’ at the Mandalay Bay Hotel is the best Vegas has to offer. Complete with lush landscaped gardens, a wave pool and lazy river to float around in rubber tyres, this modern, chic beach feel vibe makes you feel like you are in another world.
Imported sand, private villas, fresh white cabanas and bungalows for those wanting some luxury or shelter from the heat come complete with personal waiters and an extensive cocktail bar. This is the place to chill in the heat of the day. For those looking for something a little more risqué, the Moorea Beach Club offers your ‘toptional’ dipping pool experience.
Fremont Street, commonly known as ‘Old Vegas’ is a must see for the first timer to Vegas. It is where Vegas meets the 70s. Neon signs line the streets and the pedestrian mall which paves the way between world famed casinos such as the Golden Nugget is creatively canopied with a 460m long Viva Vision video screen.
Enjoy a variety of light shows including Heart, The Who, Bon Jovi and many more, every hour with each showcasing a dazzling, glittery show lasting six minutes. Other attractions in ‘Old Vegas’ include the Neon Sign Museum, waterslide through the shark tank of the Golden Nugget and the newly established zip line which zooms along underneath the Viva Vision hi resolution screens.
Whether you head to the Stratosphere for the revolving restaurant buffet, the adrenaline rides on the top of the tower or purely for the best photo opportunity of The Strip, it is definitely worth checking out.
The rides on the roof of the strip are not for the faint hearted! Are you game to hover 900 feet over the lights below as your roller coaster hangs over the side of the tower or be spun at 40 miles an hour, face-first to the ground below? If not, it’s still the best place for a view of the strip (and free too!)
Las Vegas is the best place for shopping on earth some would say. With the lowest taxes in all of the USA, there really is something for everyone. You will be sure to grab a bargain or seven at both the North and South Factory Outlets showcasing your more mainstream designer brands at unbelievably low prices.
The Fashion Show Mall, located on The Strip opposite the Wynn Casino and Hotel offers more of your department store shopping - great for make-up and conventional type products.
Caesar’s Forum shops inside Caesar’s Palace is your premier shopping scene, offering exclusive up market designer brands on every corner but at extremely reasonable prices. The Forum is for those who like to indulge in a little ‘luxury shopping’.
The Miracle Mile located inside Planet Hollywood, is exactly that. A mile of shopping including stores like H&M, Bebe and smaller chain shops. In Vegas you can literally shop til you drop!
There is an average of 400 weddings a day in Las Vegas and you can get married for as little as $49. It only takes three days for a divorce to go through if you realise you haven’t quite found your soul mate.
It is the only place in the world where you can get married on Monday, divorced on Thursday and remarried on Friday without missing out on your weekend!
Published under license from Well Travelled