Las Vegas is unique among cities in the United States. The history of Las Vegas is fascinating; from its earliest days as a Native American oasis to the Wild West to a glittering global tourism mecca, Las Vegas has seen and done it all.
Famous for luxury casinos and show palaces offering non-stop recreation on the “Strip,” the city has over the years became synonymous with glamour. However, since the late 1980s, Las Vegas has acquired another identity as a respected hub for business, finance, transportation, and services. Still the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” it has actively and successfully cultivated a diversified economy. The Las Vegas visitor can certainly enjoy legalized gambling but can also take advantage of the diverse range of cultural and recreational opportunities offered in the city and the surrounding area.
As often as you have seen it on television or in a movie, nothing can prepare you for your first sight of Las Vegas. The skyline is hyper-reality, a mélange of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and one very large pyramid. It is sensory overload, but in the space between the visual madness, there’s a bit of something for everyone, whether you want a successful conference, a relaxing getaway, or something in between.
The chances of getting bored in Las Vegas are slim at best. Starting on the Strip, you could spend days goggling at the architecture, people, and constant street activity; wonder at the appropriated skylines of New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas, and The Venetian; get your camera ready for the delightful dancing waters of the Fountains at Bellagio and, of course, the lava-spewing drama of the Mirage Volcano.
Don’t miss the Conservatory and Botanical Garden at Bellagio where, each season, enormously talented horticulturalists transform this 14,000-square-foot floral playground into a showcase of the distinctive sights and colors. While there, be certain to see Dale Chihuly’s Fiori di Como which covers the lobby ceiling with over 2000 pieces of handblown glass sculptures.
Las Vegas has also become one of the premier shopping destinations in the world, with both brand and esoteric labels crowding the high-end malls. But here, shopping can actually be a very unique experience. Check out the Roman-themed street scene at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the indoor version of Venice at the Grand Canal Shoppes, complete with its own canals and gondoliers! Of course, for a quieter and simpler shopping experience, don’t miss the great values at the Las Vegas Outlet Mall, very close to the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.
Las Vegas started as a cowboy town; but when the Hoover Dam was built, it became a gambling destination with buffets and prime-rib specials. Not long after, the general tourist crowds followed, and the dining scene has grown from afterthought coffee shops to celebrity chef-helmed meccas. Today the city covers just about every genre of food imaginable at every price point. Nowhere in the world can you find as many celebrity chefs in one compact space as in Las Vegas. From casual and simple to an amazing epicurean destination, you’ll find everything and anything that you want at nearly any time of day or night.
Las Vegas comes alive at night, with a club scene that rivals anywhere for its intensity and enough dazzling shows to give Broadway a run for its money. Marquee at The Cosmopolitan and XS at Encore are two of the hip generation, party-spot options these days while all of the Cirque du Soleil productions are certainly worth their ticket prices. If you can snag tickets for a headliner like Céline Dion, Criss Angel, or Jennifer Lopez, you’re in for a real treat.
With so much to experience, no wonder Elvis Presley said it best: “Viva Las Vegas!”
Las Vegas, Nevada
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International Society of Glass Beadmakers