Las Vegas – Not just gambling and party central
A simple Google search will find a massive amount of information on the history of this remarkable city, the many things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, a rich and interesting list of attractions in the city, and a stunning array of promotions.
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and is growing at a remarkable rate every year. The city is often referred to as Sin City because of its gambling, alcoholic beverages, and many adult entertainment options available at any time of the day or night.
While many refer to Las Vegas as the City of Sin, local tourism developers prefer to refer to it as the entertainment capital of the world. The city has a very glamorous reputation and is a popular spot for many film and television companies. The quality of the entertainment available cannot be matched in any other city of its size and is a popular vacation spot for many celebrities.
In this article, we are going to discuss the reasons why Las Vegas is not just a city of gambling as there are various activities and side attractions that visitors can enjoy.
Shop till you drop in Vegas
Shopping is also a very popular activity for those visiting the city as there are some of the high-end shops that provide much-needed window shopping for many visitors. There are also many affordable shops for those who want to spend their time in shops.
- The Forum Shops in Caesars have 160 boutiques and shops, 13 restaurants, and various grocery stores.
- The Bellagio offers upscale shopping, and the pool promenade offers unique shops not found anywhere else.
- Bargain hunters can find treasure outside the casinos at the Las Vegas Premium Outlet, with over 100 outlet stores, or try their luck at the Las Vegas Fashion Outlets, which carry many of the same brands as the one you can find in the hotel's stores, but for a lot less.
- Miracle Mile shops are for those who would like to shop for more trendy clothing hosting stores like Quicksilver, Billabong, Victoria's Secret and H&M.
- Fashion Show has a mix of both luxury brands and more affordable options like Zara & Anthropologie.
- Town Square at the airport end of the strip has not just shopping but cinemas, a children's park and a little train they call the Cactus Coaster that can take shoppers through this open air shopping center.
- If you drive out to Vegas from LA you will also be able to visit the outlets on the way or the way back (if you have any money left!)
Eating Great Food
Many famous chefs have restaurants in town, some of the which are Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck. Both have more than one restaurant in the casinos and Bobby Flay has the popular Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace. Famous chefs aren't the only restaurants, however, there are several five-star restaurants in and around the casinos.
It is also possible to get really good food in Las Vegas without the five-star prices in some other restaurants. In a city that seems open 24 hours a day, there are plenty of great places to eat at any time of the day.
Some of my faves are:
- Lawry's The Prime Rib
- Tacos and Beer
- Scarpetta at the Bellagio (this one is more expensive but I really love it)
- La Mojarra Loca Grill (an uber ride away but good food)
- There is also an Applebee's Grill a little out of town. Sometimes these are the best for simple food at an affordable price.
Check out this list of the Best Places to eat in Las Vegas by a US local Shannon.
Seeing A Show
One of the biggest attractions in Las Vegas is the shows.
Some shows like Cirque du Soleil, which has different versions of their amazing circus in different casinos at the same time, have been running for years and are becoming more popular every year. Popular artists play there, often for long series. Celine Dionne recently completed a four-year race at Caesar's Palace, Cher, Britney Spears and Bette Midler have all done residencies in Vegas.
Visitors can also find Broadway musicals like the hugely popular The Producers, world-class comedians, and fascinating dramas on the stages of Las Vegas casinos and other venues.
I've always found Vegas.com is a great place to see what is coming, who is playing and how much it is going to cost.You don't need to go to a huge show either. The dualing piano show at NYNY is so much fun. They do lunch and dinner shows and I always book a table for $25. If you get there early you can get the front one with is a great spot.
Las Vegas might not be the first vacation destination people think of when they think of family vacations, but it's an increasingly popular spot for families. Casinos and other businesses in the area are increasingly offering attractions for children. Many casinos offer live animal attractions such as Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay, & White Tiger Habitat from The Mirage. While I'm never a fan of wild animals in cages, I do understand that some children's only opportunity to see these animals in under these circumstances. I want to scream “don't do it” but I don't want to be that person either. Judge for yourself.
Game Works, a the state-of-the-art arcade is appealing to kids of all ages.
The Las Vegas Zoo offers hours of entertainment away from the casinos, and Circus has been a staple of the Las Vegas family for years.
The city has the largest indoor theme park in the world, the five-and-a-half-acre Adventure Dome, where families can find go-karts, children's shows, children's museums, and wax museums, and much more. Museums for the family. oriented activities scattered all over Las Vegas.
Road Trips In The Area
Visiting the Hoover Dam is easy and you take a sightseeing bus from Las Vegas if you would prefer to not hire a car. Bonnie Springs Ranch in Old Nevada is just a short drive from town and visitors can experience the old west. Red Rock Canyon is a little trickier by car, but it's a great place to get away from it all and take a short hike.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a few hours drive by car or a short helicopter flight it you are feeling flush. I would consider getting a tour to the Canyon so you can relax on the way out and back as it is a BIG day. There is helicopter trips, bus trips, hummer trips and the list never ends. I would say jump on Viator and check out what you might like to see. There are tours that combine both Hoover Dam and the Canyon and I'm sure there are multi day tours as well.
Whether to do the North Rim or the South rim is a question I'm not going to attempt to answer here. I've seen both and they seem like a similar distance from Vegas and neither stood out over the other to me. There used to be this amazing diner called Rosies Den on the road toward the south rim which was such a good place to stop for food. It was a real dodgy diner with great food and all the bikers used to stop there so you were always assured of a good meal. Sadly it is closed now which I think is probably due to the distance most cars can get on a single tank of fuel now.
Ony 100 ish miles from Las Vegas, Death Valley is another world. You can get tours from Vegas (which we've done) and sometimes you have to do a tour if you don't have a permit. They can sell out quick for popular times of the year so often its easier to get a tour from Las Vegas and use the tour operators permit.
If you do drive from LA, make sure you take the time to go back via Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs. It is really worth visiting Joshua Tree and Palm Springs is always a great place to stay for a day or three.
Wander The Casinos and Hotels
Even with kids in tow, as long as you don't stop on the Casino floor you can walk through and around almost all of the Casino's in Las Vegas.
From Excalibur, to the Mandalay Bay, to the Bellagio light show, you can spend days wandering in and out of all that the casino's have to offer. I've been to Vegas maybe 5 times and there is still some Casinos I've not been into. Literally I'm not kidding it can take days! A great way to tire out the kids though!
Overall if you have never been to Las Vegas I know it's hard to beleive that its not just gambling, however you could spend a week in Vegas and not set foot on a casino gambling floor.
There is so much to see, do and eat that the city that never sleeps could keep you up for ever.
Oh and as a special mention, The Linq wheel is worth it. You can get happy hour tickets which are drinks included that seemed kind of weird to me, however those carriages have a bar so it is worth it. I thought you would get a drink at the start and that would be it, but no, those carriages have a little bar in them.