A luminous up-all-night playground where the world’s most iconic sights in replica sit shoulder to shoulder with legendary casinos and daredevil amusement rides, Vegas is packed with plenty to see and do – much of which can be found on the four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard known as the Strip

Sights and attractions

Sights and attractions in Las Vegas

The famous Welcome to Las Vegas sign is among the tamest attractions beckoning visitors, but it’s a great introduction to the neon playground waiting elsewhere on the Strip – and the perfect first stop for the holiday album. Next up, tour the world in an hour, taking in the half-scale Eiffel Tower at Paris, the New York New York skyline, complete with rollercoaster tour, and the waterways of Venice. Everything is big in Las Vegas, so hit the supersized sights, from the choreographed dancing fountains in front of Bellagio and the 550ft-tall High Roller (the highest observation wheel in the world) to the city’s highest building, the Stratosphere – topped off with four thrill rides. If rides are your thing, try the zip lined down the spine of the vintage-flavour Fremont Street Experience. Then, of course, there are the casinos: if your plan is ‘Vegas proper’, call on lady luck and place your bets at one of the grand hotel casinos like ARIA, Caesars or Bellagio.

Art and culture

Art and culture in Las Vegas

Though rarely considered an artistic destination above all else, Las Vegas’ cultural scene is rich with fine art, live performances and plentiful concerts. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art features rotating exhibits every ten months or so, with work by timeless artists like Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso. The Gallery at ARIA offers the opportunity to buy from artists such as glassblower Dale Chihuly and Richard MacDonald, a sculptor inspired by Cirque du Soleil performers (with seven Cirque shows in town, there is no shortage of inspiration). Catch the latest Broadway shows, performances by the Nevada Ballet Theatre and Las Vegas Philharmonic, touring speakers and small studio musicians at the architecturally significant Smith Center for the Performing Arts. For intimate live music, check listings for Brooklyn Bowl, while the newly opened T-Mobile Arena already offers a noteworthy line-up of big-name acts.

Food and drink

Food and drink in Las Vegas

Once upon a time, Las Vegas was known for its overzealous buffet offerings, but today’s culinary scene revolves around an impressive collection of celebrity chefs (including Emeril Lagasse, Michael Mina, Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay, to name but a few). There is no shortage of fine dining in the city, and while Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand is arguably the highest rated (there’s not a dining star, diamond or award it doesn’t have), consider making a reservation at Lago (located fountain-side at Bellagio) or Carbone or Herringbone (both at ARIA). Downtown Las Vegas has a cool, young dining scene that’s less studded with stars but arguably more interesting: VegeNation, Perch, and Park on Fremont’s menus are among the best. At night, take advantage of the city’s talented mixologists and grab a cocktail with a view at Skyfall Lounge in Delano at Mandalay Bay, Mandarin Bar at the Oriental or The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan.

Shopping

Shopping in Las Vegas

For shopping with an atmosphere, head to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, where storefronts line the winding canal. The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and Fashion Show Mall offer a little bit of everything, while the robust outlet malls located just north and south of the Strip house name brands for a fraction of the cost. For exclusive shopping experiences, seek out the 40 Shops at Crystals, which include brands such as Cartier, Bulgari, Jimmy Choo, Dior, Valentino and Versace. For something a bit more local, get off the Strip and check out what local entrepreneurs have to offer at the Downtown Container Park, hit up the local farmers’ market at Downtown Summerlin or piggyback shopping with family time at Town Square.

Unique to Las Vegas

Unique to Las Vegas in Las Vegas

Most of the attractions that make up Las Vegas’ personality are unique to the city, but there are a few things that have helped this town in the desert grow and blossom. The Mob Museum is a highly honest and dynamic attraction that provides context on Sin City’s mobster; visitors need at least a couple hours to fully appreciate it. Similarly, the National Atomic Testing Museum explains the significant role Nevada played during the nuclear testing age (and how it was a tourist attraction in Las Vegas at one point in time). Given the grandeur and spectacle of the city’s flashy signs, it’s only fitting that the Neon Boneyard – the final resting place for dozens of retired neon signs – exists. Tours are available during the day or at night, when some of the signs are illuminated.

Day trip

Day trip in Las Vegas

As entertaining as Las Vegas is, it’s simple to escape the city and appreciate the surrounding desert landscape. A 13-mile scenic drive is an easy way to take in the natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon, but throw on a pair of walking shoes for a hike off the beaten path. Likewise at Valley of Fire State Park, which is home to rock-etched petroglyphs and also offers ample hiking opportunities. The nearby Hoover Dam, located on the Nevada-Arizona border, is a spectacular feat of engineering – as is the bridge built over the river.

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