“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” is what they say about Sin City, but for me it was one of the most fulfilled and family friendly holidays I could have hoped for. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned resort city, known for its gambling, shopping, fine dining, entertainment, and nightlife. It has a reputation for being a playground for adults, but it also offers ways to keep the whole family entertained with a range of indoor and outdoor activities aimed at the little ones. Las Vegas probably isn’t most people’s idea of a family holiday but with so much activity for all ages you should certainly think of it for your next holiday.
The city can be done on a budget or cost a fortune and this is totally dependent on what you want to make out of it. If you don’t end up blowing your cash gambling on the casino floor, you could easily spend up a fortune in one of the most expensive hotel rooms /nightclubs or Michelin-starred restaurants that the city has to offer. For the shopaholic there is enough to keep you busy with some of the most luxurious shops to the great offers in the outlet malls.
Best time to go
You can go to Vegas any time of the year but the best time to visit is from March to May and September to November. The summers can get very hot thus the reason for the spring and fall seasons to be the most popular. We planned to visit Vegas in the first week of January with a very pleasant winter and the New Year rush had just got over.
Fly into McCarran International Airport which is well connected and has nonstop air service from most destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a busy airport and receives over 50 million passengers every year. It is the 27th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. Once you land in Vegas your destination will undoubtedly be The Strip.
The Strip is often referred to as being Las Vegas itself and is the main lifeline flowing through the heart of this city. It has some of the largest hotels, casinos and resorts and is an iconic tourist destinations of the world. Most of the Strip has also been designated as an All-American Road and is considered a scenic route at night.
The Strip is quite close to McCarran International Airport, but the heavy traffic means long taxis rides which can be pricey. The cheaper option is an airport shuttle which drops you at your hotel and leaves from outside the baggage reclaim area, roughly they charge around $10 each way.
Once you reach the Strip it is quite easy to get around on foot or use the Las Vegas Monorail which runs between the old Sahara and the MGM Grand taking you through most of the hotels and is a fun ride especially with kids. There is a smaller monorail tram which is free and runs through the Bellagio to Monte Carlo and Mirage to Treasure Island. To get further and on to Fairmont Street you can use the bus or taxi. The double-decker buses run through the length of the Strip and up to Fremont Street 24 hours a day and a 24-hour pass costs $10. The other fun way is the escalators that run through the strip.
Another great way is by renting your own car and you can get one for as cheap as $10 a day from the airport. Again most of the well know players are available and up to you to get the best deal.
Where to stay
If you’re visiting Las Vegas and want your memories to be as vibrant as the neon lights then there is no other place then the Strip. Las Vegas has over 350 hotels providing some 150,000 rooms to visitors, more than any other place on earth. With majority of the large and most popular hotels being located here you need to choose one between The Venetian and the new City Centre. This is the best location in Las Vegas and where all the action is!
We were deciding between the Bellagio and the Caesars Palace. After doing a bit of research and speaking to some fellow travelers we went with Caesars which is more child friendly. Caesars Palace is one of the largest and best known landmarks on the Strip and home to some of the most popular entertainment and the renowned Forum Shopping Mall also known as “The Shopping Wonder of the World.
Things to Do
You can easily keep yourself entertained for a few days by just wandering around the Strip from one hotel to another. From watching the gondoliers on the canals at The Venetian to taking a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at the New York New York, if thats not enough then you can visit the pyramids at the Luxor. There is so much to explore in the various themed hotels that it can easily keep you occupied for a few days.
The strip has some fantastic free shows and attractions in the hotels that mainly evolve around a theme. The Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat, with exotic birds and fish to the art gallery at the Cosmopolitan. Visit the MGM Grand to see the mighty lions or the extravagant fountains outside the Bellagio.
If thats not enough you have to visit the famous Fremont Street in downtown Vegas. A must visit attraction when in Vegas that’s all about the classic neon marquees, shops, restaurants, bars and entertainmnet. It’s the historic stretch of Las Vegas with penny slot machines and street performers.
The main attraction of Fremont Street Experience is Viva Vision, the world’s largest video screen. The Viva Vision screen is suspended 90 feet above the pedestrian mall below and covers the entire stretch with millions of LED lights and a 550,000-watt sound system.
Viva Vision shows include: “A Tribute to Queen,” “KISS Over Vegas,” “Bon Jovi’s Cosmic Concert,” and the newest show, “The Who – Miles Over Vegas.”Each night, there is live entertainment scheduled for each of the three concert stages and once again this is frees well. Viva Vision features free light shows, free, every night of the week. If thats not enough then there is a zip line which right across the mall with the backdrop of the viva vision and this again is an experience of a lifetime. You have to spend one whole evening here and the experience is unforgettable.
If you’re in Las Vegas, you won’t want to miss the chance to experience some of the world’s best entertainment shows and live performances. From musicals to magic shows and stand up to adult shows, Vegas is the epitome of entertainment. I have listed the top 5 shows that are a must if you visit this city.
O by Cirque de Soleil – Located at the famous Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, “O” from Cirque du Soleil remains one of the Strip’s most popular shows, featuring the elements of air, fire, and most importantly water.Its is expensive but worth every penny and I have not seen anything close to this in my life.
Michael Jackson ONE – Michael Jackson’s music has touched millions and a tribute to the man himself, Cirque du Soleil offers this fantastic performance at the Mandalay Bay.
Le Rêve – The Dream – Voted as one of the best productions in Las Vegas” for five consecutive years featuring a dreamlike atmosphere with aquatic ballet.
Absinthe – A live show incorporating incredible acrobatics, cabaret, and comedy is essentially an adults-only circus.
Mystère by Cirque de Soleil – Combining Street performance with circus artistry featuring singers, dancers, and acrobats this is a fulfilled show for the whole family.
For the Kids
If you are travelling with children like me there is plenty to keep them busy with.
Discovery Children’s Museum – Visit the Discovery Children’s Museum, which features 26,000 square feet of interactive activities for the kids to get their hands on and allows them to explore and learn about the environment, health, inventions and art.
Get Wet ‘n’ Wild – The best way to beat the desert heat of Vegas and a fun day for the entire family. Wet ‘n’ Wild has something for all ages from adrenaline-pumping slides for the older kids like me and more easy and rides for the younger members of the family as well.
If that’s not enough then sample some of the free shows courtesy of the many casinos. The most popular undoubtedly the Bellagio Fountains, choreographed to music every 15 mins from 8pm to midnight. There is also the volcano outside the Mirage which erupts at 8pm and 9pm and a free circus show featuring acrobats and clowns every half hour from 11am to midnight at Circus Circus.
The list is never ending.
You can get some great views of the city from some of these points. The city’s tallest point is the Stratosphere tower’s observation deck and the Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower. There are also some great views from the Skyfall Lounge at the Delano Mandalay Bay and VooDoo rooftop nightclub at the Rio.
Eating and drinking
Best Classic Golden Steer: The oldest and still ranked as the best steakhouse in Vegas, with waiters in white uniforms ding top service.
Best Brunch – Sterling Brunch, Bally’s with bottomless champagne.
Best Steakhouse – SW – The signature steakhouse at Wynn uses Steve Wynn’s initials and the first serve real Kobe beef.
Best Pizza – Little Tony’s Pizza offers a variety of Italian and American styles pizzas including Classic Italian, Classic American, Sicilian and New York Traditional making it a clear winner and very popular.
Best Sushi: Morimoto & Nobu, all by legendary sushi chefs and fresh seafood shipment being imported straight from Japanese coastal waters. Morimoto at the MGM Grand by the superstar chef owner and original Iron Chef, Morimoto is a must visit. Nobu is based in Caesar’s Palace and a well known chain through out the world.
Best Burgers: Burgers come in too many styles with two great picks being Holstein’s in the Cosmopolitan and Gordon Ramsay Burger in Planet Hollywood. Vegas has an outpost of just about every fast food burger joint in America, and especially for late night revelry, you can never beat White Castle.
Best Buffet: If you’re hungry, a casino buffet is good value and they are usually cheaper for lunch than dinner with upgrades for unlimited drinks. The epitome of buffet dining and perfect for every pocket from massive spreads at the Caesar’s Palace, Bellagio and Aria to more pocket friendly ones at the Station’s Casinos and downtown. The most spoken about is the Buffet at Wynn but this will set you back a few $$$.
Best Off Strip Spot: Sparrow & Wolf is in Chinatown.You can also find good-value pre-theatre menus if you’re happy to eat early.
Hakkasan – Home to some of the popular night clubs and bars in the world but this one stands out and is a must visit.Upon arrival, guests are greeted by an entrance enveloped in Hakkasan’s signature shades of blue, ambient sounds, scents, and lighting, creating a relaxed atmosphere. It is home to the largest nightclub in the world with some of the most famous Dj’s having residency here.
Must Do’s in Vegas.
- Place a bet at the Ceasars Palace which remains an icon of Sin City decadence.
- Zip through the Fremont Street lights.
- Book your seat to see Celine Dion, Elton John, J. Lo, Cher, Bruno Mars, Backstreet Boys or Reba in concert at one of the hotels.
- Get hot and steamy at a luxurious spa to help you unwind and shine.
- Visit the Criminal underground in the safe confines of Downtown’s Mob Museum.
- Watch dancing waters at the Bellagio Fountain.
- Test your metal with a visit to the Stratosphere.
- Eat some of the best steaks on this planet.
- Sample a Sushi by Iron Chef Morimoto at the MGM.
- For the most definitive display of Cirque’s charms, book O at the Bellagio.
- Get cool in one of the many pool parties through the summers.
- Treat yourself to buffet at the Wynn.
- Go shop till you drop at the North Premium outlet mall.
- If that’s not enough then tie the knot Vegas Style in one of the many chapels in Downtown vegas.