Welcome to the Sin City. They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! No matter how much is written for this incredible place that truly never sleeps, you could never get enough.
Bit of History
Located in the middle of arid Mojave desert, Las Vegas was found as an oasis (where you get water in the middle of a desert) by the trading parties traveling to Los Angeles in late 1800’s. Urbanization began in early 1900’s with the railroad linking Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, along with the building of the Hoover Dam in 1930’s. Showgirl theaters and Casinos were built by the construction mafia to entertain primarily male workers and businessmen around the area. It was not until late 1930’s that gambling was legalized. First set of hotels or resorts built in 1940’s served gourmet buffets and entertained affluent tourists. Out of the early hotels, only Flamingo still remains in business. Mob activity was reduced in the post-war period and it saw a rapid boom in the Las Vegas casino scene. Major hotels like Sahara, Sands, Riviera, popped in. Biggest stars like Frank Sinatra and other entertainers flocked to perform in the hotels.
Foundation of modern day Vegas was mainly built in the 1970-80 period, with mega resort boom coming in the 1990’s. The biggest names, Rio, Excalibur, MGM Grand, Treasure Island were built in 1990’s, and Wynn, Aria, Encore and Cosmopolitan in 2000’s.
Things to do in a perfect weekend
Unlike other big cities, Vegas can be covered in one weekend. But, and a big caveat being, you are likely going to come back for another weekend or ten. It is a hit or miss for most people – you either love it or you don’t. We are big Vegas fans, and have been there at least 5-6 times. Below are a few things that you can easily cover in your first trip to Vegas. Be sure to check out the key things to remember and fun facts below.
The Strip of Las Vegas is a 4 mile section of the Las Vegas Boulevard going north-south. Most of the major hotels and casinos are in this section.
- Hotels and Casinos: You are in Vegas, so it makes sense to play a table game or two (some call it gambling). If you are a Poker and Blackjack player, be sure to play a few games in different hotels to get the full experience. A few hands in Bellagio and Caesars Palace is very different from the cheaper casinos in the northern side of the strip. Below are a few key ones you should visit (South to North):
- Luxor: Egyptian themed hotel with obelisks and sphynx.
- Excalibur: Disney’s Aladin themed hotel
- New York, NY: The casino is NYC themed with street names and major architectures. Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building replicas are displayed in the facade. Be sure to check out the roller coaster.
- MGM Grand: Famous MGM lion statues and an indoor zoo.
- Paris: Check out the Eiffel Tower replica, play in the Paris themed casino, or try some french pastries. Take the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower during the evening to see the incredible Bellagio fountain show.
- Venetian: Venice themed hotel with a replica of a canal inside where you can take a gondola ride flowing under the bridges. Get a gelato and check out the flagship designer stores while you are here.
- Bellagio: Probably the most notable and famous for its dancing fountains. Fountains show is every 30 minutes every day. Our favorite place to gamble in the casino.
- Caesar’s Palace: Our favorite hotel to stay. It features replicas of the roman architecture inside, including some of the famous fountains (e.g. Trevi) of Rome.
- Mirage: Check out the volcano and pirates show every evening.
- Stratosphere: Although a low end hotel compared to the rest above, this towering hotel is a special mention due to the three insane thrill rides at the top – Insanity, Big Shot and X-scream.
- Entertainment Shows: Vegas hosts a number of regular shows and some featured shows by marquee entertainers. Some sort of event or heavyweight artists’ shows happen in pretty much every weekend in the year. We recommend choosing one or two among the below regular shows for a complete Vegas experience –
- Cirque du Soleil shows – Zumanity, O, Ka, Mystique
- Blue Man Group
- David Copperfield
- Crazy Horse
- Foodie Paradise: Not surprisingly, Vegas boasts an incredibly high number of hottest restaurants owned by celebrity chefs of the current time. You can also choose to survive on cheap but delicious food, or hoard on the sumptuous buffets around town. Below are some good sampling of food from all ranges that we love:
- High Rollers: Woolfgang Puck’s Spago in Bellagio, Scotch 80 Prime in the Palms, Bardot Brasserie, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants in Caesars and Planet Hollywood, Emeril Lagasse’s Fish House in MGM Grand.
- Hot Buffets: Most of the hotels have brunch or dinner buffets; our favorites are the buffets in Bellagio, Caesars, Aria, and MGM Grand.
- Cheap Eats: Hit the Fashion Show mall and the malls across the street from Aria for many cheap eats including tacos, shrimp rolls and pizza slices. Check out this article for more info.
- Don’t forget to go to Vegas downtown for Fremont Street Experience and the Mob Museum.
Things to Remember
- Do not fall into tourist traps of ‘cheap girls in the hooker cards’ or ‘cheap tickets to enter an upscale club’. Those will surely get you into trouble or cost you money at the very least.
- Do not miss out on grabbing a craft cocktail from numerous bars and pubs in the strip. Although you may have to shell out some money.. its worth it.
- Go to a party on Friday or Saturday night. XS in Wynn and Encore beach club are our favorites. Club in Aria and Caesars are pretty cool as well.
- You are not going to the beach, but still pack your bikinis and swim trunks. Best parties in the strip are in the pool side – check out the parties in Aria, Wynn, Cosmopolitan.
- Believe it or not, smoking is still allowed in all casinos barring a few like Wynn, Cosmopolitan and Aria.
- Drinks are free as long as you tip the rotating waitresses and keep playing in the tables. Do not expect quick service or even quality cocktails here.. obviously!
- Even if you would love to bring out your fancy outfits and high heels, there is a lot of walking around here. The distances between hotels are way longer than they appear. So plan accordingly and recommend leaving the stilettos for the evening parties.
- Lastly, have fun gambling, drinking, partying, dancing, whatever pleases you; just try not to get married and get into trouble with the cops. Not funny, these things happen. 🙂