A blaze of neon lights against the emptiness of Nevada's Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is one of the USA's most popular tourist destinations. Every year, over 35 million visitors flock to the city, drawn mainly by the attraction of its lavish hotel casinos.
Gambling is definitely the heart of the Las Vegas experience, with casinos both large and small offering everything from slot machines to classic table games like blackjack, poker and roulette. The largest casinos are not just places to gamble but vast entertainment complexes, with restaurants, bars, theatres, shops, museums, art galleries and no fewer than seven Cirgue du Soleil shows. Casinos compete to show the most elaborate attractions, like the replica Venetian canal -- complete with gondolas -- at the Venetian or the massive fountains of the Bellagio.
Las Vegas celebrates its own outrageous displays, and a walk along the densely-packed Strip or through the brilliant light show of the Fremont Street Experience is a journey into a world of glitz and excess. Older casinos like the Tropicana recall the city's history of glamour, celebrities, excess -- and shady dealings.
There's more to Las Vegas than gambling, though; there's even more than the entertainment and shopping of the massive hotel casinos. If you're planning a longer stay in Sin City, consider allocating a day to a trip outside town. The Grand Canyon, the most spectacular natural feature in North America, is around 275 miles (442 km) away -- not such a long drive by the standards of the American southwest. Be sure to check opening times, though; different areas of the Canyon are open at different times of the year.
Las Vegas has a hot, dry desert climate, with summer highs reaching over 38 C (100 F) for much of the season. Even nightfall doesn't necessarily reduce temperatures very far; if you can't take the heat, visit in spring or autumn. The arid desert air and air-conditioned hotel interiors can lead to the dry, croaky voice known as "Vegas throat," so be sure to drink plenty of water, wear sunblock and minimise your exposure to the sun.
Did you know...
The closest hotel to Las Vegas airport is The Homewood Suites Las Vegas Airport which is 1 km away.
Las Vegas has the UTC/GMT adjustment of -28800.
Mexicali in Mexico is the closest international airport to Las Vegas.
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