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USA: Viva Las Vegas

  • October 10, 2014
  • By 50 Shades
  • 12 Comments
Las Vegas sign

Las Vegas sign

Continuing our tour of the USA, we completed our three city journey at the glitzy and glamorous city of Las Vegas. ‘Viva Las Vegas’, although clichéd, does describe the place perfectly.  It is a city bursting with vitality, energy and a racing pulse of never-stop action, with towering themed Hotel/Casinos lining ‘The Strip’.  These imposing structures are a work of art and are a tourist attraction within itself.  Where else can you see buildings that replicate a pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, a medieval castle, the skyline of Manhattan, have Venetian canals running through the centre or have a roller-coaster adorning their rooftop?

The Luxor

The Luxor

The facts are that Las Vegas is the most populous city in the state of Nevada and is an internationally renowned major resort city known primarily for gambling, shopping, fine dining and nightlife. It is the leading financial and cultural centre for Southern Nevada. The city bills itself as ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World’, and is famous for its mega casino–hotels and associated entertainment.

Las Vegas at night

Las Vegas at night

Now if you want to splurge stay at one of the five-star resorts and try your luck at one of the casino gambling tables. Experience some of the fine dining that Vegas has to offer, then take in a show such as Celine Dion at Caesars Palace, ‘Phantom’ – ‘The Las Vegas Spectacular’ at the Venetian, one of the Cirque de Soleil shows, ‘CSI: The Experience’ at MGM Grand or ‘Legends in Concert’ at the Flamingo. Take a scenic flight by night down the strip and be bedazzled by the light show that Vegas puts on after the sun goes down.

The Strip, Las Vegas

The Strip, Las Vegas

For people like ourselves who don’t have the money to splurge or gamble away at the Casino tables, here is what we did during our five day stay in Vegas:

  • Walked The Strip from one end to the other taking in the unique sights of ‘Sin City’

    Beautiful Gardens at Wynne

    Beautiful Gardens at Wynn

  • Caught the Monorail along ‘The Strip’ stopping at various places of interest

    The Grand Canal, The Venetian

    The Grand Canal, The Venetian

  • Was captivated by the fantastic Bellagio Fountains which combine water, music and light to create beautifully choreographed routines set to opera, classical and Broadway songs, best viewed of a night

    Bellagio Fountains

    Bellagio Fountains

  • Checked out the Hotel/Resorts on ‘The Strip’. My favourites were the lions at MGM Grand, gondolas on the grand canals of the Venetian, erupting volcano at the Mirage, spectacular circus show at Circus Circus, breathtaking display of plants and flowers at the Bellagio Conservatory, free show ‘Sirens of TI’ at Treasure Island, ‘Fall of Atlantis’ show at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, ladies dressed as mermaids along with 4,000 tropical fish, including stingrays and sharks swimming in a massive aquarium at the Silverton Casino Hotel or Rio’s ‘Show in the Sky’.

    The Lions at MGM Grand

    The Lions at MGM Grand

  • Shop until you drop at one of the Premium Factory Outlets at either end of Las Vegas. We got bargain prices on brands such as Nike, Adidas and DKNY.
  • There are too many reasonably priced restaurants/bars to dine at to mention, but some of the best ones were: Diablo’s Bar for a killer Margarita, Harley Davidson Café for a huge burger, Kahunaville at Treasure Island and an immense buffet breakfast at the Excalibur.

    One of the Burger Restaurants, Las Vegas

    One of the Burger Restaurants, Las Vegas

  • Explore the old Vegas at Downtown Fremont Street with a colorful Arts District, the hip new bars of Fremont East and a combination of vintage and new neon lights.

    Fremont Street, Old Las Vegas

    Fremont Street, Old Las Vegas

  • For window shopping only, check out The Shoppes at The Palazzo for all the designer labels such as Jimmy Choo, Coach, Marc Jacobs and Chloé.

These are just a small sample of other attractions and things to do in Vegas:

  • Get a panoramic, bird’s-eye view of ‘The Strip’ from 460 feet from the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas.
  • Bring out the detective in you at ‘CSI: The Experience’, an interactive tourist attraction at MGM Grand.
  • For a wildlife experience visit ‘The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat’, home to a flock of live Chilean flamingos, as well as swans, ducks, koi and turtles.

    Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

    Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

  • Go on an exclusive back-stage tour at Bally’s to get an understanding of what it takes to put on a stage production on the ‘Jubilee Walking Tour’.
  • Ride the famous roller-coaster at New York New York, the thrill rides on the rooftop of the Stratosphere or at the ‘Adventuredome’ at Circus Circus.

    Roller Coaster at New York New York

    Roller Coaster at New York New York

  • Skydive in an indoor wind tunnel at Las Vegas Indoor Skydiving complex.
  • See real bodies and organs at ‘Bodies: The Exhibition’ at the Luxor.
  • Get a highly interactive experience at the Atomic Testing Museum.

    National Atomic Testing Museum

    National Atomic Testing Museum

  • Learn about the natural history of Nevada at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.
  • Take in one of the many shows on offer. We saw ‘Cirque de Soleil: Love’ which was themed to The Beatles music and was absolutely spectacular.  We also saw a Bee Gee revival band show which was so-so, but good value for the money.

    Cirque De Soleil Show, Las Vegas

    Cirque De Soleil Show, Las Vegas

Hoover Dam & The Grand Canyon

A trip to Las Vegas would not be complete without doing either a bus tour or a helicopter flight out to Hoover Dam and The Grand Canyon.  We took a bus trip which is only two hours from Vegas to the Canyon, stopping via Boulder City and Hoover Dam.

After a quick stop at Boulder City for breakfast, we go our first glimpse of Lake Mead, aka Hoover Dam.  We stopped at this mammoth man-made structure, which borders Nevada and Arizona, to take in its sheer magnitude. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction and the newly completed Hoover Dam Bypass, a four lane arch bridge that spans the Colorado River downstream from the dam wall, is just as spectacular.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume. The dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated in 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

Lake Mead/Hoover Dam

Lake Mead/Hoover Dam

The Grand Canyon in the state of Arizona is known for its visually overwhelming size and its intricate and colourful landscape being 446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attaining a depth of 6,000 feet or 1,800 meters. It is managed by the Grand Canyon National Park, the Hualapai Tribal Nation, and the Havasupai Tribe.The canyon was carved by the Colorado River at least 17 million years ago and continues to erode and form the canyon to its present-day configuration.

Colorado River snakes it's way through the Grand Canyon

Colorado River snakes it’s way through the Grand Canyon

Our tour took us to Grand Canyon West, where there is the glass bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk, where you can walk out onto a cantilevered platform over the deep abyss below for breathtaking views.  The shuttle bus that is a continuous hop-on, hop-off service, took us to two viewpoints called Guano Point and Eagle Point which had magnificent views of the canyon and the Colorado River.  We also visited the Native American village which is a walking tour of authentic Native American dwellings and consists of an amphitheatre which features Native American performances.

Grand Canyon West Rim

Grand Canyon West Rim

Lunch was at nearby Hualapai Ranch where we partook in a hearty western-style meal and were entertained by a cowboy show, wagon rides or horseback rides were also available.  You can stay overnight in one of the western cabins with views out over the canyon.

Hualapai Ranch, Grand Canyon

Hualapai Ranch, Grand Canyon

Or trip back home to Vegas included a stop at Dolan Springs, a desert community in Mohave country, nestled at the foot of Mt Tipton in the Cerbat Mountains with the largest Joshua Tree Forest in the world.  This makes for stunning desert scenery with spectacular sunsets and sunrises with the colourful mountains forming a backdrop.

Mohave Desert Countryside

Las Vegas certainly is an eye-opener and you will either love it or hate it for all it stands for. I found it a fascinating mix of thrilling entertainment, posh hotels and intriguing characters. Everywhere you looked there was something to ‘look at’. Would I return to ‘Sin City’ though? Probably once was enough!

 

 

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By 50 Shades, October 10, 2014 Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
  • 12

50 Shades

Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.

12 Comments
  • Kim Acedo
    October 10, 2014

    Cool! So glad you had a good time in Vegas :) I’m just about a four hour drive from there, so I’ve been there multiple times for weekend trips, conferences, etc. I have to say that you did it right. Love the pictures. And so glad you saw The Beatles: Love. Spectacular, right?!!

    • Kathy
      October 10, 2014

      I think the highlight of the trip to Vegas was the day tour out to the Grand Canyon. It was spectacular. The Cirque De Soleil Show was also fabulous.

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    October 10, 2014

    Wow, wow and wow! I have got to go to Vegas now! Cirque de Soleil to Beatles music sounds fantastic! And the photos really show how everything is larger than life. Maybe Scotto and I should go over and get married again!

    • Kathy
      October 10, 2014

      Vegas is a city of excesses and it is one of those places that you have to see to believe. Cirque de Soleil was probably one of the best shows I have ever seen – simply sensational! I actually asked my hubby if he would like to renew our vows whilst we were there, but he gave a very resounding NO, so I let it go at that!

  • Rae Hilhorst
    October 11, 2014

    You certainly are well travelled. I don’t know that I could go to Las vegas, it’s never appealed. Loved reading about your adventures though x

    • kathymarris
      October 11, 2014

      Mmm, I think you would be more a New York kind of girl Rae. Although the shopping was fantastic in Las Vegas as were the shows and restaurants.

  • middleagedmama1
    October 11, 2014

    I’d love to go Las Vegas! I know some people think it’s tacky tacky and OTT (over the top) but I still think it would be incredible to experience it!

    • Kathy
      October 11, 2014

      Las Vegas is an incredible city – so much glitz, glamour and non-stop action. It is kind of exciting and although it does have a tacky side, it is still worth a visit.

  • Johanna
    October 12, 2014

    I’ve never been and actually not had the dream to go, but your photos make it look an exciting place to experience, especially if you had the money to splurge on a couple of shows.

    • Kathy
      October 12, 2014

      Jo the shows are fantastic in Vegas and you can buy the tickets last minute to get a good discount which is what we did. Also the Grand Canyon was a highlight :)

  • budgettraveltalk
    May 22, 2016

    I’d never thought about shopping in Vegas! I like the sound of the 4000 mermaid show and of course ‘Cirque de Soleil: Love’. It looks like a vibrant place full of experiences.

    • Kathy
      May 22, 2016

      Shopping in Vegas in fantastic, particularly the factory outlets where you can pick up some bargains. The Cirque de Soleil show was the highlight. It was amazing! There was just so much all happening at once and the music of The Beatles added to the enjoyment of the show. I think Vegas is one place everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime!

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