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Las Vegas, an Impossible City Made Real

True to its glitzy image, Las Vegas is a sprawling oasis of flashing lights, lush greenery, and unimaginable excess miraculously sprouted up in the middle of a hot, desolate desert. I visited in 2001 with my family. At the time, I was not yet 21 years old, and so I was unable to experience a lot of what Las Vegas is famous for. Amazingly, I had a fantastic time anyway! I think that proves that Vegas really is a place that pretty much anyone can enjoy, despite its “Sin City” reputation.

Casinos

The casinos are Vegas’ lifeblood. More than just gambling parlors, these are full-fledged resort experiences, often complete with luxury hotels, gardens, amusement parks, zoos, fine restaurants, shopping centers, theaters, and more.

New York, New York. Yes, it’s a little Big Apple, right in the heart of Vegas. This sprawling resort has scaled-down replicas of all the iconic sights in New York City: the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and many others. I had a great time riding the Big Apple Coaster here!

Mirage. Probably my favorite hotel of the bunch, the Mirage sports a lush jungle theme—including a fiery, rumbling replica volcano! During our visit, we saw Siegfried & Roy perform their famous illusion show. I’ve always kind of rolled my eyes at magic shows, but they definitely had my head spinning! Even though they no longer perform like they used to, their mystique lives on at the tranquil Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

Treasure Island. I loved watching the Pirate Show at Treasure Island! With its Caribbean pirate theme, this casino-hotel has a laid-back, casual feel. Known locally as “the TI,” this resort has a huge pool deck, several restaurants serving up barbecue, Mexican, and Caribbean fare, and a pedestrian walkway right into the upscale Fashion Show Mall.

And there are countless others! From the venerable and gritty Golden Nugget, to the elegant Bellagio and its famous dancing fountains and gorgeous botanical conservatory, the casinos of Vegas are constantly competing to be the grandest, most memorable experience imaginable.

Other Unique Things to Do Around Town

here’s more to Las Vegas than its over-the-top casinos. There are countless other attractions, some of which are truly unique.

The Mob Museum. A place like Sin City has had more than its fair share of underworld characters. This museum provides a glimpse into the workings of the Mafia in Las Vegas and around the world.

The Pinball Hall of Fame. Take a look at some of the amazing design and engineering that goes into these games.

Eiffel Tower Restaurant. Who needs to go to Paris to get authentic French haute cuisine? This restaurant sits on the eleventh floor of the unmistakable Eiffel Tower replica on the Strip.

Nearby Attractions and Tours

For those who’d like to take a break from all the gaudy glitz of Vegas, there are a number of impressive sights beyond the city limits.

Hoover Dam. Just about an hour away from the Strip, Hoover Dam is undeniably spectacular. More than just a dam, it is also a work of art and an amazing example of the Art Deco design popular during the 1930s, when it was built. Behind the dam is Lake Mead, one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States.

Red Rock Canyon. The serene desert setting of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a fine place to get closer to nature. And it’s convenient, too, since it’s only a half-hour drive from the Strip.

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