Las Vegas Strip (credit: Randy Yagi)
The Las Vegas Strip
There is no greater concentration of mega-resort hotels and gambling casinos in the world than on the Las Vegas Strip. In fact, more than half of the world's 50 largest hotels are on the Strip. There's really never a dull moment on the Strip, but at night Las Vegas truly becomes alive with a spectacular array of colorful lights. Among the best attractions to enjoy at night are the Bellagio Fountains, The Mirage Volcano and the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Luxury Suite (credit: Randy Yagi)
Las Vegas Hotels
With more than 150,000 hotel rooms, a Las Vegas vacation can be easily as affordable as it can be incredibly expensive. On the high end, every major hotel offers several luxury suites, with some eclipsing the $25,000 mark per night. On the other hand, coupled with reasonable airfare from airline carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue, the Entertainment Capital of the World is one of the most affordable destinations in the country. What's more, many top attractions are absolutely free. Las Vegas is also home to budget deals for food and beverages, such as 99-cent sliders at Silverton Casino and 99-cent margaritas at places like the Fremont Hotel and Casino.
Related: How To Save Time At The Airport
Las Vegas Digital Billboard (credit: Randy Yagi)
Las Vegas Shows
From The Rat Pack and Elvis Presley to Wayne Newton and Celine Dionne, many of the world's most famous entertainers have performed in Las Vegas. During the 1960s Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop helped make Las Vegas a world-class destination by appearing together as The Rat Pack. Then came along the king of rock 'n' roll, Elvis Presley, who staged a comeback in his career by performing in Vegas for seven years. Decades later, the tradition of showcasing the biggest names in show business continues with appearances performers like Cher, Rod Stewart and Garth Brooks, along with current headliners Britney Spears, Mariah Carey and Elton John. Other noteworthy stage acts include Cirque du Soleil, magician David Copperfield and Broadway musicals like Jersey Boys.
Tetsu at Bar Masa (credit: Randy Yagi)
Michelin suspended publishing a restaurant guide for Las Vegas about five years ago. But that doesn't mean Vegas dining establishments aren't worthy of the lofty status of a Michelin star. Indeed, some of the world's finest restaurants are located here, including Restaurant Guy Savoy, Jean Gorges, Michael Mina, Bar Masa and L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon.
Tao Nightclub (credit: Randy Yagi)
Las Vegas Nightclubs And Pool Parties
Along with many of the world's leading hotels are some of the finest nightclubs on the planet. Some of the best known hotspots drawing top name music artists and celebrity guests are Tao, XS, Hakkasan and the hottest new club, Omnia. Las Vegas is also well known for its lavish pool parties at places like Daylight Beach Club, Tao Beach, Wet Republic and Rehab Pool Party.
Caesar's Palace and MGM Grand (credit: Randy Yagi)
World Class Sporting Events
Many of the most famous sporting events in history have occurred in Las Vegas, particularly at Caesar's Palace and the MGM Grand Arena. Since the late 1970s, Vegas was the premier location for boxing matches and featured the greatest boxers in history, such as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield. One of the richest boxing events ever will be held next month, when Floyd Mayweather meets Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand. In later years, Vegas has also been one of the premier spots for UFC events.
High Limit Lounge (credit: Randy Yagi)
Gambling isn't for everyone, but is certainly one of the best forms of entertainment in Vegas. There is also the possibility of winning a considerable amount of money from games like blackjack, roulette, poker and even the slot machines. First time gamblers looking to try gambling will have a much better chance of winning at table games like blackjack instead of slot machines.
Fremont Street (credit: Randy Yagi)
Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas is known for better chances of winning at slot machines, craps and other games than its higher profile neighbors up the road. Moreover, reasonable hotel rooms can be booked for as little as $30 a night, and there are plenty of places serving affordable food. The biggest attraction in the original gambling center of Las Vegas is the Fremont Street Experience in Glitter Gulch. Each night, spectacular light shows backed by upbeat music on an hourly basis is played overhead, entertaining thousands of visitors.
Shops at Crystals (credit: Randy Yagi)
From dollar stores to luxury retailers, Vegas has an incredible selection of places for finding that perfect gift. Every major resort hotel on the Strip features an amazing shopping experience, hosting many of the world's most famous retailers. Recommendations for first time visitors include the Forum Shops, the Grand Canal Shoppes and the Shops at Crystals. For an interesting low cost shopping experience, a good place to visit is Bonanza Gift Shop, billed as the World's Largest Gift Shop.
High Roller at the Linq (credit: Randy Yagi)
The swimming pools at the mega-resorts will be packed during the summer. But there are plenty of other recreational activities to enjoy in Vegas. Sin City has more than 50 golf courses with such favorites as Royal Links, Shadow Creek and Wynn Golf Club. And it's not just adults who have all the fun, as places like Adventuredome, Big Apple Coaster, High Roller, Big Shot, Madame Tussauds Las Vegas and Wet "N" Wild are all family-friendly favorites. Other activities include hiking, biking and an opportunity to visit nearby attractions like Lake Mead, Mount Charleston and Hoover Dam.
Related: Top National Parks Near Las Vegas
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.
for more features.