Las Vegas

Getting to Las Vegas has never been easier now that British Airways and Virgin operate direct flights to the destination.

There are a number of shuttle buses from the airport to the hotel. Super Shuttle was the only one open when we arrived and this is $20 return.

Hotels in Las Vegas are typically huge (MGM has 5,000 rooms) and most of them have a theme  eg Caesars, Venetian, Paris so you can travel all over the world all in one street, unofficially called “The Strip”. The official name is Las Vegas Boulevard. The hotel part of The Strip is a very deceiving 4 and a half miles long from Stratosphere in the north to Mandalay Bay in the South. I would highly recommend using a local RTC bus pass. The covers Deuce which runs along The Strip, SDX which is an express bus which runs between the two outlet malls, North and South stopping at less stops on The Strip so it is much faster. The pass also covers other local buses to other destinations off The Strip.

Don’t be in a hurry in Las Vegas. Always allow an extra half an hour to get from A to B. It can take much longer than you think due to heavy traffic, sheer volume of people everywhere, building works and the buses often stop for several minutes.

Each hotel is an attraction in itself, for instance New York, New York has a roller coaster and monorail running through it, its own Statue of Liberty, buildings that look like typical New York houses and shops that you find in New York like Hershey’s and Starbuck’s. Most of the hotels have their own casino, a museum, several restaurants and two or three shows so wherever you stay there is plenty to do and see.

A must see from Las Vegas is Grand Canyon which can be done by road, light aircraft or helicopter to West or South Rim. There are many different options and a range of prices. We chose light aircraft to West Rim which includes a scenic 35 minute flight to and from Boulder City, a decent lunch at Eagle Point or Guano Point and an interesting little exhibition of Native American dwellings. All in all a lovely day and well worth the money.

Another must see is the Hoover Dam, built in 1931, taking under 5 years to build, 2 years ahead of schedule and at 700 ft high it is one of the world’s greatest man made structures even to this day. After a tour of the dam we had lunch on a paddle steamer on Lake Mead, America’s largest man made lake, a reservoir which generates power to Nevada and Arizona. Many different birds have made Lake Mead their home. The tour included Ethel M’s chocolate factory and cactus garden. Another lovely day which I would thoroughly recommend.

A couple of times we took the bus to Fremont Street, home to Golden Nugget, some of the oldest casinos, Mob Museum and Container Park. Fremont Street is busy but quieter and much less chaotic than The Strip. It is generally a little cheaper as well.

Las Vegas has a few shopping malls, mostly inside the hotels but in addition, Fashion Show Mall right in the middle of The Strip was actually a very pleasant surprise. It features Macy’s, Dillard’s and several other well known department stores and shops so we managed to get plenty of bargains. The SDX goes to Town Square and two outlet malls at each end of The Strip. We tried the one at the South End and it was much better than Fashion Show for shoes and trainers. For small items like water, cookies and keyrings, go to Walgreen’s. There are plenty around and a fraction of the prices of the hotel shops.

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