Las Vegas to San Diego

Las Vegas to San Diego

Las Vegas is the capital of gambling in the United States.  Las Vegas offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;

  • Las Vegas strip
  • Day trips to the Grand Canyon (natural wonder of the world)
  • Huge casinos such as the Bellagio, MGM, The Mirage, Caesers Palace, Sratosphere, Paris, Venetian, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, New York New York, Circus Circus, Wynn, Aria
  • Fremont Street and downtown Las Vegas
  • Live shows and concerts
  • Bars and nightclubs
  • Porn Stars pawn shop
  • Buffets
  • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Las Vegas Sign

Las Vegas Sign

When you first arrive in Vegas you’ll already be able to see the huge casinos.  At the start of the strip, next to Mandalay Bay you’ll find the famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada’ sign.  The good news is, there is parking and an organised queue so getting your picture here is a must!

Las Vegas is the home of deals, discounts and coupons, you’ll see them everywhere.  I found 2 great sites online that you should compare for great deals on hotels, casinos, buffets,tours, shows and concerts.  They are Smarter Vegas and Best of Vegas.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

From Las Vegas there are 2 main ways to see the Grand Canyon, the first is to take a tour or drive to the Grand Canyon west rim.  The second is to take a helicopter tour direct from Las Vegas.  I was lucky, I took both tours!

The advantage of the tour / drive to the west rim is that you can stop at Hoover Dam on the way.  Once at the site, you’ll get better photos of the canyon and you can also stand dangerously close to the edge, as I did (above).  I’m sure some people taking selfies on the edge must fall off but it’s an Indian Ranch so rules are lax.  If you did have the urge to take a helicopter over the canyon when you are there, then you can take them from the western rim.  You can also pay extra and take a walk on the Grand Canyon Skywalk which is a U shaped glass walkway over the canyon.

The advantage of the helicopter tour directly from Las Vegas is that you’ll be picked up from your hotel by limousine and taken to the heliport.  From the heliport you’ll fly over;

  • Las Vegas strip
  • Lake Mead
  • Hoover Dam
  • Grand Canyon

You’ll then land at a remote spot in the middle of the canyon and enjoy lunch and champagne.  You’ll get some great aerial shots of the above points of interest on the way (as my Vegas pic below) and time to take plenty of shots in the canyon.  You’ll be back in Vegas in no time!

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

There is a Seinfeld joke about Las Vegas ‘ the biggest mistake you can make in Vegas is looking out the window at another casino and thinking, I can walk that!’.  You can see Aria in the left hand side of the photo, maybe it looks walkable from the MGM but with the Vegas heat, you’ll be tired by the time you get there!  You can get a 24 hour Deuce bus pass so you can be driven up and down the strip as much as you like (it stops at all casinos).  In fact you can take the Deuce all the way to downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Street experience.  In the other direction it will take you to Las Vegas south premium outlets which answers the famous question ‘Where do I buy the Nike shoes?’.  The bus runs 24 hours a day, so you can visit everywhere all day. Las Vegas never sleeps!

New York New York Casino, Las Vegas

New York New York Casino, Las Vegas

This is actually the sunrise, (above) with all the bars and discos in Las Vegas it’s not unusual to come home when it’s already dawn!  Do your research before buying tickets to a nightclub from a street vendor.  The 2 websites I gave you are good for nightlife, Smarter Vegas and Best of Vegas.  Beware of scams involving nightclubs, you could watch the British documentary Scam City to learn about the scams in Vegas before going.

Bellagio Casino, Las Vegas

Bellagio Casino, Las Vegas

The fountains of Bellagio are one of the most famous and perhaps romantic points of interest in Vegas.  Every 30 minutes the fountains are choreographed to dance to famous music.  I was lucky enough to see the fountains attempt a moonwalk to Billie Jean!

Another famous landmark on the strip is the Mirage volcano which erupts every half hour in front of the Mirage casino.  Caesers Palace is famous for the Hangover movies, The Venetian is famous for it’s gondola rides through the canals of Venice.  For a great photo of the strip you can take a ride up the Stratosphere where you’ll also find a theme park.  Do you want to see the Eiffel Tower without going to Paris? Visit the Paris casino!  Do you want to see a pyramid without going to Egypt? Visit the Luxor!  Do you want a photo with Michael Jackson or Chewbacca?  You’ll find them and many others on the strip!

Downtown Las Vegas Sign

Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas Sign

At downtown Las Vegas you’ll find the following points of interest;

  • Fremont street experience
  • Pawn star porn shop
  • Fremont street light show
  • Casinos with looser machines than the strip
  • Cheap hotels and bars

The light show in the evening is a must!  You’ll also recognize this place from countless movies including Last Vegas.

Las Vegas to San Diego - Self Drive

Las Vegas to San Diego – Self Drive

I hired a car to drive from Las Vegas to San Diego.  Driving in the US is easy and much more cost effective than taking the bus.  The US is set up for driving as appose to taking buses like in South America so I will drive all the way up to Seattle.  The route to San Diego is simple, I-15 south.

San Diego to Los Angeles

2017-03-13T13:23:09+00:00 January 6th, 2017|North America, USA|14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Shona January 17, 2017 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Great photos James. You’re a bit too close to the edge of the canyon for my liking though! 😉

  2. Midori January 17, 2017 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Hey, looks like your doing an amzing trip! How long have you been on the road? great post!

  3. Pete January 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    My first time in Las Vegas, we came in from the west on dusk, just as a fleet of helicopters came in low out of the east. Talk about a surreal moment!

    The next day we viewed the Hoover Dam from the new bridge, so I recognise that border sign you’re standing in front of. What a sight! And doubly so for the Grand Canyon. The helicopter ride sounds like a blast.

    Thanks for the report!

  4. Hendrik February 15, 2017 at 9:31 am - Reply

    Ah Vegas – how much I fell in live with this city. Good tips, James – as always, my personal favourite was the Venetian, I felt somehow it was a bit different and more unique than other hotels, but thats just my personal taste…
    I truly like how you stand there with your slippers n the rock 🙂
    Unfortunately this we totally missed to see the Canyon, but thats a good reason to re-visit Vegas again.

  5. Alexandra Ogden February 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    My gut says I will absolutely hate Vegas, but anyone I know who has been has such awesome things to say about it… I still don’t know what to think. I will admit that the helicopter ride you mentioned sounds pretty sweet. I also hear the food is really excellent, what was your take?

    • James Smith February 15, 2017 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Most of the casinos have all you can eat buffets which are famous in Vegas. If you don’t like buffets, there are plenty of fast food restaurants. With the success of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay has opened a few restaurants there too.

  6. neha February 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    Vegas has been high on my bucket list. And wanted to see grand canyon also. But had no idea they are so close by that they can be covered in a single trip. I also liked your tip on Deuce bus pass , that will really save a lot of walking or otherwise expense on cabs. Will again refer back as I start planning the vegas trip

  7. Raymond Carroll February 15, 2017 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    It’s been a while since I’ve been to Vegas, James – 30 years. I was 16 at the time and was restricted on where I could go because of my age but still enjoyed it. I went to the Grand Canyon too, and the Hoover dam. Your pictures are great and I can see that it has changed a lot since when I was there. Good post with good pictures as usual! Good luck, James, and take care!

  8. Sonja February 15, 2017 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I loved visiting this area of the US! Vegas is so much fun, and the Grand Canyon is stunning. I went to Vegas when I was 17 though and then again with family so definitely need to go back for a proper Vegas weekend! Great tips for the top things.

  9. kathy (from walkaboutwanderer.com) February 16, 2017 at 6:52 am - Reply

    Sounds like you had a great time seeing the Gran Canyon by air and by land. I took this trip 11 years ago when I drove from Vegas to San Diego via the Hoover Dam and the Gran Canyon. It was a fantastic trip and gave me so much sense of freedom being able to drive at my own pace rather than on an organised tour. I can not remember what I did for transport whilst in Vegas though, but the bus that stops at each casino sounds like a great way to see the area as I agree, it is massive.

  10. Kreete February 16, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I can’t believe people queue up for the photo of the Las Vegas sign! Your photos are amazing and getting a helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon to enjoy champagne seems like straight something from a move. Would you happen to know how much that costs? Or is it too expensive for immortals? 😀 Awesome photos, mate! Loving following your trip along!

    • James Smith February 16, 2017 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      It was around $350 which was good value as it included a flyover of the strip, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam as well. The best 2 places to look are the 2 websites I mentioned, Smarter Vegas or Best of Vegas.

  11. Lauren West February 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    I agree about the US being built for driving! Public transportation in lots of the US leaves lots to be desired. Vegas is always tons of fun, no matter what kinds of adventures you get into there! Thanks for sharing about the ways to find out the best deals in Vegas! It can sure get expensive there.

  12. Allison February 18, 2017 at 4:53 am - Reply

    I love love love Vegas! I’m not a gambler but I always find lots to do there. The Bellagio fountains and great and so is Freemont St. I also love the outlets 😏

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