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
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.