So when the long winter ended and spring arrived in Midwest, a unique opportunity had us pack our bags and travel to Las Vegas, the party city of the world. As much as I have been a fan of offbeat destinations, Vegas won me over with its charm and vibrancy. Vegas has a rhythm of its own, of life, colors and the incessant ringing of cash in the casinos. So after a 4 hour flight from Detroit to Las Vegas, the Spirit Airways flight landed on the runway in the heart of a city that was so brightly illuminated that it is hard for anyone not to notice the charged atmosphere. The travelers, aircraft crew and the pilot erupted in a frenzy of cheers – Yes, that’s what Vegas does to you. It shows you how to party.
1. Fremont Street Experience
Any day, this would ace our list of our top favorites in Vegas. Fremont street is an incredible entertainment and gaming destination in the heart of Las Vegas. The LED display canopy that runs across the length of the Fremont Street Mall promenade is powered by over 12 million LED lamps by its chief sponsor, LG.
These erupt in colors for each light and sound show that begins at dusk. Though Vegas is known to never turn off its outside Casino lights, it is only in Fremont Street that these casino lights go off periodically create the right ambiance for the hoards of tourists who throng this street to enjoy the full entertainment of visuals and music aired in the curved LED canopy display across the length of the street.
And it is when these music shows begin that the Slotzilla launches its flyers across the ziplines. There are 2 levels of lines – the lower zipline which goes halfway down the Fremont Street and the upper Zoomline which sends its flyers in more like “Superhero style” across the entire length of the hall.
The place is also known for its free concerts that happen on the three different stages in the Street. Not to mention the sights and scenes that you see across the entire length of this street is sure to keep you spell bound.
2. The Vegas Strip
You know it when you are in the Las Vegas Strip. With the world’s largest hotels, resorts and casinos, the Strip is not a place that you tend to miss when you are in Vegas. Starting from the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” signboard, the various creatively made hotels and resorts are what make the strip spectacular.
The Strip brings the world’s landmarks all into one place – from the statue of liberty to the Eiffel Tower of Paris, the glories of ancient Greece to the pyramids of Egypt, you have it all.
We chose to ride around this stretch of city in an open convertible to completely enjoy the sights and sound of life around us. Thought the strip is an active place round the clock, the place is definitely at its best after dusk and until dawn. Nope – this city does not sleep.
3. The Fountains of Bellagio
If you thought these are just any musical fountains, be prepared to be proven wrong. The 8.5 acre lake has 1214 jets that rocket streams of water up to 460 feet in the air. Yes, we are talking about fountains that go up to the height of few of the tallest buildings in Vegas.
The fountains groove to about 30 different songs that are choreographed and maintained by a whole team of people and these are absolutely free to anyone who is visiting Vegas. All you need to do is find a parking lot, walk to the lake side and watch them fountains shimmy, turn and swirl to the music while the crowds can’t stop gaping at the sheer perfection of the entire show.
Show timings vary across the week. Most of them end right after midnight.
Monday – Friday: There is a show every half hour from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. – midnight.
Saturdays and holidays: The show runs every half hour from noon – 8 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. – midnight.
Sundays: Fountain show times begin at 11 a.m. and run every half hour until 7 p.m. From 7 p.m. to midnight the show runs every 15 minutes.
4. The Venetian – A Taste of Venice in the West
I had added this place to the my list of to-do places list after the number of photographs that come up in social media with friends posing against the Venice like grandeur inside the hotel. One look at the place, and I knew this was worth the hype.
With ceilings that are made to look like the actual sky, water channels and gondola rides in them, the Venetian has certainly brought a bit of Venice into Las Vegas. We chose to sit by one of the Mexican restaurants by the lake and watch while the Venetian gondolas guided aptly by their respective gondoliers took tourists around the water channels all the while singing their native songs.
5.Caesar’s Entertainment – Hotels, Casinos and Experiences
From the 20 foot tall Augustus Caesar statue that stands guard at the entrance welcoming you, this place is a leaf out of Greek mythology. Its many columns, statues and iconography typical of the Roman era can effectively transport visitors into a different world.
The sheer size of this place can be a shock to any casual visitor. With roughly ~4000 rooms and suites spread across six towers and a convention facility spread over 300,000 square feet can leave anyone to explore for hours and still not be done seeing it all.
It houses numerous high end shops and restaurants across the length and breadth of the facility. It is only normal to get lost while you try to navigate through here because of the endless span of casinos and interspersed with restaurants and shops.
We had booked one night stay at “The Forum” tower. The check in process took a lot more than 1 hour. Apparently, check in could only be done at the single reception for all the residential towers which was more like a joke. We ended up waiting in the line from night 11:45pm to about 1 AM only to get the card keys to our room. Subsequently, getting to the room and parking lot involved endless walking around casinos and large halls with all our luggage in tow – It is only for this reason that I would not recommend staying here. For stay recommendations, read on.
6. Hoover Dam
Because Vegas is most alive at night hours, we decided to make the most of our day time by paying a visit to the Hoover Dam. It lies at the border of Arizona and Nevada at an hour’s drive away from Vegas city.
For those Transformers fans – here is the Sector Seven secret base where Megatron lies still frozen with the All Spark awaited to be saved. To move on from fiction to facts – Hoover dam is a civil engineering marvel – a concrete arch-gravity dam built in the Black Canyon across Colorado River.
The dam was built to tame the waters from Colorado river and use it for better purposes across the various states that totally depend on the supplies from the dams build across Colorado river. Lake Mead was formed as a result of the dam and becomes the largest reservoir in the United States by volume during its full capacity. If you are here, park your car and take the walk across the dam and later over the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge for exceptional view of the dam.
7. Our stay at the Palms Place
Last but not the least, I had to mention about the most comforting factor of our visit to Vegas. The place of stay for 2 out of the 3 nights we had in Vegas – Palms Place.While staying at themed hotels in Vegas is a great idea, you will be limited to smaller rooms and spaces. We found these amazing furnished apartments offered by Palm’s Place in AirBnb and chose one of them to stay in.
We were honestly surprised at how well kept and fabulous the place was. We were on the 17th floor of a 30 plus storeyed residential tower building. This remains one of the best places I have ever stayed in during my travels across United States so far – and I am sure it will remain so for a long time. I could go on about the place but take a look at the pictures and decide for yourself why it was totally worth the $300 we spent on it for 2 days. Highly recommended!
We travelled to Arizona and the Canyons from Vegas but that’s a whole story in itself. Follow us at our FaceBook page to stay tuned to our updates while we bring you more stories from our Arizona adventures.