Whenever anyone speaks the words Las Vegas we immediately think Casinos, money, big hotels and bright lights.. However there is a lot more to Las Vegas than you would first think.. Of course, there are plenty of casinos in Las Vegas, but they aren’t the only thing there. Las Vegas is a top city destination, and it has everything plus more that you’d expect in a city. You can find Art galleries, theatre, cinema, concerts, sporting events , zoo’s and even snow boarding.

Before you go to Las Vegas, here is a check list for some things that you will find essential:

Take comfortable shoes, Las Vegas is a huge city and you will do a lot of walking. Although the hotels appear to look close together, you could find yourself walking for half an hour or more and still be on the same hotel complex. The city is big and the hotels are equally as big.

A high factor sun screen and some good lip balm, don’t forget you are in the middle of the desert and the air is really dry, which means that your lips will dry out very quickly.

Drink lots and lots of water to make sure you don’t de-hydrate

Last year on our annual trip we were booked to at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino. Arriving jet-lagged and after a long flight from London, we were greeted warmly by the staff who kindly offered us a room upgrade to a larger suite for a small charge. Due to the fact that there were only two of us, we didn’t think we would need that much extra space and decided to stay in the room we had previously booked. Once we were taken to our room I was glad that we didn’t take the extra space. The room was massive and decorated very nicely.. The bed was huge and must have been over 6 foot wide and all the furniture was wooden and all polished including a table and chair that we could sit and have dinner on if we wanted. The bathroom was all decorated in marble with a lovely bath with separate shower.. All the hotels are covered in carpet and all the walking about on the carpets in Las Vegas, means you generate a lot of static electricity so every time you touch a piece of metal, you get a small electric shock. So many of the hotels have covered many of their door handles and other bits and pieces were covered in leather straps so that you didn’t get a shock!

Once we had finished the tour of the room we were keen to get out and explore Las Vegas…

First stop however was to the Zanzibar cafe in the Aladdin, where we ordered a stack of pancakes for breakfast. Once again we were shocked by the size of everything here. We thought we could easily manage a short stack which consisted of only 3 pancakes each, but how wrong were we. The pancakes were about eight inches wide and six inches deep, we were just unable to eat them all, no matter how tasty they were. The Aladdin also has its own Desert Passage shopping mall, which has lots and lots of shops clothes, souvenirs, cafes, toys. There are all different sections, some looked as though you were in a bazaar in Morocco and some as though you were in a outdoor market.

For those who are not interested in the casinos that much there are lots of other things you can do.. Visit the Mandalay Bay where there is a beautiful aquarium called Shark Reef, where you can see plenty of sea life and seeing the sharks close is amazing

If you fancy something a little different then go and visit Circus Circus, where there are circus acts performed for free every day. They also have a funfair, with a large rollercoaster and fait rides. At the lake in front of the Bellagio hotel every morning and evening you can see the dancing fountains come a live, dancing in time to the music. There is also a lovely conservatory in the Bellagio, with beautiful tropical flowers and plants where you can have a pleasant stroll and hide from the heat for an hour or so. The hotel also boasts an art gallery although it is mostly sculpture.

Take the free shuttle to Sam’s Town from Harrah’s on the main strip where you can see a small fountain show inside the hotel although it is not as spectacular as the show in the Bellagio, but it is still worth a look, especially if you are in Las Vegas with children. Sam’s Town also has a large multiplex cinema and a bowling alley, as well as a casino.

From dusk till dawn a volcano erupts every 15 minutes from The Mirage Hotel. During the day you can see Siegfried and Roy’s secret garden, where you watch the white tigers and dolphins used in their show. The Flamingo Hotel has a lovely wildlife garden, where you can see penguins and other birds as well as little turtles and fish in the clear water pools..

The Imperial Palace has a great classic car show. An entrance fee is charged, but normally you can find someone standing outside giving away free tickets, which we managed to get. Many of the cars are spectacular and you can even buy one if you wanted. There was also a collection of classic jukeboxes and other collectibles which were also for sale.

The world famous Caesar’s Palace Hotel is home to the Race for Atlantis ride, which is inside the Forum Shopping Mall. There are two free fountain shows, which includes the Fall of Atlantis. The shopping mall as well as having lots of shops has plenty of benches where you can stop and rest those aching feet!

The Luxor Hotel is famous not only for its amazing casino but you can also go to the Imax Cinema, where different features are showing each day, including films in 3D. The Luxor is also home to the ride, In Search of the Obelisk and have a look at a replica of King Tut’s tomb.

Watch the amazing Pirates battle it out at the Treasure Island hotel, with a great show with fantastic sound and light effects and even real life sized ships.

You can even take a trip up a half sized replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and get some great views.

For Star Trek fans then The Star Trek Experience is found inside the Hilton Las Vegas Hotel and you can get a shuttle bus from the main strip which will take you directly to the hotel.

For food there are some great buffets in Las Vegas. The best value for food we found was at the Sahara and the Imperial Palace. The best place for a bit of wow factor was at The Flamingo, where the buffet restaurant overlooks the gardens and waterfalls and nearly any food from around the world that you could think of was available.

Whilst in Las Vegas no trip would be complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon and you can find many tour operators providing day trips and you can even fly over the Canyon and get a great view of this massive phenomenon

If you wanted to go a little further afield then the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon are certainly worth a visit.

Before you leave Las Vegas, do remember to go up the Stratosphere Tower for an amazing bird’s eye view of the strip and the surrounding mountains. If you have time you can go up twice, once in the day and then again at night, where you can see why Las Vegas is called the City of Lights.

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