Rising out of the dust and heat of the desolate Mojave Desert a shrine to new America stands and shines in radioactive neon splendor for those who wish to feel the rush of the sprint towards the American Dream. Las Vegas, Nevada sometimes known as Sin City for those who harbor a bit of bitterness toward that town’s extremely mild winters. It is known around the world as the place where American culture is compressed and sped up and coiled so tight it’s bound to spontaneously combust.
Founded, ironically, by Mormon settlers in the early 20th century it was a small town until the 1950s when Bugsy Segal made his home on the Las Vegas Strip further fuelling the expanding casino industry in the area. And as over 800 nuclear weapons were detonated just to the North of the city the metropolis sprawled, coating the desert floor of the Las Vegas Valley with its distinctive pre-fab stucco homes.
The 1990s saw an even bigger explosion of activity on the strip with the creation of enormous, themed mega hotels like the MGM Grand, The Bellagio and the New York, New York. Las Vegas was deemed the “adult Disneyland” and the casino owners began to focus on a more family centric experience in their hotels, while the parents played at the roulette tables, the kids could play at Ping-Pong tables.
After you arrive in McCarran Airport you will be assailed by all manner of taxis, shuttles and buses just jumping at the opportunity to take you to the Strip where you will have your choice of the many hotels. But gambling and drinking are not the only things to do in this ostentatious town. Indeed, a stroll down the sidewalk of the Strip is worth a day in of itself to view the shows that run all day long, to observe the architecture of the casino buildings, to shop and shop and shop, Las Vegas is also home to a great many restaurants of which you will surely never be bored.
The attractions downtown are endless and many people never leave the few square miles surrounding their hotel. Here’s a fun fact that you can brag about to your friends: the Las Vegas Strip is not technically in Las Vegas, it is located in Paradise, Nevada the largest, by population, unincorporated township in the United States.
However, there are other places in the Las Vegas area that are worth seeing on your trip if you tire of the boisterous noise and lights of the Strip’s night life. Mount Charleston is a cool reprieve from the heat of the desert floor and offers hiking year round and skiing in the winter. Beautiful Red Rock Canyon is a must see destination for hikers, cyclists and rock climbers, not to mention amateur geologists. The hoover dam on the border of Nevada and Arizona is an engineering marvel and an important piece of American history and nearby Lake Mead offers some pretty wet and wild times.
So be sure to visit Las Vegas sometime, there’s all sorts of fun to be had there!