Vegas Baby!

Las Vegas is an extravagant city with endless gambling, alcohol, food, and vibrant entertainment in the middle of Nevada’s massive Mojave Desert. One of the most stimulating cities in the world which blurs the line between reality and fantasy, Vegas is the perfect place to de-stress. Millions flock to the city each year – some in hope of fortune and fame, others for entertainment and just to have a wonderful time.

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Attractions

Las Vegas’ vast neon playground of gigantic casinos, enthralling displays, high-end shops and amusement parks with interlinked moving walkways and trams draws you into its glitzy world where you lose track of time.

The heart of the city is the Strip in Las Vegas Boulevard, a concentration of luxury hotel-casinos each with their own set of glamorous nightclubs and award-wining shows. On the far end of the strip is the Stratosphere, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.

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Of course, the biggest reason to visit Vegas is the casinos. From the nickel slot machines to the private rooms with reserved tables, there is a venue to suit every pocket. People throng tables for blackjack and baccarat, swilling freely flowing alcohol.

Las Vegas is not called the “Entertainment Capital of the World” for nothing. It is the home of the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Soleil, the funky Blue Man Group, the world famous Las Vegas showgirls, Jersey Boys and other unparalleled theater performances. From the Rat Pack in the 1960s to Celine Dion this summer, Vegas has always drawn the best artists and performers. Illusionists such as Penn and Teller, comedians like Carrot Top are Vegas favorites for their showmanship. At the southern end of the Strip, Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino has a giant arena presenting America’s top boxing matches.

The House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay area offers the most brilliant views of Las Vegas from its Foundation Room lounge on the roof. For an opulent experience, indulge in the luxury of the Mandalay Bay’s ultra-chic Light nightclub. Probably the most popular and famous of all the nightclubs in Vegas is Hakkasan at the MGM Grand. The TAO Las Vegas at the Venetian, Pure Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace, Hyde Bellagio at Bellagio and XS in the Encore at Wynn are also a cool places to hang out and let your hair down. With so much to do late into the evening, Vegas is truly a city that never sleeps, with non-stop nighlife.

Shopping and food are two other past times in Las Vegas. Caesar’s Palace has an incredible mall that will leave you spellbound with its ceiling of painted blue sky with clouds. The Venetian also has luxury shopping with many designer labels. Most other hotels too have luzury shops inside their lobbies. Las Vegas may once have been famous for its $3.99 all-you-can-eat-buffets, but today world-renowned chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse have opened several excellent restaurants in town, and most of the prominent hotels have gourmet restaurants.

Free Attractions

A trip to Vegas doesn’t have to break the bank. There are several free attractions to keep you entertained for the duration of your trip.

  • MGM Grand Lion Habitat

Inside the casino, take a break and view the magnificent lions. It’s a wonderful experience and there are plenty of Lion Habitat souvenirs you can buy at the gift shop.image

  • Bellagio Fountains

The Bellagio on the Strip puts up a free musical fountain show. It’s better at night when the fountains are lit beautifully, creating a magical atmosphere.

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  • Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Past the Bellagio’s lobby are the Botanical Gardens with a wonderful seasonal display of flora.

  • Volcano at the Mirage

Watch the volcano at the front of the Mirage erupt in the evening, a scintillating display with the dark sky in the backdrop.

  • White Tigers and Aquarium at the Mirage

View Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers in their specially designed habitat at the Mirage, accessible to the public. Behind the front desk is a 53 foot long aquarium housing over 1,000 creatures from all over the world including Australia, Fiji and the Caribbean.

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  • Sirens of Treasure Island

The Sirens of TI live show presents a seventeenth century battle between attractive sirens and a group of pirates. Located at the front of Treasure Island and featuring music and dance, it’s fun and lively.

  • Fall of Atlantis at Caesars

Huge animatronic statues star in this show with stupefying special effects, fire and smoke in the midst of neon lights and fountains.

  • M&M’s World

M&M’s World is a lot of delicious fun. You can catch a free 3D movie “I left my M in Vegas” and explore the wonderland, which has NASCAR-themed M&M products on the 4th floor.

  • Circus Acts at Circus Circus

Every half hour from 11am-12am daily, you can watch jugglers, trapeze artists and acrobats perform death-defying circus acts.

  • Ethel M Factory

Only 15 minutes from the Strip, the Ethel M Factory offers a free self guided tour of the candy making process, viewing of the Living Machine and a stroll through the Botanical Cactus Garden to burn off the chocolate calories.

Las Vegas is also blessed with beautiful, natural surroundings.  Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Death Valley are close enough for day trips.

Weird, Wacky Vegas

If you can think of it, then Vegas has it. A Mob Museum showcasing the history of organized crime, Hahn’s World of Surplus selling army surplus, the Art-O-Mat dispensing cool creations, the historical Pinball Hall of Fame and a Neon Museum, to name a few.

Hotels and Casinos

The hotels in Las Vegas are truly incredible to behold, with each striving to better the next one with its own unique theme, rip-roaring casinos, grand views, delectable restaurants, and impressive entertainment. Some are obviously inspired by the greatest cities like New York, Venice, and Paris. New York, New York hotel reconstructs the lively streets of Gotham. The Venetian hotel has a huge indoor canal complete with gondolas and gondoliers. There are tributes to other themes as well, including ancient Rome (Caesar’s Palace), Hollywood (MGM Grand), pirates (Treasure Island), Arabian nights (Aladdin) and many more.

A grand resort built by Vegas hotel legend Steve Wynn, the 50-story Wynn Hotel opened in 2004 with opulent rooms, oasis-style pools, a Lake of Dreams, an 18-hole golf course, award-winning restaurants, private spa rooms and luxury stores including Ferrari and Maserati dealerships. The imposing hotel displays Wynn’s eclectic art collection, and the entertainment shows are world-class. The casino is, of course, among the best on the Strip.

The swanky Bellagio has great rooms, excellent service, botanical gardens, enthralling entertainment and a remarkable water fountain show. With swish nightclubs and a state-of-the-art casino, the Bellagio attracts the crème-de-la-crème of Vegas tourists. Steeply priced, it is well worth a stay if you can afford it.

  • Mandalay Bay

The Mandalay Bay Las Vegas Hotel is one of the most popular spots in the city, with beautiful rooms, a sprawling casino and delectable food. The pool is awesome and the service incredible.

  • Four Seasons

A swanky luxury hotel within the Mandalay Bay complex, the Four Seasons may be located at the end of the strip, but has all the trappings to keep you captivated, with the best entertainment Vegas has to offer.

  • Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas

The Ritz Carlton hotel is a half-hour drive from the Strip, with a magnificent golf course and lovely environs. Adjacent to the man-made Lake Las Vegas, this Tuscan-themed resort offers a gilded experience, with suites on a special bridge built to recreate Florence’s legendary Ponte Vecchio (Bridge of Gold).

  • Venetian Resort Hotel Casino

Ride down the canal on a gondola and get transported to a different world. The fine setting, elegant décor and delectable food will just take you to Venice.image

The Paris hotel experience comes complete with a replica of the Eiffel Tower. With amazing service and great food, it is a true bright spot in the sometimes less than colorful strip area.

The MGM Grand is awe-inspiring, with live lions in the lobby, over 100,000 sq ft of casino space with masseurs at tables, the largest selection of slot machines in town and a Grand Poker room, and incredible guest rooms. The food at the restaurants supervised by Emeril Lagasse, are to die for.

The Monte Carlo has relatively inexpensive decent rooms, lots of stuff to keep kids entertained and is a favorite with families.

There are so many things to do, see and experience that it’s impossible to cover it all in one or even three trips. Vegas is constantly evolving and there’s always something new and exciting happening. Find out the best in Vegas on Explore Las Vegas. So let’s go to Vegas baby!

Living it up in Monte Carlo

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco is a picture perfect country to the east of the French Riviera, dominated by the city of Monte Carlo. Everything in the principality caters to the affluent, and Monte Carlo exudes glamour and panache.

Historically, the royal House of Grimaldi has and continues to head Monaco. Their influence is everywhere and they have managed to stay in power for hundreds of years turning Monaco into the expat haven of Europe through favorable tax laws. Once considered as just another European retreat, Monaco was transformed by Prince Rainier into one of Europe’s best known getaways, blending sophistication with an income-tax free policy that has attracted millionaires and billionaires to the principality for the last four decades. As well as being a tax haven, Monaco hosts the best known Formula One Grand Prix of the year around the streets of Monte Carlo and Fontveille in May. In recent years, Monaco has also become a preferred holiday destination for the wealthy in September, when it hosts the annual Monaco Yacht Show, during which the most elite yachts in the world berth at the harbour in Fontvieille

The central village of Monaco-Ville, located high on “the rock” as referred to by the residents, is a picturesque town with shops and cafes and an incredible view of the sea. Eze is a small medieval village located on a hill, which draws both tourists and artists during the summer months because of its beautiful setting and magnificent views.

Of course, Monaco’s most famous town is Monte Carlo, drawing in the uber rich crowd with its casinos, boutiques and exotic gardens. A 15 minute train ride from Nice, hotels here could cost a bomb, so you could stay in Nice and make the short trip into the city. Nestled above the ocean and remarkably spectacular, there is an old Europe charm. A charming combination of chic city ambience and fabulous sun-kissed beaches, Monte Carlo is a compact city best explored on foot.

Within a day, you could walk around Monte Carlo easily, from the yacht-dotted Harbour, through the Monaco Cathedral and the Change of Guard at the Prince’s Palace to the Japanese Gardens. The Azur Express is a fun ride. If you want to try your luck, have the bucks to splurge, and care to wear strict formals, you could head to the Monte Carlo Casino (Joseph Jagger-style). You could catch a performance at the Opera in the evening. There are also afternoon shows on some weekends, so you should check out the schedule before you leave.

Walk your way around and find some interesting things to do –

1. Monte Carlo Casino

Built in 1863, this architectural masterpiece overlooks the Mediterranean and must be a priority on your sightseeing list. It has a remarkable gold and marble atrium designed by the legendary architect Charles Garnier. Formal attire will get you in.

2. Grand Prix Racing Route

The Monaco Grand Prix ranks among the top sporting events in the world, and for good reason. The conjunction of Formula One cars street racing and the influx of celebrities to the playground of Europe make an intoxicating cocktail for the annual event which was started in 1929 by the founding president of the Automobile Club de Monaco, Anthony Noghes. The circuit passes by the Casino Square and the renowned Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, making it one of the most well-known hotels in the world.

3. Prince’s Palace

The palace is open to the public from June to October. The courtyard is paved with over 3 million colored pebbles, beautifully arranged in geometrical patterns. Built in 1215, the palace was originally a fortress before being transformed into a luxury residence.

4. Monaco Cathedral

This glorious cathedral was constructed in 1875 and is the final resting ground of Princess Grace. The cathedral’s fabulous organ was painstakingly restored to its former glory in 1988.

5. Monte-Carlo Thermes Marins

For over a century this luxury spa has pampered and delivered the ultimate in relaxation. Treat yourself to a day you will never forget.

6. Metropole Shopping Centre

Filled with designer stores to match those in Paris and Rome, the Metropole is a shopper’s paradise.

7. The Old Town

A variety of premium bistros and bars line up the more traditional parts of town. Here you can tuck into local specialties such as Monegasque cuisine.

8. Café de Paris

Located in Casino Square, Café de Paris is the place to be seen. The mingling of locals and travelers creates a lively atmosphere, and the international menu caters to a wide variety of palates.

9. The Grimaldi Forum

The magnificent Grimaldi Forum is home to a host of cultural events. Watch concerts, opera, ballet, as well as festivals and exhibitions, including the Monte-Carlo Masters tennis.

10. Stade Louis II

What the home of AS Monaco Football Club lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in quality. Despite a capacity of only 18,500 (smaller than most top football clubs), the ground’s architecture make it one of the more memorable stadia.

Monte Carlo is a fabulous city of glitz, glamour and a little over the top indulgence. In fact, if you’re in the mood to splurge, you can even drive a Ferrari around the Riviera. Picture perfect and luxurious, it is the ideal mini-vacation getaway in Europe.