Internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, and shopping, which bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World. The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City.
Situated in the southern Nevada desert landscape, it was established in 1905 and officially became a city in 1911. The city's tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of "Sin City". The largest city in the state of Nevada has earned itself other nicknames such as "The Entertainment Capital of the World" and "The Marriage Capital of the World". Giant mega-casino hotels, decorated with lavish care and attention to detail to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and far-away destinations.
Legalization of gambling in 1931 led to the advent of the casino-hotels, for which Las Vegas is famous. Major development occurred in the 1940s. The success of the city's early casino businesses was owed to American organized crime. Most of the original large casinos were managed or at least funded under mob figures Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (Flamingo Hotel), and Meyer Lansky or other mob figures at this time.
With the arrival in the late 1960s of businessman Howard Hughes, who purchased many casino-hotels, as well as television and radio stations in the city, legitimate corporations began to purchase casino-hotels as well, and the mob was run out by the federal government over the next several years. The constant stream of tourist dollars from the hotels and casinos was also augmented by a new source of federal money. The influx of casino job-hunters helped start a land building boom. Though Las Vegas's gambling revenues have been surpassed by Macau, the Las Vegas area remains one of the world's top entertainment destinations.
Downtown has several hotels and casinos, as well as the “Fremont Street Experience”, a pedestrian mall lined with casinos, near the western end of Fremont Street. South of downtown starts the “Strip” (Las Vegas Boulevard South), a north-south street lined with large casino-hotels. The northern end of the Strip's casino section is marked by the tall Stratosphere tower. Frequent shuttle buses run up and down the Strip and connect the Strip to downtown.
The city enjoys abundant sunshine year-round and has an average of about 300 sunny days per year and more than 3800 hours of sunshine, with about 4.2 inches of rainfall, which on average occurs on 29 days per year. The summer months of June through September are very hot and mostly dry.
Walking is a reasonable option to get around the strip as hotel-casinos are found close to each other. In most cases, at least two hotels are connected to each other either by bridge or underground or in some cases by a complimentary rail shuttle.
The majority of visitors stay for the weekend. As such, room rates can seem ridiculously cheap from Sunday-Thursday night but zoom upwards on weekends. Travelers can plan a trip to their advantage: by staying, say, Sunday through Thursday, one can not only save a bundle on hotel rates, but also take advantage of package deals that may include a show, meals, and gambling coupons. Be aware that many amenities that are included for free in other cities may be quite expensive in Las Vegas; most hotels charge for use of the fitness center, local calls and wireless internet. Some hotels charge daily resort fees to cover these charges and are compulsory to be paid upon check-in and are subject to local tax, this may appear as a hidden fee, but be prepared to pay.
Photos of City, Country 2013 © Joe Mendonca
The Fountains of the Bellagio perform a magnificent display, set to music.
MGM Grand Lion Habitat, a free lion habitat, with close-up viewing of several lions during the day.
MIrage "volcano" erupts in a terrific light show every hour in the evening. Additionally there is an impressive aquarium behind the check-in counter and a dolphin habitat that can be viewed for a fee.
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef, walk through a transparent tunnel with sharks, sea turtle, fish on all sides (fees apply).
Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrian mall where most of the downtown casinos are located. Multimedia shows are displayed on a giant canopy over the street nightly.
Golden Nugget where the world's largest gold nugget is on display in the back of the casino.
Video of Fountains of Bellagio, Las Vegas 2010 © Joe Mendonca
Playing the Game: Gamble
Opportunities to gamble are found in most places in the Las Vegas metro area, even at McCarran airport and small supermarkets. However, be advised that it is state law that all gamblers must be at least 21 years of age. Even if you are at least 21 years old, you are required to bring to the casino a valid ID that shows your current age or complete date of birth as proof of your age. In-house security makes rounds of inspections to check compliance. If you are going to gamble in Las Vegas, it would be of benefit if you learn and study the games before you arrive, but some casinos provide free classes to learn new games.
If a game is unfamiliar to you, do not hesitate to ask the dealer advice on how to play. Most will be happy to explain the game to you, and even slow down the dealing. To facilitate gambling in machine-based games, you can use a pre-paid card to make wagers and collect winnings. One reason to gamble, aside from the hope of winning money, is that by doing so, you could receive complimentary (“comp”) rooms, meals, and even airfare depending on your play. Most casinos issue free “player cards”. It is generally to your advantage to show or insert your player card every time you play a table game or slot machine. At the end of your trip, you can ask the hotel if you are eligible for any comps, you might be pleasantly surprised. And if you arrive at the casino prepared to lay out $1000 or more, don't be bashful; ask the pit boss to be “rated” for comps before or while you begin playing.
If you win it big in Las Vegas and you are not a US citizen your winnings will be subject to a 30% withholding tax from the IRS. That $10,000 slot winning can dwindle quite quickly if that is taken off the top. You can reclaim your gambling winnings tax through a 1042-S form. You should get this from the casino so don't lose it ... it is your starting ticket to getting your gambling winnings back.
To get married, first go to the County Clerk's Office and apply for a marriage license. Both parties must have valid ID, such as a driver's license or passport. Once you have a marriage license, the wedding ceremony can be performed by any priest, minister, rabbi or Justice of the Peace authorized to perform weddings with in the Las Vegas area. You can choose an elaborate theme wedding, such as an Elvis impersonator as officiant, or a simple ceremony and reception celebration. Most major hotels and Vegas Wedding Chapel offer wedding packages for those who wish to plan a larger wedding ceremony. All Vegas wedding chapels can perform immediate weddings with no prior appointment. Most chapels will provide courtesy limousine transportation from your hotel to the chapel and back.
Ride a gondola and visit St. Mark's Square at The Venetian.
Ride the Manhattan Express roller coaster at New-York New-York.
Indoor sky diving at Vegas Indoor Skydiving.
Shoot a machine gun at The Gun Store.
Play dozens of Pinballs in the Pinball Hall of Fame. Oldstyle machines and new.
Paddle the Colorado River from the base of Hoover Dam to Willow Beach Arizona, hike to hot springs from river. Paddle to island beaches for a swim at Lake Mead.
The Stratosphere has fun stuff to do on the top of the hotel, you can see the whole city. There are 3 intense rides on the top of the tallest hotel on the strip, which include: Big Shot - shoots passengers straight up 160 feet at 45 mph (over 4 Gs) until they are 1,081 feet above the Strip. X-Scream - A giant teeter-totter that propels you 27 feet over the edge of the Tower, 866 feet above the ground. Insanity, the Ride - A massive mechanical arm extends 64 feet over the edge of the Tower and spins you at a force of 3 Gs for a truly mind-bending experience.
Maverick Las Vegas Helicopter Tours will take you deep into the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon or soaring above the neon lights and megaresorts of the Las Vegas Strip, as well as river rafting tours that will take you down the Colorado River.
The first reported visit to the valley was Raphael Rivera in 1829, named by Spaniards who used the water in the area while heading north and west along the Old Spanish Trail from Texas. In the 1800s, areas of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas or meadows (vegas in Spanish), hence the name Las Vegas.
John C. Frémont traveled into the Las Vegas Valley on May 3, 1844, while it was still part of Mexico. He was a leader of a group of scientists, scouts and observers for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. On May 10, 1855, following annexation by the United States, Brigham Young assigned 30 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the area to convert the Paiute Indian population to Mormonism. A fort was built near the current downtown area, serving as a stopover for travelers along the “Mormon Corridor” between Salt Lake and the briefly thriving colony of saints at San Bernardino, California. However, Mormons abandoned Las Vegas in 1857.
Las Vegas was established as a railroad town on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres was auctioned off in what is now downtown Las Vegas, and became an incorporated city on March 16, 1911. Las Vegas started as a stopover on the pioneer trails to the west, and became a popular railroad town in the early 1900s. With the proliferation of the railroads, Las Vegas became less important but the completion of the nearby Hoover Dam in 1935 resulted in the growth of residents and tourism. The dam, located 30 mi (48 km) southeast of the city, also formed Lake Mead, the US's largest man-made lake and reservoir.
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