Las Vegas

Once an oasis for desert travelers, Las Vegas, Nevada has boomed into one of America's most modern cities and stakes claim as the "World's Entertainment Capital." The city has quickly become synonymous with neon lights, luxurious casinos, gambling, entertainment, shopping, fine dining and adult entertainment, which also helped the city earn its other nickname as "Sin City."

With so many entertainment options, Las Vegas is often at the top of many couples' honeymoon destination lists. It's a city geared towards adults and ripe with opportunities that simply cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

It's hard to believe that 100 years ago, the city had a modest population of 1,500. But in 1931, gambling was legalized in Nevada in order to help gain tax revenues and the city has blossomed ever since. The construction of the Hoover Dam in 1936 also played a key role in the growth of the city as Las Vegas finally had a reliable water source and affordable electricity.

Soon, new casinos like the Golden Nugget emerged on "The Strip" and the city was prime for growth. Las Vegas Boulevard is still home to many of the city's most famous resorts and casinos, including the Mirage, Bellagio, Luxor, Wynn Las Vegas and countless more. Thanks to the explosion of resorts and entertainment venues over the last few decades, Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States with a population of 558,383. In 2001 alone, Clark County had a total population of 1.3 million and was seeing nearly 5,000 people move there every month.

Located in the desert region of the U.S. Southwest, Las Vegas sees more than 310 days of sunshine each year. The spring and fall seasons are typically the most comfortable with daytime temperatures reaching the mid 60s. Summer is an entirely different story as the months between May and September are very hot and dry. Daytime highs average in the high 90s to low 100s.

What to Do

Las Vegas entertainment and shows

  • Bellagio Fountains - An extraordinary fountain display set to lights and music that runs every 15 minutes in the evenings. The fountains are located in an eight-acre lake at the front of the hotel and are truly a sight to see.

  • Cirque du Soleil - Summed up as a "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment," Cirque du Soleil has become so popular now in Las Vegas that the production opened its seventh show on the strip. Current productions include Mystere, O, Zumanity, Ka, Love, Believe and Viva Elvis. The performances have mesmerized more than 90 million people around the world, and it's easy to see why. In addition to captivating performances, there is now something for everyone. For first timers, O and Mystere are highly recommended.

  • Fremont Street Experience - With an enormous canopy displaying mesmerizing light and sound shows, the Fremont Street Experience leaves spectators speechless night after night. This can’t-miss attraction is located in downtown Las Vegas, now a revitalized area loaded with fine arts and cultural activities.

  • Madame Tussauds At this wildly popular waxworks museum, all of your favorite musicians, movie stars, cultural icons and historic icons are reconstructed into near carbon copy models. Plus, there's a handful of interactive exhibits, including Audition for American Idol, Shoot Hoops with Shaq, In Bed With Hef, and Scream.

  • Liberace Museum - Dedicated to preserving the life of the late great American entertainer. Meander through exhibits featuring "Mr. Showmanship's" collection of custom cars, jewelry, antiques, pianos, costumes, and awards.

  • Hoover Dam - The completion of the Hoover Dam in 1936 had a profound impact on the desert region, most particularly Las Vegas. The dam not only provided the first reliable water source in the desert but also gave cheap electricity to millions of people. Today, the Hoover Dam provides 23% of Nevada's power. The structure is also a marvel of modern construction and technology and is open to the public for tours (you can even tour inside the dam walls).

  • The Grand Canyon - Located about 250 miles from the Strip, the Grand Canyon isn't exactly in Las Vegas' backyard. However, for travelers in need for some fresh air and a scenic road trip, the journey to the Grand Canyon is worthwhile. The trip takes about 4 1/2 hours each way, so plan on spending at least two nights away from the bright lights of the Boulevard. Check in at El Tovar Hotel and then spend your days hiking, whitewater rafting, exploring the historic buildings of the park or taking a helicopter tour.

  • A Perfect Day in Las Vegas - Start your day with brunch at Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas Casino, which resembles a traditional French village. The cuisine — which is made to order, and plentiful — highlights five different regions of France.

    Next, head to Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, where you can get up close with tigers, elephants, panthers, and dolphins in a beautiful setting. Many will liken the attraction to a zoo, but the opportunities to get face-to-face with some exotic animals makes this a recommended detour.

    Use the afternoon to visit Springs Preserve, a 180-acre facility focused on local history, sustainability and biological resources. The preserve features a museum, interpretive trails, botanical gardens, galleries and outdoor concerts.

    Follow that up with dinner at Thomas Keller's famous bistro Bouchon at the Venetian. The popular restaurant serves traditional bistro fare and other seasonal highlights in an elegant setting. After dinner, stretch your legs and head to the Fremont Street Experience, an impressive indoor display of lights and sounds. There are frequent light shows, musical tributes and special performances that are quickly becoming a new Las Vegas tradition.

    Then cap off the day by visiting the beautiful fountains at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino. The fountain shows run every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. It's a romantic and relaxing way to end an unforgettable day.

Where to Stay

Las Vegas luxury resort and casino

  • Encore Las Vegas - This sparkling new hotel has racked up many prestigious awards since opening its doors in late 2008, including the AAA five diamond award and the Forbes five star award for 2013. This is the latest luxury hotel on the strip and has the rest of the competition looking up to it. The resort features Le Reve (a Cirque du Soleil-type performance with acrobatics, music and more), Garth Brooks for 15 weeks of the year, the popular nightclub Tryst, plus several elite restaurants, including Switch Steakhouse.

  • The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas - This sleek hotel and casino is an ideal home base for couples hoping for a plethora of activity. Between the 13 restaurants, 5 bars/lounges, high-end shopping, and extensive gambling options, there’s enough to keep you busy for days on end. The resort’s Marquee Dayclub pool is also one of the city's hottest spots. Couples can even reserve cabanas that feature personal infinity pools.

  • Luxor Hotel & Casino - Named after the city in Egypt, this striking property is easily one of the most recognizable on the entire strip. The Luxor features a 350-foot pyramid of black glass that contains many of the resort guest rooms. The resort also features a number of permanent shows, nightclubs, restaurants and 120,000 square feet of gaming space.

  • The Mirage Hotel & Casino - Opened in 1989, the Mirage quickly became the gold standard for Las Vegas resorts with its service, size, amenities, grand marquee and ambiance. Since then, a variety of new upscale properties have emerged, but the Mirage has still managed to retain its overall excellence. The resort's top attractions include Love, the Cirque du Soleil show using Beatles songs, the comedy club Headliners, plus the giant "Volcano" that comes to life each night.

Where to Eat

Las Vegas upscale restaurant with fountains

  • Picasso - Equipped with front row views of the Bellagio fountains, couples can indulge in extraordinary New French cuisine – all while being surrounded by original Picasso masterpieces. When it comes to ultimate honeymoon dining experiences, Picasso truly checks all of the boxes. Located at Bellagio Las Vegas.

  • Joel Robuchon - Serves out of this world New French cuisine at the MGM Grand. The 16-course degustation menu may run $425 per person, but it will most certainly be a dining experience you'll remember for the rest of your life.

  • Dona Maria Tamales - Easily some of the best tamales you will ever taste in America. You can choose from four varieties: Red (pork/mild), Green (chicken/spicy), Cheese (monterey jack/green chiles) or Sweet (pineapple/raisins).

  • Just Real Food - The detour to this hiddem gem in the suburbs is well worth it. Expect a mixture of American, French and Italian food. Favorites include the beef wellington and homemade cheesecake. Locals and tourists alike continue to rave about the service, ambiance and execution of the dishes.

Getting There

McCarren International Airport (LAS) is the primary commercial airport for Las Vegas and is situated just five miles south of downtown. Southwest, USAirways, and United serve as the top airline carriers that service the airport. Depending on your itinerary, a rental car may not be necessary due to the central location of the airport to the city center and the overall accessibility of all downtown attractions. However, if you plan on taking a few days to explore Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon, a rental car is recommended. LAS is served by all major car rental agencies.