As often as you have seen it on TV or in a movie, nothing can prepare you for your first sight of Las Vegas. The skyline is hyper-reality, a mélange of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and a pyramid. It is sensory overload that can reduce you to hapless tears or fits of giggles. But in the spaces between the visual madness, there's a bit of something for everyone, whether you want a wild party, a relaxing getaway, or something in between. Las Vegas is designed to keep you entertained, satisfied, satiated, and distracted from the real world outside its glittering borders.
Things to Do
The chances of getting bored in Las Vegas are slim at best. Start on the Strip where you could spend days goggling at the visual overload of the whole thing: Wonder at the appropriated skylines of New York-New York, Paris Las Vegas, and The Venetian; get your camera ready for the delightful dancing waters of the Fountains at Bellagio and the lava-spewing drama of the Mirage Volcano; or pull out your wallet and try your luck in one of the dozens of opulent casinos.
Las Vegas has become one of the premier shopping destinations in the world, with labels both brand and esoteric crowding the high-end malls. But here, shopping is more than just a way to rack up more credit card debt, it is an experience. Check out the Roman-themed street scene at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the indoor version of Venice at The Grand Canal Shoppes, complete with its own canals and gondoliers.
Restaurants and Dining
Once an outpost of cheap buffets and barely edible prime-rib specials, Las Vegas is now an epicurean destination. You'll do fine at celebrity chef outlets from Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck, but dig deeper to find the spectacularly intricate French cuisine at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon or the modern, luxurious interpretation of an all-you-can-eatery at The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas. True foodies get off the Strip to experience eclectic Japanese at Raku Grill or the gourmet delights of Todd's Unique Dining.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Las Vegas comes alive at night, with a club scene that rivals Ibiza for its intensity and enough dazzling shows to give Broadway a run for its money. Marquee at The Cosmopolitan and XS at Encore are two of the better party-spot options these days, while almost all of the Cirque du Soleil productions are worth their high ticket prices. If you can snag tickets for a headliner like Garth Brooks or Céline Dion, you're in for a treat.