What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!
Las Vegas – the epitome of luxury, wealth, social rise, freedom, entertainment and opportunities. Nowhere else in the world will you find a place so remote and vibrant at the same time, leaving visitors overwhelmed by its uniqueness of a man-made world of its own in the middle of the desert. A must-see for every traveller to the United States, Las Vegas has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world since its incorporation as a city in 1911.
Nowadays Las Vegas is the most populous city in the state of Nevada. Its international reputation as a top destination for gambling, shopping, fine dining and nightlife has made it the leading financial and cultural center for Southern Nevada. The many world famous casinos and hotel resorts together with their associated entertainment have earned Las Vegas its designation as The Entertainment Capital of the World. Its also long-time labelling as Sin City has furthermore made it a popular setting for films and television programs. Although Las Vegas lost its longtime status as the world’s largest-grossing gambling center to Macau in 2006, it hasn’t lost any of its magical attraction and is still undergoing development and large investments.
Las Vegas is situated within Clark County, forming the very southern part of Nevada. Its metropolitan area has a population of approximately 2 milllion people, with the city center itself counting more than half a million. The landscape around is formed mostly by dusty rocky mountains,with the State Park of Spring Valley to the west, and arid land of the Mojave desert being dominated by desert vegetation and wildlife. The eastern border of Nevada is marked by the Colorado River and the recreational area of Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire. The temperature rises high in summer due to its subtropical, hot desert climate, but is pleasant throughout the remaining months which makes it a popular travel destination all year long. The city itself boasts with lawns, trees, parks and other greenery but is nowadays undergoing a water conservation program for residential landscaping in order to ensure sufficient water supply in the future.
Las Vegas can be reached by air and by land. McCarran International Airport, which lies in the middle of the urban area, handles international and domestic flights into the Las Vegas Valley. Interstates 15, 515, and US 95 lead out of the city in four directions. I-15 connects Las Vegas to Los Angeles and heads northeast to and beyond Salt Lake City, Utah. I-515 goes southeast to Henderson, beyond which US 93 continues towards Phoenix, Arizona. US 95 connects the city to northwestern Nevada up to Reno and leads south through far eastern California down to Mexico. In 2012 Las Vegas Railway Express announced to provide passenger service from Fullerton, California to Las Vegas using the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Service is expected to start in 2014 under the name ‘X-Train’.
The main attractions of Las Vegas are without question the famous casinos and hotels with their extraordinary unique design and architecture. They are found along various main roads concentrated in two main areas: on the one hand there’s Las Vegas Downtown, around the junction of East Fremont Street and Casino Center Boulevard, which used to be the focal point of the city’s gaming industry in its early days and whose establishments cater for the more serious gambler. On the other hand there’s the nowadays world-famous ‘The Strip’ along Las Vegas Boulevard, where giant casino and hotel resorts line both sides of the 6-lane thoroughfare for 4.2 miles. The Strip is actually located in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, which are south of the Las Vegas city limits and whose resort properties are among the largest of the world. Stratosphere at the north end and luxurious Mandalay Bay at the south end roughly mark the limits of the Strip. Other renowned hotels and casinos are the Bellagio, Monte Carlo, Flamingo, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Riviera, MGM, Luxor, Circus Circus and Caesar’s Palace amongst others.
The casinos’ insides resemble each other a lot. They all boast of countless never stopping slot machines and have quieter areas reserved for roulette and card games, like Poker, Baccarat and BlackJack. The more serious and big-money gaming takes place in private rooms though, away from the tourist crowds and the family areas. Some people just want to catch a glimpse of what is going on behind the casino doors, but most visitors come to stay the night or day gambling, as the lack of windows, clocks and obvious exits keeps them occupied and avoid them being distracted from other entertainment.
The major resort development of the southern part of the Las Vegas Strip starting in the late 80’s resulted in a drop in tourism in the downtown area. Ever since several attempts have been made by city officials to stop the decline of businesses and to attract investors. Estate areas have been developed and plans for various institutions, luxurious accomodation, a new city hall and even a medical center have been laid out and worked on but some of the projects are still on halt until nowadays.
With the opening of Bellagio, Venetian, and Wynn resorts at the end of the 90’s, attention rose even more to The Strip as it trended towards the luxurious high-end segment. Even the older resorts underwent major renovations, all of them offering fine dining, specialty retail, spas and nightclubs nowadays as an alternative for visitors to the gambling venues. Latest developments include the CityCenter, a project by MGM Mirage, joining hotel, casino, condos, retail, art and business on one site, making it the largest such complex in the world, as well as two large Ferris Wheels and a retail district called Linq broke ground. With visionary projects like these, Las Vegas prepares itself for a future in which attracting tourism might be esssential for survival in a world of competitors.