“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It may be a marketing slogan, but once you get here, it feels like holy writ. Ever since gambling was legalized in Nevada in the 1930s—and especially following the postwar boom years, when shady characters like Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were running the show—visitors have been heading to this unlikely desert metropolis to have the kind of fun they can’t find back home. It’s the city of showgirls, neon, sky-high hotels, and mile-long buffets, where anything can happen and anything goes and it somehow always feels like 3 a.m.
Must-Sees on the Strip
The Bellagio fountain show: Every half hour, the giant fountains outside the Bellagio hotel erupt in a free light and water show synchronized with pop songs, classical music, and Broadway show tunes.
- Caesars Palace: This enormous hotel—an ode to Roman excess—houses an indoor shopping center with designer stores and Restaurant Guy Savoy, one of only 28 restaurants in the United States to receive the prestigious 5-Star Award from Forbes.
- New York, New York Hotel & Casino: The facade replicates the Manhattan skyline, albeit with a roller coaster swooping around a Statue of Liberty lookalike.
Where to Stay: Luxury and Themed Hotels
- The Luxor: A giant black glass pyramid guarded by its own Sphinx, this luxury hotel hosts elaborate shows onsite and is currently housing the arresting “Bodies: The Exhibition” show.
- Golden Nugget: An over-the-top, cream-and-gold hotel on Fremont Street, done up in classic Vegas style. When it opened in 1946, it was the largest casino in the world.
- The Venetian: This imposing, 5-diamond resort is jaw-droppingly luxurious, with a golden interior and live gondola boat rides along a replica of the Grand Canal in Venice.
- Fremont Street Experience: A seven-block, open-air pedestrian mall covered with an LED-display canopy, which explodes into a light show every hour after sunset.
- Neon Museum: Visit 2 acres’ worth of classic Vegas signage resting in the Neon Boneyard.
- Jubilee at Bally’s Las Vegas: The last old-school revue in Vegas, complete with showgirls sporting dazzling costumes and enormous headdresses. (For adults only)