In the world capital of entertainment, a new LATAM destination, the impossible is commonplace and the rule is fun without moderation
Lots of cities get last names – Paris, the City of Light; Rome, the Eternal City; Rio, the Marvelous City. It just so happens that Las Vegas’s last name is a bit more infamous: Sin City. Notorious for its nights fueled by parties and gambling, the city has started showing its less naughty side in recent years, expanding its appeal beyond just adults by investing in family-friendly spectacles, amusement parks, and technological innovations.
This means that, yes, you can experience the plot of the movie The Hangover, but this is just one of the possibilities. The order of the day is diversion – it doesn’t matter what kind.
On the stone path
The city’s nerve center for entertainment is officially named Las Vegas Boulevard, but it’s commonly known as the Strip. The 3.7-mile [6 km] boulevard is home to the main resorts and casinos. The themed ones are among the most famous and often their names give away their vocations: The Venetian offers gondola rides like in Venice; Caesars Palace makes reference to the Roman Empire; The Paris has a replica of the Eiffel Tower, with a panoramic restaurant and observation deck. But the gold of these addresses isn’t in the accommodations alone, it’s in their roster of attractions.
Pounding the pavement on the Strip means constantly entering and exiting the hotels. Most of them have quality shopping areas inside their complexes – it’s worth visiting the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the modern Shops at Crystal, nearby the Aria Hotel.
One of the classic stops is the Bellagio. It’s home to the biggest landmark in Las Vegas, the Bellagio Fountains, which dance to the sound of pop classics. The best view of them comes from the actual hotel: the bar Hyde Bellagio has tables on the outdoor terrace overlooking the performance. The Bellagio also hosts one of the most popular spectacles in Las Vegas: by Cirque du Soleil, a surrealist experience of acrobatics inside and outside of the water. It’s one of the company’s seven shows in the city. They’re also responsible for Michael Jackson ONE, a tribute with performances to the sounds of some of the King of Pop’s biggest hits.
Sky’s the limit
In the city where everything is grandiose, getting tourists’ attention is a constant challenge. And Vegas has accepted the task with mastery, becoming a veritable playground of creative innovations.
Not scared of heights? Check out the High Roller Observation Wheel, the biggest Ferris wheel in the world, or the roller coaster at the hotel New York, New York, ridden wearing virtual reality glasses. Are you an adrenaline junkie? Then the destination for you is the Stratosphere, which has amusement park rides at an altitude of over 1,100 feet [350 m]. Like technology? Join the folks at the bar the Tipsy Robot, at the Planet Hollywood mall, where the drinks are made by two robots. Love animals? Visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where you can feed turtles or swim with sharks. The possibilities might not be infinite, but they kind of feel like they are.
Dazzled at the table
Eating out in Vegas is an experience in itself. Some of the best chefs in the world chose to set up shop here. This is the case of Gordon Ramsay, who, in January, opened his fifth address in town, Hell’s Kitchen. There, the exposed kitchen, the cooks’ uniforms, and the famous Beef Wellington give you the impression you’re on the reality show that inspired the house.
Those who don’t have much time to explore the Strip’s flavors also have the option of taking a food tour. The company Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes groups of 2 to 12 to sample small portions at five different restaurants.
The culinary adventure in Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without at least one buffet breakfast at a hotel, and the aptly named Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace is the best option. Think of bagels, croissants, yogurt, and cereals. Add eggs Benedict, red velvet pancakes, churros with milk candy, and zucchini frittatas. Then take things to the level of the absurd with turkey legs, fried langoustine, a taco station, Chinese dumplings, and homemade ice cream. After all, in Las Vegas, excess isn’t just permitted, it’s encouraged.
The other side of the mirror
Heading up the Strip to the north side of Las Vegas starts to reveal a different atmosphere: old buildings, retro signs, a less planned mess.
We’re coming to Fremont Street, a covered thoroughfare in the heart of Downtown. It was here that the first casinos were put up, like the Golden Nugget and Binion’s Horseshoe – they’re still there, not nearly as tall as the big hotels on the Strip, but adept at attracting attention. This is the Las Vegas of frenzied neon signs, frozen margarita machines, and unusual characters wandering around (even tourists in robes). The coolest part: you can speed down the whole street on the Slotzilla zip line, to the sounds of The Who and with psychedelic images projected above.
Near Fremont Street is one of the coolest attractions in Las Vegas: the Neon Museum, home to lots of old neon signs. You can book a tour and learn a little about the history of the hotels and casinos that made the city famous.
A grandiose neighbor
From inside the helicopter, the noise of the propellers falls into the background as Grand Canyon approaches on the horizon. The giant gorge is located in the state of Arizona, but its western border is just a 40-minute flight from Las Vegas, or 124 miles [200 km] by car. Getting to contemplate it in person (and, in the case of the helicopter, actually inside the canyon) is a transcendental experience.
The cliffs, with altitudes as high as 5,250 feet [1,600 m], lean over the large Colorado River and paint the landscape in imposing reddish tones. The authentic immensity of nature could not be more incongruous to the movie set that is Las Vegas – perhaps this is why the contrast is so surprising. This is a part of the world that never ceases to amaze.
Model and dancer in the Cirque du Soleil show The Beatles LOVE
“Las Vegas is a city that’s home to some of the best restaurants, shops, and shows in the world. I love the Downtown region (so much that I ended up getting married at the Neon Museum!) and I recommend it to everyone.”
“Not too many people know it, but the cliché of drunk people getting married in the city in late-night ceremonies isn’t real – first of all, because you need to go to a notary beforehand to get a license, and second, because no one would officialize the union if the bride and groom weren’t sober.”
All the rooms in the hotel are suites and include a living room, a king-size bed, and a bathtub. The complex, entirely decorated with inspirations from Venice, has over 50 bars and restaurants, including CUT, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse.
This is one of the most modern hotels on the Strip, with a young atmosphere and less pomp in its decorations. There are room options with bunk beds for groups. The most interesting part of the complex is the LINQ Promenade, which is lined with restaurants, shops, and the High Roller Observation Wheel.
Special thanks to: Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), The Venetian.