Explore Nevada

Nevada Travel Guide

For the millions passing through on their way to California, their image of Nevada is of long, empty roads and dusty desert towns, often little more than a gas station and 24-hour store with a few slot machines in the corner. For those not enthralled by the alluring desolation of the desert landscapes, it is fortunate that 'Lady Luck' descended on this state to give hundreds of thousands of people a great man-made reason for visiting. This is casino country, centred on the capital of kitsch, Las Vegas, and the other smaller towns where the main income earner is gambling.<br /><br /> Carson, the sleepy state capital, has tree-lined streets and some handsome old buildings and hosts the Nevada State Museum, which covers the geology and natural history of the Great Basin desert: enough distraction for a few hours, but not much more. Reno is a smaller and less glitzy version of Las Vegas, packed with casinos and pawnshops, and provides easy access to Lake Tahoe, over the border in California.<br /><br /> Situated east of California, Nevada is split up into territories such as Cowboy Country, Pioneer Territory and Pony Express Territory; these adventurous names aside, the majority of the state is a fairly desolate desert, sometimes beautiful, but also harsh and inhospitable. The better land is used for grazing hardy cattle, while the least forgiving is used by the military for weapons testing and other mysterious pastimes.<br /><br /> Nevada does have a few scenic attractions of great interest to visitors. Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead is popular with fishermen and water sports enthusiasts, while both the Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire State Park have magnificent desert scenery, which has been used as the backdrop for many famous movies including Star Trek - The Next Generation. The sandstone has been eroded into wonderful shapes over millions of years and at sunset these great natural monuments turn every shade of red.<br /><br />

Venetian Hotel and Casino

Address: 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard

No expense was spared building the Venetian Hotel, which aimed to recreate the city of Venice in the Nevada Desert, and the result is fairly spectacular. Guests can travel around the hotel in a gondola - real canals run through the grounds - and a replica of St Mark's Square and the Basilica turns from night to day every three hours; visitors have to look carefully to notice that the sky is actually a vast fresco. The only things missing are the pigeons and the backpackers. The casino itself is massive, featuring something like 2,500 slot machines and 125 gaming tables. For guests taking a break from the tables, there are five swimming pools, a fitness centre, and 17 restaurants - mostly pizzerias. One of the main attractions is Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, a wax museum presenting some of the world's biggest icons including stars, politicians, record-breaking athletes and legends.<br /><br />

Bellagio Hotel and Casino

Address: 3600 S. Las Vegas Boulevard

Admission: Entry to the hotel and casino is free.

The Bellagio is one of Las Vegas's most opulent hotels and most popular casinos. With an Italian theme, the great bulk of the Bellagio sits in its own vast garden. It has more than 3,000 rooms and hundreds of slot machines and gaming tables; however, its best-known attraction is its amazing water show - a breath-taking union of water, music and light. Between 3pm and midnight (from 12pm on weekends) the Bellagio's world-famous fountains 'dance' to opera, classical or whimsical music with carefully choreographed movements. Beyond the Bellagio's gracious lobby lies the Conservatory &amp; Botanical Gardens, a magnificent garden abounding in fragrance, texture and colour. The hotel also has a new fine arts gallery that hosts contemporary art exhibits.<br /><br />

The Mirage

Address: 3400 S. Las Vegas Boulevard

Admission: Free Daily 24 hours.

Another MGM mega-casino, the showpiece at the Mirage is a volcano that shoots flames 100 feet (30m) into the night sky every 15 minutes (6pm to midnight), spewing smoke and transforming a tranquil waterfall into spectacular streams of molten lava. As you'd expect of Las Vegas, it's all quite kitsch, but great entertainment. Siegfried &amp; Roy's White Tigers used to be one of the Mirage's signature attractions, but the show was cancelled in 2003 after Roy Horn was attacked by one of the tigers during a show. At any given time, however, there are a number of outrageous attractions at the casino. A popular feature is the aquarium located behind the Front Desk. This 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium is home to angelfish, puffer fish, tangs, sharks and other exotic sea creatures.<br /><br />

Valley of Fire State Park

The Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest park, and is so named because of its red sandstone formations which appear to be on fire when the sun reflects off them. The rocks were shaped over 150-milllion years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the area. Apart from the rugged beauty of the surrounding Mojave Desert, the main attractions in the park are the well preserved petroglyphs that adorn many of the red sandstone structures, left there by the ancient Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi. This rock art dates variously from 300 BC to 1150 AD. Visitors should head to Atlatl Rock for some of the finest examples of ancient Indian rock art or petroglyphs, including a depiction of the atlatl, which was a notched stick used to propel spears, a predecessor to the bow and arrow. Other activities here include hiking, camping and picnicking.<br /><br />

The Luxor

Address: 3900 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Admission: Free Daily 24 hours.

The Luxor Hotel is themed on ancient Egypt and is one of the most prominent sights on the Las Vegas Strip. It is a massive black-glass pyramid containing 36 floors of hotel rooms, and shining through it up into the night sky is one of the world's most powerful light beams, which they claim can be seen by planes circling Los Angeles. The ground floor of the hotel is given over to a massive casino, which stands beneath a recreation of King Tut's Tomb. Other than gambling, entertainment at the hotel includes an IMAX theatre, gyms, swimming pools and exhilarating shows by comedians, dancers and singers. The Luxor is a Vegas landmark and one of the most popular casinos and hotels in the city.<br /><br />

MGM Grand

Address: 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South

One of the most famous casinos in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993 with more than 5,000 rooms; the complex also houses about 19 restaurants, many shops and nightclubs, a convention centre, and a spa. The MGM Grand's most famous attraction was for many years the glass-sided lion habitat; however, the casino closed this in early 2012 as part of an extensive renovation. Today, the MGM Grand is home to the Cirque du Soleil and many other exciting entertainment options. An iconic Vegas landmark, the MGM has been thrilling and entertaining visitors for many years.<br /><br />

Mandalay Bay

Address: 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South

The 44-storey Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is among the largest on the Las Vegas Strip with more than 3,000 hotel rooms and a 135,000 square foot (12,500 sq m) casino. The tropical-themed resort has a number of popular family attractions, including the Shark Reef saltwater aquarium and large-scale stage shows ranging from Broadway musicals to Cirque du Soleil productions. The most popular attraction at Mandalay Bay however, is Mandalay Beach, an 11-acre pool area featuring three heated pools, a wave pool, lazy river, and children's pool. Voted Best Pool of Las Vegas many times by Las Vegas Review Journal readers, Mandalay Beach has its own bar and restaurants.<br /><br />

Imperial Palace Auto Collection

Address: Imperial Palace Casino, 3535 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Admission: Free entrance vouchers can be printed from the official website. Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm. Closed Sundays.

With more than 250 classic antique cars on display (all available for purchase), the Imperial Palace Auto Collection is an absolute must for car enthusiasts. It is actually part of a larger collection and cars are rotated in and out of the showroom on a regular basis; once a car is sold it is replaced by another. Exhibited are rare models, race cars, muscle cars, touring roadsters and dozens of vehicles once owned by the rich and famous. Claiming to be the one of the largest as well as the best collection of classic cars in the world, this vast showroom is heaven for petrol-heads and a very popular tourist attraction in Vegas.<br /><br />

Fremont Street Experience

Address: 425 Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas

The downtown area of Las Vegas is where it all began and the Fremont Street Experience aims to celebrate this heritage. The street is also known as 'Glitter Gulch' for the bright neon signs and thousands of flashing lights that line the streets - this is where you'll find Vegas Vic and Sassy Sal, two of the nation's best-known neon icons. Some of the city's most famous vintage casinos are found here, including the Golden Nugget and the Gold Spike, as are most of its strip clubs and stage shows. Most entertainment is on, or just off, the Freemont Street Experience Mall. The Fremont Street Experience encompasses the iconic Vegas experience, giving people exactly what they expect when they think of the glitzy casino city.<br /><br />

The Grand Canyon

Admission: $30 per vehicle, $15 for pedestrians and cyclists, valid at both rims for 7 days. South Rim is open 24 hours daily, all year round. The Information Plaza is generally open 8am-5pm. The North Rim is open from mid-May to mid-October 8am-6pm.

A mile deep, 277 miles (446km) long and up to 18 miles (29km) wide, the breath-taking grandeur of the Grand Canyon is so impressive that pictures or words simply cannot do it justice. One of the great natural wonders of the world, it was formed by the cutting action of the Colorado River over millions of years, the harder rock formations remaining as great cliffs, pinnacles and buttes, and the different layers of rock possessing colours that range from purple, fiery red and pastel pink, to yellow, brown, grey and soft tones of blue.<br /><br /> Whether by foot or on horseback, from a plane or helicopter, aboard a raft down the mighty Colorado River or by merely gazing in awe from the rim, the canyon's seemingly infinite depths can be experienced in a variety of ways and it is a landscape not to be missed however one chooses to experience it. The park receives hordes of visitors from around the world, who cannot fail to be transfixed by the sculpted rock shapes, the shifting colours that change with the light and a tiny glimpse of the Colorado River far below.<br /><br /> The Grand Canyon National Park comprises two separate areas, the South Rim and the more remote North Rim. Separated by the 10-mile (16km) width of the canyon, it is a 215-mile (346km) drive from one visitor centre to the other and the South Rim, being the most accessible and possessing more facilities, sees about 90 percent of the park visitors. The North Rim is higher in elevation and wetter, with thicker surrounding forests; it is farther to get to and is usually closed due to snow between mid-October and mid-May, but many people prefer the comparative peacefulness of its less crowded lookouts.<br /><br /> At both rims there are several drives and walkways along the edge with numerous lookout points for views from different angles, as well as a few hikes down into the canyon where one can overnight at Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor. The impact of millions of visitors a year to the South Rim, especially during the busy summer months, has a negative influence on the park, with overcrowding and traffic congestion common, but despite the hoards it is a positively memorable experience to have visited one of the most spectacular examples of erosion in the world.<br /><br />

Hoover Dam

Stretching 1,247 feet (380m) across the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam holds back the waters of Lake Mead and is a fine example of the engineering of its time. One of the world's most famous dams, the Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression in the 1930s - one of many vast public works projects commissioned by the US government to get people back to work. The dam employed thousands of men from all over the country, and its hydroelectric power generator continues to supply Nevada and its neighbouring states with electricity. Engineering feat aside, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is popular with water sports enthusiasts as well as those just after a bit of sun and relaxation.<br /><br />

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a dramatic valley 10 miles (16km) west of Las Vegas, and is a good excursion to escape the neon lights and jangle of the slot machines. Its defining feature is the steep Red Rock escarpment, which rises 3,000 feet (914m) on its western edge. Today the dramatic landscape is peppered with cacti and Joshua trees and is a good spot for walking, rock climbing, cycling or simply a scenic drive. The Mojave Desert is not as barren as you might think; it teems with life and beauty that is rare and unique - waterfalls cascade into the canyons and high above red tailed hawks search for their next meal. For a taste of Nevada's natural beauty there is no better place to explore.<br /><br />

Adventuredome

Address: Circus Circus Hotel, 2880 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Admission: Day pass $31.95 (adult), $17.95 (child). It is possible to pay for rides individually instead of getting a pass. Generally 10am - 6pm. Opening times vary according to season and day of the week and it is best to check the calendar on the website to avoid disappointment.

The glass-encased theme park of Adventuredome is the perfect attraction for thrill-seeking kids on holiday in Las Vegas - its loop roller-coaster and other gut-wrenching rides are not to be missed! If this adrenalin rush is a bit too extreme, there are also shows by magicians and jugglers on offer, as well as plenty of decadent treats like ice-cream, popcorn and candy. There are also rides and activities designed for younger kids who may not be old enough to ride the main attractions - the whole family should find something to enjoy! The fact that the theme park is indoors is an extra bonus, protecting visitors from the sometimes inhospitable Nevada climate.<br /><br />

Buffalo Bills

Address: 31900 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Admission: Rides and attractions at Buffalo Bills vary in price. Opening times vary. Check out the availability of different attractions on the official website.

The Buffalo Bill's amusement park is an excellent holiday attraction for children, offering everything from earth-plunging rides that defy gravity or end with a huge splash, to log rides on a fantasy lake. Kids also love the Frog Hopper experience, bouncing around the park on the back of Buffalo Bill's life-like amphibian. Buffalo Bill's Resort &amp; Casino is a good choice of travel base in Las Vegas for families travelling with children as the resort caters equally to adults and kids, and is known for its high-energy live shows as well as its amusement park and gambling facilities. Youngsters will be kept happy and busy as adults explore the more grown-up attractions of the resort.<br /><br />

Grand Canyon Helicopter and Ranch Adventure

Address: 3750 E. Diamond Bar Ranch Rd, Meadview, Arizona

Kids will revel in the exciting experience of flying through the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and landing at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch. Once at the ranch, children are thoroughly enthralled by horse-drawn wagon rides and the cowboys putting on a show. The western-style meal served at the ranch also goes down a treat. This family-friendly excursion across the border to Arizona is a great break from the casinos and resorts of Las Vegas itself, giving visitors the chance to experience some of the natural splendour of the region and partake in the pioneer and cowboy culture so well-loved in the US.<br /><br />

Treasure Island

Address: 3300 Las Vegas Boulevard South

No longer the family-friendly pirate hangout it once was, Treasure Island has revamped itself as an adult-oriented contemporary resort. The free Sirens of TI show is a special effects-laden production that is a must-see on the Las Vegas Strip, with music, explosions and beautiful women. Treasure Island is also home to a Cirque du Soleil show, and offers a number of restaurants and nightclubs. Famous comedians and musicians regularly perform at the resort. Although not a family resort, Treasure Island is an exciting adult destination in Vegas and one of the city's enduring favourites.<br /><br />

Dig This

Address: 3012 South Rancho Drive

Admission: Numerous packages and deals are available, but digging sessions start from $169.

A dream come true for many, Dig This is a wildly popular attraction in Las Vegas that allows you to operate enormous vehicles like bulldozers and excavators under the supervision of trained instructors. While the price tag is high, the experience is unforgettable as you team up with other participants to complete tasks. You must be at least 14 to operate the machines. Dig This has been voted the number one Las Vegas attraction on tourist review sites like Tripadvisor; people of all ages get super excited by the chance to experience the power of massive machinery.<br /><br />

Andres at Monte Carlo

Address: 3770 Las Vegas Blvd.

Food Type: French

Most of the glitzy Las Vegas hotel resorts feature French restaurants, but Andre Rochat's latest contribution is exceptional. Extreme fine dining here includes fresh seafood, poultry and vegetarian dishes - don't miss the signature dish, Scampi André, or perhaps try the Rack of Colorado Lamb. Andre's is known for its excellent stocks and sauces, as well as its fine pastry. Open daily, reservations essential.<br /><br />

Pamplemousse

Address: 400 East Sahara Avenue

Food Type: French

Just 500 yards from 'The Strip', Pamplemousse provides a quiet dining oasis reminiscent of a cosy French country inn, with soft orchestral music in the background to accompany the gourmet fare. There is no menu. Waiters knowledgably recite the specialities of the day, which usually include the renowned Hobo Steak, Norwegian salmon, roast duckling, veal medallions, filet mignon and spring lamb. The appetisers and desserts are just as mouth-watering including the famous trademark Basket of Crudités. Reservations are essential. Open daily for dinner. Dress smart casual (no jackets required, but appreciated).<br /><br />

Golden Steer Steakhouse

Address: 308 W. Sahara Avenue

Food Type: American

The Steer, about a mile from 'The Strip', is the oldest steak house in Las Vegas having been in business in the same spot since 1958, and still a favourite with thousands of loyal diners. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley frequented the Steer to enjoy the large and perfectly grilled traditional steaks, especially the Diamond Jim cut of prime rib. Fish, chicken and some Italian dishes are on offer too, and a selection of interesting appetisers - try the seafood stuffed mushrooms. Lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, dinner Saturdays and Sundays.<br /><br />

Marrakech

Address: 3900 Paradise Road

Food Type: Moroccan

Exotic and exciting dining is offered in a cosy Middle-Eastern tent where diners lounge on cushions on the floor, or on comfy low couches, to enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal. Robed waiters explain the six-course fixed-price menus, while belly dancers gyrate provocatively. The meals are accompanied by homemade Moroccan bread and, if offered, be sure to try the filet mignon (marinated and grilled in Moroccan spices). Algerian wines are available. Open for dinner nightly. Reservations required.<br /><br />

Mon Ami Gabi

Address: 3655 S. Las Vegas Boulevard

Food Type: French

Few restaurants can claim sidewalk space on the famous Las Vegas Strip, where diners can watch the passing parade. Mon Ami Gabi, emulating a Paris brasserie, does just that with not only an outdoor section, but a glass conservatory and several indoor dining rooms as well. The cuisine on offer is mainly classic French steak frites and fruits de mêr with flavoursome sauces. Their braised pork shank, and the steak with blue cheese sauce, are sublime. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.<br /><br />

Chicago Joes

Address: 820 South 4th Street

Food Type: Italian

Italian restaurants abound in Las Vegas, both on and off The Strip, but for really good home-cooked food and excellent value, the unimposing brick building housing Chicago Joe's, in the residential downtown area, is a sure bet. The pasta sauces are renowned among locals, all reputedly recipes handed down by the owner's family through generations. Try the pasta with eggplant (aubergine/brinjal) or white clam sauce, or perhaps the Lobster Joe. Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Friday; Saturday dinner only.<br /><br />

Gonzalez y Gonzalez

Address: New York-New York Hotel and Casino, 3790 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Food Type: Tex-Mex

With just about as much Mexican flair and spice that can be conjured up, Gonzalez y Gonzalez is the perfect place to knock back a few margaritas, dive into a plate of tacos, tamales or quesadillas and enjoy the Mexican energy in the outdoor dining courtyard decked with lanterns and piñatas. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.<br /><br />

Wicked Spoon Buffet

Address: 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Food Type: Buffet

Amid the sea of $5 lobster that is buffet dining in Las Vegas, Wicked Spoon Buffet comes out tops. The restaurant serves a huge selection of dishes ranging from pizza and tacos to sushi and pad thai, all portioned out in attractive single-serving dishes rather than scooped from serving bowls. Make sure to save some room for dessert, which is highlighted by a fully-staffed gelato bar.<br /><br />

Roy’s

Address: 620 East Flamingo Road

Food Type: Seafood

It's well worth leaving the Strip for dinner at Roy's, considered the best seafood restaurant in Las Vegas. The menu is Hawaiian fusion, with mouth-watering options like Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers and Boursin Cheese-Stuffed Chicken. There are a few sushi choices, and Roy's even has special vegetarian and gluten-free menus.<br /><br />

Le Cirque

Address: Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Food Type: French

Le Cirque, which is located in the luxurious Bellagio Hotel and winner of the prestigious AAA Five Diamond rating, is decked in vivid orange, reds and pinks with elaborate and colourful artworks, conjuring a unique and accurate feel of what it must be like to dine under a big top. Boasting a world-class wine list of more than 900 international selections highlighting wines from France's best wine regions, you can be sure the food is just as mouth-watering. Try the Coeur de Filet de Boeuf served with sautéed foie-gras, smoked serrano potato Croquette and sweet onion compote, while those with a sweet tooth will love the classic Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulée. Open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner only. Bookings essential.<br /><br />

Mr Luckys

Address: Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 4455 Paradise Road

Food Type: American

If there's one place in Vegas you're going to find a Rock 'n Roll themed restaurant, it'll be in the Hard Rock Hotel. Diners can enjoy a good, old-fashioned American hamburger while gazing at the restaurant's 50s and 60s rock memorabilia. A good place to grab a greasy bite to eat, like the Sirloin Burger, after a long night at the slots or tables. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.<br /><br />

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