With so much on offer in Las Vegas, it's easy to be overwhelmed. So here are my suggestions for five things that should go straight to the top of your to-do list
Whether you are going to Vegas for a couple of days to party or for a couple of weeks for the whole experience, it's easy to miss the best of this extraordinary place. Yes, it's loud and bright; yes, it's full of excess and waste - but I believe it has something for everyone and every budget. Here are my top five picks on what ya just gotta do when in Vegas...
1. Watch the Bellagio fountains
This is an incredible free water show put on at the Bellagio hotel on the Las Vegas strip. Choreographed and set to music (anything from Elvis to Vivaldi), the shows start at 3pm (noon at weekends) and are held every half an hour until 8pm, after which they are every 15 minutes. My mother in law was so impressed, she said we should just leave her in front of the fountains all week and collect her on the way home. I wish!
2. Have a gamble
Not sure what to do? Try the free lessons on offer at most of the big hotels. I tried the lessons at the Las Vegas Hilton and brushed up on my poker, blackjack, pai gow, craps and roulette skills. The key is to relax, have fun and do not gamble what you can't afford to lose. The odds are in favor of the casino and you should always remember that. If you have some knowledge of the game you are playing then you can make the odds a little better in your favor. I like to play when it is fairly quiet and therefor there aren't likely to be as many people watching and i can relax more - the downside to this is that you are likely to play more games and lose your money even quicker should the luck not be with you. You should also remember that when playing the dealer is not allowed to let you do anything to break the rules so i always just say to the dealer as i sit down that I'm a new player and could he guide me along. (they will be happy to do this but they can't play for you or influence the game). Another benefit of playing the tables (or slots) is the free drinks - you just have to tip the waitress a dollar or two (optional) and you can drink all night for free - be careful not to overdo the alcohol too much though as this will impair your judgement while your playing!
3. Eat like there's no tomorrow!
If you're a foodie, you will love Vegas like a fat man loves cheesecake - it's got everything you could wish for and, best of all, you can have it at any time of day or night. You want jelly and ice cream for breakfast? No problem. You want a fine-dining all-you-can-eat buffet, including lobster, sushi, steak and caviar? No problem. I recommend the Sterling Brunch at Bally's Steakhouse, which is served on Sundays between 9.30 am and 2.30 pm. At $85 per person, this is definitely on the more expensive side, but it is well worth it, especially as you can wash your food down with some champagne.
4. Party like you mean it!
No visit to Vegas would be complete without a good all-night party. There are plenty of trendy, Luxor - they seem to have the balance just right in terms of layout, seating, music, ambience, etc. Dress code is smart/party wear and is enforced. Expect to see celebrities if you go on a weekend.
5. Visit the Grand Canyon
An unbelievable sight. Having done a Grand Canyon tour by both plane and helicopter, I would recommend that, if your budget allows, you opt for the helicopter. On the excursion I went on (Maverick Helicopter Tours; $439), the modern helicopter was relatively quiet and flew much lower over the canyon than the plane did, even landing next to the mighty Colorado river for champagne and snacks and a chance to take in the majestic, awe-inspiring scenery. On the flight back, you get to fly over Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, which is really cool, and over the Strip, which was a bonus.