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Las Vegas

It's always showtime in this opulent slice of Nevada

Whether you're looking for a relaxing day at the spa, a fun family vacation or some exciting nightlife, you've come to the right place. Stay in one of the many luxurious casino resorts located on the Strip, especially convenient if you plan to try your hand at gambling, or relax in one of the nonsmoking, non-gaming resorts. Either way, you'll love this "Sin City," with its many shimmering lights, entertaining shows and extravagant attractions.

There is so much to do in this city that you may have a hard time choosing. Take a bus, walk or drive down the 4.2-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, known as The Las Vegas Strip, where you'll find the majority of the top-rated casinos, resorts and shows. With all of their unique offerings, from fountain shows to marine aquariums, you will run out of time before you run out of things to do here. Some free attractions along the Strip include the Mirage Volcano and the Bellagio Atrium. Well worth your money is one of the eight awe-inspiring Cirque du Soleil shows, the avant-garde Blue Man Group and scores of musical tribute acts. Dine in lavish restaurants, like the top-rated Joel Robuchon inside the MGM Grand. Michael's features upscale Victorian surroundings and magnificent, one-of-a-kind dishes. Las Vegas really does offer delicious gourmet spreads.

While some prefer to try their hand at blackjack, poker, or craps in one of the many casinos, still others look forward to the intensely hopping nightlife at the local bars, nightclubs or shows. One perk about gambling at the casinos in Las Vegas is the free drinks, offered by the helpful cocktail waitresses that meander through the seemingly endless seas of slot machines and poker tables. Another key feature to be aware of are the player's cards (slot club cards that reward you for your loyalty), which you can pick up at guest services in many of the casinos. These "comp cards" keep track of your spending and, in turn, award you points. These points can be cashed in for free hotel stays, meals, shows and more.

Delight in the "old style" Vegas in downtown Las Vegas, where the Las Vegas Premium Outlets boasts more than 150 stores. You can take a stroll down Fremont Street, where everything is within walking distance, or simply amble through the Neon Museum, which houses an impressive collection of shimmering signs. There's also the free famous light show to take in every night with 12.5 million lights and 550,000 watts of sound. Whatever you decide to spend your time doing here, just remember the old saying: "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!"

Brought the kids or grandkids along with you? Not to worry. Check out the 5-cre, indoor Adventuredome Theme Park at Circus Circus. Offering 25 rides and attractions, this is just one of the many places along the strip that's kid-friendly. There's also Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef Aquarium, North America's largest and only predator-based aquarium. Close by you can also enjoy some world-class golf in one of the many championship golf courses. Just over a half hour away from the Strip, Lake Mead National Recreational Area offers recreational opportunities year round to boaters, fishermen, swimmers, water skiers and, on land, to hikers, bikers and campers. The largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere, Lake Mead was formed by the famous Hoover Dam.

Only 45 minutes away from the Strip, on the border between Arizona and Nevada in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, stands the massive, concrete Hoover Dam. You can take a tour of the power plant and dam, which feature elaborate Art Deco designs on the spillways, four towers and power plant. You can also opt to simply cross over the dam, assuming your vehicle meets all of the specified requirements.

Of the two guided tours, the dam tour lasts about an hour, while the power plant tour is only about 30 minutes long. Either way, you'll want to plan your visit so that you have at least two hours for your entire stay. The visitor center also is air conditioned, which a relief during hot summer months. You'll want to plan on getting to the dam during the day, because pedestrians are not allowed on top of the dam when it is dark out.

If you travel just 30 minutes off the strip in Boulder City, you visit the Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon and fly at speeds of up to 50 mph. Choose from four separate zip lines to soar over the Mojave Desert for a bird's eye view of the gorgeous desert valley below. Sitting in a paragliding harness that is suspended from cable wires, visitors can fly from the top of Red Mountain and gain a whole new perspective of the stunningly colorful mountains all around. The knowledgeable tour guides offer all kinds of fascinating facts about the area, including its natural and cultural history.

An hour outside of Las Vegas and only six miles from beautiful Lake Mead, the Valley of Fire State Park is the oldest and largest state park in Nevada. With the 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs, ancient trees and petrified wood, the Valley of Fire is a great place for photography, picnics, hiking, camping and more. The red sandstone formations that make up the present landscape are what remain from a time when dinosaurs roamed the region. The scenic sand dunes have shifted, followed by the uplifting and faulting, and then extensive erosion, over the centuries. There really is no other place quite like it, and it draws those people seeking refuge from the glam and glitter of Las Vegas. This Valley of Fire is a prehistoric place that was named for the vibrant colors of sandstone that populate it to this day. Stop by the visitor center for information on routes, plant and animal life, history, and facilities available.

Whether you decide to spend your time downtown, on the Strip, or in the larger region surrounding Las Vegas, there are countless things to entertain you each time you come to this wonderful "Sin City." Sin or not, you will have a ball here.

Did you know?
At least 150 couples each day make their way to Las Vegas so that they can get married. All that you need is to be over 16 years old, have valid identification and a social security number.

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