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EXCLUSIVE | Las Vegas: Introduction

EXCLUSIVE | Las Vegas: Introduction

This Travel Guide was last updated 5/08. There may be places that changed since then. Call ahead, and please let us know about any corrections or new places of interest.

Las Vegas hosts two kinds of visitors: Those who want to go, and those who have to (usually for conventions). While the city owes its very existence to gambling, it offers a broad range of attractions barely imagined by those who haven't checked it out. There are a wealth of dining, entertainment, shopping, and outdoor recreation opportunities with which to fashion a completely satisfying vacation. That said, be prepared to deal with major crowds and the peculiar way of resort life that the nearly ubiquitous gambling creates. For gay travelers, Vegas is welcoming, friendly and politically supportive, although there is a surprising paucity of gay venues and a still surprisingly closeted local crowd.

Old Vegas still exists for those who allow themselves to revel in camp, fun and tacky. With proper planning and knowledge, anyone can enjoy themselves in Las Vegas -- it really doesn't deserve its "love it or hate it" reputation. No matter when you go, this guide points you to the best the town has to offer.

Las Vegas is enjoying a huge construction boom while suffering the effects of its rapid expansion with overcrowding and increasingly awful traffic. The upside is an unbeatable array of showroom and theatrical entertainment, shopping, gourmet dining, great golfing, hiking, fishing, boating -- even skiing. New resort hotels offer unparalleled facilities. The abundance and affordability of these resorts and activities can be the basis of a great resort vacation, even for sophisticated travelers.

Las Vegas gets relatively cold in the winter and almost unbelievably hot in the summer. Spring and fall offer the nicest weather, but high season is determined mainly by the presence or absence of citywide conventions, which leave the town booked solid one day and half-empty the next.

The city is divided into two main areas: The famous Las Vegas Strip is where most of the action is; downtown is more downmarket, home to historic Fremont Street and a seedier, but somehow more authentic Las Vegas.

New York-New York, Paris, Luxor, and Venice
Las Vegas has been themed with a world of hotel options evoking the world's great cities, some to the point of taking their names. Hotel rates are as dizzying as the d?cor, with a huge variance in prices, not only between dates you might stay at any given property,but also on the date you book it. If you're going to a convention or meeting you can often save money staying at a non-host hotel. But remember, it can take a long time to get anywhere by cab and even longer to retrieve your car from a valet or self-serve parking lot at a 3,000-room hotel. The various casino resorts cater to different crowds. In addition to our recommendations, the following caution is also worth heeding: Unless you're with kids, avoid Circus Circus and Excalibur, tacky even by Las Vegas standards.

Related Articles:
Las Vegas: Where to Stay
Las Vegas: What to Eat
Las Vegas: Where to Play/Meet
Las Vegas: What to See and Do
Las Vegas: Resources

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