Introduction to Las Vegas

Las Vegas was a sleepy frontier town until 1931, when gambling was legalized. The rest, as they say, is history. See the old Vegas on Fremont Street, where the world's largest mechanical sign, Vegas Vic, recalls the city of the 1940s and '50s. Afterward, embrace the flashy and new at neon-lit casinos all along The Strip. If you look hard enough, you can find some family-friendly venues here and there. If you need a dose of natural outdoor recreation, consider Lake Mead, just a 30-minute drive but a world away.

Things to Do

Let's face it: The Strip is all about gambling at the casinos, where piles of money are won or (considering the odds) lost -- and, of course, bejeweled showgirls and big-name headliners. Kids of all ages, though, will enjoy the ongoing acts at Circus Circus or the hands-on science exhibits at Lied Discovery Children's Museum. Children under 12 see glittering Cirque du Soleil for half-price and neon that lights the sky like no place else on earth for free.


Save a little of your vacation budget to shop the big three casino arcades -- The Palazzo, the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian, and The Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Rub shoulders with high rollers, browsing designer shoes, buttery-soft leathers and sparkling jewelry. Consider visiting the arcades sans credit card: The Grand Canal resembles St. Mark's Square, complete with gondolas, while The Forum looks like something built by the Romans themselves.

Nightlife and Entertainment

A stroll along the Strip is Las Vegas' best entertainment. Walk through the world's largest sound-and-light show beginning at Luxor and, if your strength holds up, ending at Circus Circus, where acrobats flit overhead. Along the way, view the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum and The Mirage's erupting volcano. Cirque du Soleil presents Vegas' most spectacular stage shows, while acts from Barry Manilow to AC/DC perform all around town.

Restaurants and Dining

Las Vegas is earning praise for award-winning restaurants and celebrity chefs. Who knew that there are more than a dozen restaurants in Vegas with Michelin stars? Joël Robuchon's earned three at the MGM Grand, where French delicacies are served beneath crystal chandeliers. In a city known for its buffets, Le Village Buffet at Paris Las Vegas stands out for its better-than-average offerings. And if the glitz loses its shine, travel 20 minutes to Rosemary's Restaurant, where flavors from the Deep South, New Orleans and the Midwest draw diners.