As you might've seen on my social media posts, my first trip to Las Vegas was filled with amazing experiences that exceeded my expectations of what this city is about. We went to Las Vegas for three weeks and had an amazing time.
My idea of an all party-and-gambling-only place was shattered. I'm not a gambler but I fell in love with everything there and now look forward to returning and exploring more ... it's such an exciting place! There's always so much to see and do you never get bored. Here's my Vegas must see list!
The Las Vegas Strip
Vegas is the ultimate vacation destination any time of the year. We finally arrived after a 10 hour trip at 9 PM local time, that's 6 AM in Belgium. I was so exhausted by the time change but we couldn't wait to see Vegas so we went immediately to the Strip to get a drink and find something to eat! The good thing about Vegas is ... everything is open 24/24 so you can eat whenever you want!
The Strip is a major road where most of the resort hotels and casinos are located. It's the perfect spot If you're looking for some food because every hotel offers you a buffet that's open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Remember before you leave to Vegas to leave extra room in your suitcase for shopping because this is paradise for us shopaholics! Every hotel has its own shopping mall. My favorites are Ceasar's Palace and Planet Hollywood If you're looking for more exclusive designer boutiques head to the Wynn or Palazzo hotels. You also have the Fashion Show Mall with more affordable stores like Top Shop and New Look. If you want to try to snag a deal than you definitely have to go to Las Vegas Premium Outlets North or South.
Las Vegas Sign
You must see the iconic Las Vegas sign! There's always a line but it's worth the waiting. My advice is to take a taxi there because it's a long walk in the heat but it's so fun to snap some pictures in front of this cool sign.
Wet Republic Ultra Pool is located at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino and is without a doubt one of the best pool parties in Vegas. Forget to laze on a sun lounger with a good book…that ain’t happening in Vegas baby! Bikini contests, private whirlpools, and world famous DJ’s. Two salt water pools and eleven individual pools. It’s the mecca for day time partiers in Vegas. Never in my life have I seen that many people in one pool.
Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam is located in an almost deserted area in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, about 40km away from Las Vegas on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona near Lake Mead. I was more than excited to visit the greatest 'miracle' of engineering.
The dam's generators provide water and power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. You can visit the Hoover Dam by driving from Las Vegas either using the Highway or other local routes. Guided or solo tours are being offered to in Las Vegas.
Hottest, driest, and lowest national park. Death Valley is the largest U.S. National Park with nearly 1.000 miles (+/- 1600km) of paved and dirt roads that provide access to several wonderful locations. These locations include low valley floors crusted with barren salt flats, rugged mountains rising as much as 1.000 feet (+/- 300m), deep and winding canyons, rolling sand dunes, and spring-fed oases.
Summers are extremely hot and dry. Outside activity is not recommended at that time of year, except in the mountains. Plan to keep to the main roads and use your vehicle's air conditioning. It is very important to drink a lot of water. Always carry water with you and keep an abundant supply in your vehicle in case of emergency.
- Golden Canyon
The most popular hike in all of Death Valley National Park is the hike through Golden Canyon. At a little over 3 miles round trip, depending on where you stop, we stopped early because it was too hot to hike but this hike gives you a great view of the unique beauty Death Valley has to offer. It has gaping canyons, massive boulders, waves of plantless terrain and even a large red rock called the Red Cathedral at the end. It is also the site where different parts of the original Star Wars movies from George Lucas were filmed.
- Badwater Basin
No trip to Death Valley would be complete without a stop at the lowest point in North America. Badwater Basin is that point, and it is located right in the heart of the Death Valley National Park. Significant rainstorms flood the valley bottom periodically, covering the salt pan with a thin sheet of standing water. Each newly-formed lake does not last long because the average rainfall evaporates, this means the lake dries up every single time. It's so beautiful, it looks like you're walking on snow. It is fascinating, and the area seems to stretch on and on, especially when you turn around and see how far you came.
- Dante's View
Dante’s View is an overlook with some of the best panoramic views in all of Death Valley! On a clear day, you can see both the lowest and the highest points in the contiguous United States. This is probably the highest point you can drive to. Below Dante’s View is Badwater Basin, It's a bit cooler here than down on the Valley floor. It's the most breathtaking view in the park.
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs and spectacular rock formations. It is located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Las Vegas and is easily seen from the Las Vegas Strip. Take some time from the glitz and glamour of the strip to spend some time in nature. Carved by wind and water, the land unfolds in layers of white, pink, and red colors. You can just drive thru it but it's an amazing hiking place with lots of beautiful views. There are a lot of picnic area's but nature observing is also possible while rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking or road biking.
Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson was a gold mining town with a bit of a dark history, this ghost town outside of Las Vegas has a bloody and nefarious past. There are a few original buildings still standing, along with lots of antiques to create the perfect ghost town atmosphere. I felt like I was on a movie set. Nowadays the mine makes its money from tours and films.
Five miles away from the Colorado River, Nelson, known by the Spaniards that discovered it as El Dorado, was the site of the scandalous Techatticup Mine. An area rich in gold, silver, copper, and lead, the land was mostly settled by Civil War deserters and was the site of one of the largest booms the state of Nevada ever encountered.
If you're looking for something different to do than a typical day trip, I definitely recommend taking a trip out to Nelson. It's about 45min drive from the Las Vegas Strip, just south of Boulder City. It's worth the drive! Be careful of rattlesnakes, because of the warm weather these animals are out for summer.
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
If you're looking for a hotel and a casino the Hard Rock offers you the ultimate Las Vegas experience. We stayed in one of the new buildings, the HRH Suites Tower in the King suite. A huge suite with separated sitting and sleeping area with city view, two 40” LCD TVs and a DVD player, a fully stocked mini bar and an oversized bathroom featuring a playful, inviting “Tea-for-Two” tub. It was a dream.
In June 2002 influential rock bassist John Entwistle of The Who died in one of the hotel's rooms. The hotel management originally refused to release the room number out of respect, but later reports indicate that Entwistle died in Room 658.
There's a lot of entertainment in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! It has its own casino, several pools, a night club, restaurants and even a Tattoo shop that's open all night!
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a large scale desert artwork by Rondinone that has been nearly five years in the making. Seven colossal stone forms, each stone boasts a different fluorescent color, the piece will be on view for two years. “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now,” states Rondinone.
One of the best shows I’ve seen and one I’d recommend for any trip to Vegas is Absinthe at Caesars Palace. The experience is a hilarious combination of cabaret and acrobatics that make up a provocative variety show! For any show, you can go spontaneously to Tix 4 Tonight to score some last minute deals for a show.
Absinthe entertains to no end, so make sure to grab your tickets ahead of time!
That's the top of my Vegas must see list ... What would you add to the list? If you're considering a trip to Vegas and still deciding on a place to stay, I recommend trying the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. I was impressed with the level of luxury and experiences offered by the whole resort.
I hope you found this review helpful and If you have questions, please let me know. I'd be happy to answer them.