Las Vegas Attractions: Food, Fun, Sun, and More!

Welcome to Las Vegas, the Entertainment Capital of the World! Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there's always something exciting to see and do in this vibrant city. From world-class dining and thrilling shows to picturesque mountains and outdoor adventures, Las Vegas has it all.

Foodies will delight in the diverse culinary scene that Las Vegas has to offer. The Strip is home to renowned celebrity chef restaurants, offering a wide range of cuisines from around the world. From fine dining establishments to casual eateries, there's something to satisfy every palate. Off the Strip, you'll find hidden gems and local favorites where you can sample delicious fare and indulge in some of the best burgers, pizzas, and steaks in town.

For those seeking fun and excitement, Las Vegas has an abundance of entertainment options. The city is known for its world-class shows, including dazzling performances by Cirque du Soleil, Broadway productions, and headlining concerts by top artists. You can also try your luck at the numerous casinos that line the famous Las Vegas Strip, where you can play slots, poker, blackjack, and more.

If you're looking to soak up some sun, Las Vegas has plenty of outdoor activities to offer. The city is surrounded by breathtaking mountains, including Red Rock Canyon and Mount Charleston, where you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, and stunning panoramic views of the desert landscape. For water lovers, Lake Mead, just a short drive from the city, offers boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities, as well as scenic picnic spots.

In addition to the food, fun, and sun, Las Vegas also boasts unique places to go and see. The High Roller, the world's tallest observation wheel, offers unparalleled views of the city and the surrounding desert. The iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign is a must-visit for a photo op, and the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas is famous for its dazzling light shows and live music performances.

With its diverse attractions, Las Vegas truly has something for everyone. Whether you're a foodie, an adventure seeker, or just looking for a good time, Las Vegas promises an unforgettable experience. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore all the excitement that Sin City has to offer! Stay tuned for our in-depth guides on the best places to go, top restaurants to dine at, and thrilling activities to do in Las Vegas. Let the adventure begin!

Desert Breeze Pool Dog Days
Las Vegas has abundant sunshine throughout the year, with an average of 310 sunny days and bright sunshine during 86% of all daylight hours. Las Vegas is among the sunniest, driest, and least humid locations in North America, with exceptionally low dew points and humidity that sometimes remains below 10%. Las Vegas has a subtropical hot desert climate, typical of the Mojave Desert where Las Vegas is located. This climate is typified by short winters with mild days and cool nights and hot summers; warm transitional seasons. Rainfall is scarce, with an average of 4.2 in dispersed between roughly 26 total rainy days per year. The summer months of June through September are extremely hot, though moderated by extremely low humidity. July is the hottest month, with an average daytime high of 104.5 °F (40.3 °C). On average, 137 days per year reach or exceed 90 °F (32 °C), of which 78 days reach 100 °F (38 °C) and 10 days reach 110 °F (43 °C). During the peak intensity of summer, overnight lows frequently remain above 80 °F (27 °C), and occasionally above 85 °F (29 °C). While most summer days are consistently hot, dry, and cloudless, the North American Monsoon sporadically interrupts this pattern and brings more cloud cover, thunderstorms, lightning, increased humidity, and brief spells of heavy rain. The window of opportunity for the monsoon to affect Las Vegas usually falls between July and August, although this is inconsistent and varies considerably in its impact from year to year. Summer in Las Vegas is marked by a significant diurnal variation; while less extreme than other parts of the state, nighttime lows in Las Vegas are often 30 °F (16.7 °C) or more lower than daytime highs. Las Vegas winters are short and generally very mild, with chilly (but rarely cold) daytime temperatures. As in all seasons, sunshine is abundant. December is both the year's coolest and cloudiest month, with an average daytime high of 56.9 °F (13.8 °C) and sunshine occurring during 78% of its daylight hours. Winter evenings are defined by clear skies and swift drops in temperature after sunset, with overnight minima averaging around 40 °F (4.4 °C) in December and January. Owing to its elevation that ranges from 2,000 to 3,000 feet (610 to 910 m), Las Vegas experiences markedly cooler winters than other areas of the Mojave Desert and the adjacent Sonoran Desert that are closer to sea level. Consequently, the city records freezing temperatures an average of 10 nights per winter. However, it is exceptionally rare for temperatures to reach or fall below 25 °F (−4 °C), or for temperatures to remain below 45 °F (7 °C) for an entire day. Most of the annual precipitation falls during the winter months, but even February, the wettest month, averages only four days of measurable rain. The mountains immediately surrounding the Las Vegas Valley accumulate snow every winter, but significant accumulation within the city is rare, although moderate accumulations do occur every few years. The most recent accumulations occurred on February 18, 2019, when parts of the city received about 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of snow[37] and on February 20 when the city received almost 0.5 inches (1.3 cm). Other recent significant snow accumulations occurred on December 25, 2015, and December 17, 2008. Unofficially, Las Vegas' largest snowfall on record was the 12 inches (30 cm) that fell in 1909. The highest temperature officially observed for Las Vegas, as measured at Harry Reid International Airport, is 117 °F (47 °C), reached July 10, 2021, the last of five occasions. Conversely, the lowest temperature was 8 °F (−13 °C), recorded on two days: January 25, 1937, and January 13, 1963. However, the highest temperature ever measured within the city of Las Vegas was 118 °F (48 °C) on July 26, 1931. The official record hot daily minimum is 95 °F (35 °C) on July 19, 2005, and July 1, 2013, while, conversely, the official record cold daily maximum is 28 °F (−2 °C) on January 8 and 21, 1937.

Shopping in Las Vegas


7400 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-896-5599
Major discounts on name brands in a large outlet mall, with over 160 stores including: Nike Town, Fila, Calvin Klein, Casio, Saks Fifth Avenue, and many others. Open daily.


3528 S. Maryland Pkwy. 702-735-8268
The largest shopping center in Nevada, with over 150 shops and large food court. Close to the Strip. Open daily.


1980 Festival Plaza Dr. 702-832-1055
The center includes name brand stores like Dillard’s, Macy’s, and PGA Tour Superstore. Open daily.


Adjoining Planet Hollywood 702-866-0703
130 fine shops and 14 restaurants that wind through the streets of ancient Mediterranean cities. Open daily.


Primm, Nevada 888-424-6898
Located just 30 minutes south of Las Vegas on I-15. Discount outlet for name-brand stores. Open daily.


3200 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-784-7000
On the Strip, name-brand stores such as Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, and over 145 specialty stores. Large food court. Open daily.


3500 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-893-4800
Premier shopping at over 105 fine shops and restaurants. Designed to be an ancient Roman village with fountains and a 50,000-gallon aquarium. See the Fountain “shows” come alive and the 3-D show about Atlantis. Open daily.


1300 Sunset Rd. 702-434-0202
Over 130 shops with many specialty stores. 20 minutes from the Strip, in Henderson. Open daily.


3355 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-414-4500
Over 50 fine shops between the Venetian and Palazzo on the second floor. Gondolas glide on the indoor canal with shops on both sides. Open daily. 


Located inside the Rio Hotel/Casino 702-252-7777 Specialty stores which overlook a section of the casino. Scheduled lavish shows are in the Masquerade Village area. Free. Open daily.


4300 Meadows Ln. 702-878-4849
Over 140 specialty stores, major department stores and a carousel. Open daily.


3655 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-739-4111
12 distinctive boutiques on the cobblestone path at Le Boulevard in France.


855 Grand Central Prkwy., 702-474-7500
This airy, outdoor village-styled center is a must-see, must-shop for visitors of the famed Strip, featuring 175 designer and name-brand outlet stores.


Located in the Stratosphere Hotel/Casino 702-366-9525 35 fine shops and several retail carts. Located on the 2nd floor of the Stratosphere. Open daily.


9155 Las Vegas Blvd., South shopping. Open daily.


702-897-9090 Discount

Located at the Bellagio 702-693-7111
Elegant Shopping with stores such as Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Tiffany & Co. Open daily.


3131 Las Vegas Blvd., South 888-320-7123 Designer shops with high retail brands. Open daily.


6605 Las Vegas Blvd., South 702-269-5005
Designed as a European village; open air shopping, dining & enter- tainment center. Includes AMC theaters.


440 S. Rampart Blvd. 702-570-7400
Shopping, dining, and business environment. Open daily. Restaurant hours vary. 

Articles about Las Vegas

A Non-Gamblers Guide to a Las Vegas Vacation


Every year millions of people head to Las Vegas for vacation, but not all of them go there for what the city is most famous for, gambling. The casinos offer a lot more than slot machines and poker tables for visitors. There is a reason why this city is referred to "The Entertainment Capital of the World." There is a lot of entertainment available that has nothing to do with gambling for those wishing to forgo risking the over $400 that the average gambler looses in a trip to Las Vegas.

One of the biggest attractions is the shows. Some shows like Cirque du Soleil, which has various versions of their amazing circus running simultaneously at different casinos, have been running for years and grow more popular year after year. Popular entertainers play there, often for long runs. Celine Dionne recently ended a four-year run at Caesar's Palace. Elton John is scheduled for a few months in mid 2008 at the same venue.

Visitors also find Broadway musicals such as the wildly popular The Producers, top notch comedians, and compelling dramas on the stages at Las Vegas casinos and other venues.

Shopping is also a very popular activity for those who visit. While some of the high-end shops make window shopping necessary for many visitors, there is plenty of affordable shopping for those who want to spend their time in the stores. The Forum Shops at Caesars is home to 160 boutiques and shops, 13 restaurants and various specialty food shops.

At the Bellagio, the Via Bellagio offers high-end shopping, and the Pool Promenade has unique shops that cannot be found elsewhere. Bargain shoppers can find treasures outside of the casinos at the Las Vegas Premium Outlet that offers over 100 outlet stores or they can try their luck at the Fashion Outlets Las Vegas that offer many of the same brands that can be found in the hotel boutiques but for far less.

Another attraction for non-gamblers is the dining. Many celebrity chefs have restaurants in the city. Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck both have more than one restaurant in the casinos, and Bobby Flay has the popular Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace. Celebrity chef restaurants aren't the only fine dining choices, however. There are many, many five star restaurants in the casinos and the surrounding area. It's also possible to get really good food in Las Vegas without the five star price tag at some of the other eating establishments. In a city that seems to be open 24 hours a day, there are lots of great places to get a meal any time of day.

Boxing matches also draw crowds to Las Vegas. The biggest ones are always held at the Las Vegas casinos, and it's not uncommon for the regular tourist to come face to face with the celebrities who attend these boxing matches. Other sporting events that Las Vegas caters to are kick boxing, WWE wrestling events, speed racing, and the occasional celebrity basketball game with the Harlem Globetrotters.

Las Vegas may not be the first vacation destination that people think of when they think of family vacations, but it is becoming an increasingly popular spot for families. The casinos and other businesses in the surrounding areas are adding more and more attractions for children. Many of the casinos offer live animal attractions such as Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef, The Mirage's White Tiger Habitat, and The MGM Grand's Lion Habitat.

A state of the art arcade called Game Works will appeal to kids of all ages, The Las Vegas Zoo offers hours of entertainment away from the casinos, and Circus Circus has been a family fixture in Las Vegas for years. The city boasts the world's largest indoor theme park, the five and a half acre Adventuredome. Families can find go-karts, kid-friendly shows, children's museums, and wax museums along with many, many other family oriented activities scattered all throughout Las Vegas.

Those wishing to get out from the confines of Las Vegas and its beautiful but flashy buildings can head outside for some fresh air. A visit to The Hoover Dam is easy by taking a tour bus that can be booked from Las Vegas. Bonnie Springs Ranch Old Nevada is just a short drive from the city, and visitors get to experience the Old West. Red Rock Canyon is a bit more of a drive, but it's a great place to get away from it all and do a little hiking. Of course, the area surrounding Las Vegas is littered with golf courses so no golfer has an excuse for not hitting a few while in Vegas.

Stephanie Larkin is a freelance writer who writes about topics pertaining to vacations and the travel industry such as Las Vegas Vacation | Las Vegas Vacations

Article Source: E

Golf Course Las Vegas Nevada? Definitely!


With more than fifty courses winding around and about the Las Vegas Valley and neighboring cities and more cropping up each year, it would be a sin not to play a few rounds in this city before heading back home.

Knowing where to begin on the journey through the world of Las Vegas golf is tricky because there are so many courses. It will be better to start with a few suggestions so, grab your caddy and your clubs and jump into the virtual golf cart to take a quick tour of some of the greatest greens in Las Vegas.

Nicklaus, Palmer, Casper, Rodriguez, Miller, and Zoeller. If you grew up watching golf during the 60's, 70's and 80's, those were the names to look out for-before the Woods and the Singhs played through. All of these legends have designed courses for Las Vegas. Some of them are listed below:

1) Aliante Golf Course in Las Vegas

Aliante is an exciting and challenging course that stretches more than 7,000 yards from the back tees. The presence of the meandering arroyo that comes into play on 14 holes causes the golfer to feel slightly elevated, providing interesting contours and unique playing lies and angles. The course is highlighted by numerous water features, generous landing areas and strategic use of trees that are not commonly found in most desert courses, such as Pear and Purple Locust trees. True to his design philosophy, Panks has once again fashioned a golf course that will challenge the expert to utilize every club in the bag while providing an enjoyable experience for the novice golfer. The practice facility features an expansive driving range, putting green, chipping green and practice bunker.

2) Angel Park Golf Course Las in Vegas

Angel Park Golf Club is a public daily-fee golf course located 15 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. This Las Vegas golf course is home to two championship golf courses the Angel Park Palm Golf Course and the Angel Park Mountain Golf Course, both designed by the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer. At almost 3000 feet in elevation, Angel Park Golf Club offers spectacular views of Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Valley.

3) The Angel Park Mountain Course is a desert style layout that requires shots to carry over the native vegetation.

The Palm Course offers a more open layout with undulating greens. Both courses offer fantastic views of the Red Rock Mountains and the Las Vegas skyline.

Angel Park has been the recipient of several awards, most recently voted the "Best of Las Vegas" by The Las Vegas Review Journal. This Las Vegas championship golf course offers one of the most complete golfing experiences in Las Vegas. In addition to two 18 hole, award winning golf courses, Angel Park is home to a southwest-style clubhouse, a full service restaurant, banquet facility and well-appointed golf shop. Additionally, Angel Park offers a complete golf practice facility to include putting and chipping greens.

4) Badlands Golf Course in Las Vegas

The Badlands Golf Club is 27 holes of breathtaking beauty set against majestic Red Rock canyons featuring deep-flowing arroyos, canyons and natural washes surrounding this desert treasure. Only at Badlands Golf Club you will enjoy such an unparalleled golf experience offering guests desert vistas and scenic views of the Las Vegas valley.

Most recently, Badlands Golf Club was voted the Best Desert Course in Las Vegas by Vegas Golfer magazine and has been ranked in the Top Ten Best Courses in Nevada by Golf Digest in 1997 and 1999. The Johnny Miller-designed Badlands Golf Club in Las Vegas has three distinct nines that combine to create one of the most unique and memorable golf experiences that definer Las Vegas golf. The Desperado, Diablo and Outlaw courses are those that will challenge your game at any level. It is a true target, desert golf experience with a premium placed on accurate ball-striking and course management.

Las Vegas is a great place to golf. Visit our site for more information on las vegas golf courses [].

Article Source:

Article Source:

Las Vegas Golf Courses Designed By Golf's Biggest Names


Just like with everything in Las Vegas, when something is done in the city that glitters, it's done B-I-G. And golf is no different. There are around 70 courses in the area, and many of them are designed and built by the biggest names in the history of golf. Nicklaus. Palmer. Jones. Dye. Weiskopf. Miller. Casper. Fazio. Robinson. The list goes on and on, with many of the biggest names etching their handiwork in the Las Vegas golfscape more than once.

Rees Jones, who is annually on the list of the most powerful men in the game of golf, is the designer of the Harrah's-Owned Cascata Golf Club and Rio Secco Golf Club. Cascata was once called "golf's toughest ticket" when it opened because of its exclusivity and greatness. And Rio Secco is a gem located in the hillls above Las Vegas, and is the home of the Butch Harmon School of Golf.

Johnny Miller co-designed The Badlands Golf Club, 27-holes of desert golf intrigue, with Chi Chi Rodriguez. "For several years there ... everybody wanted their golf course to be better than the guy's next door," Miller once told VegasGolfer Magazine. "Vegas really became a golf crazy place. Vegas is the only place I know where you find every type golf course in the world. You don't have to go to Scotland, Hawaii or Pinehurst to play. All of those type courses are in Vegas."

Billy Casper teamed with architect Greg Nash to design the two Las Vegas golf courses at The Revere at Anthem (Concord and Lexington) in addition to Desert Willow Golf Club and the three courses of Golf Summerlin (Highland Falls, Palm Valley and Eagle Crest).

Arnold Palmer designed the two golf courses at Angel Park (The Mountain and the Palm), in addition to the golf courses at Red Rock Country Club and the Oasis Golf Club in Mesquite.

Tom Fazio created Las Vegas golf course Shadow Creek Golf Club, the two golf courses at Primm Valley Golf Club (Lakes, Desert) and the new WYNN Las Vegas. Fazio is currently working on Rainbow Canyon at Lake Las Vegas Resort. "The Las Vegas Region has always had a tremendous allure, and the addition of so many quality golf facilities over the last 20 years has truly added another variable to its tremendous entertainment and recreation portfolio," says Fazio, also in VegasGolfer Magazine.

Jack Nicklaus designed the private SouthShore Golf Club and the resort Reflection Bay Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas Resort, Bear's Best Las Vegas, and is currently designing courses at the new Coyote Springs project north of Las Vegas.

Ted Robinson designed both Rhodes Ranch Golf Club and Tuscany Golf Club, two fun, friendly courses with terrific par three holes.

Perry Dye designed Desert Pines Golf Club and Royal Links Golf Club while Lee Scmidt and Brian Curley designed Bali Hai Golf Club.

Pete Dye designed the three golf courses at Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort.

Complete and easy Las Vegas golf vacation plans can be made by visiting, and you can also gain access to Las Vegas golf packages and Las Vegas golf tee times, and click easily to the official golf course websites of several Las Vegas golf courses.

Brian Hurlburt is the Founding Editor of Golf Las Vegas Now, and also was a co-founder of Vegas Golfer Magazine. He has covered Las Vegas Golf for more than 10 years. He also created [] a multi-media venture that combines golf and business.



Top 5 Myths About Las Vegas


t's time to dispel the top 5 myths about this exciting city!

1. Las Vegas is all about gambling.

It is not! Only 40% of the total revenue of the MGM-Mirage is derived from it, and we are talking about one of the largest casinos in Las Vegas! The remainder is drawn from the city's fantastic hotel rooms, wonderful variety of food and drink, spectacular attractions and the choices of Las Vegas shows for kids that is second to none!

Did you know that, since 2006, Macau has become the gambling capital of the world, with Singapore drawing a close second? The Southern China gambling enclave of Macau last year recorded a gross gaming revenue of $33.5 billion - five and a half times the number that was most likely generated along the once globally dominant Las Vegas Strip during the same time period!

2. Las Vegas is expensive.

Not totally true. There are plenty of cheaper options if you know where to look, and here are just a few of them. For example, Las Vegas offers a number of free stunning attractions, such as the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand Hotel where there are spacious viewing areas to watch the lions. A very decent view can be had as the lions often walk right alongside the glass separating them from the throngs of people staring at them.

Next on the list could be the dancing fountains right in front of the Bellagio Hotel, which is a display of water, music and light carefully choreographed to mesmerize its audience. Other free attractions include the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall, or feel the thrill of a computer generated thunderstorm as it hits the hallways of the Miracle Mile shopping mall. The rain pours, the thunder booms and the lightning cracks. The show mimics a ferocious North African thunderstorm.

You can keep your costs down if you stay off the Strip itself and make your way instead one or two blocks away from it. Most of the hotels in these areas offer free and frequent shuttles that will get you to the Strip in no time if and when you want to be on the Strip.

3. Las Vegas is controlled by the Mafia.

No, it is not! Although gambling was part of Las Vegas life long before the mob got their hands on the city, it is certainly common knowledge that guys like Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky played a big part in getting investment moving there. They've been widely credited as well with the development and spread of organized crime in the States.

It all actually began in the aftermath of the Second World War, when the Mafia had realised the moneymaking potential offered by Las Vegas and, in the 1940s, Las Vegas and the Mafia became tightly associated. However, they were not able to keep the law off their backs forever, and eventually, the 1980s saw the FBI sweep into Las Vegas, arranging and overseeing the sale of the Mafia owned casinos to legitimate owners.

4. Prostitution is legal in Las Vegas.

This is the myth that causes confusion. The truth is under Nevada state law, any county with a population lower than 400,000 is allowed to license brothels if it so wishes. The population of Las Vegas, as of 2010, is 583,756 and counting!

As of 2008, 28 legal brothels existed in Nevada but, from 2009, prostitution was made illegal under state law in Clark County, which so happens to include Vegas.

Brothels have been in existence in Nevada since the old mining days of the 1800s and were first licensed in 1971. The legendary Mustang Ranch operated from 1971 right up to 1999, when it was given up to the federal government following a series of tax fraud and racketeering convictions.

Nevada has enacted laws against the engagement of prostitution outside of licensed brothels and these are forbidden from advertising their services in those counties where brothel prostitution is illegal, and this is despite the fact that this particular state law was ruled unconstitutional in 2007.

5. Las Vegas is not for kids.

Don't believe for one moment that Vegas is not suitable for kids or families. As far back as 1976, when casino-style gaming was legalized in Atlantic City, N.J., it became apparent to Las Vegas casino owners that, in order to keep ahead of its game, Nevada should be offering more, and hence the race to become the exhilarating family holiday resort that the city is today.

For example, some activities for kids in Las Vegas could include anything from a visit to the Mirage Hotel, which features Buccaneer Bay, where a full scale pirate man o'war and British frigate engage in a ferocious exchange of cannon fire, to the Grand Slam Canyon water theme park at Circus Circus Hotel-Casino. The entertainment park, a takeoff on the Grand Canyon, includes a 90-foot replica of the Havasu Falls, 140-foot mountains and a surging river for the more adventurous to ride the river rapids and drop over a 50-foot waterfall. Awesome!

From thrills and spills to a more mellow visit to M&M's World, a mouth watering 4 storey experience, and from the interactive Las Vegas Zoo, where kids can feed the resident birds and goats by hand, to the Fall of Atlantis spectacle staged at Caesars Palace, there is something of interest for all the family to enjoy.

Let's not forget the array of free nature activities either! At the Clark County Wetlands Park, the family can enjoy hiking, bird viewing, ponds and scenic views in this park, which spans 100-acres. The preserve is open from dawn until dusk with an Information Center that is open from 9am to 3pm.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Vegas with kids. In addition, school summer vacation coincides with low season in Vegas. While prices will be high everywhere else, your Las Vegas family vacation will be a great deal!

Jamie Baker is a travel and lifestyle expert currently working for where she writes about Las Vegas for kids and Vegas shows [].




Las Vegas History - Fact and Myth


Ever wondered how the Sin City came about through the years? In this article, I'll give a brief overview of the history of Las Vegas.

The city of Las Vegas was incorporated in 1911 -- those who moved there because of the railroads found it to be a barren place, hot and dusty and totally lacking in appeal. Nevertheless, in 1920, the first casino was opened on Fremont Street and a new industry was born in the Nevada desert.

Since that time, the city has been the center of real and alleged mob activity, illegal fun and games, and more speculation about what goes on there than any other city in the world.

The decade of the 1930's was pivotal in Las Vegas' development. During those Depression years, the government underwrote the building of Hoover Dam to the tune of $70 million. Las Vegas became a boomtown as a result, but it was a boomtown that wasn't expected to thrive after the dam's completion.

But, since gambling was legal in Las Vegas - and not in nearby Boulder City, where the dam workers lived - Vegas became the hot spot for workers looking for entertainment. The first real resort in Vegas, El Rancho Vegas, would look very humble by today's standards - it was a getaway that specialized in banquets and weddings, and it did not have gambling on the property.

The beginning of casinos as we know them today can be attributed to Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, a couple of mobsters who had worked a protection racket in New York City. Siegel was a would-be actor who hung out with the likes of Clark Gable and George Raft when he wasn't handling the Mob's gambling enterprises. Among other rackets, he imported narcotics from Mexico and built up a huge prostitution business in Las Vegas.

During the '40's and '50's, the downtown area grew rapidly, with gaming establishments such as Binion's and The Golden Nugget making Las Vegas a true destination city. Benny Binion, of Binion's Horseshoe fame, made great strides in creating the Las Vegas that we know today. Among other guest perks, he started serving free drinks to gamers and slot machine players, he had limousine service to and from the airport, and he often professed his belief in making ordinary vacationers feel like high rollers.

Meanwhile, the federal government began to express concern about the Mob's links with gaming in the Nevada desert. Sen. Estes Kefauver held hearings in 1950 and 1951 to investigate those alleged connections. When the hearings were completed, a Gaming Control Board was set up to regulate (and legitimize) gaming.

Investors and developers in Las Vegas often had somewhat shady connections - they managed to gain a measure of respectability by donating to political and charitable causes. Eventually, they came to be considered good capitalists and community pillars, at least by Las Vegas' freewheeling standards.

Topless showgirl revues started at the Stardust and the Dunes, and lounge shows soon followed. By 1955, casinos were being built as fast as plans could be drawn up and financing secured.

But the real appeal of Las Vegas can be attributed to three men: Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Howard Hughes. Sinatra and his Rat Pack played the Sands, Presley wowed crowds at the International (now the Las Vegas Hilton), and Hughes spent $300 million developing properties in Las Vegas until his death there as a recluse in the Desert Inn.

The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) became the place to build in the 1960's; by the 1980's, it was the only place. Millionaire businessmen like Steve Wynn replaced mobsters as the movers and shakers behind the scenes.

Las Vegas today has gained respectability - it's a brand, a destination, and a favorite vacation spot for travelers from all over the world.

Nancy is a writer for Vegas Chill, and travels to Las Vegas frequently. She loves visiting Las Vegas, and is particularly fond of the many Las Vegas boutique hotels.