Las Vegas beyond The Strip

Jenny and I are in Las Vegas, Nevada, walking The Strip at 11pm on a balmy night. The smell of legalised weed fills the air. Wall-to-wall people, old and young, some barely at the legal drinking age, are consuming cocktails and beer from tall plastic ‘yardies’.

Neon lights flash outside casinos in a kaleidoscope of glitz and colour. Music blares from live music venues scattered along The Strip and off-Strip. There’s no standard dress code anywhere in Sin City. Scantily clad women of all sizes are wearing G-strings and are happy to expose their butts. At first, shock responses produce lots of judgemental OMGs, but after a couple of days, our overloaded senses start to fade.

A brief history of Sin City

Las Vegas was established in 1905 as a stop-off for the Los Angeles to Salt Lake City rail line. Gambling ramped up in 1931 to fulfil the needs of thousands of Hoover Dam construction workers. In the 1970s, Vegas was transformed from a gambling city to a vacation venue, providing a plethora of entertainment and accommodation options.

Sin City is now regarded as the gambling capital of the world, and has a local population of about three million. There are now over 100 casinos with 200,000 slot machines. In 2022, there were more than 40 million visitors netting the city a massive $US8.2 billion.

Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

Entertaining the masses

There are venues for all occasions here. We saw Cirque Du Soleil’s O, which has been entertaining people since 1998. The stage performance is a masterclass of music, acrobatics, circus and dancing in and around water.

Many Vegas venues have their own circus acts, plus comedy, magic, boxing, sports, musicals, concerts and more. Top performers are contracted for years at popular venues. Elvis performed more than 600 shows in the ’70s, most of them sell-outs. Other Vegas stalwarts included Frank Sinatra, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Sting, Celine Dion, Adele and Michael Jackson. 

A fast-growing city

Vegas is rapidly expanding. The newly constructed Las Vegas Raiders NFL Allegiant Stadium can seat 65,000; the Tropicana Ballpark is soon to be built and will house 30,000 fans; the F1GP circuit is being built near the middle of the city for the big race in November this year; the indoor T-Mobile arena has a capacity of 20,000 for concerts and sports activities.

Another large indoor facility of 6400 capacity is the MGM Park Theatre. The piece de resistance though is the almost completed Exosphere – or Sphere – opening in September 2023.

The futuristic 100-metre-high globe, which features wrap-around LED screens, 160,000 speakers, vibrating seats and 1.2 million LEDs on its exterior, will surely excite the 18,600 prospective fans. Add to these a number of other entertainment venues at hotels and concert halls, and you have a huge array of places to satisfy every need.

Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas
Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas

Accommodation aplenty

Finding accommodation is never an issue in Vegas. There are more than 150,000 rooms available, including over 7000 rooms at the Venetian complex alone.

Our recommendation is to do a midweek stay at a Strip hotel and get significant savings on accommodation and shows.

Our room at Harrah’s hotel on the Strip was basic. No breakfast, no fridge and no coffee-making facilities. This is obviously to force you to head out and spend money. The room was relatively cheap midweek at about A$130 a night. But on Friday and Saturday nights, this ramped up to A$370. And this is the cheap end of the scale.

You could also go for a luxury stay – Bellagio, the Venetian or other five-star hotels, if you’re prepared to pay double or even triple this amount.

Monument Valley

Nearby National Parks 

There are 12 National Parks within seven hours’ drive of Las Vegas. They’re located in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Death Valley in Nevada is only two hours away. And it’s hot! Recently, the temperature reached a record 53ºC.

Zion National Park in Utah is 2.5 hours’ drive and is one of the top 10 most visited parks in the US, where over five million visitors were recorded in 2022. This place is spectacular, and has a heap of walking trails. Angels Landing is said to be one of the scariest hikes in the world.

Nearby Bryce National Park, also in Utah, is equally spectacular, and features the famous Bryce Amphitheatre, filled with irregularly eroded spires of rocks called hoodoos.

Antelope Canyon

Of course, numero uno, and only 4.5 hours away, is the Grand Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. The Colorado River flows through this 350km-long slice in the earth’s surface, which is up to 30km wide and 1.5km deep. It’s a spectacular sight from either the North or South rims, or the East glass bottom viewing platform.

We visited most of these sites over two weeks with a budget tour group (Empire Vacations) and other significant National Parks, using Las Vegas as a home base. These places need to be on your bucket list. Without exception, they are all spectacular and unique, each with its own wow factor. Our favourite was Antelope Canyon, followed by the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Monument Valley. 

Las Vegas has a vibe like nothing else. A city that never sleeps, with outlandish and over-the-top activities and happenings. Its location allows you to use it as a home base and explore the many spectacular sights and sites within an hour or two of the city. You will be blown away by the deserts and spectacular eroded landscapes. Hire a car or take an organised bus tour. From Las Vegas, you can find a multitude of day or multi-day tours to the various national parks.

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, then chill out exploring the magnificent desert scene. You won’t be sorry.

Have you been to Las Vegas? What did you think? Do you have any experiences you can recommend to our members?

Also read: Living my Fear and Loathing moment

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -