Las Vegas, Nevada is the home to some of the world’s biggest casinos – and it is also home to some of the best restaurants, entertainment and hotels in the USA.
Millions of people from all over the world head to Las Vegas for the gambling, bars, food, to get married, watch music stars and great shows, see exhibitions, nightlife and just for the atmosphere and fun – with a slogan “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”.
Las Vegas is a fun city to visit, and amidst the glitz and glamor there are lots of interesting things to see, and just watching the people, seeing the hotels and walking along the ‘Strip’ provides entertainment in itself.
The Las Vegas area was populated around 10,000 years ago by Paleo Indians, and there are still rock carvings in the Valley that can be seen today that date back to that time.
In 1829-30 European traders passed through the area heading west, and in 1844 John Fremont came here, publishing stories that encouraged settlers to come to the Valley to set up ranches. A number of Mormon pioneers followed and in 1855 they built the Mormon Fort on what became known as the Mormon Corridor between Salt Lake City in Utah and San Bernardino in California. The fort was abandoned in 1859 but can still be seen today at the corner of Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. It is now a museum and Visitor Center.
The State of Nevada became the 36th State of the Union in 1864, and by 1900 Las Vegas had a population of just 22 people. The building of a railway linking Las Vegas to Los Angeles in 1905 followed and slowly the town developed, the biggest boost to its population coming when the Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1935.
While ranches struggled to survive in the desert climate, Nevada became a state where you could get a quick divorce and also gamble, with gambling legalized in 1931. Small gambling hotels led on to the first casinos being built in the 1940’s on Fremont Street in what is today called old Las Vegas, and bigger and bigger casinos and hotels have followed right though to today.
The Second World War also led to a boom in the population of Las Vegas as military personnel and defense spending helped the local economy, and they even did the Atom Bomb testing outside Las Vegas too.
In the post war period leading into the 1950’s movie stars, big bands and performers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin brought fame to Las Vegas, with more stars to follow including Elvis Presley and others. This was a time too when ‘the mob’ thrived in Las Vegas, adding to the Las Vegas reputation as “Sin City”.
As more casinos were built, competition between them also grew greater, and gambling subsidized free or token price food, drinks and entertainment. Las Vegas was the only place where a real US silver dollar coin not a note could still be found right up to the 1970’s.
Today, all the casinos are making money on their gambling tables, but they are also making money selling tickets to their entertainment shows, theaters, exhibition spaces and hotel rooms.
Accommodation packages and established restaurants with often big name chefs to cater for a diverse range of people from all walks of life have made Las Vegas into an all-round entertainment city.
Las Vegas now has a permanent resident population of around 600,000 with another 1.5 million people living in the Valley, and while gambling and tourism are by far the biggest industries, new technology, health services, shopping, law and other service industries are also helping to diversify the economy.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAS VEGAS –
Flights from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and elsewhere are arriving every hour, and McCarran International Airport has good shops, restaurants, bars, coffee places and slot machines right there to get you in the mood to gamble. Taxis are just outside the main luggage pick up point and also you can hire a limo, car or catch one of the many Shuttle buses that will take you to your hotel either direct or dropping off passengers at different hotels along the way. You can buy a one way or return ticket from a booth located outside the luggage pick up point.
There are thousands of hotel rooms and places to stay both on the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) and off the Strip and many bargain room upgrades and packages too.
Lots of trade exhibitions and shows come to Las Vegas during the year, and there is always something happening. Weddings, divorces, honeymoon couples, retirees, conventions, sporting events, big name stars are all attracted to Las Vegas and this great mix of people add to the excitement of just being here.
Las Vegas can also get very hot in summer, and if the wind blows the desert sands can blow through the air and create grit in your eyes, so picking the right time of year to come to Vegas is important.
One of the things you will find is that you walk a lot! Even walking from one end of a casino to the other can take up to 5 minutes or more due to the size of the gaming halls, and if you walk from one end of the Strip to the other end it could up to an hour to walk the distance.
Every Hotel and Casino has their own point of difference, and you will no doubt visit a number of the casinos just to see them.