Las Vegas is a city in the state of Nevada that is commonly referred to as Sin City. Situated in the midst of the southern Nevada desert landscape, Las Vegas in many ways epitomizes American excess. Giant mega-casino hotels are built almost overnight, decorated with lavish care and attention to create a fantasy-like atmosphere. The casinos have names that evoke romance and mystery - Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Rio, The Excalibur, the Flamingo.
The Next Big Thing
Continuing the recent building spree in downtown Las Vegas, the next mega-development is ready to break ground on the Strip between the Monte Carlo and the Bellagio. Dubbed Project CityCenter, the $7 billion development includes a casino, hotel, condominiums, and retail space. Roughly the size of New York's Rockefeller Center, SoHo and Times Square combined, the project is one of the largest private construction jobs ever attempted.
Compared with other cities in the West, Las Vegas is a relatively recent arrival. It was founded in 1905, and for many years was merely a small settlement in the middle of the desert. However, several pivotal events would come together in less than twenty years to make Las Vegas what it is today:
The construction of Hoover Dam in 1928 brought thousands of workers to the area.
Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, and what is now downtown Las Vegas became an entertainment center for the dam workers, with casinos and speakeasies.
Finally, in 1941, the luxurious El Rancho Vegas resort opened on what would later become the Las Vegas Strip. Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel later opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946, starting the building boom and one-upsmanship that would continue largely unabated for the next 50 years.
Southern Californians crowd Interstate 15 every weekend going back and forth to Vegas. Expect this drive to be crowded and frustrating, unless you can come and go at off-peak hours. However, many find the 280-mile drive along the I-15 restful and scenic. Attractions along the I-15 include the towns of Barstow, California; Baker, California; the Mojave Desert; and small hotel-casinos at Stateline (Primm), Nevada and Jean, Nevada. Those who traverse the I-15 should remember that they are crossing a desert, and should carry (and drink) ample amounts of water, especially on hot summer days where temperatures can reach 120 degrees F.
McCarran International Airport (LAS)  is served by many domestic and international air carriers. Discount air carriers serving LAS include US Airways/America West, JetBlue, and Southwest. As at most US airports, you can rent luggage carts for $3. MGM Grand properties (MGM Grand, and New York New York) and Harrah's Entertainment properties (Rio, Harrah's, Bally's, Paris, Caesars Palace, and Flamingo) offer check-in desks and luggage transfers at LAS. Getting from LAS to your hotel is accomplished by airport shuttle (Bell Trans, $3.50-$10); rent-a-car; taxi ($10-20); or limousine ($35). The taxi line is well organized, the city taxi dispatcher will direct you to a numbered space along the curb. You need not tip the taxi dispatcher. As in any city, you can be taken advantage of if the cab driver thinks you are naive or new to the city. Do not allow the cab driver to take you through the I-15 tunnel (an extra $10) or tell you the story about the "big accident" enroute to your hotel, if either of these happens take down the driver's hack license number and call the Nevada Taxi Commission.
Unfortunately Amtrak does not have a route through Las Vegas anymore. There is a daily bus route from Needles, California to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, with a stop in Laughlin, Nevada, is operated in concert with Amtrak's Southwest Chief . Amtrak California's San Joaquins  route operates 2 buses daily to Las Vegas from Bakersfield, California as part of its service.
By public transit
The Las Vegas Monorail runs on the east side of the strip behind the hotels with stops at several of the hotels and the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). It costs $5 one-way and $15 for a one-day pass. Do the math before boarding, it could be cheaper for a small group to take a taxi. The monorail's carrying capacity of 4000 people per hour is woefully insufficient to handle the evening exodus from the larger conventions which have as many of 150,000 attendees.
The city bus line, Citizens Area Transport or CAT, operates 49 routes thoughout the valley. Most routes operate 5:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. seven days a week. Some routes operate 24-hours a day. The fare is $1.25 for adults and $0.60 cents for kids and seniors. for all residential routes. $2 for "The Deuce"  the london style double decker bus opperationg the route along Las Vegas Blvd. The fare may be paid directly to the driver. It is important to note that some busses no longer have fare boxes and the fare must be paid at a ticket machine at the stop (a good rule of thumb is if there's a ticket vending machine at your stop then buy your fare there as the bus may not take cash. Also it should be noted that CAT buses no longer offer transfer slips that allow you to change busses without paying the fare again, this has been replaced by a residential day pass ($2.50 for adults and $1.25 for kids and seniors) that covers all routes exept The Deuce, and an "all-access pass" for $ 5.00 that covers all routes on the system. If you try to use a residential pass on the Duece it will cost $0.50 per ride. If the busses are crowded a good way to avoid waiting for the next bus is to walk one block east from the strip and use route #108 -Paradise Rd. which mirrors the strip route.
Unfortuanately the Monorail and Cat bus are seperate and a pass from one won't work on the other.
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. It is relatively cheap to go from hotel to hotel. The cab driver is required to turn on the meter and to take the shortest route to your destination. There is a surcharge for rides originating at the airport, but not for extra passengers. Taxi lines (queues) are typically found at the front of hotels. You would be unwise to attempt to hail one on the street, especially on the Strip as it is illegal for a cab to stop traffic to pick up or drop off a passenger. The best way to hail a cab outside of a cabstand is to use the following method: if you are wanting to go north on the strip, stand on the east side about 20 feet before a turn off. The cab you want to wave over will have the yellow lights off. Standing like this allows the cab to turn off the road and pick you up. It is customary to tip the hotel taxi dispatcher $1, and to pay the cab driver $1 for every 3 minutes you ride in the cab (on top of the the cost on the taxi meter), and about a $1 per bag of luggage.
Looking south along the Strip from the Venetian casino-hotel
On the Strip
Bellagio. The fountain of the Bellagio performs a magnificent display, set to music, every hour. Inside of the casino there is a tremendous flower garden, with displays changed every month or two. The casino also offers a fine-art gallery, although fees are charged.
Flamingo Las Vegas, 3555 Las Vegas Blvd S, , Offers a great garden with Flamingos and Penguins.
Guggenheim Las Vegas in The Venetian
MGM Grand. Offers a free lion habitat, with close-up viewing of several lions during the day.
Mirage. Almost every hour in the evening the "volcano" in front of the casino erupts in a terrific light show. Additionally there is a free white tiger enclosure within the casino, an impressive aquarium behind the check-in counter, and a dolphin habitat that can be viewed for a fee.
Ride a gondola (inside or outside) and visit St. Mark's Square at The Venetian
Fremont Street Experience. A pedestrian mall where most of the downtown casinos are located. Multimedia shows are displayed on a giant canopy over the street nightly.
Golden Nugget. Aptly named, the world's largest gold nugget is on display in the back of the casino.
Main Street Station. The urinals in the men's room are mounted on a piece of the Berlin Wall. If you're one of the fairer sex, ask an employee to let you see it, they almost always will accomodate you.
Off the Strip
Star Trek: The Experience, (Las Vegas Hilton). Includes two well themed attractions with simulator rides & live actors in Trek costumes. A Star Trek walk through museum serves as the queue to the attractions and "Quarks" bar awaits you at the finish of the attractions. Though frankly, unless you're a big Star Trek fan, it looks a little dated now.
Hoover Dam - the dam is less than an hours drive from Las Vegas and is regarded as a wonder of the modern world
Red Rock Canyon
Mount Charleston is the local ski resort.
Masquerade Show in the Sky, (Rio), 3700 West Flamingo Rd, +1 702 777-7776, . One of the most popular free shows in Las Vegas, the show is a mix between Mardi Gras floats and Rio Carnival.
Sirens of TI, (Treasure Island), 3300 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 894-7111, . What was once a free family-oriented pirate show has now changed to a more adult show complete with showgirls and hunky pirates. Shows are in the evening, and visitors should plan to arrive early as it is difficult to get a good viewing spot. All MGM-owned property guests get priority viewing space, if in doubt, ask.
Celine Dion, A New Day..., (Caesars Palace), 3570 South Las Vegas Boulevard, +1 702 731-7110, . One of the most popular shows in Las Vegas, the show is a smash hit show that can not be missed.
Wayne Newton, (Flamingo), 3555 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 733-3333, . Nothing says Vegas more then Wayne Newton.
Penn and Teller, (Rio), 3700 West Flamingo Rd, +1 702 777-7776, 
Mac King Comedy Magic Show, (Harrah's)
Chippendales, (Rio), +1 702 777-7776. The original all male review and still the best.
Zumanity, (New York - New York)
Ride the Manhattan Express at New-York New-York.
The Stratosphere has a lot of fun stuff to do in the top, you can see the whole city from there.
Visit the Wynn and play golf!
Indoor sky diving at Fly-a-way 200 Convention Center Drive +1 877 545-8093  $50 and up
Shoot a machine gun at The Gun Store 2900 E Tropicana Ave 9am–6:30pm 7 days. +1 702 454-1110  $25–$40 Photo ID required.
Front Sight, 1 Front Sight Road, Pahrump, NV, +1 702 897-9107, . Learn to handle any firearm like a professional.
Be advised that it is state law that all gamblers must be 21 years of age. If you are under age and found gambling or loitering in a gaming area, hotel staff will ask you to leave, and could ask the metro police to issue you a citation. There is a curfew for anyone under the age of 18 and metro police are comfortable transporting violators to a juvenile center.
If you are going to gamble in Las Vegas, it would behoove you to learn and study the games before you arrive. One reason to gamble -- aside from the hope of winning money -- is that, by doing so, you could receive complimentary ("comp") rooms, meals, and even airfare depending on your play. Most casinos issue free "player cards." It is generally to your advantage to show or insert your player card every time you play a table game or slot machine. At the end of your trip, you can ask the hotel if you are eligible for any comps, you might be pleasantly surprised. Always play the games with the lowest house advantage, such as craps (dice) with full odds, and blackjack (if you are a skilled player). Bets which have the highest house advantage include slot machines, roulette, and some craps bets (hardways and propositions).
In the 90's many casinos took their Poker rooms out and replaced them with slot machines, recently Poker has made a comeback and more and more casinos offer it. Texas Hold'em can be found at almost all Las Vegas poker rooms along with 7-card stud, Omaha and others. Not all casinos have a poker room, so call the casino or ask a gaming floor attendant.
Casinos with non-smoking poker rooms include:
The natural attractions of Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon.
Would you believe that Las Vegas has some of the best climbing in America? Red Rock Canyon is located on the western edge of the Las Vegas city limits and features hundreds of traditional/gear and sport routes. Climbing is possible year around though spring and fall tend to be most comfortable. There are a couple of guide books that detail the routes. Though the area does not receive much precipitation, it is worth remember that if the sandstone becomes wet (from rain or snow) it becomes brittle and you'd be wise to avoid it for at least two day before checking if it dried out.
Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Don't miss free animatronics shows at Fountain of the Gods and Atlantis located at either end of the mall.
Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian, including the tacky objets d'art shop featured in Martin Bashir's interview with Michael Jackson.
More affordable (and arguably more tasteful) gift shops in the Aladdin.
Roman Court, (Caesars Palace). Good food as well as good icy drinks.
Shang-hai Lily, (Mandalay Bay). Gourmet Chinese and an incredible fine dining experience.
Tao, (Venetian), Phone: +1 702 388-8338, Fax: +1 702 388-8308, . A beautifully decorated Asian restaurant that doubles as a nightclub, this eatery offers very good food at moderately high prices. A dinner for two with drinks will cost between $60 and $100. Open Sunday - Thursday from 5:00 PM until 12:00 AM, and Friday - Saturday from 5:00 PM to 1:00 AM.
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Grill, , (Harrah's)
The most famous buffets in Las Vegas are at the Rio, Bellagio, Paris and Aladdin, though the newly opened Wynn buffet is becoming more and more of a favorite with tourists and locals alike. The best buffets typically run about $30 a person for a weekend dinner. Lunch is your best value at most buffets when they are around half price, breakfasts are cheapest and often have a great spread too. Do not forget that tipping your buffet waiter 10-15% is customary. You can leave cash on the table at the end of your meal or tip the cashier at the counter on a credit card.
Bay Side Buffet, (Mandalay Bay), 3950 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 632-7777, . Medium line, good food. $$$
Cravings, (Mirage), 3400 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 791-7111, ,
Circus Buffet, (Circus Circus), 2880 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 734-0410, 
Dishes, (Treasure Island), 3300 South Las Vegas Blvd, +1 702 894-7111, 
Flavors, The Buffet, (Harrah's), 3475 Las Vegas Blvd South, +1 702 693-6060, . Breakfast: Adults $12.99 Children $7.99, Mon-Fri 7am-11am, Sat-Sun 7am-10am. Brunch: Adults $19.99 Children $12.99, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm. Lunch: Adults $15.99 Children $10.99, Mon-Fri 11am-4pm. Dinner: Adults: $19.99 Children: $12.99, Everyday 4pm-10pm.
Le Village Buffet, (Paris), 3655 South Las Vegas Boulevard, +1 702 946-7000, . Foods from all parts of France, made-to-order omelets and crepes. $$$$
Sahara Buffet, , (Sahara). Short line, cafeteria style food, not good. $
Island Buffet, , (Tropicana). Long line, cafeteria style food. $$
The Buffet, (Wynn), 3131 Las Vegas Blvd South, +1 702 770-7100. Short line, exotic food, especially good for sushi. $$$$
The Buffet, (Bellagio), 3600 Las Vegas Blvd South, +1 702 693-7111. The Bellagio has arguably the best buffet on the strip, with the dinner menu including pre-split crab legs, venison, Kobe beef, and wild boar. Lines can be long, especially on weekends. Prices vary by meal and day of week, with the breakfast buffet running about $15, while the weekend dinner buffet costs upwards of $30.
Off the Strip
Carnival World Buffet, (Rio), 3700 W Flamingo Rd (One block west of the strip, on the other side of Interstate 15), Phone: +1 702 777-7777, . A multiple award winner as the "Best Buffet in Las Vegas", this buffet is the largest buffet in Las Vegas with multiple live cooking stations. The buffet may not have as many premium items as the Bellagio, but the bang for the buck is tough to beat. Costs are $13.99 for breakfast, $15.99 for lunch, and $23.99 for dinner. Champagne brunch on Saturday and Sunday is $23.99. Lines can be long. Open from 7:00 AM until 10:00 PM Monday through Friday, and from 7:30 AM until 10:00 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
Fantasy Market Buffet, (Palms), 4321 W Flamingo Rd, .
Village Seafood Buffet, (Rio), 3700 W Flamingo Rd (One block west of the strip, on the other side of Interstate 15), Phone: +1 702 777-7777, . This buffet is one of the better buffets in Las Vegas, with an extensive seafood collection (as well as other items). Costs are $34.99 per person (dinner only). Lines can be long. Open from 4:00 PM until 10:00 PM Sunday through Thursday, and from 3:00 PM until 11:00 PM Friday and Saturday.
Ellis Island Casino Restaurant. Located one block east of Bally's, its $4.95 steak special is consistently voted the best deal in Las Vegas. Ellis Island also brews its own beer, and serves them in the casino bar in 20 oz. glasses for a buck. 
In-N-Out Burger, Multiple locations, , Just four items on the menu and delicious burgers. Can fill for less than $10!
In Las Vegas, free drinks are offered to all players, even those playing 5-cent slot machines. It is customary to tip the cocktail waitress at least $1 per drink (unless you like going thirsty).
Cleopatra's Barge, (at Caesars Palace).
Nefertiti's Lounge, (at the Luxor). They specialize in 36-inch Sphinx margaritas and glasses made in the shape of mummy cases (they make nice vases after the fact).
Venus Lounge, (at the Venetian). Pricey but enjoyable for a couple of quick cocktails.
Double Down Saloon, 4640 Paradise Road, 791-5775. A bit out of the way but plenty of atmosphere and out of the casinos if that's your thing.
Nine Fine Irishmen, (in the New York, New York casino), . This pub was actually constructed in Ireland and then shipped to Las Vegas. A great Irish band plays most nights starting around 9:00, the crowd is always energetic, and the Guinness and Bass flow easily. A pint runs about $6.
Nightlife in Las Vegas is never hard to find, with a club or lounge in nearly every hotel and casino. Most clubs remain open until 4am, with various after-hour clubs available for the truly hard-core partiers. Drink prices can range anywhere from $4 - $8 for a domestic bottle of beer, $8 - $10 for well drinks, and $200 or more for a bottle of alcohol. Clubs are always busy on weekends, and may also be packed during weekdays at places that have Service Industry Night (SIN), usually Tuesday through Thursday when locals working in the service industry have their night off.
The top clubs will charge a cover of $15 or more. Exceptions include those who have reserved a table, ladies, and sometimes locals. Expect to wait in a line, depending on the night, anywhere from ten minutes up to a couple of hours. A general rule of thumb is to get there early (before 10pm), and while the club may be emptier the line will be shorter and you may avoid paying cover. Be aware that tables in Vegas often come with a bottle purchase; unless you keep buying bottles from the hostess they will ask you to vacate the table so that someone else can occupy the table. The dress code varies by club and bar. The general rule of thumb is most of the time women know what to wear when they are going out, and men should avoid wearing tennis shoes, tank tops, hats, t-shirts, and blue jeans.
Coyote Ugly, (New York New York). Monday - Sunday: after 8pm All - $10.
Club Rio, , (Rio). The number one dance club for over nine years, the club is huge with over 30,000 sq feet of super clubbing.
Rum Jungle, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in Mandalay Bay). General admission (Sunday - Thursday): $20. General admission (Friday - Saturday, Monday): $25.
Ivan Kane's Forty Duece, 3930 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in Mandalay Bay right outside the shops), . General Admission: $20 (Sun., Mon., Wed., Thurs.). Front of the line: $40 (Fri., Sat.).
Mix, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in Mandalay Bay at the top of the hotel). Beginning at 10 p.m., Sunday - Thursday, $20. Friday - Saturday, $25. Locals are free.
Foundation Room, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in Mandalay Bay at the top of the hotel). Mondays only, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Locals: $10. non-locals: $30.
RA, 3900 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in the Luxor), . Wednesday - Thursday: Men - $20, Women - $10. Friday - Saturday: Men - $30, Women - $20.
Studio 54, 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in the MGM Grand), . Wednesday & Thursday: $30. Tuesday, Friday, & Saturday: $40.
Teatro Euro Bar, 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (in the MGM Grand). Tuesday - Saturday, 9 p.m. - approximately 4 a.m.
ICE, 200 E. Harmon Ave., (on the corner or Harmon and Koval), . Wednesday, Friday - Saturday, 10:30 p.m. until the party ends. General admission: $20.
Empire Ballroom, 3765 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (on Las Vegas Blvd. behind the Walgreens next to MGM Grand). Tuesday, Thursday Friday - Sunday, 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. General admission: $20.
Seven, 3724 Las Vegas Blvd., (next to the Monte Carlo), .
Ultra lounges is a unique term that is pretty unique to Las Vegas. A ultra lounge is a mix between lounge and a night club.
Ghostbar, (at The Palms). Located on the hotel's roof, features a section of floor that is made of thick glass with nothing beneath it -- the glass is the only thing between your feet and the ground 35 stories below.
Aladdin, 3667 S Las Vegas Blvd, Main: (702) 785-5555, Reservations: (877) 333-9474, . Soon to be the Planet Hollywood Casino.
Bally's, , 3645 Las Vegas Blvd South, (888) 742-9248.
Bellagio, 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd, (702) 693-7111, . One of the most upscale hotels in Las Vegas, the Bellagio features an art gallery, a massive indoor flower garden, and the Cirque du Soleil show "O".
Caesars Palace, , 3570 Las Vegas Blvd South, (877) 427-7243.
Circus Circus, , 2880 Las Vegas Blvd South, (877) 224-7287. A cheaper and less upscale casino that caters to families.
Harrah's, 3475 S Las Vegas Blvd, (702) 369-5000, .
Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Rd., (888) 732-7117, .
Luxor Resort and Casino, 3900 S. Las Vegas Blvd. , (702) 262-4100, .
Mandalay Bay, 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd, (702) 632-7777, . Located at the far southern end of the Strip next to the Luxor.
Mirage, 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd., (800) 374-9000 (room reservations), (702) 791-7111 (general information), . An upscale hotel located near the middle of the Strip, the Mirage features a "volcano" that erupts every hour, a white tiger exhibit, a 200,000 gallon tropical aquarium, and a tropical rain forest. Rooms are upscale, with rates varying from $75 per night to upwards of $500 per night, depending on time of year and method of booking.
The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd South, (702) 414-4100. A high-end hotel located near the center of the Strip and offering everything from the Grand Canal shops to the incredible Blue Man Group show.
Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd South, (702) 770-7000, . Built at a cost of $2.7 billion, this is the most expensive resort in the world, with the money plowed into (among other things) a private golf course, an artificial mountain with a 5-story waterfall and a million-gallon water tank for the nightly show. Rooms from $250.
Off The Strip
The Palms Hotel, 4321 West Flamingo Road, +1 702 942-7777, +1 866 942-7777, . A bit off the strip this hotel offers gambling and also a great view of the strip from the Ghostbar.
Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, , 3700 West Flamingo Road, +1 800 PLAY-RIO or +1 702 777-7777. Home to the world famous buffet, and some of the largest standard rooms in Las Vegas.
Hooters Casino Hotel, 115 East Tropicana Avenue, +1 702 739-9000, . Located right behind the Tropicana and quick walk to the strip or monorail, this is a perfect hotel for the cheap traveler.
Gold Coast Hotel & Casino, 4000 West Flamingo Road, +1 702 367-7111, +1 888 402-6278, . A full service hotel with a casino, eight restaurants, a seventy lane bowling alley, 711 hotel rooms. Free shuttle to the strip, free valet parking, fitness center. The hotel has views of the strip and great value.
Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel, 128 Fremont Street, +1 702 382-1600, .
Fremont Hotel & Casino, 200 East Fremont Street, +1 800 634-6460, . 32,000 square foot casino and 4.5 restaurants, plus right next to the Fremont Street Experience light show.
Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino, 129 Fremont St, +1 702 385-7111, .
Main Street Station Hotel and Casino, 200 North Main Street, +1 800 713-8933, . Hotel with Victorian theme, and the not-to-be-missed Garden Court Buffet.
Plaza Hotel and Casino, 1 South Main Street, +1 702 386-2110, 
Las Vegas Airport has free WiFi. On the Strip some internet cafes exist with prices from 20 cent per minute.
Elysium Internet Cafe, 7875 Sahara Ave #101, +1 702 307-4931, . $3/hr, or connect to wifi for free!