Las Vegas has its fair share of nicknames. Harking back to its days of illicit speakeasies and casinos, it was dubbed 'Sin City', but it's also known as the 'neon capital of the world' and the 'entertainment capital of the world'. So it goes without saying that Vegas offers a vibrant lifestyle with plenty to see and do, and visitors and locals alike rarely have cause to be bored.
Shopping in Las Vegas
Shoppers will be in seventh heaven in Vegas. Though quite pricey in general, the variety is endless and there are bargains to be had if shoppers know where to look.
The Forum Shops in Caesars Palace are not to be missed, even if just for a spot of window shopping. Self-styled as 'The Shopping Wonder of the World', the Forum Shops consists of 160 stores to browse, including top-end designer stores.
Meanwhile, The Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood are quite the experience. Shoppers can take in live entertainment, drinks and food while they get in their retail therapy at more than 150 shops.
And lastly, the Grand Canal Shoppes will have shoppers feeling like they've set foot in Venice. Over 500,000 square feet, the mall even has a manmade river running through it on which shoppers can take a gondola ride. The mall also hosts live entertainment daily.
Nightlife and entertainment in Las Vegas
For the best nightlife in Vegas, the Strip is undoubtedly the place to be. The Las Vegas Strip's lavish lounges and extravagant clubs and casinos are world famous for good reason, and revellers often continue partying throughout the night and into the next day. Dress codes of smart casual are enforced in clubs and lounges on the Strip, especially for men, which means no baseball caps, sneakers or open-toed shoes.
New residents of Vegas may be shocked at the drinks and food prices at many of these venues, and may decide to limit their partying to special occasions. The best restaurants are also located on The Strip, many of which convert into nightclubs after dinner service.
Sports and outdoor activities in Las Vegas
Beyond shopping and nightlife, Vegas still has plenty to offer outdoors enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. Adventurous new arrivals could write a whole bucket list with items such as bungee jumping off the top of the famous STRAT Hotel, hiking in the Valley of Fire, kayaking the Colorado River, golfing at Angel Park, cycling around Red Rock Canyon, zip-lining in Bootleg Canyon, taking a boat cruise on Lake Mead, racing a dune buggy in the desert, and even skiing and snowboarding near Mount Charleston – yup, it snows in the desert. In fact, 'nevada' is the Spanish word for 'snow-capped', and the mountains around Vegas get plenty of it.
Sports fans will be happy to know that Vegas is home to plenty of professional sports teams, including the Vegas Golden Knights who play in the National Hockey League, and the famous Raiders NFL team that relocated to Vegas from Oakland in 2020.
Attractions in Las Vegas
Fountains of Bellagio
Immortalised in several Hollywood blockbusters, these 'dancing' waters are one of the most popular attractions on the Strip. The lake in front of the Bellagio resort houses more than 1,200 geysers, all of which erupt into spectacular fountains every half hour in time to various popular songs. Best of all? Unlike many attractions in Vegas, it's free.
One can't talk about Las Vegas attractions without mentioning the iconic Caesars Palace. Also a backdrop in many Hollywood films, and memorably the lodgings of the hapless crew of The Hangover, Caesars is one of the first stops for many visiting the Strip. New residents of Vegas can see a concert in the Colosseum, browse the Forum Shops, dabble in a little poker or roulette, or take a dip in the famous Garden of the Gods pool.
The last few years have seen a trend emerge where big-name musicians, bands, comedians and other entertainers set up shop in one of Las Vegas' venues for extended periods instead of performing just one night. Park Theater is one such venue where the likes of Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Cher and others have entertained for a while. New residents of Vegas will therefore have plenty of time to check out their favourite acts. Park Theater seats 5,200 and VIP seating includes dedicated cocktail service.
FlowRider at Planet Hollywood
One for the whole family, the FlowRider at the Scene Pool Deck on Planet Hollywood's rooftop is a wave simulator that attracts both novices looking for some fun as well as seasoned surfers and boarders. If Mom and Dad don't feel like taking part in the action, they can kick back in the resort pool and drink in the stunning views.
The Mob Museum
Fans of The Godfather, GoodFellas and The Sopranos will relish a visit to the Mob Museum. The museum chronicles the history of organised crime in Las Vegas and the wider US and its various battles with law enforcement. It houses some fascinating exhibits sure to blow the minds of even the most avid mafia aficionados. Visitors can also visit the museum's underground speakeasy and on-site crime lab.
Red Rock Canyon
New arrivals in Vegas who enjoy the outdoors also have plenty to look forward to. Hikers, climbers and mountainbikers all flock to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which boasts several mountains, canyons and gullies, as well as many hiking and biking trails. Climbers love scaling the red cliffs of the area, and many of the country's best boulderers test their mettle here.
Annual events in Las Vegas
Vegas Uncork'd (April/May)
One for the gourmands, this festival is one of the best on the culinary calendar. Vegas residents and visitors from all over are treated to tastings, banquets, workshops and other foodie delights. The festival is a veritable who's who of celebrity chefs.
Electric Daisy Carnival (May)
Usually held on the third weekend in May at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this EDM spectacle attracts more than half a million people to Sin City over the course of three days. The festival includes a series of concerts and sets by some of the world's best DJs.
World Series of Poker (June)
One can't live in Vegas and not attend at least one World Series of Poker events. Held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino on famous Flamingo Road, the competition attracts high-stakes gamblers and celebrities competing for jaw-dropping purses. Besides the World Championship Event, there are daily games with buy-ins ranging from 1 to 250,000 USD. But for those who would just like to look on as others win (and lose) big, it's free to spectate.
Life is Beautiful Festival (September)
At the Life is Beautiful Festival there's something for everyone to enjoy. Famous bands grace the festival's seven stages in downtown Las Vegas, there are demonstrations by celebrity chefs, a speaker series, art displays, and much besides. It's a fantastic way to get acquainted with Vegas and its residents, and new arrivals in the city will be made to feel right at home with the festival's friendly neighbourhood atmosphere.
New Year’s Eve (December)
The Strip is the place to be on New Year's Eve as fireworks, pyrotechnics, music shows and all manner of parties bring in the new year. The whole of the Strip is cordoned off, meaning the city's traffic is a nightmare on NYE, but this shouldn't hold back those who plan to go big.
What do expats enjoy about Las Vegas?
"It’s a big city with a great vibe. There’s so much to do both indoors and outdoors. My favourite is all of the hiking spots."
Read more of South African expat Melanie's interview about Vegas.
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