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Las Vegas


Nonstop action makes a Las Vegas vacation a 24-hour-a-day proposition. Vegas delivers the world, or at least a neon-lassoed version of it, to tens of millions of visitors every year.

No other city offers a rollercoaster ride across the New York skyline, high-stakes blackjack, a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, a sexy pirate show, tigers, and all-you-can-eat Kobe beef in a single day. Las Vegas hotels competing for visitors are in a constant battle to outdo one another with bigger shows, swankier bars, and the most memorable surroundings.

The Las Vegas Strip is the heart of the action, but there's also plenty to do and see elsewhere. East of the Strip, the Convention Center is nearly always hopping with a steady stream of conventioneers looking to work and play. And, downtown Las Vegas, long the center of tourism, is now primarily known for its more affordable accommodations, friendly slots, and the Fremont Street Experience, with its shopping, entertainment, and light shows. The nearby suburbs of Green Valley, Lake Las Vegas, and Summerlin offer lower-key (and often more affordable) chances to gamble, shop, relax, and indulge in some spa time.

If nonstop neon isn't your thing, don't forget about the world beyond the casino walls. The Las Vegas area is home to impressive feats of engineering and great natural beauty. Hoover Dam is a short drive away, and Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park are just a few of the rugged landscapes that offer an outdoorsy respite from the glitz of Vegas. You can even book a helicopter day tour to visit the Grand Canyon.

Affordable flights to Las Vegas are be easy to find, since many airlines offer service from a myriad of departure cities. So much service means that rates stay competitive and Las Vegas airfare sales are common, though prices do rise in times of high demand.

When To Go

Las Vegas is so popular that there is no "off season" for tourism. Las Vegas is at its busiest during New Year's, most three-day public holidays, July 4th, and school vacations. Valentine's Day is also a busy time, with many couples heading to the desert to get hitched—fast.

Throughout the year, Las Vegas is relatively crowded and the weather remains dry and sunny. For swimmers and sunbathers, the weather is ideal from May to September. Spring and fall are the best for walking the Strip or venturing into the surrounding desert.

high season: January to mid--November

shoulder season: lateNovember to December, January to mid--November, lateNovember to December

If there are times that peak more than others, they're New Year's Eve through mid-February during winter escape time and July 1 through Labor Day due to family vacations.

Weather Information

Although Las Vegas is a land of warmth and sunshine, winter and summer can be extreme. While winter highs hit the 50s and 60s, the lows can dip to freezing. Coats and sweaters are necessary and layering is a must. Summers are simply deadly. Starting in mid-May, temperatures begin to top 100 degrees or more before returning to the 90s in September. However, evenings are delightful as the sun goes down and the neon comes up.

Keep in mind that it tends to rain during January and July, and when it rains, it usually storms. Flash floods are not uncommon, but a hotel has yet to float away.

Crowd Information

Las Vegas is less crowded between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and Tuesdays through Thursdays the rest of the year when hotels and resorts put out their best room rates and incentive packages. Typically, there are more convention attendees in the first few months of the year.

Whether shopping, walking, dining, or gaming, you'll likely encounter crowds. Sidewalk navigation on the Strip is an art as you dodge the camera snappers toting oversized pink elephants from Circus Circus in one hand and a Neiman Marcus shopping bag in the other. Optimum times to beat the crowds are mid-morning, Tuesdays through Thursdays.

Closure Information

Some shows go dark just before or after big holidays. Check shows ahead of time for holiday breaks, closures, and schedule changes.

When to Save

To save on hotels, the best time to go is between Christmas and New Year's Eve, or during the weeks following Labor Day. However, hotels don't like to reduce rooms until they're certain they won't sell, so don't expect the best deals until the last minute. And even then, there's no guarantee.

When to Book

As often as not, a trip to Las Vegas is a spontaneous decision. And you will not find a destination that is as easy to fly to, as inexpensive to fly to, or as fun to drive to when traffic isn't bad. The problem is the secret is out, so booking in advance is necessary to get the best value. Plan three weeks to a month in advance to ensure that a cheap flight is still available; further out if you want to pick your seat, route, and time.

With thousands of hotel rooms, Las Vegas likely has one to spare whether you book a month in advance or walk up to the desk. However, check the city's convention schedule before you decide to take a chance. Huge conventions gobble up most of the rooms in all corners of the city, and any leftover inventory is sold at premium prices.