Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Las Vegas, part one

There’s no place on earth like Las Vegas. The city thrives on superlatives – biggest, brightest, longest, and tallest – so it’s no surprise that the “Entertainment Capital of the World” is home to 18 of the 20 largest hotels in the country. Visitors will find an unlimited variety of entertainment, sightseeing, special events, shopping and dining, among many other activities. Las Vegas boasts more neon and light than any other city, and themed megaresorts that conjure nearly any fantasy imaginable. On the famed Las Vegas Strip, visitors can view a spirited pirate ship battle, an exploding volcano, or a spectacular laser light water show. They can visit resorts that capture the essence of ancient Egypt, an Arthurian kingdom, Rome, Venice, New York, Monte Carlo, Paris, and a host of various tropical paradises.
They can enjoy the excitement of 24-hour gaming, gourmet restaurants operated by the world’s most famous chefs, and star-studded entertainment. And if that’s not enough, downtown Las Vegas is enclosed by a massive canopy of lights that covers five blocks. Called the Freemont Street Experience, the canopy comes alive every evening with senses-pounding light and sound shows that add to the excitement of a place often known as Glitter Gulch.
For those venturing outside of the casinos, Las Vegas offers shoppers an amazing array of options including mega-malls, unique boutiques, upscale stores, and sprawling outlet malls filled with shops selling designer name goods, fine clothing, jewelry, and other items. Perhaps less well-known is that Las Vegas is a veritable jackpot of history and art. Visitors will find a number of quality art museums featuring changing exhibits of national and regional contemporary artists as well as permanent collections. The city’s historic museums range from archaeological and anthropological exhibits of the original Native Americans to the memorabilia of the legendary entertainer Liberace.
For the adventurous, there are amusement parks and theme rides that offer thrill for the kid in everyone. Recreation enthusiasts will find a multitude of activities to choose from including golf, boating, hiking, bicycling, rock climbing, car racing, and even snow skiing.
Long before the glass pyramids and manmade volcanoes, nature created her own landmarks in Southern Nevada. The Las Vegas Territory is a region with startlingly diverse mountain and desert landscapes that can produce as much admiration as the biggest and brightest neon sign.
For instance, just 20 miles west of downtown Las Vegas is the magnificent Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Wildlife, including bighorn sheep and wild burros, abounds in this region. Whether you hike, bike or rock climb internationally known rock faces, this geologic wonderland is worth the visit. Nearby is Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, once owned by billionaire Howard Hughes. Now a shady retreat, visitors can enjoy outdoor concerts and performances in the summertime.
About a half hour north of Las Vegas is Mount Charleston. At nearly 12.000 feet, Mount Charleston has been described as “a garden island in a sea of desert”. In the summer, it is the place in Southern Nevada where visitors can stay cool without air conditioning. In the winter, it’s the only place in Southern Nevada for skiing and other snow sports. There are campgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails.

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