7 things that don't involve gambling in Las Vegas
Think Las Vegas and one word comes to mind: gambling. Think of another word and it will probably be casinos. Yes, this no holds barred hotbed of nefarious 24-hours a day gambling in Nevada's Mojave Desert is ruled by the love of money and the pursuit of even more of it. But, and it's a big but, there is far more to the 'Entertainment Capital of the World' than just gambling.
How about the chance to check out one of America's great automobile museums or take in a Cirque du Soleil show? Or fine dine overlooking the city, maybe bash down the Grand Canyon in a raft? We're not saying don't check out the action on a few casino tables while you're here, just that there is a whole lot more Vegas out there...
The bright, shining lights of Las Vegas pull people in from all over the world. If you're thinking of visiting Sin City to try out the following attractions and activities away from the casinos, don't miss the latest flight deals from Virgin Atlantic, with direct flights from London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow*. Read on for the finest inspiration ever to get booking today.
1. Take in a show
Easily more spectacular than any casino experience, this world famous entertainment extravaganza is truly mind-blowing. Cirque du Soleil has been thrilling audiences here for more than two decades. There's more than one show these days too: if you really enjoy your performance there are another six to choose from.
This being Vegas, shows come tailored to suit all ages and tastes. The musically based numbers have to be some of the best; try Michael Jackson One or The Beatles LOVE. All shows last a whopping ninety minutes so they're great value for money too.
2. Enjoy a feast
Yes, Las Vegas used to just have a reputation for banal hotel buffets, but these days it is also home to myriad dining experiences, from crab shacks and retro diners, through to fine dining temples and some of the most spectacular restaurants in the world. They don't come any more spectacular than Top of the World, with its epic revolving 360-degree views of The Strip. For a real treat opt for Executive Chef Rick Giffen's tasting menu.
If you enjoy your seafood laced with the likes of black truffle then Michael Mina at the Bellagio is the place for you. Simpler seafood is on the menu at Joe's Stone Crab, with the signature dish, of course, those delicious stone crabs.The even better news is that some of those much-derided Las Vegas buffets have upped their game too.
3. Helicopter heights
Las Vegas is a spectacular city, no more so than from the air. The best time to take a helicopter tour is at night when The Strip dazzles in a fiery sparkle of neon. Maverick offers a range of tours. Book the trip which includes a glass of champagne before you board and soar off up into the night sky to take in Caesars Palace, the Bellagio fountains, and the might of the Luxor Pyramid. You will feel like you're in a movie up here, and won't be missing losing money on the tables one bit.
4. Take a trip to the Grand Canyon
It's little exaggeration to say that visiting Las Vegas without heading to the Grand Canyon is something of a wasted trip. This remarkable natural phenomenon, the deepest canyon in the world, is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretching for 277 miles, up to 18 miles wide at its broadest point and plunging to a depth of over a mile.
There are plenty of ways to appreciate the epic scale and beauty of the Grand Canyon. You can 'enjoy' a tentative walk out on to the glass-bottomed Grand Canyon Skywalk, or embark on a helicopter flight that swoops high above the canyon as well as delving into it. Then there are pontoon boat rides on the Colorado River, as well as the chance to go rafting. There are also many terrific hiking options too for those with more time.
Most people don't instantly associate Las Vegas with skydiving, but it is actually a great place to skydive. Vegas Indoor Skydiving offers exactly what it says, with the chance for all ages to experience the unique feeling of freefall. A thousand- horsepower motor helps generate wind speeds of up to 120 mph, which offers a thrilling ride. If you want the real deal instead then Vegas Extreme Skydiving goes one better with the chance for you to hurtle through the skies at speeds of up to 140 mph from a height of 15,000ft! Choose a tandem dive if you're new to skydiving, and fear not, the instructors are very much used to handling nervous first timers.
6. Get the blues
If you have never seen Blue Man Group perform then we have one simple piece of advice for you - go as soon as possible! It's hard to describe what exactly their shows are 'about'. They are a sort of comedy show, interactive theatre and gig all rolled into one riotously fun whole. You can take in the spectacle at the dedicated Blue Man Theater at the Luxor Hotel and Casino. The show is constantly being revamped so even if you've been before you should head back. Don't miss the spectacular new finale - we won't spoil the surprise by revealing any more about it.
7. Museum madness
Vegas and museums? Stick with us here as this sultry desert city also offers some cerebral treats. Perhaps our favourite is the Mob Museum or we might just be saying that in case we offend them! You can learn all about this shadowy organisation as well as the lawmen who set out to snare the Mob. The 'After Dark' tours offer even more of an insight as well as the chance to enjoy a tipple.
Then there's the garishly glorious Neon Museum, which is actually fascinating as it explores how signage has changed over the years. If you want to continue on the cultural theme we also recommend the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and the Auto Collections, with its collection of motor vehicles from through the ages.
Whatever draws you to Las Vegas, whether you plan to avoid the casinos entirely or just want to experience a day or two doing something different, hopefully these tried-and-tested tips will keep you busy and entertained. Remember to check the latest flights offers from Virgin Atlantic, while our Las Vegas weather guide shows up to date forecasts plus suggestions on when to go for the best weather.
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