Welcome to the fabulous Paradise, Nevada, popularly known as Las Vegas, a crazy little oasis in the Mojave Desert with a dense history and unique culture. This unofficial gambling capital of the USA has so much to offer.
My first stop in Las Vegas was at the ‘Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada’ sign; it is not on the strip, so it takes a little time to find, and it is not as big as it seems in the movies. In my experience, the best time to see this sign would be first thing in the morning. This year, I arrived there at 7a.m. and the whole area, including the little parking lot before the sign was empty, which left a great opportunity to take a good photo. When I saw the sign last year, I got there later, at 10/11a.m., and there was a huge line and little parking.
If you’re looking for something to do on the strip, in the early AM hours, I would highly recommend taking a visit to Mon Ami Gabi, located in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino right across from the Bellagio Las Vegas Luxury Resort and Casino. They serve breakfast from 7a.m. To 11a.m and you have the option of eating inside in their conservatory area or outside on the patio; either way it’s a great place to enjoy the Bellagio fountain show and people-watch. More importantly, their food is incredible, especially their yogurt parfait (they make the yogurt in house!). Also, what morning in Vegas would be complete without a mimosa!?! Honestly, there are so many incredible places to dine here from fancy to casual, they really do have it all and in a relatively small radius.
What an incredibly impressive sight the Hoover Dam is; a bit further away from the strip, but certainly worth the drive. This place is a great opportunity to stand in the middle of two states Nevada and Arizona. This historic landmark in the middle of the desert was certainly more picturesque than I expected, especially in the early hours of the morning when no one else is around.
Visited a Joshua Tree forest in the desert. What an alien looking landscape compare to Massachusetts. Can’t help but keep an eye out for long horns, coyotes and rattlesnakes. Didn’t see any this time around, maybe one day…
The Grand Canyon West is truly a wonder. However, it is incredibly hot here and the lines can get super long, so I would recommend getting there as early as possible. The first sight to see is Eagle Point, because, not only, is it literally the first major stop the bus takes you to, but also, it holds spiritual significance to the natives, because if you look closely at the first of three photographs of the Grand Canyon posted above, you will see an eagle carved into the rocks, towards the right, on the canyon wall with its wings spread. Eagle Point is also home to the famous Skywalk, a glass walkway structure which gives you a view straight down in to the canyon as you walk on glass above it. There is no photography allowed on the Skywalk, so I unfortunately didn’t get any good pictures. The Skywalk, to me, was amazing, but super scary being so high with only glass supporting you and everyone else’s body weight! What really astonished me was when I first arrived at Eagle Point the canyon was so deep that I couldn’t see the bottom, even when I was standing as close to the ledge as I could get.
However, I took some great scenic photos at the Guano Point also known as the ant hill, a sight a bit further down from Eagle Point and the next stop on the bus. The nickname for this landmark is called the ant hill, because tourists look like ants climbing up the small hill in the middle of the massive canyon. It was on top of the ant hill that I got the best view of the bottom of the canyon and the Colorado River. Furthermore, there were some crazy selfie photo opportunities on top of the hill, which can make it look like your dangling off the edge of the canyon; it actually looks pretty daring in photos, but in reality it’s not that risky.
So if you’re going to Vegas to visit the strip (which that is what most people go for) you should take like a good fifteen minutes out of your day and take a super short drive the original downtown Las Vegas, in particular Fremont Street; well known for its street-side bars, live entertainment and it is home to many older casinos, including the Golden Nugget. They recently re-did this area of Vegas so tourists now have the opportunity to zip line up and down the entire street and can watch a light show that goes off at night, synchronized to various popular songs. If you think the strip is crazy, wait until you take a trip to Fremont Street, it will give you a new perspective on the saying ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,’ no questions asked!