Las Vegas, or Vegas as some people call it, is the most populous city in the western U.S. state of Nevada and ranks 26th among the country’s most populated cities. According to the most recent census in April 2020, the current population is over 641,000. It is located around 100 miles from Death Valley — the hottest and driest spot in North America.
Las Vegas is known for its casinos and world-class entertainment. The major resort city is a top destination for shopping, gambling, amusement, and upscale dining. It also has national and state parks where families can spend a good day of hiking, go for a scenic drive, or visit the art district and many museums.
The Gambling Capital of the United States
Despite being outlawed in 1910, gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931. That’s when the Bank of Las Vegas, led by Edward Parry Thomas at the time, decided to lend money to the casinos. They saw the industry’s potential and regarded gambling as one of the most important businesses in the city. By 1954, more than 8 million people were visiting Vegas. Even famous artists like Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams would perform in intimate casino settings. Although there are more attractions to visit and enjoy, gambling remains the main draw of the city.
A Sweltering Hot and Dry City
The weather in Las Vegas can get extremely hot and uncomfortable due to its subtropical hot desert climate. After all, it is located in the Mojave Desert, which is in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the southwestern U.S. The temperature typically ranges from 38°F to 105°F and sometimes even reaches temperatures of over 111°F. It is mostly hot and dry throughout the year, but there are pleasant months when more tourists would visit Las Vegas — during the spring from March to May and the fall months from September to November.
The Las Vegas Strip
You may have heard of the Las Vegas Strip, but did you know that it is not actually within the bounds of Las Vegas City? The stretch is located in Clark County, Nevada, a few-minute drive from the city. A police officer named it after his hometown, Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, California. It gets more confusing as people call the Strip “Las Vegas,” which boasts glamorous mega hotels and casinos, such as those in Las Vegas City.
Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas is the historic heart of the city, where you can find many high-rise buildings, luxury hotels, and government agencies. People visit the area not just for gambling, as you can also find many blocks of arts and learn about their culture through the experiences offered by downtown Las Vegas. The Arts District alone is already a vibrant hub of art galleries, breweries, and restaurants, which you can visit to experience the locals’ paradise.
Brightest City in the World
Due to the concentration of lights coming from the hotels and casinos in Las Vegas, the city is reputed to be the brightest spot on Earth. It began when a stunning photo was captured by NASA, International Space Station, which revealed how the city lights beautifully contrasted with its dark surrounding areas. Las Vegas even became known as the “City of Lights” due to this mesmerizing feature. Today, it competes with other places like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Moscow, Russia, for the title — with recent studies even indicating a light score for each city.
The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
It is no surprise that there are over 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas. The city boasts 14 out of the 20 largest hotels in the world. But a fun fact is that one of its hotels, the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, opened in 1906. This means that it is over 115 years old! Since its establishment, the hotel offered gambling facilities, except from 1910 to 1931, when gambling was outlawed in Nevada.
A Place Filled with Slot Machines
You have probably heard of studies comparing a region’s human population versus that of cows, sharks, or pigs. In Las Vegas, you will find one slot machine for every four residents. Specifically, you will find 164,000 slot machines in the city. If you are still not convinced, try visiting Bellagio Las Vegas Casino. The venue features 2,300 dedicated slot machines where you can potentially win over 2 million USD in cash if you’re lucky! Just imagine how profitable their gambling-filled games are. You’ll find just about every type of slot machine littering the city.
America’s Tourism Capital
Las Vegas competes with the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Millions of people visit the vibrant city each year, with statistics showing that it peaked at a phenomenal 42.5-million tourist count in 2019. This visitor volume is astounding compared to only 6.7 million tourists in 1970. Tourism consistently grows in Las Vegas, and the trend seems to continue in the years to come. Even with the recent pandemic causing trouble, the allure of Sin City remains surprisingly strong. It goes to show the star power of Vegas as a tourist attraction.
A City of Weddings
The city has long been known to be the perfect spot for wedding festivities — both planned and unplanned! The convenience of getting married in Las Vegas is like no other; you only need a few documents, and you’re good to go. It’s also the ideal all-in-one city for the reception, bachelor party, honeymoon, etc. As a result, around 120,000 weddings are held each year in Las Vegas. This number equates to approximately 300 per day. That said, a Vegas marriage annulment isn’t unusual in the U.S., with one of the most obvious reasons being, you guessed it: intoxication.
A No-Lottery State
Despite being one of the legal gambling capitals of the world, you won’t see any lottery retailers in Las Vegas. It may sound ironic, but it is the reality faced by the residents of Nevada, which happens to be one of the only six states in the U.S. without lotteries — the others are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Utah. Residents need to drive to either of the adjacent states of California or Arizona if they wish to try their luck and buy tickets. There are even guides online that have compiled the best routes for Vegas residents to follow.
The Fountains of Bellagio
More than 1000 fountains are found in the city, specifically in Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas’ Luxury Resort and Casino. The display is set up in front of the hotel, where you will find fountains swaying to the beat of the music. It is a beautiful and complex fountain show that is even enhanced by absolutely stunning lights. There’s no need to worry about the schedule. The majestic display goes every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the date and time.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Vegas is also known for its arts and culture. Among the attractions found in the city is the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. It consists of three theaters in two buildings in Downtown Las Vegas’ 61-acre Symphony Park and features Broadway shows and some of the best music and dance performances. Before its launch in 2012, Las Vegas was one of the largest cities in the U.S. without a performing arts center. The Smith Center paved the way for Nevada to take its place on an international stage, which now celebrates cultures and artistic excellence from all over the globe.
The Largest Vegas Jackpot
Although there are millions of online slots offering multimillion-dollar wins in the world, the biggest wins ever recorded were from Las Vegas’ Megabucks machines. In 2003, a 25-year old software engineer wagered $100 at Excalibur Hotel and Casino. It was reported that he played just to pass the time while waiting for a basketball game to start. He ended up winning $39.7 million, which is the largest Megabucks jackpot in Vegas history to this day. When it comes to jackpots and gambling in general, it seems as though it’s best to be consistent and not expect it.
As a prime spot for guilty pleasures and all things wild, mobsters entered the scene and brought shady businesses with them in 1930. Since illegal activities thrived in the city, Las Vegas was informally nicknamed “Sin City.” This is also where the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” originated. Although the two blocks comprising Sin City shut down their operations in the 1940s, people still associate Las Vegas’ reputation with the nickname. Today, you’ll find many fun and wholesome activities — shopping malls, sports facilities, theaters, restaurants, and more — in the now called Entertainment Capital of the World.
The Mob Museum
They say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. In the case of the Mob Museum, many of their dealings have been immortalized in museum form. If you’re interested in all things mafioso, the museum deals with the crime and punishment of some of the most famous mob bosses in Vegas. Even if the so-called Sin City is much more wholesome these days, it’s still nice to look back into its shady history.