City guide: Las Vegas, United States | Private jet charter
You may not have visited this iconic city that lies like a neon behemoth in the middle of the Mojave Desert, but you feel like you already know it.
The lights, the glamour, the gambling and the shows. It’s everything you could want for a lost weekend but what else is there in this resort town, settled in 1905 and now the 28th most populated city in the US?
If you’re not planning on having Elvis marry you or to spend buckets of loose cash at the slot machines along the main road, known as The Strip, then there are some surprisingly wholesome activities to add to your bucket list. While you’re here though, consider calling into a casino or two as part of the Las Vegas experience; it’s one that has to be seen to be believed.
To say you have a choice of airports is an understatement. McCarran Airport remains the most central with 30 carriers from across America, Europe and Asia touching down. The airport has two terminals and is just five miles from downtown Las Vegas, which you can reach by taxi or bus. Rental cars are available but if you’re staying downtown can be more of a hindrance than a help.
Outside of McCarran, which is named after a US Senator, you have the choice of more than 50 others in the state of Nevada, including another international airport at Reno. While perhaps too far to drive to Vegas in one go, it’s possible to get a reasonable connecting flight between the two, which both also welcome private charter flights.
Fly-drive deals can also be found. Popular starting points include Los Angeles and San Diego, which are between three and a half to four and a half hours’ drive from Las Vegas.
Things to do and place to go
Let’s get the mega-casinos out of the way with two of the best you’ll find on The Strip. For 24-hours day and night of pure hedonism make Caesar’s Palace your playground. The Roman theme is relentless, as is the noise and the thrill of chasing down the next win. The famous Colosseum arena is also a sight to behold with headline acts including Madonna, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Van Morrison to name but a few.
Next on the list has to be the MGM Casino currently home to the Cirque du Soleil, various themed bars, a concert venue and of course, the casino floor itself. There are many, many more for you to explore, but when your wallet can’t cope with another night at the tables, where else can you go?
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The perfect antidote to all that consumerism. This spectacle of nature is breathtaking in its vastness. More than 220 miles of winding rivers, 18 miles wide and one mile deep, it’s almost too much to take in, which is why getting the chance to explore it up close is a must.
Take a shuttle bus up to the South Rim, the most often visited area of the park. From here you’ll be able to access the historic village district and the visitor centre, packed full of information about the area.
Other exploring opportunities can be found at the North Rim, which is open at limited times throughout the year. Hiking down to the basin is also an option, but with soaring temperatures, preparation is key.
The Grand Canyon is around four and a half hours by car from Las Vegas.
Downtown Container Park, Freemont Street
This quirky shopping area is more than just another collection of stores. Built from upcycled cargo containers the park has a fabulous interactive play area for children as well as shops, bars and restaurants catering for all tastes.
Dune Buggy Tour
Possibly the most fun you can have in a desert. Book a private tour, go on your own or as part of a group and explore the stunning desert. With wild horses, two desert taverns and a very knowledgeable guide on hand, it’s a great way to spend a morning or afternoon and just half an hour away from the Las Vegas strip.
Where to eat and drink
If you’re partial to a steak, then you’ll find Las Vegas is awash with steakhouses, and for the most part, they offer good value for money. If you’re after a more sublime experience, then here are the best of the rest.
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, Waldorf Astoria
A mind-boggling 23-storeys up, this modern French restaurant at the Waldorf Astoria is the only US offering from the world-renowned chef, Pierre Gagnaire.
With the option of a tasting menu (vegetarian option available), paired with wine or the a la carte menu the options are a mouth-watering temptation of sea and meat with an additional steak menu. If you’re pushing the boat out why not try the Lucky Number 7 tasting menu offering the finest wines paired with seven-courses for £777.
Lemongrass, Aria Hotel and Casino
You’ll find this Thai restaurant in one of the ubiquitous casino and hotel complexes along The Strip. It offers diners traditional favourites such as Pad Thai or more exciting options such as wok-tossed lobster. With dim-sum also on offer this is more Asian fusion that strict Thai food but when it’s open until 2 am, you’ll be glad of the amazing menu choice for a late-night celebration or commiseration after a night on the gaming tables.
Herbs and Rye, West Sahara
When you need to take a break from the big, bold lights of Las Vegas head off-strip for a cocktail and some food at this joint. A great bar decked out in dark wood with a more traditional feel to it, you’ll also find some serious food. We’re talking big plates. The restaurant is said to be the place that chefs go to hang out, so you know you’re in the right place when it comes to eating. Reserve your table online.
Carson Kitchen at the John E. Carson Hotel, Carson and 6th
This restaurant and bar are modern and eclectic. Hop onto a stool at the community table, find a table to yourself or head outside to the patio bar. This restaurant offers a twist on the concept of American comfort food at a reasonable price. You’ll find a great selection of seasonal vegetable dishes alongside meat and fish that ticks all the right boxes when it comes to spice and seasoning.
A great choice of beers and cocktails makes this a great option away from the main drag. If there are fewer than five of you, then it’s not possible to reserve a table, but larger groups can book online or call ahead to see if there is space.
Where to stay
With around 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas, your choice is really only dictated by your budget. Stay in one of the monoliths for the full Las Vegas experience or opt for a budget friendlier Airbnb. Your choice comes down to the kind of stay you’re looking at – a weekend of hedonistic fun or a week of exploring and adventure.
Airbnb, various locations
The Airbnb offering has stepped up in terms of offer over recent years and in Las Vegas has seen a huge rise in the choice of accommodation. In fact, while visitor numbers to Las Vegas dropped as a whole in 2018, those staying in Airbnb accommodation rose by 50%.
Possibly due to a mix of choice, budget and the chance to stay somewhere a little quirky or unusual, booking this type of accommodation is fast becoming the choice of the week-long visitor looking to spend their money on experiences rather than hotel services.
Tuscany Suites and Casino, East Flamingo Road
Two blocks east of The Strip you’ll find this hotel offering 716 suites, outdoor pool, four restaurants and of course a casino.
Large, comfortable rooms come with armchairs, a dining table and chairs and small kitchenette. The usual wifi and flat-screen TV also come as standard. The swimming pool and surrounding gardens make this hotel a great base, close enough to make the action just a short walk but far enough away to take you out of the mayhem. Perfect for couples looking for a little more space than a standard room or for families.
Sam’s Town Hotel and Gambling Hall
The first “locals” casino to hit Las Vegas in 1979, this complex is home to a bowling alley, cinema and one of the largest casinos in town and of course the hotel.
There are 645 rooms and suites at your disposal, some overlooking the Mystic Falls indoor park that also forms part of the complex complete with trees and a pool, or else the nearby mountains of Las Vegas Valley.
The sheer volume of bars and restaurants are too many to order, but it’s safe to say that going hungry or thirsty isn’t going to be an issue. There’s plenty to do onsite of course, but with The Strip a few miles away you can always take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus service.
Thunderbird Boutique Hotel, S Las Vegas Boulevard
Around 120,000 marriages take place each year in Las Vegas and quite a number of them probably happen here in this cool retro hotel and wedding chapel. Choose from a range of suites all with balconies and some with direct access to the pool.
Besides the impressive chapel and banquet room, guests also have access to the garden, pool and the bar/restaurant. If you’re looking for an interesting location, this is the one to choose. A walk away from The Strip, you’re also close to Fremont Street - where you’ll go to people watch and experience a zipline ride like no other in the form of Slotzilla.
Desert Rose Resort, Duke Ellington Way
Less a hotel, more a small town you can choose from one or two bedrooms in this condominium-style resort.
Complete with a small kitchen and dining area, this accommodation gives you plenty of space to breathe and relax. A pool, poolside bar, spa and barbecue facilities will make it hard to leave, but without a casino in sight, you’re only one and a half blocks away from where the action is — the perfect combination.
If you’re staying centrally and don’t plan on travelling too far than the monorail that runs up and down The Strip is going to be most useful to you. There are seven stops along the route and trains arrive every four to eight minutes.
Outside The Strip, the Las Vegas bus networks offer good value for money and are safe, clean and efficient. Pick up a $6 pass for a two-hour ride, $8 for 24-hour or $20 for three days. Get a mobile ticket on your smartphone or from a vending machine at some stops and choose from the two operators that run buses throughout the city.
There is an abundance of taxis and ride-sharing schemes running night and day. Be aware that, unlike elsewhere in the US, you cannot flag down a taxi in the street.
Best time to visit
Summer in Las Vegas with its sub-tropical climate spells sweltering temperatures and the likelihood of spending more chance indoors than out. Fine if you’ve no plans to step outside the casino but not ideal if you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.
More moderate temperatures can be found in the spring, between March and May and the autumn months between September and November.
Temperatures aside, the popularity of Las Vegas as a weekend destination means that you’ll find better deals mid-week. Bear in mind that Christmas and New Year are also likely to be popular times to visit.
Las Vegas is unashamedly Las Vegas, a mecca of consumerism, hedonism and a city that keeps the party going 24-hours a day, 365-days a year. It’s all here: the food, the drinks, the gambling and the great accommodation. Sure, there are places to escape, places where the natural beauty can make you forget where you are for an afternoon but ultimately, you’re in a city that you can’t help but fall in love with, even just for a short while.
If you are looking at booking a private jet charter to and from Las Vegas contact us today.