Las Vegas is all about thrilling visitors with exclusive attractions and over-the-top shows -- all of which have an awe-inspiring effect, particularly for older kids who like lots of walking. Younger kids will love the animal exhibits, dancing fountains, and light shows.
Las Vegas never lets up, as conventions throng the city and its attractions throughout the year. But it does have slower times, usually when school is in session, mid-week, or just prior to the December holidays. Summer is quite hot, making it difficult to enjoy the outdoors. You'll find the weather more comfortable if you visit September to May.
The best weather is typically in April, with average high temperatures of 77F and lows of 55. Las Vegas is located in a desert, and it's not uncommon to have temperatures of 105F or higher in July and August. What surprises most people is how chilly it can be in winter. Lows of 39F and highs of 58 in December and January keep most visitors out of the hotel swimming pools and in sweaters and jackets. The shoulder seasons of fall and spring are pleasantly moderate, though you may need an extra layer for early mornings and late evenings. Get more weather info.
McCarran International Airport (LAS) is the nation's twelfth busiest, with 1,100 flights per day and direct service to approximately 125 global cities. The airport is within a mile of the Strip (takeoffs and landings offer great views, so get a window seat), but traffic is frequently snarled. Taxi lines are long at the airport but move efficiently. There are no trains to Las Vegas, but Greyhound offers bus service from several cities.
Pack your walking shoes. Part of the fun of Las Vegas is walking up and down Las Vegas Boulevard -- aka the Strip -- and looking at the outlandish architecture and blaring neon signs. This is also often the most efficient way to go from place to place. Cabs are the most popular way to get around, but they can be scarce in the evening when demand is highest, and slower than walking if you plan to stick to one area of the Strip. To get a cab, head to the closest hotel and join the taxi line. A bellman will signal for one (and expect a small tip). Public transportation is limited, though the Las Vegas Monorail links several major Strip hotels. Some mutually owned hotels, such as Luxor and its neighbor Mandalay Bay, run free train shuttles between them. Moving walkways and escalators help, but most of your transportation in the area is on foot.
You won't want to drive a car on the Strip, as traffic and parking are extreme hassles, but you will definitely need one to take out-of-town day trips to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, and Valley of Fire State Park -- if you don't opt for more expensive guided tours. Car rentals are available at the airport and most hotels.
Las Vegas is not a town of festivals, though certainly most visitors come with celebration in mind. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority warns that all major calendar holidays -- New Year's, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Nevada Day (the fourth Friday in October), Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas -- are busier than normal dates for tourism. You'll need to plan well ahead to secure reservations and tickets for the more popular shows. Hotel rates frequently rise during busy holidays and large conventions.
VisitLasVegas.com is the official visitors' site.
There is no attractions pass for Las Vegas; however, VisitLasVegas.com maintains a special-offers page that lists discount packages at dozens of hotels.
The number of annual visitors, a timeline of Las Vegas history, and fun facts (camels were used as pack animals here in the 19th century) can be found on VisitLasVegas.com.