Natural beauty, high life and fine dining: Viva Las Vegas!

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Bold, brash and loud, Las Vegas is a city like no other. As you hit the famous Strip, you’ll be saluted by Captain Jack Sparrow, bump into Minnie Mouse and stroll past a replica of the Eiffel Tower. And that’s just for starters. 
But there’s plenty on offer away from the bright lights and 24-hour casinos – from exquisite fine dining to relaxing spas and, in the surrounding areas, an abundance of natural beauty. No wonder A-list celebrities flock here and why America’s rock ’n’ roll king, Elvis Presley, was a huge fan. 
So where to get started in Nevada’s wild child city? If you’re going to holiday in Vegas, blow the budget and opt for upscale accommodation. We checked into the super-classy Palazzo Hotel. This five-star, suite-only hotel has sumptuous super-sized beds and top-of-the-world city views, while the outdoor pool is the perfect place to kick back, relax and catch some serious rays away from the madding crowd. 
If the roulette wheel and the blackjack table are not your bag, there’s fun to be found away from the slot machines. Billed as the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas attracts big names such as Elton John, Rod Stewart, Celine Dion and Britney Spears, who all perform regular concerts. And you can catch stand-up comedy performances, dance acts and theatrical shows, too. 
A bucket-list must-see is the Cirque du Soleil show. There are eight different performances on The Strip, but the one that tops them all is the Michael Jackson ONE show at Mandalay Bay. To avoid disappointment, be sure to book your tickets in the UK before you go as these shows are often sold out (priced from £110 per person, for details see ) 
When it comes to retail therapy, Las Vegas gives New York a run for its money. Bargain hunters will love the two shopping outlets on either side of The Strip, selling popular labels such as Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Kate Spade and Nike, to name just a few. 
It’s best to buy the American brands for great deals and remember to take an extra suitcase for your excess baggage!
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To swat up on Las Vegas’s history and its ascent from small railroad town to modern day tourist mecca, head to the Springs Preserve. This is the birthplace of Las Vegas, the site of the natural springs where life first flourished in the desert, and visitors to the 180-acre cultural and historic attraction can learn all about the city’s rich heritage. 
The Nevada State Railroad Museum, meanwhile, gives you the chance to ride an authentic train along the same tracks that once carried the cargo for the construction of Hoover Dam – the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere and a National Historic Landmark.
And if you need a break from the bright lights, there’s plenty of natural beauty surrounding Sin City; the staggering Grand Canyon and Death Valley National Parks are all accessible by car. Nothing beats driving across the open roads of America in a Ford Mustang – and the good news is that car hire is extremely affordable in the US.
If you’re in need of some R&R after your exertions, head to the Vdara Hotel & Spa (vdara.com). Why not hire a cabana for the day and laze by the pool while being served cocktails on tap and food to order?
Make sure to visit the hotel’s ESPA branded spa for a seriously sumptuous treat. The On The Rocks massage, aptly named, is out of this world. Another noteworthy spa to chill out and be pampered in is Caesars Palace’s Qua Baths & Spa . 
You might not think it, but Las Vegas is also a foodie hotspot with celebrity chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire all opening restaurants on The Strip. 
If it’s an all-American experience you’re after head to Fix at the Bellagio for an upscale spin (bellagio.com/restaurants/fix.aspx). Menu highlights include lobster tacos and Bobby Baldwin burgers. 
For a fine-dining experience, make a dinner date at DB Brasserie located at The Palazzo’s neighbouring hotel, The Venetian. Chef Daniel Boulud’s modern take on French cuisine is not to be missed. The restaurant, with its urban-cool vibe (leather seats, mood lighting and a buzzing atmosphere), also has a great cocktail happy hour, too. 
Whatever your agenda, Las Vegas has something to offer. The only trouble you’ll have is cramming it all into one trip. 

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