Las Vegas is one of those places that leaves you feeling a little speechless when you first take in its magnitude. The city has a pulse all of its own, and though pop culture might have us believe otherwise, there's so much more to Las Vegas holidays than wandering the iconic strip or flirting with Lady Luck at the casinos. Here are a few of our favourite activities that might get you straying away from the neon-lit path.
It's one thing to experience the bright lights of Las Vegas from the ground, but quite another to see them from the top of a roller coaster. This isn't just any roller coaster either, as the Big Apple Coaster is attached to the lively New York-New York Hotel and Casino. Strapped into a taxi-cab-themed car, you'll twist, turn and flip upside down at 67mph with striking views of the city's strip just below.
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is about a 30-minute drive from Las Vegas, but has a tendency to make visitors feel like they're on a different planet altogether. The desert landscape and tall, rust-coloured cliffs here are just a small window into Nevada's eerily beautiful scenery.
Once you arrive, there's a visitor centre where you can pick up brochures and learn about how the area formed over thousands of years. A popular way to see the sights is via car on a 21-kilometre loop, thanks to a whistle stop tour that shows you all of the highlights. If you have a whole day to spend at the canyon however, there are a number of hiking trails cutting through the desert that allow visitors to spot some of the local flora and fauna.
Las Vegas has a reputation as the world's entertainment capital for a reason and its hotels and theatres attract some of the best performers in the world. We're not just talking one-night shows you can only catch when you're in the right place at the right time, though they're also in abundance here. Some of the biggest names in show business set up shop in Las Vegas for months and perform nightly.
From Elton John to Cher and Bette Midler, there's really no limit to who you can see live in Las Vegas. Among the regular shows are the line of Cirque du Soleil performances and the circus acts at the Circus Circus hotel, not to mention the Blue Man Group at the Luxor. Performers come and go all the time, so it's worth checking in advance who's calling Las Vegas home when you're in town.
Marvelling at the dancing water at the front of the Bellagio hotel is a Las Vegas rite of passage. It's something you can't leave the city without doing, and it's completely free. The fountains create a dazzling water display that spans more than 300 metres wide, shooting water up to 140 metres in the air. What's more, it's all expertly choreographed to an eclectic blend of music.
The show runs every half hour until 8pm – or 7pm on Sundays – and from there, runs every 15 minutes until midnight.
It's not all hedonism on a Las Vegas break, as there's actually quite a bit of culture to be explored here. The museums aren't your averages ones, and come with the same flashiness and intrigue that permeates the rest of Las Vegas.
There's the Mob Museum, illustrating America's complicated history of organised crime, and The Neon Museum, which is essentially a graveyard for Las Vegas' plethora of neon signs. There's even an exhibit on the Titanic at the Luxor hotel, featuring pieces of the famous ship's hull and a full recreation of its grand staircase.