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How to spend a week in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has its fair share of casinos, sure, but it's got a heck of a lot more – days are easily wiled away at live shows, national parks and hotels so unique they're practically museums. Here's our itinerary for how to spend a week in Sin City.

Day one

In Las Vegas, the hotels are in a league of their own. Each is basically its own mini attraction, worthy of a wander that'll also help you get your bearings in this vast, neon-lit landscape.

There's the Paris Hotel and Casino, whose blue sky ceilings make you feel like every day is a perfect day, the vast marble lobby of Caesar's Palace and the Italian-inspired architecture surrounding the indoor canals of The Venetian.

By night, you'll want to head over to the Bellagio for the hotel's famous fountain show. It's a choreographed performance set to light and music that shoots water more than 140 metres into the air. One of those can't-miss spectacles on the strip, it runs every 15 minutes from 8pm to midnight, as well as every 30 minutes during the day.

Day two

Las Vegas isn't all hedonism – this bright light city has its fair share of culture too, in the forms of various top-notch museums. On day two you can take your pick of exhibits at museums like the Neon Museum, which houses the retired neon signs the city is famous for, the Pinball Hall of Fame, and the Mob Museum – a dark and winding history of America's organised crime.

And then comes the moment we've all been waiting for – the shows that make Las Vegas so renowned. Depending on when you visit, you'll find any number of world class performers doing in-house shows at Vegas' hotels. In the past, Las Vegas has been an extended home to performers like Elton John, Cher, Britney Spears and Celine Dion, plus a crazy array of Cirque du Soleil shows. You'd be wise to check in advance to see what's on the bill.

Day three

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located about a 30-minute drive outside Las Vegas but it feels like a world away. Its desert landscape is peaked with deep red rocks and speckled with native flora and fauna like Joshua trees and yucca plants, wild burro donkeys and desert tortoises. The easiest way to explore the area is via car – there's a 21-kilometre long road that loops past most of the area's most popular spots and hiking trails.

Day four

After trekking through Red Rock Canyon, you'll have deserved a day by the poolside. Las Vegas has a subtropical desert climate due to its Mojave Desert location, so days here are typically steeped in a lovely warmth. With this in mind, many Las Vegas hotels come ready with a pool to help you keep cool. And then on day four, once night arrives, you'll want to hit the Big Apple Coaster at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. It whips by at 67mph, and offers views of the strip from a whole new angle.

Day five

No trip to Vegas is complete without a serious shopping stint. Most of the hotels will feature their own shopping areas – there's the Grand Canal at the Venetian, Luxor's Galleria, Le Boulevard in the Paris Hotel and Casino and Appian Way at Caesar's Palace. Also on the menu are the 250 shops of the standalone Fashion Show Las Vegas, and the 150 designer shops of the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets.

Day six

You know it. You're in awe of it. The jaw-droppingly gorgeous Grand Canyon, carved with deep ravines and red, layered rocks scientists believe have been around for 17 million years. It's a four-hour drive from Las Vegas, but there are a huge number of tours that'll take you right to this national park's unforgettable doorstep for a day of exploring, marvelling and picture-snapping.

Day seven

The only proper send-off for your holiday to Las Vegas is a private helicopter ride over The Strip. It's best done at night, when the city comes to life with neon signs and headlights. It's quieter up here but for the sound of the helicopter blades, and offers unrivalled views of this iconic city.

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