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Your destination - Las Vegas

Neon lights up the desert sky in Las Vegas, said to be the Entertainment Capital of the World. This southern Nevada resort is located in Las Vegas Valley, a desert surrounded by the Spring Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Vegas is the heart of one of the liveliest, fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the United States. Estimated city population is nearly 328,000, and the metro population now exceeds 1,130,000.

Downtown is known as Glitter Gulch, site of the Freemont Street Experience, a 5-block covered pedestrian mall animated by thousands of lights. The Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard is the location of some of the city's most popular casinos, displaying such extravagant attractions as an Egyptian pyramid and an erupting volcano. Though the city's largest employer is the Nellis Air Force Base, the base of the Las Vegas economy is tourism, generated by entertainment, gaming, and year-round outdoor recreation that ranges from horseback riding to the roller coaster to golf and skiing. The area is served by two railroads, a major highway system, and McCarran International Airport.

Major points of interest are the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society; the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, noted for its dinosaur exhibits; the Las Vegas Art Museum; the Hoover Dam just outside the city; Indian ruins; and Ghost Towns, remnants of the gold and silver rush days. Within easy driving distance are Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in southern Utah, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Death Valley and Disneyland in southeast California. Notable annual events are the National Finals Rodeo and the Las Vegas Invitational Golf Tournament. Take your choice of colorful eateries and nightlife that range from Big Dog’ s Cafe and the Double Down Saloon to Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood. Laugh it up at the likes of the Comedy Shop or Johnnie’s Underground. Enjoy gourmet dining at the Bacchanal Room, Hugo’s Cellar, or the Monte Carlo Room. Spend an evening dancing at Cafe Nicole, Cleopatra’s Barge, or the Caribbean Cabana. Test your luck 24 hours a day at the casinos. Or relax in the glamorous Vegas showrooms which feature a steady parade of world-renown entertainers.

The Las Vegas area was settled about 2,300 years ago by the Anasazi and other Native American groups, who were succeeded by the Paiute people. In 1820 Spanish explorers discovered an oasis in the area while searching for water. They named the oasis “Las Vegas” a Spanish term for “the meadows.” The site was an important stop along the Old Spanish Trail between New Mexico and California during the 19th century. Reports from explorers and missionaries attracted Mormons to the fertile area of the Las Vegas Valley in 1855, and that settlement served as a link to the Pacific Ocean. Arrival of the railroad in 1905 initiated a period of growth. But the major acceleration in growth occurred in the 1940s with the introduction of legalized gambling, sparking a boom in the construction of lavish hotels and glitzy casinos, which continue to play a key role in generating visitors and revenues for the city.


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