If, like me, you imagined Las Vegas to be all neon lights, casinos, opulent decadence and quickie marriages performed by Elvis impersonators, then think again.
The city offers so much more, so bundle up the kids and let’s take a trip to visit the other pearls it has to offer.
Las Vegas is heavily influenced by European culture and architecture as you will see:
St. Mark’s Square
As in the piazzas one finds in Italy, the square is a meeting place for citizenry where street artists entertain with a variety of acts, both traditional and modern, such as singing, dancing and juggling. Works of art, such as paintings and sculptures, in the presence of various indoor/outdoor cafes add to the European ambience. It is easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and find yourself embarrassing your kids with your endeavours to re-create long-lost dancing skills. The open operas with haunting melodies such as “O Solo Mio” will stir your emotions. All this while you are enjoying an espresso or a gelato. One can also escape the glaring sunlight by taking shelter in the many restaurants that surround the square.
In Las Vegas, you ask? Yes. If you were in Venice no visit would be complete without a trip in a gondola; likewise in Vegas you can experience the sensation of gliding quietly sailing down the Grand Canal, while your gondolier serenades you en route, beneath overhanging balconies festooned with flowers and ivy and past quaint shops of all descriptions. Twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, the gondoliers also gather and perform the Gondolier March.
The Eiffel Tower.
What the Eiffel Tower? In Vegas? Yup, they have a replica of the iconic tower albeit only half the size of its French counterpart, standing about 46 stories tall. Climbing to the peak one can take in views of the surrounding area including a panoramic sight of the strip from an elevated dimension. Complete the trip by guzzling a delicious French pastry or feast on traditional French cuisine at the Paris Hotel. Bon appetit.
The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
The child in us is always excited by secret things and stories of hidden treasure. At the Mirage Hotel one will find both – the Secret Garden and the Dolphin Habitat – where you will learn of animal life, conservation and the importance of our future. I had the absolute privilege of swimming with dolphins here. Surreal creatures, filled with a loving nature and empathy for humans; a magical and uplifting experience. In the Habitat, you are given the opportunity to get up close and personal with bottle-nose dolphins, feed them, play with the fun-loving creatures, and have pictures taken of your interaction with them. For a more active engagement, you are able to participate in the training sessions where the incredible intelligence of these creatures will amaze. Thereafter, a short walk to grassy, well-appointed enclosures housing the big cats; lions, tigers, panthers and leopards, many with cubs. These animals are in good health, well cared for and every effort is made to ensure their habitat is as close to nature as possible.
After a fun-filled and memorable day with the kids and you will need to unwind. Over-excited children don’t tend to sleep and neither will you. So walk past the lobby of the Bellagio Hotel and discover a wonderland. Every year this paradise is given a make-over and the jaw-dropping, lifelike floral arrangements of flora, fauna, trains and humans will have you spellbound.
Complete the day by heading off to the fountains, sit back, clear your mind and breathe as you watch water shooting high in the air to the accompaniment of lights and music. Breathe in deeply – the perfect ending to a magical day.
Vegas has so much more to offer from indoor theme and waterparks to Madame Taussauds (the first in the US ), the aquarium to name a few. It’s aptly named the city that never sleeps. Just remember because it is a family vacation, what happens in Vegas does not have to stay in Vegas and in this city of endless fun the cares and stresses of modern living are soon forgotten.