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Travel highlights Las Vegas

Travel highlights Las Vegas

Dale Chihuly's 50-foot (15-meter) high chandelier of stained glass in the shape of a flower literally tes the entrance to the hotel. Chihuly was the first person from the USA to be accepted by Venice's Murano community and his work truly merits the overworked adjective "gorgeous". Bellagio's world-famous fountains will speak to your heart with opera, classical and whimsical music while flirting with your playful nature through their carefully choreographed movements. You'll be swept away by this breathtaking union of water, music and light.

Cirque du Soleil
The astonishing O show is staged in a purpose-built theatre with a lake, at Bellagio, a $1.8 billion replica of the Italian lakeside town. Fountains and water are the theme of the spectacular, and spectacularly expensive performance. It takes 74 actors to mount this melange of acrobatics, theatrical effects, diving and swimming, which takes place on, in and under an indoor lake.

Fremont Street Experience
Around 2 million lights become a free night-into-day extravaganza. Between Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard South in downtown, the street is lit up after dark (on the hour, every hour). 208 speakers blast a ten-minute movie show across the latticework ceiling, projecting streams of jet fighters, thundering herds of buffalo, a tropical jungle with exotic birds and flora, morphing into a space odyssey, a cartoon orchestra, thunder and lightning, and rows of dancing s kicking to a samba beat.

Lake Mead
The immense Lake Mead was formed behind spectacular Hoover Dam, next to the smaller Lake Mojave to the south. The focus here is all manner of outstanding water recreation ranging from fishing to houseboating to water sports such as kayaking or water skiing. During the cooler months, hiking and auto touring away from the water are excellent, featuring deep canyons, dry washes, sheer cliffs, distant mountain ranges, as well as wildlife and unusual desert plants. The numerous marinas on the two lakes offer services ranging from boat launches, food, lodging, campgrounds, and boat rentals. Cruises and tours are also available.

Liberace Museum
The brochure for this rhinestone glitter-fest museum says that "though the Strip may sparkle and the neon may shine, nowhere in Las Vegas can be found a more dazzling spectacle than the museum". Even today, the idea of somebody wearing a five-tiered violet cape of ostrich feathers with lavendar sequins - as Liberace did for a 1985 television show - is an extravagance that's hard to beat. Here though it's just one of a roomful of outrageous items on show.

Paris City Hall
The hotel casino is led on the 800-year-old Parisian Hotel de Ville, the Paris City Hall. It is distinguished by one of the city's - and the world's - most famous landmarks, a 50-storey replica of the Eiffel Tower, thrusting through the roof of the casino and rising 165 meters into the sky, accompanied by neon copy of the Montgolfier balloon.

Red Rock Canyon
The casinos may have made Las Vegas the glitzy gambling capital but only half an hour away you can view Red Rock Canyon, a spectacular sandstone gulch wrenched out of the earth by an earthquake some 65 million years ago. A looping 13-mile drive takes you to several scenic overlooks, and short trails lead to abandoned homesteads and quarries.

Stratosphere Tower
The Tower is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River and the tallest freestanding tower in the country. It is owned by wheeler-dealer Carl Icahn, one of the world's richest men. Speedy elevators whisk visitors to a height of 345 meters in an ear-popping 30 seconds, where on a clear day California and Arizona are visible. The Stratosphere Tower hosts the world's three highest rides by erecting them on the tower's landmark needle: - Big Shot catapults riders at high speed to the top of the tower's mast, 1,000 feet above ground. - High Roller whirls them above the observation platform. - X Scream dangles frightened guests in the air more than 800 feet above ground.

The Valley of Fire
The Valley of Fire a place of rare and sublime beauty which people have been attracted to for thousands of years. This is evidenced by the large number of Petroglyphs found in several places throughout this park. The Valley of Fire was once the bottom of a deep ocean basin that eventually to become part of a vast desert which existed about 150 to 180 million years ago.

World Series of Poker
World Series of Poker 4,000 stony-faced and slow-eyed heavyweights square up for big money at the Horseshoe every April to May. For a $10,000 stake anybody can join in, and the match has so far spawned around 25 millionaires. Gradually the tournament has broadened so that now some competitions cost less than a dime to enter. Would-be world champions beware, though, the value of money is always down-sized by gamblers: a "dime" means $1000, a "nickel" refers to a $5 chip and a "quarter" equals $25. A "dollar straight" is a $100 bill.