Gambling has never been the sole attraction in Las Vegas. In the 1950s, marquee names like Elvis Presley, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra were entertaining audiences at the Sands, the Tropicana and Caesars Palace. By 1960, the infamous Rat Pack had begun performing at the Sands, validating Las Vegas as an entertainment mecca. Today more people go to see more shows in Vegas than in any other city in the world.
Make a Splash
Las Vegas is in the middle of a vast desert, which means it gets hot -- really hot. The best places to beat the heat are the numerous lavish pools located along the Strip. Not only can you enjoy swim-up bars, waiter service and private cabanas -- Vegas throws the hottest pool parties in the world.
The Hard Rock Hotel started the trend in 2004 with Rehab, its Sunday pool party. Others quickly followed suit, and today the hottest parties can be found at The Venetian's Tao Beach, Mandalay Bay's Moorea Beach Club and The Palms Pool. Tao Beach lights up the Strip on Saturday nights with a pool light show. Take it all off at Moorea Beach, where European-style sunbathing is encouraged and reserve a poolside Bungalow at The Palms to keep the party going day and night.
Bare at The Mirage is the ultimate in poolside pampering and VIP service. DJs spin music as guests enjoy premier mixed drinks and, you guessed it, European-style sunbathing. Vegas pools replace the sensual darkness of their clubs with the welcoming glow of the midday sun, creating the newest trend in entertainment -- "daylife" -- nightlife's sunny cousin.
Dance Till Dawn
While Vegas may have created "daylife," it's when the sun goes down that things really heat up. Over the years, the Vegas nightclub has evolved to include outrageous themes, opulent décor and design, high-end bottle service and roped-off VIP rooms. These multimillion dollar venues have rewritten the rules of nightlife.
Tao at The Venetian is one of the hottest nightclubs in the country. The DJ pumps music through the club's two dance rooms and the 40-foot outdoor terrace with stunning views. Bellagio's The Bank nightclub offers the most refined bottle service in Las Vegas. Each table receives a personal service team, led by a cocktail server -- adorned in an elegant gold cocktail dress -- who is at your beck and call.
To keep it old school, visit the Playboy Club at The Palms for a 21st-century twist on the classic Playboy Clubs of the '60s and '70s.
Cirque du Soleil
In 1989, Steve Wynn and Cirque du Soleil joined forces to offer one of the most popular and profitable shows in the world. With the opening of Mystère, Cirque du Soleil found a permanent home in Las Vegas. Las Vegas visitors are spellbound by the powerful athleticism, high-energy acrobatics, inspiring imagery and beautiful music that have become Cirque du Soleil's hallmarks. Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas now include O, Ka, Zumanity, and the Beatles' LOVE.
Since the 1980s, Las Vegas has been known as the "Boxing Capital of the World," hosting some of the best fights in boxing history including: Hagler vs. Hearns, Leonard vs. Hearns, Bowe vs. Holyfield I and Tyson vs. Berbick. Ringside seats to these big fights have been known to go for tens of thousands of dollars.
Today, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has almost supplanted boxing fights in Vegas. Check with your concierge to see if you'll be sitting ringside during your trip to Vegas.
You Can Take the Vegas out of Texas
One of the hottest clubs in Las Vegas offers a heaping dose of Southern hospitality. Stoney's Rockin Country is located right on the Strip and features line-dancing, live bands and a mechanical bull. It's a country music lover's paradise -- so remember to pack your cowboy boots.
Since the 1950s, top entertainers headlining at major casinos have been a big part of the Las Vegas draw -- and a great part of the city's history. In 2003, Celine Dion revamped the headlining scene with a five-year run at Caesars Palace. "A New Day" offered Dion fans the opportunity to see the performer's stylized production 5 nights a week in a state-of-the-art theatre. Performers now calling Vegas home include Elton John, Bette Midler and Cher.