Welcome to Gay Las Vegas!
One of the top LGBT travel destinations! They don’t call it “Sin City” for nothing! And it not just gaming – top rated restaurants with breathtaking views, outrageous entertainment, fabulous shopping, attractions, relaxing couples’ spa treatments, and Vegas nightlife that never closes. Las Vegas was built for pleasure plain and simple. Located in the Mojave Desert, Vegas has been catapulted in just 70 years from a rural backwater of only 1,000 inhabitants, to a lavish resort that attracts 35million plus visitors a year, lured by the bright lights of the famous ‘Strip’.
Las Vegas’ fortunes began to change with the legalisation of the Nevada State gambling laws in 1931, which set the ball rolling for the development of what would become the cities Las Vegas Boulevard. marriage and divorce laws were also relaxed, creating the basis for the “Sin City” allure.
The city’s first casino, the Flamingo Hilton, was first opened in 1946 by Mafia don Ben ‘Bugsy’ Siegel with mobster funds. Unfortunately poor Bugsy was caught skimming off construction funds and, unable to pay them back, was unceremoniously whacked and the precedent was set. The Mafia retained its hold on the city well into the 1980s, by which time the city had gained its well deserved reputation as a city of sin and depravity. However, the FBI launched an assault on the mob metropolis and many of the larger casinos and hotels came under the ownership of more reputable owners. Also known for its entertainment, Vegas played host to entertainers the likes of Liberace, Sinatra and Elvis. Today, the elaborate shows of Cirque du Soleil steal the show.
The Hoover Dam was an original big attraction, and mushroom clouds on the horizon drew visitors to watch atomic bomb tests from their hotels in the 1950s. In the recent imagination this city has held the allure of larger than life, forbidden, unrestricted and risque experience, with just sufficient hints of danger, attracting millions from more conventional hometowns to this “magic kingdom” for adults.
Elaborate themed hotel casino resorts such as the Venetian, the Paris and Luxor, with their interpretations of reality, can be forgiven as appealingly over-the-top indulgences. Others, modern and trendy include the Wynn, Bellagio and new Cosmopolitan. Bright lights, endless entertainment, 24-hour liquor licenses, ubiquitous slot machines or high-stakes tables of the top-end establishments are the hallmark of life here, night and day. Gambling, banned for 32 years, was re-legalized only in 1931 Despite recent attempts to introduce a more “family friendly” image, gaming remains the financial lifeblood of the region. Prostitution, another American no-no, though permitted at state-regulated brothels in rural Nevada counties, is a misdemeanor in larger cities like Las Vegas (since 2004). But escorts reamain discreetly available in the casinos, and openly advertised along the strip.
Not so mini versions of the Eiffel Tower, Lady Liberty and the Sphinx are the norm in Vegas – plus a plethora of quick-hitch wedding chapels, some of which offer commitment ceremonies to gay couples. Casinos go to extraordinary lengths to lure in passing gamblers with amazing displays (including exploding volcanoes, sinking pirate ships, dancing fountain displays, and more) and once inside it’s hard to leave – the maze of slot machines can often seem like a labyrinth of flashing lights. And let’s not forget the free booze to keep you merrily playing ‘till dawn! Keep the slots full of change and the alcohol will keep on coming…
The hotels truly are a sight to behold with 18 out of the world’s largest 21 situated in the city. Here it’s a case of more is more; which has seen each successive generation of resorts trying – and mostly succeeding – in outdoing the others. A walk down the strip takes in the skylines of New York and Paris, the Pyramids of Egypt and the canals of Venice complete with gondola rides. The vast array of themed hotels means that no matter what you want it’s all here. What’s more, it’s not all glitz and sequins as some of the world’s best art collections are also here! Of course, you don’t have to go seriously astray in Sin City. Beyond the gaudy gambling glitz, Vegas is awash with world class shows, boutique labels, fine dining by some of the world’s top chefs, plus chic hotels and spas. Vegas also offers many tour options, from skydiving, helicopter rides, driving race cars at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and horseback riding in nearby Red Rock Canyon.
Whilst at Caesars take a break watching the animated statue show every hour from 10am until 11pm and the street performers at the Venetian around St Mark’s Square. Visitors can even take a break with a gondola ride around the hotel’s waterways and should see the painted ceilings in the main casino and the galleria which is just off to the side of the main casino room. Las Vegas also has a slew of thrill rides and interactive experiences, from The Roller Coaster at New York-New York (3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 800-689-1797), which simulates a jet fighter’s barrel roll, lifting you 203 feet up and then dropping you 144 feet down at 67 mph; to the astoundingly scary Thrill Rides at the Stratosphere (2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 800-998-6937; www.stratospherehotel.com), which involves several terrifying, gravity-defying experiences atop the city’s tallest building like a whirling 30 mph ride out over the 100-story edge.
The observation deck of The Eiffel Tower at the Paris give some excellent views of the strip and is a great way to see the Bellagio fountain shows after dark. For a real treat you can eat at the restaurant at the top of the tower although this is one of the priciest in town.
Another highlight is the Fremont Street Experience (Downtown) which is one of the best free lightshows in town. The canopy over the Freemont Street mall is an enormous screen with over 2 million light bulbs which plays out a fantastic light show every night at dusk until 11pm. For another breathtaking view of the cities extravagant lights the south end of the strip has pedestrian bridges from which there are superb views of the whole of the strip, especially at night. Vegas really is a feast for all of the senses and there is some great entertainment that is either free or well worth the minimal charges. Be sure to see….
The free Fountain Show in front of the Bellagio which shoots off every 30 minutes from 3 pm to 7 pm and then every 15 minutes until midnight. (The routines often vary from one show to the next.) Check out the The Mirage hotel and the spectacular volcano which erupts at regular intervals. Tresure Island has its pirate battle at regualr intervals as well, during which a pirate ship actually sinks. At Mandalay Bay, you can see killer sharks up close at the Shark Reef exhibit (702-632-7777), where you walk through a glass tunnel that cuts right through a massive aquarium tank containing sharks, rays, and hundreds of other exotic fish. For art lovers, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (702-693-7871 or 877-957-9777) has major rotating exhibits; and the Venetian has its branch of the famed Guggenheim Hermitage Museum (702-414-2440).
The gay scene in Las Vegas is growing stronger every year and the annual pride a celebration offers a host of parties and pageants. The Night Parade in downtown is a glamorous, glittering spectacle that is a tribute to the kitsch city. Find out more at www.lasvegaspride.org. A hedonistic reputation, flashing neon lights and over-the-top spectacles make Las Vegas one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. The city continues to add attractions to satisfy the ever-growing number of gays who flock there each year. Same-sex couples holding hands in the glittery casinos and well-built gay men dancing the night away at the most popular bars and clubs are increasingly common sights on the Strip.
Locals are quick to point out that gays have successfully integrated into mainstream Las Vegas. Although there isn’t really a gay neighborhood, the majority of the city’s gay bars and clubs are clustered around the Fruit Loop, on Paradise Road near East Harmon Avenue, and the Village Square Commercial Center, on Sahara Avenue near Maryland Parkway. Crowds can be thin during the week, but the bars and clubs are usually packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Both the Fruit Loop and the Village Square Commercial Center are a short taxi ride (or a 15-20 minute walk) from the Strip. The Strip is also now home to two gay nightclubs, Krave and Share. Here you will find nightly dance parties, with hot go-go boys, great drinks, and locals and tourists alike.
If you can pull yourself away from the roulette wheel for half a day, rent a car and tour Hoover Dam (702-494-2517) and Lake Mead (27 miles southeast on U.S. 93). Together, the two attractions pack a wallop: Lake Mead is one of the world’s largest manmade lakes, at 116 miles long; and the Hoover Dam is considered one of the architectural marvels of the world. There is a cruisy, nude gay beach at Lake Mead, which is popular on summertime weekends. (Take I-15 north to Lake Mead Boulevard East. Just past Hollywood Boulevard, head through the Sunrise Mountain pass to the stop sign at North Shore Drive. Turn left and proceed 4.8 miles to just past mile marker 8; take a right. Veer left at every fork for a few miles to the parking lot. Look for the path heading down into a ravine and over a small hill. A 5- to 10-minute walk brings you to the beach. There are no facilities or concessions — bring water and sunscreen!)
Also of interest is: Valley of Fire State Park (58 miles northeast on I-15; 702-397-2088) is a stunning desert overlooking Lake Mead. Several petroglyphs (cave drawings by the area’s early Native Americans) from thousands of years ago can be seen here, as well as the endless hues of red, orange, and violet of the desert landscape at sundown; and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, west of Las Vegas on State Route 160, is so close to the city the skyline is visible from a number of overlooks. The park is famous for its sandstone outcroppings, prehistoric sand dunes and dramatic cliffs along the 65-million-year-old Keystone Thrust, great for hiking and climbing. Red Rock Canyon’s unique attractions include prehistoric pictographs, found near Willow Spring Picnic Area.
And for more adventure – a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most popular national attractions. The park is a five-hour drive from Las Vegas, but a short 35-45 minute flight, which passes over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead before making a 3,500-foot descent into the canyon.
With all these options, Las Vegas really does have something for every taste and budget of the LBGT traveller! Book your HOTELS AND TOURS on GOGAYTODAY.COM.