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Underground on the Strip: Secrets of Vegas Travel

Las Vegas, the City of Lights, is one of the most unique travel destinations in the world. Back in the 1970s, wealthy Los Angeles-based magnates began to eye the desert outpost as a possible retreat. The idea was to create a glamorous escape from LA and other nearby cities—and Vegas was built from the ground-up with over-the-top entertainment in mind.

Though the early emphasis was on casino-resorts and, eventually, big-name title fights in boxing and other sports exhibitions, the Vegas of 2022 focuses on a variety of different adventures. There are musical residencies with leading artists from Lady Gaga to Carlos Santana, luxury shopping from brands from Prada to Versace, and world-class spas and restaurants.

There’s just one thing about Vegas travel… it’s pricey. An average one-week trip will cost between $3,000 and $4,000—and that’s for guests who don’t mind sticking to mid-range options in terms of flights, lodging, and basic shows and ticket costs. Building the trip of a lifetime would easily double these estimates.

But there’s another reality at play in Vegas. Each year, around 30 million visitors touch down in the City of Lights, while only around 675,000 residents call the city home. That means there are two cities: one for locals and one for visitors. Unsurprisingly, travelers can learn a lot (and save a lot) by following a few tips from Vegas residents. Let’s take a closer look at how to save money without skimping on excitement with a few helpful tips from locals.

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Know the Levels of Poker Play

Those who head to Vegas will invariably end up on the casino floor at some point. When and how you choose to do that is of great significance. Let’s take a look at the example of poker, one of the world’s most popular table games that owes much of its fame to Vegas.

Rather than wandering into the closest casino or the flashiest, think about the experience you want to have. This goes for all of Vegas—with so much flash, it’s easy to get distracted. According to PokerStars, when it comes to poker, there are more than a few decisions to make based on the various locations that offer poker.

For example, those who enjoy the World Series of Poker might want to head to Bally’s and Paris, which hosted the 2021 tournament. Those interested in going the high roller route should head instead to the Aria, where poker bigwigs are often spotted. For luxury, stick to Caesar’s or the Bellagio. For logging a full afternoon of play, the Orleans offers the best variety.

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The Best Spots for Celeb Sightings

Las Vegas isn’t just a playground for adventurous travelers. It’s also a playground for the rich and famous—and they regularly rub elbows with partygoers in some of Vegas’s top nightclubs… at least, if you know where to go.

With so many layers between a basic stay and all-out luxury, you need to know when and where to go to spot someone like Miley Cyrus, Naomi Campbell, or Ed Sheeran. For the biggest-name celeb sightings, head to Caesar’s OMNIA Nightclub. Keep a lookout for the staircase to the club’s third floor—you likely won’t be admitted to the VIP area, but you can watch a few stars pass by on their way to the top.

Another good selection is TAO, located inside the Venetian. As a top global party group that’s associated with luxury, there’s usually a celeb passing through there. However, Drai’s, located in The Cromwell, has become a new hotspot for stars like Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent.

But nightclubs aren’t the only way to spot a celeb. In fact, some of the most consistent sightings are at Gordan Ramsay Steak, along with Shadow Creek Golf Course. The former has hosted the entire Beckham family on multiple occasions, while the latter has welcomed the likes of George Clooney and Will Smith.

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(Literally) Underground Art Galleries

Though billed as a vibrant and rowdy destination for big groups and home to endless luxury experiences, Las Vegas isn’t often associated with austerity. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a softer and more refined side to the city.

Most coverage on art galleries focuses on the Metropolitan Gallery and the Centaur Art Gallery. Both are quality options, but two other unforgettable experiences await. The first, the Bellagio Art Gallery, is home to masterpieces from the greats like Andy Warhol and Picasso. Even the lobby is overhung with a stunning glass display from Dale Chihuly, titled ‘Fiori di Como’.

However, one of Vegas’s coolest haunts can only be accessed from the bottom floor of a Louis Vuitton store in the Crystals shopping center. James Turrell, a visual artist with a long list of celebrated works, created ‘Akhob’ for the location. The simple exhibit highlights Turrell’s obsession with creating imperceptible shifts in color.

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6 Million Years in the Making

Very few people think of nature when they book their trip to Vegas. In fact, golf courses like Shadow Creek are typically the focus for sports and nature enthusiasts. But just outside the city is one of the world’s most unique natural wonders, which took over six million years to form due to erosion: the Grand Canyon.

Most travelers assume that visiting the Grand Canyon is too expensive or too far to schedule into their itinerary. However, there are a range of quality and affordable options for visiting the canyons, which cater to casual and diehard adventurers alike.

Those with deeper pockets can opt for a plane or helicopter tour, while those who prefer to rent a car can select which part of the Grand Canyon they want to experience. From Vegas, you can easily access the Grand Canyon West, which is home to the exciting glass bridge Skywalk experience.

The North Rim is quite a bit farther where only around ten percent of travelers head. If you want privacy, high elevation, and an endless list of hiking routes that aren’t packed with tourists, it’s worth the drive. A good middle option is the South Rim. Here, you can find basic walking paths along with plenty of campgrounds and lodging for overnight stays.