Big Apple coaster at New York-New York
First, they recreated the New York skyline around a Big Apple-themed hotel casino – the Empire State, Chrysler building and all. But that’s not enough for Las Vegas, oh no. So they only went and added a twisty-turny rollercoaster that snakes both outside and inside the building, enjoyed by 1.4 million thrill-seekers every year.
Sun-Thur 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat 10.30am-12midnight. From $14 (£11.50)
The fountains at the Bellagio
One of Las Vegas’s simplest and most enduring pleasures, the fountains at the Bellagio span 305 metres, and have more than a 1,000 individual jets that send water up to 140 metres into the air. The music set list is changed every few years, and the light display is set to white, rather than coloured, to produce a more elegant effect. For a different perspective, look down on the fountains from the Eiffel Tower opposite, or from the Cosmopolitan’s north-facing rooms.
Every 30 mins from 3pm (noon on Sat and 11am on Sun), and every 15 mins from 8pm (7pm on Sun) until midnight. Free
Gondolas at the Venetian
Of all the magnificently eccentric sights Las Vegas has to offer, the Venetian tops the lot. You’ll find recreations of St Mark’s Square, the Campanile and the Rialto Bridge, elaborately painted ceilings and, of course, the famous gondolas. The gondoliers ply a network of canals running both outside and through the Grand Shoppes on the first floor, serenading romantic couples and shoppers alike.
11am-10pm daily. $29 per person for a four-person ride, $116 for a gondola of your own
Helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders in the world. If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth leaving Las Vegas for. The quickest and most stylish way to travel is by helicopter. Try to find one that allows you to touch down in the Grand Canyon itself, and a flight that passes over the Hoover Dam is also a plus.
Multiple tour operators, packages from about $250
The High Roller observation wheel at the LINQ
So OK, London has had its own observation wheel since 1999, but the High Roller, opened in 2014, is more than 30 metres taller. It takes half an hour to complete a revolution, and if the view alone is not enough you can book a one-hour yoga session in one of the 28 glass cabins, or pay extra for an open bar during the happy half hour.
Daily 11am-11.30pm. $25 until 5pm, $37 at night
At 350 metres tall, the Stratosphere Tower is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the US. It was originally intended to dwarf even Toronto’s CN Tower, but the planned height had to be reduced to avoid interference with incoming flights. No matter. It’s plenty tall enough for spectacular views as you sip a cocktail or dine in the revolving restaurant, and there are four thrill rides to shoot you up, down and around at high speed.
Sun-Thur 10am-1am, Fri-Sat 10am-2am. Observation deck entry, $20 ($5 for hotel guests), with an extra $5 per ride.
The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas
They would have built this full-size, but the international airport is too close to the Strip to permit a building that tall. Standing at 165 metres, the half-scale replica still feels plenty big enough. The ascent in a glass lift is impressive in itself, and the view from the top is supreme; most romantic at night.
11am-7pm daily. $14.25 by day, $19.25 by night
Viva Vision light show at Fremont Street Experience
You thought your TV was big? The Viva Vision screen that forms a canopy over Downtown Las Vegas’s Fremont Street is 458 metres long and 27 metres wide; it has 12.5m LED lamps and a 550,000W sound system. Put simply, the sound and light shows that course along the gigantic screen every hour are well worth cricking your neck to gaze up at.
Every hour, on the hour, from dusk until midnight (1am in summer). Free
The volcano at the Mirage
Does the main street of your city have its own volcano? No? Las Vegas has, of course. Created in 1989 and given a $25m revamp in 2009, the volcano’s 10-minute-long eruptions employ 150 fire shooters and climax in a shot of flame 18-metres high. The fires are hot enough to make the Mirage hotel windows overlooking the volcano tremble, and are soundtracked by hypnotic music by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and composer Zakir Hussain.
Sun-Thur at 7pm and 8pm; Fri-Sat at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. Free
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign
The single most iconic image of Vegas is the sign created in 1959 by visual artist Betty Willis. She never trademarked the design, saying it was her “gift to the city”. You’ll find it on the Strip just south of Mandalay Bay hotel, and the surrounding area has recently been renovated to make it easier and safer for visitors to take pictures.
5200 S Las Vegas Blvd. Free