It can be hard to separate the facts from the fiction in Las Vegas: a surreal fantasy playground shimmering like a mirage in the Mojave Desert, where you can be drifting down a Venetian canal one minute, and the next dining high above the glittering strip at an aerial restaurant, or bungee jumping from one of the tallest buildings in the world.
Here we’ve put together some of our favourite facts and statistics about Las Vegas – and whether you love the sound of it, or absolutely hate it, we urge you to experience Sin City at least once, for what is guaranteed to be a dazzling, glamorous, and totally unmatchable escape.
1. Las Vegas was conceived and almost destroyed by just two men
The birth of Las Vegas has been credited to the mobster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, who named his first casino The Flamingo after his long-legged showgirl sweet-heart, Virginia Hill. Later, Las Vegas was almost destroyed following the efforts of billionaire aviator, Howard Hughes, who made the misguided attempt to turn Las Vegas into the family-friendly destination it is today (but during the swinging sixties...)
2. It's a neon playground
Las Vegas is best embodied by its ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada’ sign which was created in 1959 by Betty Willis; it is home to the largest neon sign in the world, the cowboy, and boasts 15,000 miles of neon tubing.
3. It's a matrimonial Mecca
It’s estimated that over 500 people get married in Las Vegas every day – and if you regret your nuptials afterwards, you can head to neighbouring Reno, which was once the divorce capital for the USA.
4. It's a culinary colossus
Las Vegas is known for its love of food: bulging at the waistline with thirteen Michelin-starred restaurants, and serving up legendary all-you can eat buffets like the Wynn’s in which over 60,000 pounds of shrimp are consumed each day.
5. There's no shortage of places to stay in Las Vegas
There’s certainly no shortage of places to stay in Las Vegas, which has 17 of the world’s top 25 largest hotels, and over 130,000 hotel rooms in total. Some of the most opulent rooms are at The Mandarin Oriental.
6. It's a beacon of decadence
The vertical light from The Luxor is reportedly the brightest light in the world, can be seen from space, and costs to power in just one hour, the equivalent to two weeks’ worth of energy in the average American household.
7. It's gushing with applause
Perhaps the most iconic attractions on the Las Vegas strip are the Italian-inspired fountains at The Bellagio, which change in style every 30 minutes (every 15 minutes after 7 pm) and take a team of specialist “choreographers" roughly one month to create each of their individual displays.
9. It's dam impressive
The Hoover Dam which lies just outside of Las Vegas was completed in 1935, and took 21,000 men 5 years to complete. Many people take a chopper from the strip to see this staggering feat of engineering, along with the Grand Canyon.
10. It's a great place to dry out
If you need a place to dry out after your Las Vegas excess, head to the Death Valley which lies two hours outside of Las Vegas and is one of the hottest places on earth. Here you may find the kangaroo rat which can live its entire life without drinking a drop, and the mysterious “sailing stones” which have moved as far as 250m across the desert – seemingly independently.
Experience it for yourself on America's Most Wanted: Luxury Self Drive Honeymoon from Las Vegas to California