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Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is situated in a basin of the Mojave Desert surrounded by mountain ranges. The landscape is arid and rocky with desert vegetation and wildlife. After World War II, Las Vegas became known for its lavishly decorated hotels, gambling casinos and big-name entertainers, such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Many couples come to Las Vegas to get married. Several Elvis theme packages are available for memorable wedding events in which an Elvis impersonator provides the entertainment. Who said Elvis is dead?

Elvis wedding chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada
One of many Elvis wedding chapels in Las Vegas, Nevada

Luxury Hotels with a Theme

One of the most ambitious hotel theme projects in Las Vegas is the Palazzo-Venetian complex, which is a combination of two hotels, two casinos, a shopping mall and an entertainment center patterned after Venice, Italy.

Palazzo Hotel
Palazzo Hotel

Water is used as an architectural feature of the Venetian Hotel. A replica of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy and several other bridges over the canals within the shopping center simulate the atmosphere of the ancient Italian city.

View from the Venetian Hotel
View from the Venetian Hotel

Gondoliers sing Italian songs to entertain the visitors as they row in the indoor and outdoor passages of the canal.

St. Mark's Square, Las Vegas
St. Mark's Square within the Venetian Hotel

A canal meanders inside the shopping area of the Venetian Hotel. Paintings on canvas along the walls and ceiling create the illusion of Venice, Italy at dusk. Every doorway has a store or a restaurant. Visitors can walk all day and meet all their needs without having to leave the complex.

Las Vegas Premium Outlets
Las Vegas Premium Outlets

Many foreign tourists flock to the stores in the Las Vegas Premium Outlets to look for bargains away from the luxury shops in the casinos.

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Hoover Dam is about 33 miles away from Las Vegas. It is a 40 minute drive by car. Most of the power used to light the Vegas casinos comes from the hydroelectric generators at Hoover Dam.

Selfie with Hoover Dam in the background
Selfie with Hoover Dam in the background

The lack of rain in the west coast has created a water crisis. The white rocks in the canyon show the previous level of Lake Mead when water was more plentiful.

Lake Mead
Lake Mead

I was surprised to find a dessert willow in bloom in the arid soil surrounding Lake Mead. The temperature was 108°F (42°C) when I visited in August.

Dessert Willow
Dessert Willow (Chilopsis linearis)

Celebrity Chefs and Fine Dining

Hotels have recognized that celebrity chefs can increase the number of visitors. Accordingly, many of the chefs that appear on the Food Channel have restaurants in the hotels and the casinos. The Palazzo and Venetian hotels have restaurants managed by Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, and Wolfgang Puck, among other famous chefs.

CUT - Wolfgang Puck

The CUT restaurant is located in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Palazzo Hotel. Its specialty is steaks.

CUT - Wolfgang Puck
CUT - Wolfgang Puck
CUT - interior

CUT - Wolfgang Puck - lobster
Whole Lobster
CUT - Wolfgang Puck - NY steak
14 Oz. NY Steak

At the CUT, the waiters were very attentive and took great care to explain how the steak was to be cooked to make sure that it would be to your taste. The entrées come without any vegetables. You have to order them as side dishes. Overall, the CUT offered a good dining experience.

B&B - Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich

Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's restaurant is located in the Venetian Hotel and features Italian cuisine.

B&B exterior
B&B interior

The B&B restaurant is located in the restaurant row of the Venetian Hotel. It has a great selection of wines.

B&B bread

While you wait for your order, the waiter brings a slice of bread and prepares a plate with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The more traditional salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese is actually better than the very pungent balsamic vinegar.

B&B squid appetizer
Squid Appetizer
B&B lamb chops
Lamb Chops

The squid appetizer had a lot of dill in the breading, which unfortunately clashed with the taste of the squid.

When the waiter took the order for the lamb chops, he suggested that they should be cooked medium rare. This was fine with me because that is how I usually like steak. The chops were served on top of a coil of very salty pancetta over a spicy red sauce and accompanied by roasted pepperoncini. Both the sauce and the pepperoncini were quite spicy, detracting from the culinary experience. I could only eat about two peppers. They were too hot.

Overall, dining at B&B was a negative experience. I did not enjoy the food and I would not go back.

Tao Restaurant and Nightclub

The Tao restaurant is located at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. It serves sushi, Japanese food, and contemporary Asian cuisine.

Tao Restaurant exterior
Tao Restaurant exterior

Tao Restaurant interior
Tao Restaurant interior

The atmosphere at TAO is somewhat noisy with a BOOM, BOOM of a drum in the background disco music. All the decorations are oriental in a cross between a Buddhist temple and an opium den.

Tao Restaurant pepper steak
Tao Restaurant pepper steak made with filet mignon

Tao Restaurant sea bass
Tao Restaurant sea bass

Tao Restaurant fortune cookie
Tao Restaurant fortune cookie
Filled with chocolate mousse

Of all the different restaurants that I tried, TAO was my favorite. The portions were generous, and the food was well prepared. Both, the filet mignon pepper steak and the sea bass were fabulous. The dessert was imaginative and very delicious.

Las Vegas show girls
Las Vegas Shows

Las Vegas is famous for its entertainment shows. There are magicians, like David Copperfield, as well as comedians, singers and dancers. Chorus girls with feather hats and sparkling skimpy clothes are very popular. Cirque du Soleil also has a permanent show in Vegas where performers display their acrobatic skills.


One of the big attractions in Las Vegas is gambling. Although people know that the house always wins, they keep feeding the slot machines in the hope of hitting a big jackpot.

© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora