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Las Vegas

"Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" reads the famous neon signs that surround the city, and fabulous it certainly is. Las Vegas is probably one of the most spectacular cities in the world, and one that is ever-changing to keep up with the times. An endless drive for novelty means that no two visits to the city are the same. Incredibly, Nevada was the first state to ban gambling, in 1909.

However, it was legalised again in 1931, drawing in the hundreds of workers who built the Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam provides the power and water for Las Vegas and, having been built using federal money, is in part responsible for the boom that saw the city grow so rapidly during the middle of the 20th century.

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Local sites to see

The Las Vegas Monorail

The Monorail is a great way to explore the exotic delights of the famous Strip, from the African-themed Sahara Hotel to the MGM Grand, via resorts with Oriental, Roman and Parisian themes - a veritable world tour without any need for flights or your passport! You can even take a gondola ride in Las Vegas' answer to Venice.

The shows

Catching one of the six Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas is a must for those who want to take a break from gambling. Tickets start at about $60, depending on the show and seating. You can visit Madame Tussauds Las Vegas - home to wax statues of America's best-known celebrities.

Mandalay Bay

The Mandalay Bay Aquarium is North America's only predator-focussed aquarium, with over 2000 residents living in over 6 million litres (1.3 million gallons) of water.

The Springs Preserve

The Springs Preserve rests on a 180-acre (73-hectare) plot and provides tourists with an historical view of how Native Americans and early settlers relied on the springs to survive. The three kilometres of winding trails are lined with interpretive displays, and at the end of the trail is a natural wetland that is home to a plethora of bird, plant and animal species. You could even take a trip into the past and visit a town where saloons, tumbleweeds and stagecoaches are the norm.

Bonnie Springs

Bonnie Springs Old Nevada is a replica of an 1880s mining town that will make you feel like you have landed in the middle of an old Western film - complete with a "posse" show that ends with a public hanging. One thing to be aware of in Las Vegas, however, is that time passes faster than you think in the casinos - regardless of whether you are winning or losing!

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