Las Vegas is the unicorn of cities. Fantastical, fabulous, bizarre and unique, the exciting excess of Vegas is unrepeated anywhere in the world. The lure of this mafia-built oasis in the desert is irresistible, and forty million visitors a year are drawn by the luminous, ethereal majesty of the Strip, where the party never ends.
A lot of pop culture has been created around the classic saying: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. This epithet of the ‘Sin City’ persona – built on the city’s mafia heritage and happily embraced ever since – has spawned numerous literary and silver screen offerings over the years. Get your teeth stuck into these tales to get excited for your visit to this glittering land of allure - as if you need any help.
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (1972)
Many say Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is the definitive work. The legendary memoir was released in 1972 and takes place in the long-gone psychedelic 1960's. We could honestly end the list here. But we won't...
Literary Las Vegas: The Best Writing About America's Most Fabulous City edited by Mike Tronnes (1995)
Leaving Las Vegas by John O'Brien (1999)
The Stand by Stephen King (1978)
Need a little detox?: Offsetting the 'Sin' in Sin City
How about some retail therapy?: Las Vegas Shopping Outlets
Around 80 movies have starred Las Vegas in various forms, from Elvis rocking it in the days of neon in Viva Las Vegas alongside Ann Margret in 1964 to Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 in 2015. OK, so some are more worthy than others and the reversal of fortune flicks are clichéd, but Vegas has hosted more movies than you can snap a clapperboard at.
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
The Hangover (2009)
Last Vegas (2013)
Special mention: The King
Elvis has not left the building. In Las Vegas you will find him everywhere, from chasing tips for photobombing your selfies at the iconic Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas town sign to officiating nuptials at the wedding chapels. There are so many, they are usually referred to by the grammatically wonderful plural, ‘Elvii’.
Elvis was the act to see during his seven golden Vegas years – 1969 to 1976 – and these were also golden years for the city. The definitive tribute is Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition at The Westgate. The King is also lionised in the shows Legends in Concert at the Flamingo Las Vegas and Million Dollar Quartet at Harrah's. There are impressionists and buskers everywhere and you can also buy his outfits, his accessories and even his sideburns at every gift shop worth its salt.