Las Vegas, Nev. By Joey Salvucci

Sandwiched between two notable nature-oriented stops is this behemoth of human creation and ingenuity—Vegas, baby!
Las Vegas, viewed from space, is the brightest place on Earth.  It’s no wonder, as casinos will do just about anything in the competition for gamblers’ attention. This creates an atmosphere like nothing else we will be experiencing in the U.S. It'll include unique shopping experiences and catering to the super-wealthy at places like the Wynn, as well as the more affordable options of cheap buffets, gondola rides at the Venetian, and the Eiffel tower observation deck at Paris.

But forget cheap. Casinos compete so fiercely that many of the impressive sites in Vegas are free. For one, driving down the strip and being enamored at the sight of all of the mega casinos costs nothing, and upon exit of the vehicle (with free valet parking in many cases) there is even more no-charge entertainment. Fountain shows in front of the Bellagio and Mirage have varied schedules during the day and start at 15 minute intervals after dark. Or for a more human experience we might stop by the Venetian to check out “street performers” and painted ceilings. And you can’t mention free Vegas entertainment and leave out the Fremont Street Experience, a 12.5 million LED light show that starts every hour from 8pm to midnight.
We will be sure to be ducking in and out of the Golden Nugget to view a few of these. To make sure our schedule includes some really impressive and varied entertainment, we are planning on seeing two shows in Vegas: One of the more traditional “Showgirl” genre and one of the more recently popularized “Cirque” shows. And of course, expect an obligatory drive to nearby Hoover Dam for some photos.
Here are links for some other notable casinos on the strip:

-New York New York (at left)

-Caesar's Palace

-Treasure Island

-MGM Grand

-Monte Carlo

-Circus Circus

(From top) Photo by pbo31 courtesy; photo by musoSF courtesy; photo by Brian Struble courtesy