Las Vegas remains to be one of the most popular destinations for travelers from all over the world. Statistics from 2013 showed that Sin City, widely known as the Gambling Capital of the World, received nearly 40 million visitors. With global travel becoming more affordable now more than ever, this number continues to rise, and Vegas remains to be a must-see among many travelers' books.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign

But it's always important for us to plan ahead, and with PEW Internet Research showing that 58% of Americans now own a smartphone, and Gaming Realms, the owners of mobile gaming website Spin Genie, saying that growth in mobile internet is the most potent force in the internet landscape, there's no excuse to not use them to plan your trip to Vegas.

Apps are now a huge focus for many tech companies today especially for niches like travel. So, with such a drive to create the most informative apps on the market, what apps are really catching the eye when it comes to planning for Vegas vacations?

Vegas Mate

Firstly, there's Vegas Mate, which is perfect for people who have never ventured to Las Vegas before, as it can prove to be helpful when trying to navigate the city. It's basically a digital travel guide that covers all bases including directions, restaurants, live entertainment recommendations and even helps you book a cab if you need to.

Open Table

Additionally, the app is also compatible with renowned restaurant app Open Table, so it'll aid you in securing reservation at any restaurant within the city. It's available on iPhone or iPad and is completely free. But the best part about Vegas Mate is that fact that the user can source information and articles from all the local newspapers if needed.

Las Vegas Guide

Also, there's Las Vegas Guide which is a GPS-based app that has all the facilities of Vegas Mate and more. During your trip, you can "create your own trip journal" within the app and log pictures. Read the thousands of user reviews from fellow Las Vegas Guide community members as well as reading up on facts about the city.

This app is also free to download and it works offline. Like Vegas Mate this is also a perfect platform the help you in booking anything from restaurant reservations; to hotels; to a day at the spa. It comes highly recommended and has a very large community of users.

If you have any useful Vegas-themed apps that have helped you explore the vast realms of the city, let us know!

Share your comments and suggestions below!

About The Author
Niel Race has spent the past three years visiting the world's most popular tourist destinations. Working as a digital nomad, Niel has found the perfect way to use his love for all things tech to make his travels easier and more organized. After spending the past two weeks in Las Vegas, he plans to travel to Angkor Wat in Cambodia for a change of pace.

Published in United States

In the grand pantheon of arousing audio/visual entertainment, food based television ranks second only to hardcore porn. They are very similar if you really stop to think about it. Both give us a graphic, up close and personal look at the satiation of very deep, primal biological urges.

That is why food television is more popular than ever nowadays. Those images of succulent, sizzling meats and decadent, delightful desserts captivate us at a very basal level. Even without the smell of the entrees on the screen, your mouth starts to water.

It’s this desire to indulge in great food that every restaurant in the world attempts to exploit with their never ending bombardment of commercials.

Keeping this correlation between food and sex in mind, an all you can eat challenge must be analogous to a hedonistic orgy. That realization is the reason I laughed hysterically when my brother in arms, Rome, called me and said, “Ice, on the next trip, we gotta do an eating challenge.”

The Las Vegas strip seems like an ideal place to find an eating challenge. There is a massive buffet in every hotel on Las Vegas Blvd. Nobody is on the strip is looking competition in the eye and daring them to eat like a champ, though. To find a restaurant offering a challenge like that you have to go off the strip to a pizza restaurant called The Original Graziano’s on 8410 W. Desert Inn Road.

On the surface, Graziano’s appears to be a tame, sedated, family oriented neighborhood pizza place. The décor is half sports motif, half family entertainment. The menu offers many classic Italian American favorites as well as fried chicken, sub sandwiches and desserts.

Rome and I decided to kick off our tour of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert by taking on Graziano’s famous monster pizza challenge.

The monster is a 10-pound pizza loaded with every topping you could ever even begin to imagine.

  The rules are simple. You and a partner have 45 minutes to devour the whole pizza. If you win, you get 2 t-shirts, 2 coupons for free pizza. (Who would want more pizza after finishing the monster?!?) And The Monster is on the house, of course, and it comes with bragging rights.

If you lose, you have to shell out $50.00 for the pizza and your face is forever plastered on the wall of shame.

Never the kind of guys that back down from a challenge, Rome and I strolled into Graziano’s late one evening and ordered the monster. The young lady that took our order looked at us and said “Do you know what you’re getting into”? Rome and I laughed like the fools we are and said “Yeah, no problem.”

The young cashier called out to the shift manager in the back and he took us through the rules of the challenge and gave us some tips. Once we were briefed, we sat at our table and waited for the monster to come out of the oven.

Graziano's famous monster pizza challenge in Las Vegas, Nevada

When it finally arrived at our table about 30 minutes later, Rome and I glanced at each other with the fear of an impending defeat washing away all of the machismo we had in our hearts just minutes earlier. This pizza was MASSIVE. 24 inches in diameter and an inch thick with crust before you even account for cheese and toppings.

Both of us are accomplished eaters. We have noshed our way through pounds and pounds of food on all of our journeys, but the monster was not your average Pizza Hut special.

We sat at opposite ends of the giant pizza tray and the shift manager counted us down. 3, 2, 1...the timer was started and we were off. The first bite was absolutely delicious. The thick crust melted like butter underneath the zesty layer of sauce and cornucopia of toppings. This was the point in the competition were we felt good and had a robust fighting spirit.

We had not eaten a thing all day -- a technique that Rome and I still argue about today. He feels like he could have eaten more if he had eaten something during the course of the day. I say we were screwed from jumpstreet!

The pizza was sliced into 36 slices. After about 8 slices each, The Monster jumped on our backs and began its wicked reign of gastrointestinal terror. “Come on Ice, don’t stop now!”, shouted Rome while snagging another slice from the beast.

After 9 slices a piece, we stopped and talked. We both admitted to each other that we were about to explode. This admission is monumental for us because we are the quintessential pseudo tough guys in perpetual competition.

If Rome was actually admitting that he was full, that means he was full two slices ago! We came to the agreement that we would each eat four more slices and discuss our strategy after that. There was still plenty of time on the clock, but the spaces in our stomachs were shrinking away with every bite.

What used to be a flavor extravaganza had now become a tedious chore.

The crust was now unchewable. My jaw was sore. The toppings felt like speed bumps working their way down my fatigued gullet. Neither one of us got those four more slices down. After a total of only 12 slices a piece, we took our final sips of lemonade to wash it all down and threw in our napkins.

With more than 15 minutes left on the clock, we knew we were done.

The shift manager came over and congratulated us on our valiant effort. He then mocked us as he took our dejected pictures for the Graziano’s Wall of Shame. To add insult to injury, he then asked us if we wanted a carry out box for the pizza we were leaving behind!

At that very moment, I thought to myself I would never want to look at a pizza again for as long as I lived. Rome and I waddled our cheese filled bodies out of Graziano’s and plopped down in our car with our heads hung in defeat.

“Next time we should do chicken wings”, Rome said before he cranked up the rental Ford Taurus and backed out of the parking space. Exactly one week later, I ordered pizza and it was delicious. Some people never learn!

Published in United States

The last time I paid a visit to Sin City was when I was 10 years old, approximately 13 years ago, to visit relatives. As one would guess, I wasn't able to partake in any wickedness the city is known for. I made up for that with my recent trip to Vegas.

I had covered the basics of Las Vegas in 2000; touring the Strip, seeing Sigfried & Roy's white tigers, going on the New York, New York roller coaster, taking in the light show on Fremont Street, and the like. This time around, yours truly got to see a whole lot more of Las Vegas. Unfortunately I can't share everything with you, (what happens there stays there, remember?) but will be happy to tell you my travels and tips!

Our hotel view-love those mountains!

 

 

My three-day trip first began when my boyfriend and I (whom I will refer to as 'S') got a good price on a hotel not too far from the strip. They had a great deal going on at check-in where for $50 dollars you could pick two tickets to a large variety of shows, plus get 2 free buffets and $50 worth of playing money at the Luxor. Sounds awesome, right!? Like any deal, it was mostly too good to be true, as we had to endure a 1.5 hour spiel about time shares. But, we got an additional free lunch out of the offer, and once the presentation was over we were on our way (and feeling pretty good we didn't cave and buy).

For the show, we chose Cirque du Soleil's Mystere. I had previously seen Saltimbanco and loved it, and wanted to add another Cirque show to my plate. Mystere was interesting, for lack of a better word. The acrobatics were amazing, but I was a little thrown off by the theme-and the adult baby that kept making an appearance throughout the show. Don't get me wrong, it was a great show, but I probably would not go see it again. After the show we decided to take a stroll down the Strip and use our gambling money at the Luxor. I had forgotten how much fun it is to see the hotels and all that they offer! In the casino, I decided to try my hand at Black Jack, which I had never played before (or any card games, for that matter). Both me and S ended up ahead, so we erred on the side of caution and decided to stop. It was so much fun though-I can't wait to play again! After that, we headed down to the buffet area and I was overwhelmed at first. Sure, I'd been to a buffet before, but nothing like that. I spent a good five minutes planning my strategy and execution, and quickly decided salad bar was out. Who was I kidding, I was going to end up with five desserts anyway, so no need to have salad take up any space. Even after all that planning, I ended up taking those desserts but not having room for any of them. Later, we decided to go out on the town. I foolishly wore a pair of black heels that night that I hadn't worn for over a couple hours at a time, and by this point I'd been wearing them all day. So naturally, by 9 PM, I wasn't up to much walking. I decided to power through it as this was our only night to live it up in Vegas. We went to a couple bars but realized it probably wasn't the best night to go as it was a Wednesday night during the off-season, and there were not many people around. That didn't stop us from having a good time, though. After an hour or so I suddenly remembered that I had to check off one of my Bucket List items: dancing on the bar at Coyote Ugly. Ever since I had seen that movie I promised myself I would do it one day. Not wanting to disappoint my 12 year old self, we went to New York New York and visited the bar there. It was not very crowded and I wasn't so sure about getting up there anymore, and I kept waiting for a good song to come on. Finally after about 5 subpar songs, I decided to just get up there. I danced around to a stupid 80's song and came back down. Sadly, it wasn't up to my expectations, but I was glad to be able to check it off my Bucket List! Next time I'll have to visit the real Coyote Ugly-Hogs and Heifers Saloon, and maybe then I'll feel a bit more satisfied. 

The Strip At Night


The next day, we got up early and went back to the strip. We had originally planned on going swimming, but as luck would have it we were there during an unseasonably cold streak, so we decided to visit as many hotels as we could and do some exploring. With so many different themes and activities, it's hard to pick a favorite hotel! I really liked the style of the Venetian, with the indoor canal and gondola rides available. It let us have a small taste of what Venice might be like. 

 

The Venetian

When I was 10, I remember walking into the MGM and having that feeling of being overwhelmed and in awe of the sheer size of everything. This time around, I was starting to wonder if I'd get that feeling again. We had stepped inside nearly every hotel on the Strip and while I admired every one of them, I still hadn't gotten that "feeling". Granted, I was about 4 feet tall back then so everything looked bigger-but still. Finally, the lobby of the Luxor changed my view-it was huge! I was a happy camper and glad to have the feeling of awe back. 

 

The Luxor Lobby

That night, S told me he had a surprise for me and of course a thousand things were running through my head; A helicopter ride over the city? Tickets to a sumo-wrestling match? A life size sculpture of me made out of candy? After all, this was Vegas and virtually anything could be possible. He led me to the Mirage Hotel and there he surprised me with tickets to the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show. I had wanted to see this show SO BADLY and had a hard time trying to contain my excitement. After jumping up and down and making a bit of a scene, we waited in line for the doors to open. Finally we were let in to the lobby and it was awesome, it was decorated exactly like I imagined it would be; tons of colors,  fun props and of course, Beatles music. 

 

Walking into a Beatles Wonderland

 

We were then led to our seats and I kept wondering when the guy would stop walking and point us in the direction-he kept getting closer and closer to the stage and I started getting more and more excited, until we were directly in front of the stage in the first row. I looked at S and thought there must be some mistake-I had never been this close at a show before. It wasn't a mistake, so I sat down and thanked my lucky stars-and S-and waited for the show to begin. It is hard to describe the whole show, and I don't want to give anything away, but it was honestly the BEST show I had ever seen in my life. If you love Beatles music, or even like it somewhat, you have to see this at some point. It showcased a good 20 songs, and every song had its own theme. There was so much going on, and I would say it was a 4D experience. I was amazed throughout the whole show, and didn't want it to end. If you ever have a chance, GO SEE IT!

 

 

 

After the show, we headed back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep, as we had to get up at 5 AM the next morning! We had purchased tickets for a bus trip to the Grand Canyon and Skywalk, and while I was excited it was hard to be enthusiastic about anything at 5 in the morning. Since we purchased the tickets online, I wasn't sure what to expect about the whole thing, but once we got to the tour headquarters I felt more at ease. They gave us more detailed information and sent us off with coffee and a granola bar. Our bus driver was great-really funny and knowledgable. We drove through Las Vegas and the surrounding counties until we hit the Hoover Dam. I hadn't seen it before, so it was nice to have a few minutes for pictures. 

 

Hoover Dam

 

After that, we got back on the bus for another two hours. I hadn't realized how far away the Grand Canyon was from the Vegas area. I had always assumed it was pretty close but it is actually a good 3 hours away. No wonder this trip was designated 12 hours on the website! But, our tour guide had great commentary along the way and entertained us pretty well. After a long and bumpy road, we had finally made it to the Grand Canyon! It was definitely worth the drive as it's not very often you get to see a view like this:

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon experience was different than I imagined. I had always pictured it as being very sunny and hot, while climbing up and down various hills and spotting tourists on donkeys every now and then (blame it on the movies, or maybe I just totally made all that up in my head). It was a tad different, as we were there in November in the coldest week they'd had (low 50's), and it was cloudy and windy. Also, I didn't spot any donkeys. However, the weather didn't change the amazing view of the Canyon, and it was truly spectacular. It definitely put things into perspective for me, seeing something so naturally breathtaking. I also never knew how close you could get to the drop-offs as there are no barriers! You could literally fall right off! Every time I got about five feet from the edge I got a little dizzy and a big adrenaline rush and decided to knock it off and be sensible. S and I had a really fun time with our mini photo shoot and have some great pictures to show for it. 

 

We also had tickets to the Skywalk, which is pictured above. It's built so it juts out approximately 70 feet over the edge and the drop from the Skywalk to the ground below is between 500-800 feet. The floor is made entirely of glass. Camera's and any other personal items are not allowed on the Skywalk, so if you want a picture you have to purchase one. There are a couple photographers on the walk that take multiple pictures of you in different poses. We ended up choosing one that looked like we were about to fall off the ledge. Yeah, a bit cheesy, but you just gotta do those things once in awhile. We were able to stay on the Skywalk for about 10 to 15 minutes. If you ever visit the Canyon, I would say spend the extra money and get a Skywalk ticket, it was definitely worth it and added a unique perspective of the Canyon. 

 

After the SkyWalk we had one more trip to the Hualapai Ranch, a Western/Cowboy themed place not far from the Skywalk. The brochure said there would be a "Wild West Show", so again, I got excited thinking it would be like the movies; an old fashioned cowboy quick draw. It may have been because we were there during the off-season, but it looked more like a ghost town than anything else. There wasn't any type of show to see, but there were little stations set up where you could throw a tomahawk, learn how to rope, and quick draw. We tried our hands at roping and it's a lot harder than it looks! I was a little better at the tomahawk throw-and a little better than S. :)

 

It wasn't perfect, but at least I hit the board!

We ended our trip with a red-eye flight back home, very tired but happy we could fit so much in our 3 day trip. Las Vegas has so much to offer, you definitely can't see it all in one vacation. I can't wait to come back and make some more memories! What's your favorite Vegas memory?

Published in United States

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