You wouldn’t go to Athens, Greece without photographing the Acropolis, or to Agra, India without snapping a single photo of the Taj Mahal. When visiting Vegas, though, there’s so much to see that it can be overwhelming. In a city where almost everything is a photo opportunity, how do you zero in on the best shots? Whether your pictures will be for filling a photo album with memories, showing off your best camera skills, or just making your friends jealous on Facebook, these are the don’t-miss opportunities for the coolest photos in Las Vegas.
The Iconic Vegas Sign
The charmingly retro sign reading “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is possibly the best-known visual representation of the city. It’s had a long time to imprint itself on the public conscience — it’s been around since 1959, when Elvis was still making movies and Frank Sinatra had hit records. Today, it’s on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and its place in Vegas history is undeniable. A recently-built parking lot makes access to the sign safer than it used to be, so there’s no excuse for missing this piece of Vegas history.
The Scenery at Red Rock Canyon
Just 19 miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area isn’t just a respite from the clanging sounds of the casinos and the bright lights of the city, it’s also a chance to see and photograph some of nature’s most stunning scenery. Zoom in and get some close-up shots of the natural vegetation, like the bright yellow Desert Marigold or the bizarre red-spotted Fishhook Nipple Cactus, or go big and shoot the view from one of the highest peaks. The red sandstone has been sculpted into natural arches, bridges and other fascinating formations over millions of years, as the canyons, which used to be under water, emerged from the sea. Keep an eye out for lizards and birds, too — the canyon is teeming with wildlife.
Landmarks From Around the World
There’s no other city that offers its tourists a chance to photograph the world’s greatest landmarks all in one area, but that’s the beauty of Las Vegas. At Paris Las Vegas you can photograph a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Opera House and the Arc De Triomphe, then tromp over to the Venetian to snap the gondolas on the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. If that’s not enough world travel for you, you can also find the Great Sphinx of Giza at the Luxor, and the Statue of Liberty at New York New York Hotel & Casino. Keep an eye peeled, and you’ll spot more world landmarks all around town.
Famous Folks at Madame Tussaud’s
Stick around Vegas long enough, and you might spot a celebrity or two, but if you pay a visit to Madame Tussaud’s you’ll be guaranteed a gander at plenty of famous faces. The well-known wax museum long ago did away with its velvet ropes and barriers, so visitors can get up close and personal with the stars. Pose your picture just right, and you might just fool your friends into thinking you’ve been hanging out with Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, or George Clooney. The display also has plenty of music personalities, athletes, cultural figures (Hugh Hefner anyone?), and Vegas icons like Elvis and Wayne Newton. What’s Vegas without an Elvis sighting?
Spectacular Views From Above the City
You can’t leave Vegas without a shot of the Strip. You’ll want to aim for shooting at night when the city is lit up for maximum dazzle (though getting an early start will allow you to capture a magnificent sunset as well). There are lots of venues with good views, but one of the best is from the top of the Stratosphere, which is not only the highest, but offers a 360-degree view that stretches out as far as Red Rock Canyon. The Voodoo Lounge, while not as tall, has a great view of the city lights in a hip atmosphere that allows for fun and drinks while you photograph. If you visit the Eiffel Tower, be sure and snap some shots from the top, which offers a particularly good perspective on the Bellagio fountains.
Decadent Dishes and Fanciful Drinks
While everyone’s not into photographing their food, those who like to document their meals know that it can be an obsession. If you’re proud to call yourself a foodie, don’t forget to snap shots of some of the sumptuous spreads that Vegas is famous for. You’ll find camera-ready dishes all over the city, but if you need a little steering, try Restaurant Guy Savoy, where the French dishes are high art, or for more wallet-friendly dining, try Hash House a Go Go, where the diner-style dishes are so huge, you’ll want to document them to prove they were real. Colorful drinks make great pictures too, like the exotic concoctions at the Peppermill Fireside Lounge.
Over-the-Top Interiors at Vegas Hotels
Vegas hotels pull out all the stops with their architecture and decor, so they’re not just amazing places to stay, they’re photo opportunities waiting to happen. Some hotels even have museum-quality art and sculpture pieces, such as the art collection at the Wynn, or, in the case of the Bellagio, their own botanical gardens. The Bellagio may be known for its fountains, but the interior is every bit as exquisite. Don’t miss the Dale Chihuly chandelier, crafted with 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers. If you have time, add the frescoes at the Venetian and the dolphins at the Mirage to your hotel tour of Las Vegas.
Brendon has been in the Las Vegas travel industry for the past 15 years. As a frequent traveler to sin city he maintains a respect for Americas playground.