Around the World in Vegas (Sort of)

Las Vegas, Paris, Eiffel Tower, Montgolfier Balloon

There’s more to Las Vegas than just gambling, shopping and shows. And yes, more even than drinking, fornicating and otherwise embarrassing yourself in ways you pray will “Stay in Vegas.” For travelers like us who are uninterested in those things (well, many of those things anyway), we found in Vegas a surprising opportunity for world exploration; if only in a manner of speaking.

It’s fitting that several of the massive casinos dotting The Vegas Strip are themed after actual world cities. Many are large enough to qualify as cities themselves; complete with shopping, dining, entertainment and even museums. Once inside, there is no real reason to ever leave – which is entirely the point. But no matter how captivating a city or casino may be, we’re always looking forward to our next destination. So join us as we travel the world, Vegas style.

New York, New York

Las Vegas New York, New York, Brooklyn Bridge, Hotel

For us, New York City is home. It is also where our hearts are. So we were delighted to find in Las Vegas a New York replica that paid homage to the city’s wonderful neighborhoods. It probably would have been easier for them to simply exploit well-worn New York images by constructing a mock Times Square or 5th Avenue. Instead, they chose a more genuine approach that reflects a true version of New York City street life as it unfolds daily in front of beautiful brownstone facades. 

Las Vegas New York, New York, Hotel, Inside, Hudson Street

Walking through the familiar yet foreign streets was enough to make these longtime New Yorkers smile. That and the chance to whiz past Lady Liberty’s head on a roaring rollercoaster. And why not? This is still Vegas, after all.

Venice (The Venetian)

Las Vegas Venetian Hotel, Venice, Canals, Vaporetto

Zebra-striped vaporetto operators navigating canals may be a clichéd depiction of Venice, but it’s hard not to be impressed by a hotel cleaved in half by an artificial river. Just as in Venice, the Venetian vaporettos ferry travelers along the waterway, through canals and under bridges.

Las Vegas The Venetian, Hotel, Interior, Palace

Back on land, lancet arched porticoes guide pedestrians past high-end retail shops while canal-side patios provide the perfect environment to enjoy a gelato in faux-Venetian splendor. Stepping away from the canals visitors find themselves in another Venetian staple: the opulent palace.

Las Vegas, The Venetian Exterior, Doges Palace

From outside, the hotel recreates the famed Doge’s Palace and campanile of St. Mark’s Square. Although, being Vegas, they apparently couldn’t resist the opportunity to foul the Doges façade with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill advertisements.

Paris

Las Vegas, Eiffel Tower, Paris, Night

Who needs Paris, France, when you can visit a one-half scale replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Las Vegas? The original hotel blueprints envisioned a full-scale version of the famous Parisian landmark but it would have been so large as to interfere with flight routes from the nearby airport. The downsized version doesn’t diminish its appeal, though. It also has the added benefit of being just around the corner from a two-thirds sized Arch de Triomphe, and directly in front of a facade that fuses elements of the Paris Opera House with the Louvre. Had Napoleon III’s 19th century renovation of the actual city been as well thought out as this Vegas replica, tourists would save a bundle on Parisian cab fare.

Rome (Caesars Palace)

Las Vegas, Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace isn’t intended to mimic Rome in the same way the other hotels replicate New York, Venice and Paris, and it shows. Mostly Caesars gives the feeling of an ordinary luxury hotel adorned with faux empire-era statues. Would-be world travelers, however, can still visit landmarks like the Trevi Fountain and prowl through The Forum Shops, which are ironically housed in an ornate cylindrical building seemingly patterned after the Pantheon instead of the rectangular Forum – consider it a Roman twofer because the building really is worth a second glance.

Trevi Fountain, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Trevi Fountain, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Luxor

Las Vegas, Luxor, Statue

Ancient Egypt meet modern Las Vegas

The Luxor Hotel’s striking pyramidal exterior held promise for an amazing Egyptian experience the interior just couldn’t deliver. Riding the escalator to Luxor’s main floor didn’t give us the impression we were entering the ancient city of Thebes, but rather a modern movie theater. A handful of Egyptian style statues and obelisks fight a losing battle with undisguised concession stands and neon lights that mostly wreck any attempt to create an ancient aura.

Las Vegas, Luxor Hotel, Obelisk

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23 Comments on “Around the World in Vegas (Sort of)”

  1. John January 14, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    Great place and photos!

  2. Honie Briggs January 14, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Funny, I took the exact same shot of the real Trevi Fountain when we visited Rome last year. This is a helpful post as I will be going to Vegas for a wedding this year. Also will be visiting NY in April.

    • karinschiller January 14, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Have a nice time there…I envy you ;) Will it be your own wedding in Vegas?

      • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

        We’re long past the wedding thing. But if we were to do it again a quickie ceremony in Vegas (or more likely, Tahiti) is indeed the route we’d take.

  3. moncochon January 14, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    i *heart Vegas!

  4. karinschiller January 14, 2013 at 9:13 am #

    Once in my life, I want to go there :)

    • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

      Sounds like someone needs to plan a trip. ;-)

      • karinschiller January 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

        No, this is not a matter of plannings …..it’s a matter of kismet. But I will let you know through my blog, ;)

  5. mairedubhtx January 14, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    I’d almost want to go to Vegas to see “the cities.”

    • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Try it. You might like it.

  6. Jane Fritz January 14, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    Great photos. I love that about Vegas as well. I think of it as Disney World for adults!

  7. Scott Sappenfield January 14, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Vegas is one place I’d like to go, at least once! I hear it’s great…

    • Brian January 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      It’s true. Even if you have no intention of gambling, Vegas is quite fun.

      • Scott Sappenfield January 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

        Indeed, that’s what I hear…I look forward to it at some point.

  8. amandaroederwrites January 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Great post! … of course, the actual canals of Venice aren’t nearly that clean. :-)

  9. Crista January 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    oh Vegas….. i’ll be there next week.

  10. pleisbilongtumi January 14, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Stunning photographs ! and gorgeous blog..

  11. earthriderjudyberman January 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    We’re here every year to visit my brother. Excellent photos. We stay at one of the casinos that’s far less pricey and it’s just down the street.

  12. Sheryl Bright January 14, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Isnt Vegas fun! We had no idea we would enjoy it as much as we did. We plan to return.

  13. gallivance.net January 16, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Hi Brian and Shannon, What a great wrap-up of Vegas! And as always, your photos are a joy. We haven’t been back to Vegas in a few years and it sure looks like a trip is in our future. All the Best, Terri

  14. msdulce January 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    The Venetian does such a good job of mimicry that when I went to Venice, my first thought was (embarrassingly enough): boy, this looks like the Venetian. :-P

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  1. Memory Lane at the Museum | Everywhere Once - June 7, 2013

    […] It’s the same game we played to an audience of salespeople at a Peter Lik photography gallery in Las Vegas. To their great annoyance (and our great amusement) we showed far less interest in spending […]

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