Las Vegas

Las Vegas


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Destination Basics

The climate here in Las Vegas has been drawing vacationers for decades. Expect to spend plenty of time outdoors and be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. When you bring up the subject of heat with locals, they are usually quick to mention that despite hot temperatures, Vegas experiences little humidity. This dry heat and endless sunshine make for great weather.

But don’t let the fact that Las Vegas sits in the middle of a desert fool you into thinking shorts and T-shirts are the only thing you’ll need to pack. At an elevation of about 670 metres, this region is known as “high desert.” During the winter, overnight temperatures occasionally dip below freezing, so you’ll need to wear a sweater or a jacket. But you can leave your umbrella at home. Rain is rare here and the Las Vegas Valley averages only a mere 10 centimetres each year.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Las Vegas, NV

Once only a seasonal destination, Las Vegas is now truly a year-round vacation spot. Though temperatures often soar, there’s always a swimming pool or refreshing frozen drink close by to cool you down.

While gambling is front and centre in Las Vegas, it doesn’t wholly represent the city. Lately, gambling has accounted for less than half the money visitors spend here. When you come to Las Vegas, you’ll find plenty of other great things to do – from dining and shopping to outdoor recreation and much more.

When the Bellagio resort opened in 1998, with spectacular fountains and man-made lake, it set a new standard for Vegas properties. There are now hundreds of five-star restaurants here, numerous world-class shows (including the Cirque du Soleil show “O”) and incredible shopping promenades boasting names such as Dior, Prada and Tiffany & Co.

Once famous for its bargain-priced, all-you-can-eat buffets, the city is now home to more Michelin-starred restaurants than larger cities like Los Angeles. That said, nearly every hotel here still offers a buffet serving great food at great value. But no matter what you want to eat or what atmosphere you prefer, you’ll find a range of eateries perfectly suited to your tastes and budget.

Less than an hour’s drive from the neon lights, you’ll find Mt. Charleston. In the summer, it’s a pleasant respite from the desert heat; in the winter, it comes alive with skiers and snowboarders.

Las Vegas sits in a valley amid the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert, which covers large swaths of Nevada, California and Arizona. Nevada has the largest number of mountain ranges of any American state. Surrounding the Las Vegas metropolitan area, you will find several ranges formed long ago by volcanoes. The tallest peak, Mt. Charleston, soars to nearly 3,650 metres and is typically capped with snow from October through May. Its slopes provide refreshingly cool hiking in the summer, and snow sports in the winter.

It’s worth renting a car to explore southern Nevada’s varied geography. If you head away from Mt. Charleston, you’ll get to Lake Mead, one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water. Covering nearly 600,000 hectares, this vast lake provides a treasure trove of recreational activities, from swimming to jet skiing and everything in between. It’s also likely one of the most beautiful spots you’ll ever see.

Lake Mead was created by the construction of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s – a project to tame the unruly Colorado River. The dam is a 45-minute drive from Vegas and on many visitors’ must-see lists.

Just below the dam, the Colorado cuts a narrow passage through scenic Black Canyon before emptying into Lake Mohave. Both the desert floor and the mountains provide lots of opportunities to explore by four wheel drive vehicles. As you climb in elevation, the sagebrush and yucca found on the lower elevations give way to unique Joshua trees and towering pines. There are many off-road tours available, conducted by professional guides and drivers.

Non-stop gaming action and nightclubs that don’t close until the sun rises are both part of the vibrant Las Vegas culture. But this city, dubbed the Entertainment Capital of the World, can really be anything you want it to be – even if that simply means working on your tan poolside.

Las Vegas is certainly no longer a quiet little railroad town. An enormous building boom has pushed the number of hotel rooms here to almost 150,000 in 2010. About a tenth of those are in hotels on the bustling corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. The mega-resorts host 40 million guests each year and while many visitors come for conventions, the majority come for weekend getaways and longer vacations.

Las Vegas is also the largest city in Nevada, with a growing population of 583,000 people. The surrounding Clark County is home to nearly 2 million people, many of whom work in the service industry. Forty years ago, the county’s population was a mere 273,000.

Las Vegas is easy to get around. Whether you’re looking to explore the Strip or downtown’s Fremont Street Experience, Vegas has so many ways to get you there.

From Hummer rentals to limos to city taxis and public transportation, you can get around Vegas in style and within your budget. The city bus (called the CAT) and monorail are also great low-cost travel options with affordable fares between 50 cents and US$1.50. Vegas’ monorail is also one of the most modern transportation systems in the world and offers single ride tickets, 1 or 3 day passes.

Or, hop on a “Deuce” double-decker bus to see the Strip from above. The Deuce operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and makes frequent stops at the best attractions on the strip.

Taxis cost US$2.20 for the first mile and $1.50 for each additional mile. Each Las Vegas Strip street (Tropicana, Flamingo, Desert Inn, Sahara and Charleston) is about a mile from the next, so keep that in mind when calculating cost.

Tip: Experiencing Las Vegas on foot is also a must. Where else in the world can you see dancing fountains (Bellagio), watch a volcano erupt (The Mirage) and be entertained by pirates and sirens on a ship (TI) within walking distance of each other? Just pack some comfortable shoes and your water bottle. The desert air is dry and these city blocks can seem to go on and on.

When visiting Las Vegas, you’ll want to have some U.S. cash on hand for general expenses and transit. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.


After passing through security and U.S. Customs in your city of departure, you’ll be ready to enjoy Vegas as soon as you arrive.

All WestJet baggage arrives at Terminal 3. If you’ve booked transportation to your hotel with WestJet Vacations, exit out of door #12 on the baggage claim level. The local WestJet transfer vendor, Showtime Shuttle, has a booth located to the right.

If you have not pre-purchased transportation to your hotel, shuttle, taxi and limousine services are available. Please note that taxi pickups at the airport incur an additional airport fee. If you’ve rented a car, shuttle service to the main McCarran Rent-A-Car Centre is available outside the terminal, with shuttles departing approximately every five minutes.


Smiling WestJetters will be ready to assist you at our transborder check-in counters located in Terminal 3. There are also many shops and restaurants available if you have time to explore. WestJet counters open three hours prior to departure and close 15 minutes after departure time. Guests can check in or select their seats ahead of time by using the WestJet’s Web check-in service.

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