Las Vegas

California travel expert Veronica Hill of offers a Las Vegas guide in this episode of "California Travel Tips."

Hosting almost 37 million visitors per year (26 percent from Southern California), Las Vegas is one of America's top destinations.

With an 89 percent occupancy rate, Las Vegas hotel rooms are sometimes in short supply, especially on holiday weekends. Most big-name Las Vegas hotels such as Bellagio, Luxor, and MGM Grand are located along Las Vegas Boulevard between Tropicana and Sahara Avenues. If money is no object, check into the Wynn Las Vegas, a $2.7 billion-dollar resort with some of the most luxurious touches in town.

If you're looking for cheap Las Vegas hotels, stay off the strip. We're staying at the Orleans Las Vegas, a hidden gem off Tropicana that offers some amazing Las Vegas deals.

By day, Vegas takes on a whole new vibe, sort of like a Disneyland for grown-ups. Head to the top of the Las Vegas Stratosphere, the tallest observation tower in the West; ride the Manhattan Express roller coaster at New York, New York Casino; check out the Mandalay Bay Shark Exhibit, or take in the dolphin show at Mirage. For a romantic outing, board a Venetian gondola for a cruise through the Venetian Grand Canals.

The Venetian Las Vegas casino has authentically recreated every nuance of Italian life, from the high-end boutiques at the Grand Canal Shops to the faithful recreation of St. Mark's Square. You'll find several nice Las Vegas restaurants here as well, from Mario Batali's Enoteca San Marco to Wolfgang Puck's Postrio.

Las Vegas is busy on most weekends and holidays, so if you really want to avoid the crowds, come the week before Christmas. You'll be rewarded with some of the cheapest room rates of the year.

We're starting our Saturday morning with a Las Vegas wedding at Paris Las Vegas, followed by a lovely lunch at Mon Ami Gabi. And after a few glasses of wine, and some terrific French cuisine, we hit the town. Just so you know, Las Vegas weddings are most popular in February, for obvious reasons, so be sure you book them well in advance. Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin, now known as Planet Hollywood.

For a spectacular birds-eye view of Las Vegas, ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Towering 50 stories above the Las Vegas Strip, the experience is offered both day and night. In fact, you can even get married up here!

One of our favorite free Las Vegas attractions is the Bellagio Fountains Water Show, which begins every half hour during the day, and every 15 minutes at night. For the best views, grab a seat at one of the restaurants along the lake, then finish with a gelato and a peek inside Bellagio's Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Other Las Vegas freebies include the MGM Lion Exhibit, and the Mirage volcanoes, which erupt every 15 minutes from dusk until midnight.

Las Vegas traffic can be a nightmare, so to get around town quickly, take the Las Vegas Monorail. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. and one-way or day passes can be purchased at the kiosks. It has seven stations along the Strip, beginning at the MGM Grand and ending at the Sahara, one of the few Las Vegas casinos where you can still find $1 blackjack tables.

Once you arrive, there are plenty of pedestrian bridges that will lead you across the busy Strip.

During the summer, temperatures peak at 120 degrees, so naturally the Las Vegas pool scene is where it's at. One of the hottest Las Vegas hotel pools is Caesars Garden of the Gods, with 8 pools, an 18-foot waterfall, and swim-up blackjack tables. The Las Vegas pool party season runs between April and September.

When you're ready to party, take in the Las Vegas nightlife on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, or hit the Las Vegas club circuit. You can avoid lengthy lines and get the VIP treatment by purchasing a Vegas Passport, or arriving well before midnight. Hot spots are always changing, but right now the in-crowd hangs at Vanity (Hard Rock), Eve (City Center), Haze (Aria Hotel), Tao (Venetian) and XS (at Encore).

Other party spots include Pure at Caesars, LAX at Luxor, LAVO at the Palazzo and Ghostbar, Moon and Rain at the Palms.

Big-name Las Vegas show tickets sell out months in advance, so book them well before your visit. Some of the lesser-known shows are equally entertaining, and usually available the same day.

Just don't leave Vegas without stopping at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, located a mile south of Russell Road. There is a small parking lot on the southbound lane, though it takes a small stroke of luck to get a spot. Elvis is even waiting to take a picture with you — for a small donation.

Las Vegas flights arrive at McCarran International Airport, just a block from the Strip.