Las Vegas is widely known for its casinos, entertainment, nightlife, hotels and shopping opportunities, but this world-famous 24/7 U.S. destination also has some interesting backstories and fun facts behind it. First off, did you know that while the Las Vegas Strip is a major connection to Las Vegas, it falls under the jurisdiction of Clark County, Nevada. Yes, it does! Now further expand your knowledge about Sin City with these 10 interesting facts about Las Vegas.

10 How Did Las Vegas Come About?

The word “Las Vegas” translates in Spanish as “the meadows” and is said to be given this name by a member of a Spanish expedition in the 1800s that was trying to find water; it was in response to seeing the area’s desert springs and grassy meadows.

In 1855, a Mormon expedition passed through the area from Salt Lake City with the purpose of starting a mission located between Utah and San Bernardino, Calif.; it would be abandoned three years later. The actual founding of what's now Las Vegas goes back to 1905, with a land auction by a railroad company. It would establish Las Vegas as a township. It was encouraged by William Clark, a mining magnate from Montana, who recognized the potential of such an opportunity of having a destination that was based along a railroad stop. Six years later, Las Vegas would become incorporated.

9 Las Vegas Has Some Longtime Hotels

Certain hotels in Las Vegas hold distinctions for being the oldest ones in town. The first one to be built on what would become the Las Vegas Strip was the El Rancho Villa in April 1941. Sadly, this resort closed for good due to a fire in 1960. El Rancho Villa was also the first Las Vegas resort with a theme; a Western motif. To date, the oldest hotel on the Strip is the Flamingo Las Vegas, which was opened by gangster Bugsy Siegel in 1946. Yet the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino surpasses them all. This continuously operating hotel in Downtown Las Vegas goes back to 1906 when it opened on Fremont Street. Another downtown long-timer is El Cortez, which was built in 1941 and said to be used by Siegel and his associates to train staff to work at the Flamingo.

Related: 10 Day Trips From Las Vegas To Get You Out Of The City

8 Who Gave The Vegas Strip Its Name?

Las Vegas’ hotels and casinos have a high concentration along the Las Vegas Strip, a 4.2-mile long stretch of road. Based along Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas Strip, or also widely known as “The Strip,” is said to get its nickname from Guy McAfee, the commander of the Los Angeles Police Department vice squad. McAfee also led a double life in the underground that was quite lucrative. He came to Vegas and made a similar name for himself there; his accomplishments included opening the Golden Nugget casino. Forming a township along U.S. Highway 91, which went through Nevada, McAfee coined the term "The Strip" as a nod to the famous Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

The Las Vegas Strip is also the location for the picture worthy “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. It was designed in 1959 by Betty Willis, a commercial artist, and is considered to mark the start to the Strip. Along the Strip, visitors can see other popular attractions including the Water Show at the Bellagio, the Gondola Rides at the Venetian Resort, and the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York.

While gambling is synonymous with Las Vegas, this wagering activity came valid as a part to lift Nevada out of the crushing impact of the Great Depression. According to, in March 1931, the state’s legislators voted to legalize gambling as a way to combat Nevada’s economic troubles by letting people bet money. Before that, gambling has been outlawed in 1910, but it still happened secretly.

New to gambling? Along with slot machines, roulette wheels, craps tables and online sports betting, card games such as Blackjack and Poker are also common in Las Vegas. You’ll even spot slot machines at the airport!

6 Las Vegas Has a Museum About the Mob

As Las Vegas grew, so did stories of its association with the Mob. Learn more about the overall history of organized crime at The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas. Along with the chronology and key characters within the history of the Mob in the United States, the museum’s exhibitions also put the spotlight on law enforcement, in terms of how police and federal agents fought back against organized crime. Interestingly, the museum’s location is within a former U.S. courthouse where the Kefauver Committee hearings relating to federal investigations about the Mob happened in 1950. Another neat fact: the museum's formal name is the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement.

5 Who Had The First Musical Residency in Las Vegas?

These days, many top performers come to Las Vegas as temporary or ongoing musical residencies. Liberace is the first to have a musical residency in Las Vegas; the pianist first appeared at the Hotel Last Frontier in November 1944. Elvis Presley kicked off his first residency in Las Vegas in July 1969 (he first performed in Vegas in 1956). Prior to his death in 1977, he performed at least more than 600 shows there. Other famous acts were the Rat Pack, whose entertaining members included Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra took his own residency to a whole new level. He was a fixture in Las Vegas from the 1950s through the 1990s. Other past and present performers with Las Vegas residencies have included Lady Gaga, John Legend, Barry Manilow and Cher.

4 What Was The First Cirque du Soleil Show in Las Vegas?

Other types of performers, from magicians to comedians to circus acrobats, can be seen in Las Vegas. This wave of entertainment was ushered in the 1990s. Starting that decade, the illusionist duo Siegfried & Roy introduced their act featuring white lions and tigers at the Mirage Resort & Casino until a tiger attack on Roy Horn ended the duo's show in 2003. In 1989, the magicians Penn & Teller brought their continuing act to Vegas; they’ve been at the Rio since 2001.

One major Vegas headliner is Cirque du Soleil, whose 1993 show Mystère was the company's first permanent production in Las Vegas. Mystère made its debut within a custom-built theater at the Treasure Island Hotel. Today, audiences can have more than one Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas productions to choose from - among them, KÀ, O, The Beatles LOVE and Michael Jackson ONE (the latter two are based upon the music of these icons).

Related: First-Timers Need This Many Days To Make The Most Of Las Vegas

3 Fremont Street Was The First Paved Street in Las Vegas

In Downtown Vegas, which is north of the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street was originally the place to be. Being where some of the city’s first major casinos were located, this now six-block street was also the first street paved in Las Vegas (back in 1925). These days, it’s only accessible to pedestrians. Fremont Street’s name comes from the Western explorer and politician John C. Fremont, who led an expedition in Nevada. While visiting the street, catch the Fremont Street Experience, which projects an overhead LED screen light show.

2 You Can Legitimately Get Married In Vegas

Another thing that visitors in love can do in Las Vegas is to get hitched. As it’s wise to double-check on marriage licensing requirements while planning your nuptials, couples don’t have to be Nevada residents but both you and your beau do have to be 18 years of age to wed. They also have to apply for a marriage license in Nevada’s Clark County. While casinos offer wedding packages, couples can do something a bit different by heading to a wedding chapel. Among them, The Little Vegas Chapel can hold both traditional and unconventional ceremonies, such as having an Elvis impersonator as an officiant, or be a place for renewing your vows.

1 What Was The First Professional Sports Team in Las Vegas?

Las Vegas is also home to some professional sports teams. Oakland Raiders, an NFL team, were relocated from California to Las Vegas in 2020 and renamed as the Las Vegas Raiders. Before them, the first major professional sports franchise in Las Vegas was the Vegas Golden Knights, a National Hockey League team, with their inaugural season in 2017. Other teams include the Las Vegas Aces, a professional WNBA team, Las Vegas Lights FC, an American professional soccer team, the Las Vegas Aviators, the Triple-A baseball team of the Pacific Coast League and Oakland Athletics affiliate, and the NBA Summer League.

The city is also the location of UFC and boxing matches and even professional cornhole tournaments. As a contest of its own kind, the World Series of Poker takes place in the city every year, in which amateur and professional players take their chance at winning big.