To experience the best of California's and Nevada's desert towns and landscape in a limited amount of time (such as a week), you could fly into Las Vegas, rent a car, then travel in a large S-shape, visiting Death Valley National Park and then driving through both Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park to get to Palm Springs. The more time you have, the more attractions you can add.
What to pack? In November, Las Vegas daytime highs hover in the 60s; in Palm Springs and Death Valley, they hover in the 70s. Nights drop to the 40s in all three places. But, above all, dress cool.
For general visitor information or to get an update on what's new on the Strip, check in with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (www.visitlasvegas.com or 877/847-4858).
The Attic. Fun vintage clothing, accessories, and furnishings. $1 admission fee entitles you to "lifetime entry"; closed Sun. 1018 S. Main St.; www.theatticlasvegas.com or 702/388-4088.
Fremont Street Experience. Located downtown, the promenade is an odd mix of old-school casinos, shops, souvenir stands, and state-of-the-art light-and-sound shows. But you do get to check out some vintage signs, including famed Vegas Vic, on Fremont St. between Main and N. Las Vegas Blvd. 702/678-5600.
The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Seasonal plantings under 50-foot arched glass ceilings provide an oasis of nature on the Strip. Free. At the Bellagio (from $159; www.bellagio.com or 888/987-6667 for room reservations), 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
O by Cirque du Soleil. 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Wed-Sun (no performances Dec 5-20); $99 (no children under 5; reservations a must). At the Bellagio (see above); www.cirquedusoleil.com or 888/488-7111.
Tangerine Lounge & Nightclub. Indoor lounge, outdoor deck, DJ, and burlesque shows (10:45 p.m., 11:45 p.m., 12:45 a.m., and 1:45 a.m. Tue-Sat). Closed Sun-Mon; $10 cover for women, $20 cover for men. In Treasure Island (from $79; www.treasureisland.com or 800/944-7444 for room reservations), 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/894-7111.
Venetian gondola rides. Purchase tickets at the Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Drop by early to reserve a time. Spring for a private boat ($60 plus a tip); it's worth it. 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/414-1000.
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