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Vegas. It's all about gambling, drive-thru weddings and feathered showgirls, right? Well, yes and no. Whether you're extending a conference stay or taking advantage of the newly increased flights from Gatwick to Manchester, you'll find the city has plenty to offer beyond its clichés.

Here are a few misconceptions challenged:

"You have to stay in a casino hotel"

True, many hotels will have you enter between rows of slot machines in the hope you'll part with some cash before you even find your way to the lobby. However, plenty of the smaller hotels and motels are gaming-free and even some of the big names, including The Four Seasons, Nobu Hotel at Caesar's Palace, Mandarin Oriental, Signature at MGM Grand and the Delano at Mandalay Bay.

"There's nothing to do except gamble"

Not only are there some truly world-class shows from the likes of Cirque du Soleil (admittedly at a high price) but more surprisingly, there are a lot of interesting museums in Vegas. More unusual ones include The Mob Museum (aka the national museum of organised crime and law enforcement) with interactive true stories from a shady past; The National Atomic Bomb Testing Museum, covering Nevada's role as a nuclear Guinea pig; and The Neon Museum which celebrates Vegas's glitzy signs (book a tour ahead). You can even try to catch a killer with the help of real-life forensic scientists at CSI: The Experience.

After dark, you can hang out at fancy cocktail bars and pool parties (The Cosmopolitan's Chandelier Bar is one of the latest fashionable haunts). The Vegas music scene is also good, with big names playing residences here and a new 20,000-seat arena just opened at the MGM Grand.

The city's best known attractions include helicopter flights over the Strip and Fermont Street where you can abseil (or just admire) under a shape-shifting digital canopy show. Then there's the Grand Canyon almost on the doorstep...

"It's not family friendly"

Just a walk down the Strip with its themed hotels, exploding volcanoes, dancing fountains, street entertainers and so on, will be fun for older children and you'll get some serious brownie points for taking teens here. Some of the museums and shows are family-friendly and there are thrill rides like the roller coaster atop the New York, New York Hotel or the hideously high drops at Stratosphere. Better still, combine city fun and nature with a family fly-drive with Vegas as your start and/or end point.

"It's in the middle of nowhere"

Yes, it is a city in a desert but it's also near enough to the Grand Canyon that you can take a scenic flight for a picnic lunch on the canyon floor (also a favourite option for weddings). A longer fly-drive holiday will give you a chance to explore the canyon on hikes, get your kicks on a section of Route 66 and also take in the staggering sandstone formations of Monument Valley which look like a Roadrunner cartoon brought to life. If you're a little more ambitious, some people combine Vegas with a California National Park like Yosemite or Death Valley and fly home out of San Francisco or Oakland.