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Having recently returned from a late-summer soujourn to Nevada, I can report why August is not a good time to visit Las Vegas in one sentence:

It was 104 degrees.

las vegas signBesides the heat (forget all that “it’s a dry heat” nonsense — hot is hot), the crowds also made it a tad unpleasant. Not that crowds are a bad thing — the economic tumult we’ve all been experiencing the past few years has taken a particularly hard toll on Sin City. Happily, there appears to a reversal of fortune underway. According to a recent report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in August the city experienced its 12th consecutive monthly increase in visitors. Hotel occupancy is up, as is the number of conventions. Las Vegas tourism still has a way to go before it reaches pre-recession levels, but the signs are there.

That said, now’s a great time to visit Vegas. Here’s why.

1. It’s nicer. The pools are closed or closing (most are seasonal), but there’s still plenty of sunshine and cooler temps to boot. In July, the average high temperature is 106 degrees, falling to 74 at night. Now? Expect highs in the 80′s and lows in the chilly-but-bearable mid-50′s. In addition, weather is fairly calm coast to coast before the winter snows crank up, so air transport is more dependable.

2. It’s cheaper. Well, it can be cheaper. Good deals, particularly midweek, abound at resorts across the city. In particular, Vegas is a ghost town between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so if you don’t mind flashing neon clashing with tinsel on trees, you can have your pick of lodging. Check out a rate calendar at a hotel Web site (I use Mandalay Bay’s, but most sites give an overview of tariffs for the coming months) to get an idea when the lowest priced rooms are available, and go from there. Also, check out the hotel sites for late-breaking deals; for example, Mandalay Bay recently spotlighted a 72-hour sale that offered 20 percent room discounts and a $25 resort credit. And keep checking right until you depart for the desert — rates fluctuate wildly and can go down. If they do, cancel and rebook.

3. It’s more interesting. Okay, Vegas is always interesting, but the recent opening of CityCenter — a massive hotel, retail and entertainment complex — has added a whole new dimension to the place. The construction eyesore has been replaced with a sleek, sophisticated and somewhat incongruous collection of buildings that won’t be ignored. Crystals, a gorgeous if ridiculously luxe mall, sports stores that I’ll never buy anything in, but it’s fun to explore nonetheless. And “Viva Elvis,” the new Cirque du Soleil show at the Aria Resort & Casino (one of several hotels in the complex), is a hoot. If you don’t go expecting the typical Cirque acrobatics, you’ll have a good time — and if you click the “summer promotion tickets” button on the show’s home page, you’ll get a huge discount.

4. It’s relatively kid-free. If you like gamblin’ and carousin’ without little ones underfoot, now’s the time to go. They’re in school — and you’ll have the Roller Coaster at New York-New York to yourself.

For more information on the city, see Las Vegas Essentials.

– written by John Deiner