A Traveling Insider’s Guide To Las Vegas
We’ll help you place a bet on a Las Vegas vacation using this expert’s guide to Sin City. By Paul Oswell | May 11, 2021 (Updated August 1, 2023)
One of the most entertaining places on Earth, Las Vegas is a playground for everyone. Of course, the city is world famous for its casinos and nightlife. You’ll also find a wealth of exciting attractions, memorable dining experiences and top-notch live entertainment. Whether you’re here to recharge, connect with your family or immerse yourself in luxury, it’s truly all here in Vegas.
In our travel guide to Las Vegas, you’ll see why a trip to the Strip is one of the safest gambles you can make. Here are three reliable ways to make memories when you visit:
Food is an attraction: Whether you’re a culinary afficionado or just fueling your adventures, you can’t leave the Strip without trying something new. Plan ahead to snag a table at a popular spot, particularly for special occasions.
Las Vegas is the place to indulge: Whether you’re traveling with your family, friends or solo, treat yourself to delightful, over-the-top decadence.
Take in a spectacular live show: The entertainment in Las Vegas is unparalleled. Be prepared for jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring productions that are available year-round. We also recommend checking third-party ticket resale apps for fellow travelers who are looking to offload tickets.
Dazzle and delight
You’ll find everything to make a memorable Vegas vacation. It’s no wonder our Team Members recommend you visit more than once.
Why should you visit Las Vegas?
People come here for the star-studded shows, luxurious spa treatments, Michelin-starred menus and all-you-can-eat buffets. You can lose yourself in the sensory delights. You can also do things here you wouldn’t do in your ordinary life: go on shopping sprees, drink cocktails for breakfast sip endless mimosas at the Tea Lounge at Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas or eat breakfast at midnight.
“I always recommend people take multiple trips to Vegas. Vegas is too big to do in one trip and there are so many experiences to have.” –John Pham, Hilton Team Member, Global Marketing
Of course, you can take in the thrill of the world-famous casinos, but don’t forget the live entertainment. From intimate shows by musical legends to high-production magical spectaculars and Cirque du Soleil productions, you’ll find fantastic experiences everywhere.
When is the best time for your trip to Las Vegas?
Anytime–if you bring layers. This region of Nevada has a subtropical desert climate, meaning very hot and dry summers. Temperatures can drop at night and during the winter months, but the majority of your time will be in the chilled comfort of an air-conditioned resort. Light clothing layers are always a good bet. Vegas is at its busiest when large conventions are in town. These happen year-round, so check with the city’s tourism office.
Getting to and around Las Vegas
McCarran International Airport is described as ‘a casino with a sideline in air travel,’ with the banks of slot machines making it unlike any other airport. The good news is that it’s close to the Strip, which is a quick 15-minute drive to be in the middle of it all. It’s just as easy to choose hotels in Las Vegas near the airport as it is to find a Las Vegas hotel on the main drag.
The hardest part of your trip may not be choosing where to go, but where to start. The heart of the Strip is around three miles long: it would take over an hour to walk end to end. Many of the resorts are connected by walkways or shopping malls. Buildings may appear closer than they actually are, so keep a map handy until you’re familiar with your surroundings. There are free shuttle buses and a monorail system connecting some of the bigger casinos and attractions. Once you have your bearings, you’ll be on your way.
For eco-friendly travelers, walking instead of taking a cab is an excellent way to go green here. Take your reusable water bottle: you’ll see water conservation heavily promoted in this part of the Mojave Desert.
As a visitor, there’s so much to explore on the Strip, but Vegas regulars can find hidden gems just 10 minutes away. Fremont Street is often left out by other Las Vegas travel guides, but it was the original main drag dating back to the early 1900s. It has smaller, old-school casinos. There’s a vibrant Arts District, the mafia-themed Mob Museum and lots of independent gift shops, boutiques and restaurants.
“Take at least one day to explore beyond the traditional Vegas. From Old Vegas to hiking or even a day trip to see Hoover Dam, there are lots of options to add some variety to the visit.” –Jenn Sully, Hilton Team Member, Global Brand Marketing
Things to do in Las Vegas
As well as just experiencing the glitz and glamour of the casinos, first-time visitors to Las Vegas often have a checklist of sights to see: The Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower, the canals and gondolas at The Venetian and the High Roller Observation Wheel are among the usual attractions, as well as SkyJump and SlotZilla.
The city has a wealth of live entertainment. Cirque du Soleil has several shows running at any one time, and major stars have ongoing residencies. There are high-production magic shows, musicals, puppetry and more all readily available, most with multiple shows per day. You’ll easily find dozens of ticket booths around town for spontaneous selections.
Shopping is a world-class activity here. The Shops at Crystals connected to the Waldorf Astoria, the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian are good places to start. Most resorts have everything from exclusive designer names to souvenir stands, so you can take home either a watch, a fridge magnet or both.
Las Vegas is a welcoming destination for LGBTQ travelers. Nightlife shows include drag and burlesque offerings and there's a LGBTQ-specific nightlife zone just east of the Strip known as 'The Fruit Loop.’
Las Vegas culture and customs
Las Vegas is the ultimate 24-hour city. Whatever the time of day, there are people around and the casinos, bars and some restaurants are always open.
Tipping is a way of life, so you should plan to add at least 20-25% in restaurants (though not food courts), 10-20% for cabs and a dollar per drink minimum in bars. If you gamble for any length of time, tipping the dealer $5 per hour as a minimum is recommended.
The Strip has a focused effort on security, but as with any major city, just be aware of your surroundings. In general, people are friendly and will gladly help if you need it.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer and has reported from all seven continents for dozens of internationally known publications. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small” and the editor of an online travel magazine.
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