So you have finally decided to take that trip to Las Vegas, the one you dreamed about for years, Only now, all of a sudden, do you realize you actually know very little about the place at all. Well apart from all the useless images seared into your brain from film and TV. Well, our Travel Guide for Las Vegas Nevada is designed to give you a good overview and grounding on the practical information you really need to enjoy your stay in the City.
Our Las Vegas Guide for Beginners will explain how the city is laid out, where you might want to visit or stay, what to do when you are there, what to eat, and how to get about, plus lots more. So sit back and enjoy, we are going to Vegas Baby!
Of all the City’s in the US Vegas has the simplest layout of all. It is basically one long road. With an airport at one end, loads of fun in the middle, and Downtown Vegas at the other…with more fun. It really Is “almost” that Simple.
The one long road is officially called S Las Vegas Boulevard. But you and everyone else will know it as “The Strip”. This 4-mile stretch of road is lined with the biggest, brashest, glitziest hotels you will have ever seen. And you surely will have seen them before, normally from aerial shots in Movies and TV shows.
The strip is the focal point for the VAST majority of visitors. Just about anything you could possibly want can be found somewhere on the Strip. The majority of the Big hotels are situated on the strip. The MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, etc… You will also find more restaurants, shows, and shops than you could possibly imagine in such a small area. Simply walking up the strip is considered a tourist attraction. In fact, it’s considered a Scenic Highway! It won’t take long until you realize why!
However, remember the Strip is 4 Mile long so just choosing a strip hotel is not enough, while things look closer on a Map, some of the Hotels on the strip are a good 2-mile hike to the center of things!
Looking for the perfect Strip hotel – Look no Further!
At the very far end of the S Las Vegas Blvd, past all the hotels and even the towering Stratosphere, lies Downtown Vegas. This is Old-Town Las Vegas, but restored lovingly as a tourist attraction. So you can sample what Vegas was like in its original form before all the Super casinos sprung up. Now called the “Freemont Street experience” its a Mix of bright lights and old-school casinos great for trying out some of the table games as stakes are a little lower than at the big casinos on the strip.
You will find quite a few museums and attractions here as this is Vegas trying to take back a bit of the revenue from the casino Giants. We honestly think Everyone should take a trip to Downtown at least once per trip as it really is such a brilliant and unique experience.
Just outside Freemont Street is where you will find some of the less savory stalwarts of Sin City, the Strip Clubs, and such. But you need to hunt them out it’s not something you will stumble upon. This end of town is also where you will find Vega’s infamous wedding venues!
What we mean by this, is the selection of hotels and casinos that are just off the strip, down the side roads, and such. They are big upscale resorts that just didn’t quite find their way onto the strip. With the strip being a mere 4 miles long real estate is at a premium so only the biggest and best get a spot. But you will find incredible value on hotels just off the strip such as Rio – All Suites Hotel, and Palms Casino and Resort.
Hotels and Casinos
The Majority of hotels in Las Vegas are Hotel and Casino Combo hotels, So the ground floor is a huge casino with an army of slots and table games with the floors above filled with hotel rooms. They are resort-based hotels so expect a HUGE array of entertainment and dining to be included. Most of which is available to everyone, not just guests. Hotel Tourism is a huge thing in Vegas. People stay in one hotel but spend a large amount of time just wandering from hotel to hotel just looking. This may be a hard thing to grasp, but the hotels are just SO utterly staggering It all becomes clear once you’re there.
Expect to find shows, Pool complexes, Shopping malls, Food courts, Fine Dining Restaurants, and Nightclubs all situated with each MASSIVE Casino Resort. Really there is absolutely no NEED to ever leave your resort. You will, of course, want to as there is a dizzying array of things to see and do outside of the resort.
Vegas is simple to get around. The majority of your travel will be on foot. But be warned you can end up walking an awful long way on a trip to Vegas. Simply navigating your hotel can involve long walks. Really we can’t state this enough Visiting Vegas is EXHAUSTING! you will want to pack fancy High Heels and smart shoes but you will be far better served with sneakers/trainers!
When things get too much, your destination is too far, or you have chosen an off-strip hotel, you can always jump in a Taxi. In recent years these have largely been superseded by Uber/Lyft. In a City where Wifi is everywhere nothing could be easier than pulling up the app and a car arriving 5 mins later. Uber/Lyft really has taken over Vegas and prices are really cheap, some of the cheapest in the USA!
Just a few short years ago free parking at all resorts meant using a hire car to get about was a great way to Casino hop. The Casinos realized what a huge cash cow they were missing out on though and have since decided to begin milking it! So now most hotels charge for parking. You can normally hop between hotels run by the same company though, so CET or MGM properties if you park at one you can normally move your car between the properties. Expect to pay around $5-15 a day for self-parking or up to $25 a day for Valet.
Next up is Public Transport. Las Vegas has a famous MonoRail. The Mono-Rail runs down the back of MGM Grand down following the strip before heading off to the Convention Centre and ending up at SLS Resort at the far end of the strip. It’s a very popular attraction and quite fun for a ride but next to useless for most situations as transport. You will pay $5 a trip or $12 all day. $28 gets you 3 days.
Far more useful is “the Deuce” This Regular bus service runs all the way down the strip right through to Downtown Vegas with Airport connections at the south end. The buses are modern, comfortable, and Air-conditioned (this is important in Vegas). They will stop outside pretty much any strip destination you could want. and are pretty cheap. $5 per trip or $8 all-day or $20 for a 3-day pass. We love the Deuce and really the only thing going against it is the traffic on the strip. But Taxi’s and Uber’s suffer this problem as well. It can even be used to get to and from the airport however a transfer will be needed at the south strip transfer terminal, and we tend to use Uber for all Airport connections, you just want to get there!
Things to Do
You will never be short of things to do in Vegas. The city is built as an adult’s playground where entertainment is around every corner. Considering Las Vegas is built in a desert, there are also a large number of things to do if you want to get out of Las Vegas either via a tour or in your own Hire Car.
One of the most popular things to do in Las Vegas is simply to visit the other hotels. This seems quite an odd thing to do but the hotels here are hardly your average Travelodge! Each one is themed and walking around the different hotels is pretty much akin to visiting a theme park, without the rides…Except there are rides in some!
Vegas has more shopping malls per square mile than any other place on earth. Probably, we did make that stat up but really it’s got to be true. Just about every big resort complex has its own mall complete with big-name designer brands and popular chain restaurants.
On top of that, there are a number of great shopping Outlet malls, these really do have incredible prices on a huge array of big-name brands at prices up to 60-80% off in some cases! Prepare to give the credit card a hammering!
We cover this below in more detail in our full guide. But the activity that got Vegas on the map is still alive and kicking in the old town. You don’t need to be a high roller to enjoy a flutter!
Shows and Concerts
Another thing Vegas is well known for is its array of shows. Dizzying Cirque du Soleil shows, Timeless musical residents, Magicians, Strip shows (male and female) or even just the not so humble fountains at the Bellagio. There is something for everyone in Las Vegas.
Ziplines, Quirky Museums and Exhibits, Observations platforms and views, helicopter rides, club tours, Shark Tanks, Even a Dolphin, and Lion Sanctuary. There is a lot of things to see and do when visiting Las Vegas if you are willing to pay. While you hit the Bars and Casinos at night during the day there is no end of great activities to keep you occupied.
When it’s 40 DegC outside there is nothing better than just kicking back at the pool. Vegas hotels are home to huge pool complexes perfect for just having a drink and watching the world roll by. Expect to pay a lot for that drink though.
As Stated above We highly recommend everyone visit the Freemont street experience it really is a great experience. Outside the Street performances and old casinos, there are a good few museums like the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum. Along with the Slotzilla Zipline a visit to a wedding chapel (you don’t have to get married) and the incredible light shows, there is certainly a lot to do down at Downtown Vegas.
Outside Las Vegas
If you want to take a short day trip away from Las Vegas quite a few exceptional places within reach. The Grand Canyon west rim is only a 2:30-3:00 hour drive away. This part of the canyon is derided by some as it’s not quite as majestic as the canyon at the national park area. But that’s a 270mile 5-hour drive into Arizona, a push for a day trip. It’s worth every mile if the canyon has been a lifelong dream but maybe less so if you are just looking for a day out from Vegas. And in Our opinion, while the canyon is less impressive here, it’s still a mighty awesome sight!
Normally any trip to the GC would be combined with a trip to the incredible Hoover damn which is also well worth a visit.
Red Rock Canyon and The Valley of Fire are both natural features nearby that are less than an hour’s drive and both stunning natural desert rock formations.
For the more adventurous Death Valley can be visited in less than a day with a fairly grueling round trip of about 300miles and 5-6hours plus stops. It’s a long day but really worth it.
Las Vegas Attraction Passes
With so much on offer in Sin City, things can really get out of hand cost-wise. The price of attractions can really add up. A great way to save money, limit your expenses, and fit a whole heap more into your trip is with an attractions pass. There are quite a few available for your Las Vegas trip. We have tried and tested most of Las Vegas’s Passes and attractions and created several reviews to help you see which pass would suit you best.
The Las Vegas Pass – All Singing All Dancing pass with tons of attractions, including top shows, helicopter rides, sightseeing tours, club Tours, Pool Parties, and much much more!
Las Vegas Go Card – A really great value All-inclusive Pass that covers nearly all of Las Vegas’s most popular attractions, plus a choice of premium attractions to really make your trip special.
Las Vegas Explorer Pass – Very Similar to the All-Inclusive Go Pass only without the Premium attractions and based on a per attraction basis. Perfect for just seeing and doing a few choice attractions in your own time.
Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass – Another high-end all-inclusive pass
Vegas is built in a desert so in the summer it’s Hot. But you know that. Unfortunately, some people don’t really appreciate just how hot it really can get. And it doesn’t get much cooler in the evening. In fact, Vegas really would be unbearable in the summer if it wasn’t for one thing. Aircon! fortunately almost everywhere inside is Air-conditioned so you should find it quite manageable. On really hot days even sitting by the pools is too much and a refreshing dip really doesn’t help as even the pool water takes on the sun’s ferocity becoming more Bath-like than refreshing dip!
Winter in the desert is a different ball game. It can get quite cold at times, even down to frost levels in the evening. While most Hotels keep a pool open, you will find them deserted and any attempt to sit by them will show you why. You do get the odd balmy day where the sun can warm things just enough to stave off hyperthermia, but on the whole, things move inside in Winter!
Spring and autumn bring much more moderate weather obviously increasing in temps as the months roll on. Late spring and early autumn providing the best balance, hot but not tarmac melting hot.
Year-round there will be little rain. it does rain in Vegas but it’s often short-lived. Only big fronts moving across bring any prolonged rain.
This variance of weather really changes the dynamic of any trip. But no time is a bad time to visit, you just have to tailor your visit to suit. You can’t expect a pool holiday in December, but you will find great food, shows, and entertainment all in abundance whatever the time of year!
Gambling is still HUGE in Las Vegas and is really worthy of its own website, and to be honest there are loads of them. We are by no means experts either. We gamble in Vegas as fun and entertainment. We are not serious gamblers and can’t really offer any fantastic advice on the subject. But we have recently been complete beginners so can offer a few thoughts on what it’s like to first have a go at gambling in Vegas, Something the Experienced gamblers may have lost touch with.
If Gambling does nothing for you then don’t feel pressured into doing it. There is so much more to Vegas now than just gambling, It really is a ‘take it or leave it’ activity. Although most are tempted to try and drop a few dollars in a fruit machine, even if it’s just to snag a FREE drink!
There are essentially 2 types of gambling in Vegas you might want to try (we will ignore sportsbook betting for now)
These are gambling machines for beginners. You really don’t need a lot of skill or knowledge to play these. Everywhere you go in Vegas you will be tempted by the bright lights and enticing noises of slot machines just begging you to part with your money. Many are called penny-slots where you literally only gamble a cent at a time (as a minimum). You are not going to win big, but it’s a guilt-free way to try your hand at Vegas Gambling!
The Classic games played with or against a croupier (dealer) who will spin the Roulette wheel, deal the cards or return the dice to the player, while handling all the chips. This is what most people think of when they think of casino gambling in Vegas. The truth is the slots are the big earners now but there is a lot of fun to be had at table games but it can be quite daunting the first few times.
Other forms of Gambling in Vegas are Sportsbook (betting on outside sports events like horse racing or football ) and Poker where you play against other players. These are quite advanced and beyond the scope of our page, If these interest you probably already know more than we could teach you.
The two things to remember about Gambling in Las Vegas casinos are:
1: The House Always Wins. But that doesn’t mean you always lose? What it means is the house has an edge so if $1,000,000 is gambled the house will take more than it has to pay out, meaning it has a profit. But the winnings paid out are not paid evenly. Some win more than they gambled some less, the Casinos profit is guaranteed over a long enough time span.
2: It’s supposed to be fun. If it isn’t, stop doing it. If the thought of losing your money is just stressing you then why keep risking it? there is almost certainly something else you could be doing. We tend to play the bigger flashier machines DESPITE the fact we know they have worse odds and less chance of winning. Why? Because they are fun and we enjoy them. That’s when we are not playing the penny slots just to bag free drinks.
Eating and Drinking
Vegas is certainly not known for its local cuisine. It’s built in a desert that has no real native fruits, vegetables, or tasty animals. If it had a delicacy …you probably wouldn’t want to eat it. But that doesn’t mean you won’t eat well. Like everything in Vegas they just import the food from the rest of the world…and lots of it!
All You Can Eat Buffet
Just about every hotel has an All You Can Eat Buffet plus there are a few off-premises. The concept is simple, pay an entry fee and consume as much food as you can (or would like too) and then get someone to roll you out! These feasts started as a super cheap way to eat but have swollen up into something very grandiose with hotels vying to outdo each over. Expect high-end food like seafood, prime rib, steaks, etc.. and high-end prices.
These eateries are now a spectacle in their own right and are more about sampling different foods than gluttony. The array on offer is often staggering. We like to go for one with a bottomless drink offer too!
Free/Cheap Drinks and Happy Hours!
Drinking is part of Las Vegas Culture and while it is perfectly fine to head to Las Vegas and not drink you will be in a minority. Hotels and Bars, used to dealing with high rollers and big spenders can charge the earth for drinks though. But there are still plenty of ways to avoid paying $20 for a cocktail or $15 a beer! From Free drinks when Gambling to Awesome deals and happy hours to just cracking a beer open on the streets, it is really easy to drink hard in vegas without losing your shirt.
Vegas attracts a lot of high rollers who have a lot of money and fine dining restaurants will always follow the money so expect a large selection of really top fine dining restaurants from top Chefs and brands.
Vegas is home to a few iconic restaurants that may not be unique in the food department, they have their own Vegas twist that makes them unique. Like the Heart Attack Grill, Huge burgers, and Spankings for those that fail to finish their meal. Or the revolving restaurant at the top of the Stratosphere. There is no excuse to eat boring in Las Vegas
On top of all this, there is just about every kind of food or restaurant you can imagine. Vegas is the ultimate melting pot of people and characters and these people need to eat so there appears to be a market for everything. Expect a presence from just about every American chain restaurant you can possibly imagine and a few you haven’t even heard of yet.
Have Your Say?
Let us know if you have anything comments or questions on our Las Vegas Tourism Guide, We love talking about all things Las Vegas and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Just leave a comment below or Check out some of our other Las Vegas Articles below.
Las Vegas Attractions – Best Attractions and Sights in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Where to Stay – Best Places to Stay in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Weather –What is the Weather Like in Las Vegas?
Las Vegas Food – What to Eat in Las Vegas?
Getting Around Las Vegas – How to Get Around Las Vegas
On a Budget – Visiting Las Vegas on a Budget