Las Vegas is an amazing destination. Even if you do not want to gamble, las Vegas has a lot to offer anyone looking to have a good time, enjoy some hot weather, sit by the pool, do some crazy shopping or eat at world renowned restaurants. However, for the first time visitor, it can be pretty overwhelming. The Las Vegas strip is big, loud and tightly packed with dozens of incredible hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops. It is fundamentally designed to make sure that you part with as much money as you are willing to spend, while giving you as much fun, activities, or experiences that you care to have. So how do you make sure that you are spending your money wisely, staying in the right location, or allotting enough time to activities important to you? You follow these best las Vegas tips for first time visitors.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.
Best Tips For First Time Visitors To Las Vegas
The best tips for Las Vegas for first time visitors fall into several categories. Those include:
- How best to get around;
- Ways to save money;
- Where to stay;
- Where to eat;
- How to stay safe; and
- Ways to get tickets to shows, clubs or parties.
There was one area that I received conflicting opinions from multiple travel experts and locals. A lot of people feel strongly about staying on the Las Vegas Strip while others feel strongly about not staying on the Strip. I provide both sets of advice and will leave it up to you to figure out which one best suits your travel style.
The following Las Vegas’s tips are from multiple sources.
First, I have been to Las Vegas about 7-8 times over the last 10 years. I’ve gone with girlfriends, my husband, multiple couples, and even with my children. Each trip has been different and given me lots of exposure to different hotels and restaurants. In addition, it has taught me how to make the most out of my time and money.
Second, I have asked some of the best travel bloggers, industry experts and locals about their best tips for first time visitors to Las Vegas. From my own personal experiences, I can tell you these are top notch.
However, advice relating to casinos and gambling have not been included. Overall, I think these are topics that should be separately addressed by people with a lot of expertise or experience in this area.
There are other destinations in the world that are just as overwhelming as Las Vegas. New York City is one of them. If you are travelling to New York soon and want to arrive prepared, take a look at 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors.
London is also a large, expensive and confusing destination. For helpful tips to help save you time and money, please take a look at 50 Best Travel Tips To London For First Time Visitors.
Finally, just organizing and booking any trip can be overwhelming. I have written a step by step guide about how I plan my trips, focusing on how I keep my sanity and save money along the way. For more information about that, please see Planning A Holiday: A Foolproof Guide To Easy Vacation Planning.
Las Vegas Explained
When people talk about going to Vegas, they are normally talking about going to, staying at and spending most of their time on the Las Vegas Strip. Known officially as Las Vegas Boulevard, the Las Vegas Strip is home to the most famous hotels and casinos in the city. It is one of the most visited and photographed avenues in the world.
The Strip is approximately 3 miles long. It is bookended by the MGM Grand and the New York New York hotels in the south (although the Mandalay Bay and Luxor hotels are just a little further south across the street) and the Stratosphere Tower in the North.
Most people will never leave these 3 miles during their whole stay in Vegas. However, there are fantastic other areas in which to stay, such as downtown Las Vegas, with its own vibe, restaurants, attractions, casinos and shopping. In addition, there are some breathtaking day trips from Las Vegas.
Best Tips For Choosing Accommodation In Las Vegas For First Time Visitors
Choosing a hotel in Las Vegas can be overwhelming. There are dozens and dozens of options, price points, and locations. However, there are some strategies to make this easier. Here are some of the best tips for choosing accommodation in Las Vegas.
Stay On The Strip
Robert says, “If you think that you will want to spend all your time exploring and having fun on the Las Vegas Strip, then you should stay there. If you don’t, you will be spending extra money on taxis or ride shares traveling to and from the Strip.”
Don’t Stay On The Strip
Hotels, restaurants, and bars are all cheaper away from the Las Vegas Strip. Most don’t have resort fees or are much less than the hotels on the Strip. It is easy to get taxis and ride shares to the Strip when you want to spend time there. In addition, the total cost of the taxis and ride shares will likely be a fraction of the total amount that you will save by not staying on the Strip.
Every hotel on the Vegas Strip charges a hotel resort fee. This is for wifi, access to the gym and pool, and access to the business center. They are normally around $35-$50 per night but each hotel is different. Make sure you add that to your hotel budget.
Book In Center Of The Vegas Strip
Kelie from Vacations Planned says, “If you decide to stay on the Strip, and are trying to narrow it down between hotels, choose something closer to the middle. This way you will be more conveniently located to many more of the attractions and sights.”
Choose A Hotel With Or Without Gambling
Most hotels on the Strip require you to walk by or through their casinos to reach the elevators for the hotel rooms. If you don’t like the smell of smoke, the sight or sounds of slot machines, or the general chaos of a casino, then you should find a hotel with little or no gambling. They do exist, even on the Vegas Strip. The Vdara Hotel is one of them.
Hotels Could Be Difficult For Those With Physical Challenges
The hotels on the Vegas Strip are ginormous and unlike anywhere else in the world. For those with physical challenges, staying at one could be difficult.
First off, it may be a couple hundred yards from the lobby to the elevators to the rooms. You may have to first walk by shops, restaurants, bars, or casinos to reach the elevators. Once on your floor, you could still be another hundred yards to your room.
My husband and I recently stayed at the Venetian Hotel. We asked for a quiet room away from the elevator and ended up in a gorgeous room at the very end of the hallway. We were thrilled, but it would be a long way for someone with physical challenges.
Accordingly, if you are staying in Vegas and this is an issue, make sure you research the layout of the hotel before you book and ask for a room close to the elevators.
Join Loyalty Programs
Veronica from Nomad Veronica says, “Once you decide on your hotel, pre-join its loyalty program. Depending on the program and the room that you decide to book, you may be awarded with a separate check in line or other benefits. If you already belong to name brand loyalty programs like Hilton or Marriott, you should check to see if there are any existing relationships with reciprocal benefits in Vegas.”
Try And Get A Room Upgrade
Veronica from Nomad Veronica says, “Short of being an actual celebrity, the most effective way to be upgraded to a suite is the Vegas sandwich. Guest check-in agents actually have a lot of power to get you into an amazing room. Be friendly and interactive with the agent while they check you in. Slip $20-$100 in between your ID and deposit credit card as you hand the agent your items. Give more money for longer stays, important occasions, or if it seems the hotel is busy. That is the Vegas sandwich and it works wonders to get upgrades that will make you feel like a star.”
Ask For A High Floor
Karen who works with premium brands in the hospitality industry says, “Ask for a high floor in your hotel and a room facing the strip so you can see the city. It will help to visualize where you want to go and maybe how far it actually is. In addition, you can see the mountains just beyond the strip which is a stunning view. It will help you understand how easy it would be to explore beyond the Vegas strip and how much different the rest of Las Vegas truly is.”
Avoid Check-In Lines
Depending on the day of the week or the time, you may end up in a 30 minute or longer check-in line up at your hotel on the Vegas Strip. Before you arrive, see if you can do online check-in. Most hotels have a separate line up for those only picking up keys. If that doesn’t work, find out if there is a better time to check in. You can then store your bags (usually right next to the lobby doors or outside with the valets), do something else (like leave and have lunch), and return at a quieter time.
Some hotels may offer Check-in Kiosks at different locations within the hotel. Melody from Wherever I May Roam says that using these kiosks may allow you to avoid line ups and the long walk from the lobby through the casinos. In addition, they will likely be closer to the room elevators.
Stay Around Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas
Pina says, “Fremont Street is way more concentrated, so you’re always within walking distance of tons of activities, restaurants, bars, museums, and casinos. In addition, the street has historical significance because it was Las Vegas’s first paved road. It’s home to the ‘Fremont Experience’, a pedestrian mall that features a canopy of lights and hosts street performances and free concerts regularly. The area is lively and fun, and has its own “hotel corridor,” so there are plenty of hotels from which to choose.”
Best Vegas Tips For How Best To Get Around
Avoid Taxis From Airport
The Las Vegas Strip is very close to the airport. However, taxi fares can be very expensive. There are additional fees for pick up from the airport and if you pay with a credit card. If you can’t avoid a taxi, make sure you at least have cash to pay for the ride.
Book Ride Share Early
You may wait along time at the airport for your Uber or Lyft. To reduce your wait time, book your ride share before you exit baggage claim. The ride share pick up area is in the parking garage and could be a 10 minute walk depending on how fast you walk.
Parking Can Be A Nightmare
Most hotels offer lots of parking. However, finding entrances to parking lots can be tough or fighting traffic to get there might be very time consuming. Once you park, you will likely be very far from the restaurant or event to which you are going, even if it is in the hotel where you have parked. Accordingly, avoid renting a car while there and using it for your day to day activities along the Vegas Strip. If you do have a car for your visit (perhaps you drove to Vegas), park and leave it at your hotel for your stay. Instead, walk, or take taxis and ride shares.
Take The Monorail
Alex from Upgraded Points says one of the best ways to get around is to take the Monorail. The monorail is a 3.9 mile train system that runs from the MGM Grand to the Sarah Las Vegas, with stops at the Paris Hotel and Caesars Palace, among others. There is no traffic or long wait times, and you can purchase passes with unlimited rides, if you want.
Go To Hotels To Pick Up Taxis
Taxis are not allowed to stop on the Strip and pick up passengers. If you need a taxi, head to the closest hotel and find the taxi lineup.
Ride Shares Versus Taxis
Most of the time, the location at hotels where you pick up a taxi versus an Uber or Lyft is different. Sometimes, they are very far apart (15 minutes walk). If you plan to book an Uber or Lyft, make sure you know where the pick up location is at the hotel or wait until you get to the pick up location before you book the ride. Most of the time (but not always), the taxi line up is in front of the main lobby.
Best Tips To Save Money In Las Vegas For First Time Visitors
Las Vegas is expensive. Unfortunately, this is a reality that is largely hard to avoid, especially while on the Vegas Strip. However, there are some very useful money saving tips to reduce some costs. Accordingly, here are some of the best tips to save money in Las Vegas.
Keep Your Dates Flexible
If there are big concerts, sporting events, awards shows, or even conferences, hotel prices may be very expensive relative to other dates, even those just one week away. If you have flexibility, look at the cost of hotels over multiple dates on a low-cost hotel website like booking.com to make sure that you are getting the best deal you can.
Travel To Las Vegas Mid-Week
David, a Travel Journalist says, “Midweek hotel prices are often half the weekend rate, and visitors encounter fewer lines, less crowding, and more readily available Uber and Lyft rides.”
Leave The Strip To Eat
Mathew from MaxTour says, “The Las Vegas Strip is home to many world famous chefs serving up inspiring fare. While the food may be mouth watering, the prices can be eye watering. To avoid this, head off strip to get some fantastic food at more reasonable prices. Most places are less than a 10 minute Uber or Taxi ride away.”
Eva says, “If you are keen to try gambling, penny slots are a great starting point. Beyond that, they are always coming around with free drinks. Don’t forget to keep some cash for tips.”
Happy Hour Deals For Food And Alcohol
Most restaurants and bars offer happy hour deals. Try to do most of your eating and drinking during those times if your goal is to save as much money as possible.
Free Shows, Meals Or Excusions
There are lots of timeshare presentations offered on or near the Las Vegas Strip. In exchange for sitting through a one or two hour presentation, you can be offered free tickets to shows, excursions or even restaurant meals. At the end of the presentation, they will try to sell you the timeshare. However, you are under no obligation to do so and most do not. If they get rude, just walk away. This is all part of the process.
Go To Buffets
David, a Travel Journalist, recommends going to one of Vegas’ four best buffets for gourmet cuisine offered at a fraction of the price that you would pay at high end restaurants with celebrity chefs. His favorites are the buffets at the Wynn and the Bellagio, the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace and the Wicked Spoon at The Cosmopolitan.
Buy Discounted Tickets
Alex from Upgraded Points says, “Show and buffet tickets can often be found much cheaper when you purchase them at discounted ticket booths found along the Vegas Strip. These reputable dealers tend to sell last minute tickets to shows or fixed-price restaurants at a greatly reduced rate.”
Ask For An Upgrade
Last minute upgrades can be cheap in Vegas. Don’t be afraid to ask. At worst, they can say no or ask for a lot of money for the upgrade at which time, you can refuse. At best, you get the deal of the century.
Find Free Activities
For all the ways Las Vegas tempts you to spend your money, there are lots of ways to save it with dozens of free activities. This includes The Fountains at The Bellagio Hotel, The Volcano at the Mirage Hotel, or the Fremont Street Light Experience, just to name a few.
Take The High Roller At Dusk
Martin from Light Up My Photos says, “The High Roller is the tallest observation wheel in the world at 550 feet high (compared to the London Eye at 443 feet tall). Try to board it as close to dusk as possible, that way you get specular views in daylight and in nightlight. In addition, six of the 28 cabins have fully stocked bars and a bartender! So, for an extra $20 or so you can buy Happy Half Hour Tickets and have as many top shelf drinks as you want in the 30 minutes it takes to complete one revolution.”
Try to book advanced tickets to avoid long line ups. Also, keep an eye out for Groupon or other discount vouchers for deals.
Best Tips For Booking Las Vegas Restaurants
Las Vegas is a foodie paradise. It offers some of the best restaurants in the world with some of the best chefs in the world. So, how do you make sure you get into the restaurant of your choice at the time that best meets your schedule? The experts have some suggestions. Here are the best tips for first time visitors to Las Vegas for restaurants.
If you want to dine in a popular restaurant, especially one with a celebrity chef, you need to make advanced reservations. Some places book weeks if not months in advance, especially for Friday and Saturday nights.
Avoid Peak Dining Hours
Restaurants are busiest between 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm. If you don’t have an advanced reservation, try booking a last minute one before 6:00 pm or after 9:00 pm.
Eva from Discovering Hidden Gems says “If you’re looking for some hidden gems, there are a few good speakeasies and secret bars. Inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel is a hidden bar called Ghost Donkey. You go upstairs, walk into the food court and look for a door with a donkey on it. If you’re downtown, there is a speakeasy underneath the mob museum. On the mob museum website, they update the secret password weekly.”
Best Tips For Tickets To Las Vegas’ Shows, Clubs Or Parties
Las Vegas is the party capital of the world. There are always dozens and dozens of parties going on day and night. Those include pool parties to club events and more. In addition, the best singers and bands in the world usually spend a night or two in Vegas on their tours. They may even do a short term or longer residency in Vegas, meaning they spend anywhere from a couple of months (Lady Gaga) to years performing in Vegas (Celine Dion and Brittany Spears).
Then, there are the world renowned magicians and Cirque Du Soleil shows that run all year round for years. In other words, there is a ton of things to see and do in Las Vegas that require tickets. So, how do you get them or save money?
Buy Tickets To Clubs And Parties Ahead Of Time
Kayla from Rustic Pathways says, “Do not buy tickets at the door. If you can purchase tickets to pool parties or clubs ahead of time, then do so. It could be the difference between paying $10-$20 or $60-$200.
Connect With Promoters
Kayla also recommends trying to connect with Promoters of these events. You can search for them online. Alternatively, they will often look for prospective guests for their events by commenting on your Instagram posts when you are in Vegas. If successful, you could get your name on the list ahead of time. In addition, women may get in for free. As for men, they may be able to get in for free if they have at least a 3:1 ratio of women to men.
Buy Show Or Attraction Tickets In Advance
Mia from Invert Pro says, “If you really want to see a show or go to an attraction, buy the tickets far in advance. Otherwise, it may sell out or you may end up in a long lineup to purchase same day tickets.”
Visit Discount Ticket Booths On Vegas Strip
If you aren’t fussy about what you see or do, then consider the discount ticket booths along the Strip. You will find discount priced same day tickets to a random selection of shows or attractions.
Best Tips For First Time Visitors To Stay Safe In Las Vegas
I have never felt unsafe in Las Vegas. Most of the time, you are surrounded by lots and lots of people who are on holiday and only want to have fun as well. However, there are a couple of unique things of which you should be aware.
Beware Of Street Hustlers
Emily from Family Destinations Guide says, “When you’re walking along the Strip, people may come up to you and ask you a seemingly innocent question. Don’t answer or even acknowledge them. They’re probably trying to get you to attend a timeshare presentation, hustle you or sell you something you don’t even want or need. Regardless of what they ask of you, just leave.”
Be Wary Of Females Hitting On You
Emily from Female Abroad says, “If you are a guy and a very attractive woman is hitting on you, she is probably a prostitute. This is a dangerous situation as she may drug you in the hotel room, strip you, take compromising photos, rob you, and leave a note with her ransom demands or else the naughty pictures will be sent to all the contacts in your phone. So long story short, be very careful on who you bring back to your hotel.”
Best Tips For First Time Visitors To Las Vegas
Some of the best tips for first time visitors to Las Vegas defy a category. However, these tips are equally important.
Nothing Is Nearby On The Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is busy and you end up spending a lot of time dodging people while you walk. In addition, nothing is really a quick walk away. Walking from your hotel room to a restaurant in the hotel right next door might take 20-30 minutes by the time you leave your hotel room, walk to the elevator, wind your way through the casino and out the front door, find your way up the long driveway from the hotel to the Strip, then walk to the hotel next door. There, you will likely also have to dive deep into the hotel to find the restaurant.
Budget For Extra Time When Walking The Strip
Most of the time, you are not always able to simply cross the street on the Vegas Strip. Instead, there are pedestrian overpasses that you either reach by escalator, elevator or stairs.
Taitana from Family Road Trip Guru says, “Even though you can’t see it on the map of the city, there aren’t always easy ways to cross a street around the Strip or straightforward ways to get out of the hotel to street level. In addition, you can wait a fair amount of time at traffic lights just to cross the street.”
Vegas Strip Not Always Easy To Walk
The Las Vegas Strip is not an easy destination for parents of young children or people with physical challenges. The Strip is usually crowded and you spend a lot of time trying to avoid people. In addition, as mentioned above, you often have to take overpasses to cross the streets which means the added aggravation of finding and waiting for elevators. Strollers and other baby gear becomes a hindrance rather than something that makes your life easier.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Make sure that you wear comfortable walking shoes regardless of your outfit. You likely regret your decision if you do not and your feet will be killing you.
Always Pack A Bathing Suit
Erica from Erica James Travel recommends always packing a bathing suit, even if you are in Vegas for a business trip. Most hotels on the Las Vegas Strip offer amazing pool parties and you want to come prepared.
Leave The Las Vegas Strip
There are lots of amazing activities beyond the Las Vegas Strip. One of the best things to do is to go to one of the amazing National or State Parks within an hour’s drive. My favorite is hiking at the breathtaking Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a 40 minute drive from the Strip. Another option is to go Lake Mead and rent a boat for the day.
If you have an extra couple of days or you feel like you can splurge, consider going to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Natural Wonders in the world. It is a four hours drive from the Vegas Strip, but if you can afford it, you can do a half day helicopter tour. It is absolutely worth doing either.
Consider What Time Of Year You Are Going
Erin from Pina Travel says, “The first time I visited Las Vegas, I went in early July. Summers in Nevada are very hot. I had figured it wouldn’t be too bad since there’s air conditioning everywhere. In addition, since it’s so hot, rates for hotels are cheaper in the summer which is a great perk! But there were moments where the heat took away from my Vegas experience. Walking outdoors even for 10 minutes was exhausting, which made it not so fun to do outdoor activities.”
Emily from Family Destinations Guide says, “No matter the season that you’re visiting Vegas, but most especially in the summer, always have water on hand to keep yourself hydrated. The Vegas Strip is basically a concrete jungle in the middle of the desert. You can get dehydrated very quickly without even realizing it. If you are enjoying some alcoholic beverages while you walk, you may get heat exhaustion or worst.”
Find Your Vibe
There are way too many places to visit or things to do in Las Vegas to waste your time on some place where you are not happy.
Suzanne from Suzanne Casamento says, “Ten minutes at Cosmopolitan’s Chandelier Bar will offer up people in teeny dresses and high heels – that should come with liability clauses – shooting selfies for Instagram. However, behind all that glam, you’ll notice that no one talks to each other and it looks like they’re not really having any fun.
So ditch the pretenses and go where the fun people are. That means different things to different people. But, if you’re not feeling the vibe in one casino, bar or club, keep moving and focus on finding your fun people.”
Don’t Try To Do Everything
Erica from Erica James Travel says, “You can travel to Las Vegas different times and with different people and you will have a different type of trip every time. If you are into gambling, then that could be your theme. If you love shows, then your trip may be all about shows. If you enjoy partying, then your trip may be all about night clubs. If you are a foodie then your trip could be nothing short of eating your way up and down the Las Vegas strip. Las Vegas is a destination that you can return to more than one time and have a different experience each time.”
Vegas In The Morning
Many Las Vegas’ attractions are open 24 hours a day. Tatiana from Family Road Trip Guru says, “I love Las Vegas at 9:00 a.m. because there are no crowds and those who play and drink hard are now asleep. You can walk along the strip with kids and enjoy the most beautiful landmarks without any hassle.”
Keep Track Of Your Time
Jack says, “If you gamble, make sure you check the time. Casinos are designed to keep their patrons from leaving. They are built like mini mazes that entice you to continuously gamble and spend your money. There aren’t any clocks to remind you of the time.”
Las Vegas is an incredible destination to have fun, eat at some spectacular restaurants, and go to clubs or shows. However, there is an awful lot that could go wrong if you don’t know where to stay, how best to spend or save your money, or how best to get around. These 50 best Las Vegas tips for first time visitors will help you organize your trip and save money, making sure you leave Las Vegas as happy as you were when you first arrived.