Las Vegas is the largest city in the U.S. state of Nevada. Las Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World. It is located in the Mojave Desert of Southern Nevada. The city features many mega-hotel/casino complexes decorated with lavish care and attention to detail creating a fantasy-like environment. The casinos often have names and themes that evoke romance, mystery, and exotic destinations.
Compared with other cities in the western U.S., Las Vegas (literally, “the meadows” in Spanish) is a relatively recent arrival. It was founded in 1905, and for many years it was merely a small settlement in the middle of the desert. However, several pivotal events would come together in less than twenty years that would help Las Vegas grow into what it is today:
The construction of Hoover Dam in 1928 brought thousands of workers to the area. What is now known as Boulder City was established for the workers.
Nevada legalized gambling in 1931, and downtown Las Vegas became an entertainment center for the dam workers, with casinos and speakeasies. Business became so good that it surpassed Reno as the gambling capital of the world in less than 10 years. During the same period in the 1930s, Los Angeles was also growing rapidly from a mid-sized city to a global center for the entertainment and manufacturing industries. but because gambling was banned in California at the time, Southern California workers began traveling to Las Vegas for vacation, recreation, and entertainment.
In 1941, the luxurious El Rancho Vegas resort opened on what would later become the Las Vegas Strip. Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel later opened the Flamingo Hotel in 1946. The opening of these two resorts started a building boom and established a tradition of one-upmanship with each new hotel/casino trying to outdo another. That tradition continues today. It also initiated a long tradition of organized crime involvement in Nevada’s gambling industry. By the 1990s, the enactment and enforcement of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (the RICO Act) as well as investments by established corporations and the installment of professional management virtually eliminated any remaining organized crime involvement in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has an arid climate with sunny, dry, and extremely hot summers. The July average high is 40°C (104°F), but with low humidity. This low humidity does help keep the temperature from feeling as hot as it would otherwise at these levels, but nevertheless, it is still hot. Nighttime lows are usually in the high 20s Celsius (80s Fahrenheit).
Winter is much cooler with daytime highs averaging around 15°C (60°F), and nighttime lows averaging about 4°C (40°F). During winter, a cold spell may set in for several days. Snowfall is quite rare in the metropolitan area itself, but the mountains surrounding the valley are topped with snow during the winter. This allows for skiing and snowboarding. These activities are available in winter with a short drive to the northwest at Mount Charleston.
Spring and fall are very enjoyable months with daytime highs ranging from 15°C-25°C (60°F-80°F). Some of the best months to visit Las Vegas are March, April, May, October, and November. Temperatures are not too hot nor too chilly at those times, although a good time can be had in Las Vegas at any time.
Summer monsoons occur from late July to early September. There could be increases in rainfall during this time, however, taken as a whole, Las Vegas receives little rainfall annually. Take caution during heavy rainfalls as flash flooding can occur in certain parts of the valley. The Strip and Downtown are mostly fine. However, The Linq and Harrah’s parking garages do have a tendency to flood. Rainfall is rare, but when it shows up, be aware that it may show up with a vengeance.
The city is laid out as follows: Main Street as well as the numbered streets run north-south, starting with Main Street in the west. The bus station is on Main Street. Downtown has several hotel-casinos, as well as the “Fremont Street Experience”, a pedestrian mall lined with casinos, near the western end of Fremont Street. A couple miles south of downtown starts the “Strip” (Las Vegas Boulevard South), a north-south street lined with large casino-hotels, shopping malls, and other attractions. (There are also numerous hotels and resorts located to the east and west of the strip – many within walking distance of the Strip, others not – and they are referred to as “off-Strip.”
The northern end of the Strip is marked by the tall Stratosphere tower. The Regional Transportation Commission runs buses up and down the Strip that connect the Strip resorts to downtown. The Las Vegas monorail and the convention center sit just east of the Strip, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) is located slightly more east of the Strip on Maryland Parkway. The airport is at the southern end of the Strip.
Importantly, the City of Las Vegas only controls the Strip as far south as Sahara Avenue. All of the Strip south of Sahara, is located in the unincorporated townships of Winchester, Paradise, and Enterprise, which are all governed directly by Clark County. These unincorporated townships, however, use the name “Las Vegas” for postal purposes. Technically, the Stratosphere is the only Strip resort actually located within Las Vegas proper.
Both the city and the unincorporated county areas share a single law enforcement agency, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Incorporated cities such as Henderson and North Las Vegas have their own police departments.
Southern Californians crowd Interstate 15 every weekend going back and forth to Vegas. Expect this drive to be congested with frustrating stop-and-go traffic going northbound (towards Las Vegas) on Friday evenings and southbound (towards Southern California) on Sunday afternoons.
Note that the drive can be extremely dangerous. The long straight stretches which encourage speeding, the frequency of sudden emergency braking, and the massive volume of vehicles together result in wild multi-car pileups, and that issue, combined with the sheer remoteness of the area, means that the stretch of I-15 between Barstow and the California/Nevada state border at Primm was the single most deadly stretch of highway in the United States from 1994 to 2008. If you are involved in a vehicle accident in that area and are badly injured, you should be prepared to wait at least 30 minutes before first responders arrive and one hour before reaching a hospital emergency room (as paramedics will have to evaluate you and then summon a helicopter if it appears you will live long enough to make it to an ER). Therefore, the journey should not be attempted by road unless you are well-rested and in excellent health; are driving a well-maintained vehicle; and are carrying a first aid kit, a fully charged cell phone, and a car charger for that phone.
Despite these dangers, many find the roughly four-hour drive from the Los Angeles area 280-mile (450km) drive along I-15 restful and scenic (when attempted during off-peak hours and on off-peak days). Attractions along Interstate 15 include the California towns of Barstow and Baker; the Mojave Desert; and small hotel-casinos in Nevada at Primm (at the California border) and Jean, respectively. Those who traverse I-15 should remember that they are crossing a desert, and should carry (and drink) ample amounts of water, especially on hot summer days where temperatures can reach 110°F (43°C).
From east of Las Vegas, travellers typically drive on I-40 through Arizona, and then head north toward Vegas on US-93 in Kingman, before finally picking up I-15. This route will take you along the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and directly through Boulder City, near the Hoover Dam. Traffic there can be extremely congested and slow-going; although less so than in past decades since US-93 was rerouted to bypass Hoover Dam, using a new bridge. Still, this stretch is usually the slowest part of an otherwise sparsely populated desert area.
From the North I-15 meets the Arizona border at the more relaxed town of Mesquite, NV and shortly goes into Utah. The junction of I-70 and I-15 is where most people driving from the east will take. Those from further north may meet I-15 from I-80 in Salt Lake City.
Those travelling from the north drive on US-95 from Reno and Tonopah. US-95 is a two-lane highway for much of the route until it reaches the community of Mercury, where it widens into a four-lane highway. The route is sparsely populated, with few gas stations. Travellers should ensure that their fuel tank is full before setting out and consider refueling well before their tank hits empty.
McCarran International Airport (IATA: LAS) is the main airport serving the Las Vegas area. It is the 24th busiest airport in the world in terms of passengers and 8th in terms of takeoffs and landings. The airport is physically adjacent to the south end of the Strip, though none of the hotels are within walking distance. There are 2 passenger terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Terminal 1 services Allegiant, American, Delta, Omni, Southwest, and Spirit Airlines. Terminal 3 services International carriers such as Aeromexico, Air Canada, British Airways, Condor, Copa, Edelweiss, El Al, Interjet, Korean Air, KLM, MagniCharters, Sunwing, Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic, VivaAerobus, Volaris and WestJet and domestic carriers such as Alaska, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Sun Country, and United.
Henderson Executive Airport (ICAO: KHND) has two runways, 17R-35L which is 6,500 feet X 100 feet and 17L-35R which is 5,000 feet X 100 feet and a 26,000 sqft terminal. HND is an alternative to LAS for private, air taxi and private air travel. Charter companies such as Jet Charter Vegas offer access to charter planes at KHND for private flights to/from the area.
North Las Vegas Airport (ICAO: KVGT) services a lot of air tour operations along with other forms of general aviation. It’s the second busiest airport in Vegas, and the third busiest airport in the state of Nevada. Several helicopters are based at KVGT, including the L.V. Metropolitan Police Department, scenic tour companies, and a handful of charter helicopters. Charter companies that offer flights to Las Vegas such as Lido Jets and others offer access to the city for private flights to/from the area. KVGT is also certificated under 14 CFR Part 139, serving as a base for local airports.
Transportation from the Airport to Casino Hotels
McCarran International Airport is served by four bus lines operated by RTC. City bus service is available on the zero level of both Terminal 1 (T1) and Terminal 3 (T3).
The bus stop as well as the zero level are very difficult to find in T1 as there is little signage pointing out the correct route. In the middle of the baggage claim there are two banks of escalators and elevators, but only the escalators and elevators on one side go to the zero level. When you go outside on the zero level, it is not immediately obvious where to go next, especially at night. You have to proceed straight across the open parking lot towards the huge parking garage in the distance, then halfway there, turn right and walk towards the bus stop shelter in the distance with the sign on top saying “The Bus Stops Here.”
Fares are $2.00 for a single ride and $3.00 for 2 hours on residential routes. All routes except the Deuce and SDX (explained further below) are residential routes, and fare for those routes must be bought on board the bus. The ticket machine at the airport bus stop sells Strip fares, $6 for two hours, $8 for 24 hours, and $20 for 72 hours. These fares *are valid* aboard residential routes as well.
Several shuttle bus companies take passengers to any hotel on the Strip for $7.50 or downtown for $9 one way. Follow the signs in the baggage claim area on level 1. Many hotels (but not all – be sure to ask) also have shuttles for guests, and sometimes non guests too if there’s room just get on the bus, casinos are happy to get people in the door. Hotel shuttles pick up on the zero level. Note: If you use a shuttle service, be sure to confirm how to arrange a return trip. Some services require 24-hour advance booking. While hotel concierge services should help with this, this is not guaranteed. Make sure ahead of time before you find yourself stuck with a more-expensive taxi/Uber option when the time comes to return to the airport.
Limo service from the airport costs between $100 and $200, plus tip and sometimes a fuel surcharge. Limo rentals are 90 minutes to 2 hour minimums though, so make use of the car and go to the grocery store, liquor store, ATM, taco stand, etc, off the strip where prices are reasonable. For large groups 21 passenger buses can be rented for $125-$200 for 2 hours.
Taxis cost $18-30 (12/2014) plus tip from the airport to a Strip location, $35+ (12/2014) to downtown or Boulder highway hotels. The taxi line is well organized and the city taxi dispatcher will direct passengers to a numbered space along the curb. You need not tip the taxi dispatcher. There is some debate on whether the taxi driver should or should not be taking any Strip-destination passengers through the Paradise Road airport connector tunnel when exiting the airport (and then going the long way around on I-515 and I-15 to the Strip). Most taxi drivers prefer to take the Paradise Road tunnel because it produces a higher bill. The consensus seems to be that taking the tunnel is 5-10 minutes shorter, but will cost you $5-10 more; and not taking the tunnel is 5-10 minutes longer, but will cost $5-10 less. Some people prefer to save the money as the time savings isn’t that huge. You have the right to tell the driver if you do not want to take the tunnel. And do not let them tell you they need to take the tunnel to avoid the “big accident” if that is not your preference. If you feel you have been taken advantage of by the taxi driver, take down the driver’s license number and call the Nevada Taxi Cab Authority.
There are NO direct rail services into Las Vegas per se. The below are the nearest train routes with an Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach shuttling passengers between Las Vegas and the nearest Amtrak station:
The hotel-casinos on the Strip are close enough to each other to make walking a reasonable means of travel. The most straightforward option is to walk along Las Vegas Boulevard; however, be aware that during the summer the heat during the daylight hours may make walking uncomfortable for long periods. For this and other reasons, many hotels are connected to each other either by bridge, by underground, or by complimentary rail shuttle, allowing one to travel between them often without stepping outside at all. For example, a small shopping centre connects the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, and pedestrian overpasses directly connect MGM Grand, New York New York, Tropicana and Excalibur.
Keep in mind that the grand scale of most Strip buildings and attractions can easily give the impression that destinations are closer than they actually are. For instance, the faux-Eiffel tower of Paris Las Vegas is visible from Mandalay Bay on the Strip’s south end, but they’re 1.6 miles apart, and it will take at least a half-hour to walk from one to the other. If time is a factor, be sure you know how far away your destination is before you decide whether to walk. Know also that unless you are willing to put in the distance (which involves passing through some sketchy parts of town), it is a very long walk from the “main” Strip and the “old” Strip, i.e. the area around Fremont Street, even from the Stratosphere; transit or taxi/uber is your best bet there.
The Las Vegas Monorail, ☎ +1 702 699-8200, runs along the east side of the Strip with stops behind several of the hotels and at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Specifically, the southern terminus is behind the MGM Grand, while the northern end is near the SLS Resort (formerly the Sahara). The monorail does not provide access to downtown Las Vegas or the airport (and, technically, doesn’t actually run within Las Vegas at all).
It costs $5 one-way, $9 return and $15 for a one-day pass. Do the math before boarding, it could be cheaper for a small group to take a taxi. Because the monorail stops at the back entrance of the hotels, it takes a long time to wind through the maze of casinos, often taking 30 minutes to an hour to get from one point to another on the Strip – if you’re in a hurry, take a taxi. The monorail’s carrying capacity of 4,000 people per hour is woefully insufficient to handle the evening exodus from the larger conventions which have as many as 150,000 attendees. Nevada residents with a valid Nevada drivers license, State of Nevada government-issued identification card or Nevada Sheriff’s Card qualify for a reduced fare of $1 per ride. Maximum purchase: two (2) single ride tickets per person per day. The discounted fare can be purchased from the customer service booths located at each station.
Due to high prices, inconvenient station locations, low passenger ridership, and the fact that it does not connect to downtown or the airport, the Monorail is widely regarded as a failure. It has been operating under the supervision of a federal bankruptcy court since January 2010 while it tries to reorganize its finances under the protection of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
On the west side of the Strip, no less than three trams operate short routes between the major hotels. There is no charge for use, though hours of operation vary. Although they might appear to be redundant – given their short routes between buildings that are generally physically connected to begin with – they can save time and are particularly of use for those with mobility issues.
The three trams currently in operation are:
Buses can be an inexpensive and convenient option, especially if just traveling up-and-down the Strip, or to-and-from downtown. A bus ride is a good way to recuperate during those hot summer months after a long and tiring walk on the Strip since the buses are air-conditioned.
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), +1 702 228-7433, operates 49 bus routes throughout the valley. Most routes operate 5:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m. daily, but some routes operate 24 hours per day. The standard single-ride fare is $2.00 for adults and $1.00 for kids and seniors for all standard routes, which RTC calls “residential routes.” If purchasing a child or senior fare, be prepared to show some form of picture ID to prove age to the driver.
The RTC operates two routes on Las Vegas Boulevard: the Deuce, a London-style double decker bus, and the Strip and Downtown Express (SDX), an extended-length accordion-style bus. As of 2012, the RTC has completely abolished single-ride fares for the Deuce and SDX. The most affordable option for the Strip routes is a two-hour pass which costs $6.00 for all riders above the age of five (children below the age of five accompanied by an adult ride ).
Deuce and SDX buses stop only at marked bus stops on the Strip which all have ticket vending machines where passes must be purchased in advance before boarding. SDX buses also carry a ticket vending machine on board, but passengers must purchase tickets immediately upon boarding. The SDX operates on a pure proof-of-payment system, meaning that passengers can board and disembark SDX buses on the Strip through any bus door, but risk a substantial fine if caught riding without a valid pass. Indeed, SDX bus drivers sit inside a secure compartment, with a sign telling passengers to not bother them. However, Deuce buses have a more traditional layout. You must board through the front door and show your pass to the driver. Valid Deuce and SDX passes can also be used on all residential routes prior to the expiration date and time printed by the vending machine on the pass.
During the larger conventions (such as CES, NAB, and MAGIC) the Deuce also operates on a special one way service from the Las Vegas Convention Center. This service operates only in the afternoon from the convention center to the Strip, and the bus travels southbound and services all regular stops from Circus Circus onward.
Bus drivers do not give change. However, all the ticket vending machines accept credit/debit cards and some (but not all) give change. Transfers require payment of an additional fare. Fares, including the less-expensive Residential fares, can also be purchased on your smartphone via the RideRTC app. Simply scan the app on the scanner to the left of the door when boarding.
Residential fares, nominally valid on all routes except the Strip buses, are significantly less expensive– $3 for two hours, $5 for 24 hours, $20 for 7 days, $34 for 15 days, and $65 for 30 days. Note that Nevada residents may use residential passes aboard Strip buses, and further note that Strip drivers and fare inspectors never check residency when performing fare inspection.
It is important to note however, that if you would like to purchase a child or senior fare pass, you will need to do so from the customer service agent at the terminals. These passes are valid for 30 days following the first use and can be used on all routes.
If the Strip buses are crowded and the Strip is jammed with traffic (as is often the case), a good way to avoid waiting for the next bus is to use buses running on parallel routes. Either walk one block east from the Strip and use route 108 on Paradise Road or walk one block west to Industrial Road and use route 105, Martin Luther King Blvd and Koval Way.
One of the easiest ways to get around is by taxi. It is relatively cheap to go from hotel to hotel, but be aware that since traffic is often so congested on the strip, taking a taxi often isn’t much faster than walking. Many taxis will cut off the strip to use a parallel road–this is often faster but can double your taxi fare. The taxi driver is required to use the meter and to take the shortest route to your destination. There is a surcharge for rides originating at the airport, but not for extra passengers. Taxi lines (queues) are typically found at the front of hotels. You would be unwise to attempt to hail one on the street, especially on the Strip, as it is illegal for a taxi to stop traffic to pick up or drop off a passenger. The best way to hail a taxi outside of a cabstand is to use the following method: if you are wanting to go north on the Strip, stand on the east side about 20 feet before a turn off. The taxi you want to wave over will have the yellow lights off. Standing like this allows the taxi to turn off the road and pick you up. It is customary to tip the hotel taxi dispatcher $1 and tip the taxi driver 15% of the meter, and about $1 per piece of luggage.
If you are traveling with a large group, consider hiring a limousine, as you will often forgo a wait and the price per person may even be lower than that using a taxicab. Limousines usually queue in front of the taxicab line and can be approached directly.
Driving Las Vegas Boulevard (the “Strip”), especially on weekends, is an exercise in frustration. Due to extremely severe gridlock at all hours, you could easily spend an hour (or more) sitting in traffic on the Strip just to travel a couple of miles. The Strip’s most critically congested section is the 1.7-mile-long portion between Spring Mountain Road/Sands Avenue to the north and Tropicana Avenue to the south, which happens to be where almost all of the major hotel-casinos are located.
Do what the locals do and avoid driving long distances on the Strip altogether. Instead take I-15, which parallels the Strip, and get off at the exit nearest your hotel and park there. Frank Sinatra Drive (which dead ends into Industrial Road) lies just west of the Strip, runs behind the casinos, and provides another option. Koval Lane and Paradise Road provide similar access on the eastern side of the Strip. If you need to do an east or west traverse of the northern half of the Strip and I-15, consider using the Desert Inn Road superarterial, which was built specifically to provide a fast grade-separated route for east-west traffic.
Virtually no casinos on the Strip, or downtown, offer parking. The only exceptions are SLS, Treasure Island, Venetian, Wynn, Planet Hollywood and Casino Royale. The rest offer paid self-parking and many also offer valet parking for an additional charge. On Friday and Saturday nights, the self-parking lots fill up fast. Consider splurging on the valet to avoid cumbersome delays and endless circling around. As of 2018, people staying at MGM-owned hotels who pay for self-parking not only get in-and-out privileges in their own hotel’s lot, but they can also park for no additional charge at all other self-parking lots on MGM properties. This could be handy if, for example, you’re staying at New York, New York and its parking garage fills up due to an NHL game happening at the adjacent T-Mobile Arena; if you don’t mind the walk, you can park at MGM Grand’s massive garage down the street instead.
If you mostly plan to hang around one casino and your time in Vegas is short, you might want to forego a rental car altogether and just take taxis or the Strip buses. On the other hand, taxi fares and bus passes add up quickly, and with car rental so cheap, anyone staying a few days or longer would be better suited with the flexibility of a car. Some of the best sights (e.g., Hoover Dam) are located just outside of Las Vegas and require that you drive to those destinations. If you need to or might go farther (e.g., out of state), ensure your rental agreement allows it as well as sharing of driving duties.
The base rental price for a car at McCarran International Airport is quite competitive with other major cities. Unfortunately, agencies at the airport must levy very large fees (e.g., for airport improvements) and taxes on those base prices. These can increase the modest weekly cost of a compact or intermediate size car by nearly 60 percent.
In 2015 two new attraction sightseeing passes were released for purchase. Both offer admission to a number of different tourist attractions in and around the Las Vegas area. Remember to check carefully to make sure that the passes save money compared to normal admission fees at your desired attractions.
In addition to the -of-charge Fountains and Bellagio shows, the Strip itself counts as an attraction, especially at night with its spectacular lights and billboards. People-watching is one of the main sports, and along the way you’ll encounter people in costumes ranging from nearly topless showgirls to superheroes to, of course, Elvis (but expect to pay a fee if you want to have a photograph taken with most of them). The Strip is deceptively longer on foot than it may appear on a map, so be sure to stay well hydrated, take rests, and during hot days take advantage of any air-conditioned port in a storm. Women are advised not to wear high heeled shoes because of amount of walking involved.
Tower and spins you at a force of 3 Gs for a truly mind-bending experience. For the people who do not like rides but still want to do something at the top, there are shops and a great view. Tower Admission: $18.00 Adult, $10.00 Groups/Parties over 20; Rides: $15.00 each, $34.00 Tower Admission + All Day Unlimited Rides, $33.00 Tower Admission + 3 Rides, $28.00 Tower Admission + 2 Rides, $23.00 Tower Admission +1 ride, additional $10.00 Express Pass.
For savings, check online for deals and at kiosks along the Strip that offer discounted last-minute tickets.
World-Class Circus Acts @ Circus Circus, 2880 S Las Vegas Blvd, ☎ +1 702 734-0410. From 11am, every half-hour. Aerialists, jugglers, acrobats and trapeze artists take the stage at the world’s largest permanent circus daily.
I Lost My M in Vegas @ M&M World, 3785 S Las Vegas Blvd (in the Showcase Mall, next to the MGM Hotel & Casino). Daily. 3–D movie.
Cirque du Soleil shows
Las Vegas hosts 7 very popular Cirque du Soleil shows. To secure the best seats, reservations well in advance is recommended. In order of opening date, the shows are;
Reserve your tickets well in advance for the best available seating. The most popular shows are sold out on the weekends.
There are always different comedians coming to Las Vegas. Some comedians that have recently performed in Las Vegas include Robin Williams, Howie Mandel, and Carrot Top. Always a great way to get a laugh and end the night.
Topless female dancers
Topless male dancers
Opportunities to gamble are found in most places in the Las Vegas metro area, even at McCarran Airport and small supermarkets.
It is Federal law that all gamblers must be at least 21 years of age. Even if you are at least 21 years old, you are required to bring to the casino a valid ID that shows your current age or complete date of birth (e.g. driver’s license, passport) as proof of your age. Photocopies of valid IDs are usually not considered valid. In-house security makes rounds of inspections to check compliance. If you are under-age or without a valid ID to prove your age and found in the gambling premises, hotel staff will ask you to leave, and could ask the metro police to issue you a citation. Moreover, under-age gamblers cannot collect any jackpot; such bets are void and the casino will at best return your wager before asking you to leave the premises. There is a curfew for anyone under the age of 18 and metro police regularly transport violators to a juvenile center.
It is beneficial to understand the rules, strategies, and odds of each game before you arrive. The games with the lowest house advantage if you know how to play are craps (dice) with full odds and blackjack; however, tables where a 21-blackjack pays only 6:5 or even-money instead of the traditional 3:2 give the house a big advantage, and should be avoided. Games in which the casino has the best house advantage include slot machines, roulette, and some craps bets (hardways and propositions). If a game is unfamiliar to you, just ask the dealer for advice on how to play. If you are playing during the daytime at a table that is not crowded, most dealers will be happy to explain the game to you, and even slow down the dealing. Some other players at the same table may get irritated if you ask the dealer a question; ignore them.
To facilitate gambling in machine-based games, you can use a pre-paid card to make wagers and collect winnings. Obtain one of these from the counter, insert the card into the gambling machine you choose to play and the machine will deduct your wagers as well as add your winnings to it. You can go to another cash dispensing machine to redeem your winnings as well as reload the value.
Most casinos offer ATMs and over-the-counter cash facilities, but beware about the charges set by your bank and the machine operator or establishment. ATMs in casinos may charge exorbitant fees for withdrawals.
One reason to gamble, aside from the hope of winning money, is that by doing so, you could receive complimentary (“comp”) rooms, meals, and even airfare depending on your play. Most casinos issue “player cards.” It is generally to your advantage to show or insert your player card every time you play a table game or slot machine. At the end of your trip, you can ask the hotel if you are eligible for any comps, you might be pleasantly surprised. And if you arrive at the casino prepared to lay out $1,000 or more, don’t be bashful; ask the pit boss to be “rated” for comps before or while you begin playing. Separate from comps, many hotels offer discount packages for travelers who book a Sunday-Thursday night arrival. Most of these packages offer gambling coupons or a matching play — see the Sleep section for details.
Texas Hold’em, 7-card stud, and Omaha can be found at almost all Las Vegas poker rooms. However, not all casinos have a poker room, so call the casino or ask a gaming floor attendant. Casinos with non-smoking poker rooms include Wynn, Bellagio, The Palms, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Mirage.
During June and July, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is held in Las Vegas. If you are interested in poker, this is a must see and all top poker players are present. And if you are a skilled player, you can play the sidegames taking place during the WSOP.
In 2013, Nevada became the first state to legalize online poker in the US. According to regulators, anyone over 21 years of age who is physically inside the state may play for real money at one of Nevada’s Internet poker rooms. Ultimate Poker was the first site to launch, but shut down operations in late 2014 after revenue fell well short of expectations. The Caesars-owned WSOP.com was the second site to open and currently competes with Real Gaming, the only other online poker site available, for a piece of the state’s iGaming pie.
Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world. To get married, first go to the County Clerk’s Office and apply for a marriage license. Both parties must have valid ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. The cost is $60 per couple. The Las Vegas Wedding Bureau is open from 9AM-midnight seven days a week, including holidays. No blood test or waiting period is required. The marriage license itself is valid for one year. The minimum age to marry is 18; a 16 or 17 year old may marry if one parent is present or has given notarized permission.
Once you have a marriage license, the wedding ceremony can be performed by any priest, minister, rabbi or Justice of the Peace authorized to perform weddings with in the Las Vegas area. Numerous wedding chapels are located around the Wedding Bureau and on the Strip. You can choose an elaborate theme wedding, such as an Elvis impersonator as officiant, or a simple ceremony and reception celebration.
Most major hotels and Vegas wedding chapels offer wedding packages for those who wish to plan a larger wedding ceremony. But don’t let a lack of planning stop your nuptials; all Vegas wedding chapels can perform immediate weddings with no prior appointment, although it is recommended to make a reservation for your wedding. If you make a reservation most chapels will provide courtesy limousine transportation from your hotel to the chapel and back. Making a reservation also decreases the likelihood of having to wait.
Finally, you can check with the Las Vegas Better Business Bureau before making any arrangements with any wedding chapel or service provider. You may check the local BBB reports online .
Las Vegas is a great place for tennis fans. Not only do many of the hotels offer excellent courts but public courts abound as well. Vegas is also home to many amateur tournaments, UNLV tournaments.
Given the very high temperatures during the summer it maybe a surprise that ice skating is popular, but at inside rinks!
Catering to a large contingent of tourists from China, and delighting everyone else as well, many Vegas casino resorts stage elaborate celebrations of the Chinese New Year, each year from January to March.
Traditional lion and dragon dances take place in hotel lobbies and even march through the casino floor. Live music performances abound, and many restaurants prepare specialty menus for the holiday. Look especially to Monte Carlo’s Dragon Noodle Co. & Sushi Bar, Fleur by Hubert Keller at Mandalay Bay, Rice & Company at Luxor, China Poblano by Jose Andres at The Cosmopolitan, Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesars Palace, Mozen Bistro at Mandarin Oriental, and Wing Lei at the Wynn.
Downtown, Chinese New Year in the Desert hosts a series of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultural celebrations throughout five blocks of Fremont Street.
The combined state and local sales tax in all of Clark County (meaning the entire Las Vegas metro area) is 8.15%. Only groceries and prescription drugs are exempt.
Like most U.S. states, Nevada has not implemented a tax refund mechanism for international travelers. The only retailers that can sell tax-free items to international travelers are the duty free shops at McCarran International Airport.
Most hotel/casino resort complexes in Las Vegas have a gift shop open 24/7 that offers basic traveler supplies and sundries. Hotel gift shops are outrageously expensive and should be avoided except for emergencies.
If you are planning to not rent a car and to simply go up and down the Strip on foot or bus, the pharmacies are your best bet for basic supplies. They are all open 24/7 and accustomed to dealing with tourists from all over the world.
Like most U.S. pharmacies, they carry a very large variety of products besides pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements, including snacks, soft drinks, beer, wine, bottled water, cosmetics, toiletries, hats, sunscreen, maps, postcards, and so on. CVS/pharmacy has two branches on the Strip, one located on South Strip between CityCenter and Monte Carlo, and the other located on North Strip between Circus Circus and Sahara Avenue. Walgreens has one branch on Central Strip at Palazzo and another on South Strip in front of Planet Hollywood. One sign of their popularity is that they routinely rank among the top three locations by annual sales for their respective chains.
There are also multiple 7-Eleven convenience stores open 24/7 throughout the Strip, as well as several am/pm convenience stores. However, convenience stores tend to have higher prices than the pharmacies and their product selection is not as broad.
Another option is ABC Stores, Hawaii’s leading discount convenience store chain, which was specifically founded to target tourists fed up with getting ripped off by gift shops at Honolulu hotels. ABC Stores eventually realized that the Las Vegas Strip had the same problem and now has eight stores covering the length of the Strip, as well as one on Fremont Street downtown. ABC Stores are larger than 7-Eleven and am/pm stores, to compete against the nearby pharmacies (which because of their popularity are also much larger than the average U.S. pharmacy).
Importantly, there are no major supermarkets on the Las Vegas Strip near the resorts. The closest one that sits on Las Vegas Boulevard is the Whole Foods Market at Town Square (see below). Other than that, one has to travel as far west as Valley View Boulevard or as far east as Maryland Parkway to find supermarkets such as Vons, Albertsons, Food4Less, and Smith’s. You can also have groceries delivered directly to your resort with a grocery delivery service such as Quick n Easy Couriers.
There are a handful of shopping malls that are not affiliated with casinos:
Many of the larger casinos include high-end shopping areas with designer stores, including:
Las Vegas is a hub for factory outlet malls.
The two largest and most prestigious are the Las Vegas Premium Outlets centers. Both are owned by the Premium Outlets chain, which is part of Simon Property Group. The southern one was originally independently developed by another company as Las Vegas Outlet Center and is still described by that name in older travel guidebooks. Both share many of the same tenants. The northern one features a few designer brands not found in its southern sibling, like Armani Exchange, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Elie Tahari, Kate Spade, Salvatore Ferragamo, St. John, Tory Burch, and Tumi, while the southern one features a Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th store.
Large casinos will invariably offer a variety of dining options, ranging from the omni-present buffet to simple cafes to gourmet restaurants.
Buffets are extremely popular in Las Vegas and the city has a plethora of them. They are popular with locals and tourists alike. The best buffets typically run about $30 a person for a weekend dinner. Lunch is a better value at most buffets as it is typically half-price but serves some of the same types of food that can be found at dinner hours. Breakfast is the least expensive and often has a good spread too. Don’t forget that tipping your buffet waiter 10-15% is customary. You can leave cash on the table at the end of your meal or tip the cashier at the counter on a credit card.
Heart Attack Grill, 450 Fremont St. Mon-Sat 11 am – 2 am. The Heart Attack Grill is an American hamburger restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada (formerly Chandler, Arizona). It has courted controversy by serving high-calorie menu items with deliberately provocative names; main menu items are mostly named after heart related health problems. The establishment is a hospital theme restaurant: waitresses (“nurses”) take orders (“prescriptions”) from the customers (“patients”). A tag is wrapped on the patient’s wrist showing which foods they order and a “doctor” examines the “patients” with a stethoscope. The menu includes “Single”, “Double”, “Triple”, and “Quadruple Bypass” hamburgers, ranging from 8 to 32 ounces (230 to 910 g) of beef (up to about 8,000 calories), all-you-can-eat “Flatliner Fries” (cooked in pure lard), beer and tequila, and soft drinks such as “Jolt” and Mexican-bottled Coca-Cola made with real sugar. Customers over 350 lb (160 kg) in weight eat for free if they weigh in with a doctor or nurse before each burger. Beverages and to-go orders are excluded and sharing food is also not allowed for the free food deal. There are no “healthy” low-fat options, vegetarian items, or substitutions on their menu. You should not eat here if you know you have certain medical conditions or dietary restrictions. Two of their “unofficial spokespersons” have since died of heart related complications. For reasons that are too evident, they accept cash only. All this being said, if you’re still adventurous, eat here at your own risk.
On the Strip
Off the Strip
Luv-It Frozen Custard: Hidden some two blocks north of the Stratosphere Tower and just east of South L.V. Blvd on the north side of Oakey. This family operation offers excellent frozen custards with outstanding toppings. Their blue building with white pillars and trim shares a parking lot with a convenience store.
In Las Vegas, free drinks are offered to all gamblers whether playing table games or slots of any denomination. You should tip the waitress at least $1 per drink. Failure to do so will most likely result in the waitress visiting you less often, and visiting those more often who do tip.
Although it is offically NOT allowed per the lawbooks, drinking on public sidewalks and other areas on the Strip and Downtown is rarely if ever enforced. Thus it is entirely common to consume alcohol in public areas, including the public sidewalks within the Las Vegas city limits which includes all of Downtown, The Strip and close-by areas. Again, as previously mentioned, over-intoxication and disorderly conduct is frowned upon, so stay within your own limits. On special occasions (New Years Eve and Independence Day for example) there may be bans on glass bottles and/or aluminum cans for the Strip and the Downtown area. Plastic cups and sports bottles are allowed at these times and either provided at purchase or often available at hotel/casino exit doors. When inside a casino or hotel there is seldom any restrictions on carrying drinks from one bar, restaurant or playing location to another with the exception of some showrooms and theaters where it will be clearly posted. Individual shops may also have rules about carrying in food and drink of any kind.
The cities of North Las Vegas, Henderson and other outlying areas have very DIFFERENT regulations forbidding removal of alcohol from bars, etc. so check with your host or doorman if in doubt. Many bars and liquor stores are open 24 hours a day. There are also special posted laws for convenience stores, grocery stores and other retail liquor outlets restricting consumption in the immediate vacinity. Most of all, always remember to drink responsibly and realize that the hot, dry desert air in the summer months can have very adverse health affects on people consuming alcohol such as rapid dehydration and deadly heat stroke, even after dark. Drink plenty of water as well!
A good way to find out what places are currently hot in Vegas is to ask service staff who look like party-people. People working inside hotels are bound to recommend the hotel’s institutions, so rather go for waiters or shop-assistants in restaurants or malls outside the hotels.
The top clubs will charge entry of $15 or more. Exceptions may include those who have reserved a table, those who get there early, ladies, and locals. Expect to wait in a line for 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the night. It is usually best to arrive before 10PM; while the club may be emptier, the line will be shorter and you may avoid paying a cover charge. Sitting at a table often requires a bottle purchase and if you stop making purchases, they will ask you to vacate the table so that someone else can occupy the table. The dress code varies by club. The general rule of thumb is most of the time women know what to wear when they are going out, and men should avoid wearing tennis shoes, tank tops, hats, t-shirts, and blue jeans.
An Ultra Pool is a mix of a pool, and club all in one.
An ultra lounge is a mix between lounge and a night club, but the difference to “real” night clubs is tiny and vanishes completely, when the DJ pulls out hard-core dance hits.
Las Vegas is a peculiar destination – and hotels in Las Vegas have a lot of peculiarities that you won’t find in other cities.
The majority of visitors to Las Vegas arrive from throughout the western half of North America on Friday or Saturday, stay for the weekend, then leave on Sunday or Monday (because they have to get back to work or school). As such, room rates can more reasonable from Sunday to Thursday but zoom upwards on weekends. Travelers with flexible schedules can plan around this to their advantage. By staying, say, Sunday through to Thursday, one can not only save a bundle on hotel rates, but also take advantage of package deals that may include a show, meals, and gambling coupons, which may be occasionally worth more than the cost of the hotel room itself.
A bad surprise at check-in are the notorious so-called “resort fees”, which are increasingly common throughout North America, but are especially bad in Las Vegas. Many upscale hotels in Las Vegas collect this fee on top of the actual room charge (typically between $10 to $40 per night) when you check in. You won’t get around paying it, even if you claim that your hotel booking website had indicated the total pricing as final. The resort fee is apparently an attempt of introducing low-cost airline pricing to hotels: splitting up the price into an attractively cheap basic rate, and charging the customer for almost everything separately. Thus, in Las Vegas, the resort fee typically “covers” the usage of the swimming pool, the fitness center, and perhaps additional amenities like a daily newspaper. Some hotels do not collect resort fees. It may be worth it to ask the front desk to remove this fee; especially if you had a bad experience with your stay. Keep your expectations low, and be polite and reasonable.
Be aware that in certain Las Vegas hotels, even the resort fee does not always cover hotel amenities that are included for free in hotels in the rest of the world. These charges may be quite expensive. Some hotels charge for use of the fitness center with rates around $20 to $40 per visit; some charge as much as $12 per day for wireless internet. Las Vegas hotels, like the vast majority of U.S. hotels, treat in-room telephone calls (local and long distance) as a profit center and tack on exorbitant phone fees to the room bill, such as $13 for the first minute. Therefore, it is usually better to use your own cell phone or mobile router.
Due to the flamboyant and lively atmosphere of most casino hotels, be aware that you may not get a good night’s sleep, especially on weekends or during busy tourist seasons. Drunken parties and associated recklessness are frequent occurrences in most of the motels and hotels on The Strip. Most hotels will send security personnel up to dispel loud parties or to warn drunk patrons to keep the noise down if you call the front desk, but their effectiveness may vary.
Certain Vegas hotels are now trying to bring a “nightclub party” atmosphere to their pools in the daytime. If your room faces the pool and the pool has a DJ in the afternoon, don’t count on being able to sleep off jet lag in your room during that period.
In Las Vegas parlance, the words “hotel” and “casino” are interchangeable. There is a big difference between casino hotels and mainstream hotels without gambling. Casino hotels tend to be large (often with a long walk from the parking to your room and often via the gambling floor). The size of casino hotels means that they often have a wider range of services (restaurants, bars, shops, coffee shops, etc.) and many facilities have long opening hours or are open 24 hours.
Some hotels employ people to accost you each and every time you pass through the lobby with enticements to listen to timeshare offers. These people can be aggressive in their sales tactics and quickly drift into rude if you try and tell them they are bothering you. A further reminder that now more than ever, the visitor to Las Vegas is nothing more than a mark to have every last dollar wrung out of, and that is before you hit a casino.
Many modest hotels, well-away from the Strip and downtown, cater to “locals”; many offer lower rates and (often) better games. Many are full resort hotels. Among them are:
Aliante Casino + Hotel, 7300 Aliante Parkway, ☎ +1 702 692-7777,. (Formerly Aliante Station) A casino-resort hotel on the northern side of the Las Vegas valley, about a 30-minute drive from the Strip.
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