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Las Vegas Travel Guide

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Welcome to our Las Vegas travel guide. Here you’ll find key details about the city, including best times to visit, how to get around, and key things to know about the culture.

An aerial view of the Las Vegas Strip in the daytime
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Key Details

Province/State: Nevada

Country: United States

Population: 656,274

Time Zone: Pacific Daylight Time

Languages Spoken: English

Currency Used: US Dollar

About Las Vegas

A First Timer’s Guide to Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Sin City, the Entertainment Capital of the World, or whatever moniker you associate with this city — it’s surely one in a million. So are your odds of winning a fortune on The Strip. Located in the Mojave Desert, Vegas is a literal vacation hotspot for folks wanting to get away from it all or find it all with everything in between.

That said, there isn’t just one way to enjoy a trip to Las Vegas. You can gamble away your fortune on a casino floor, meander the arts district, or soak up all the live entertainment. Some folks will do all three or something else altogether. A trip to Vegas is what you make of it.

Best Time to Visit

March to May/September to November: Las Vegas’s peak tourist season is, understandably, during the months when the weather is less oppressive. Highs fluctuate from the low 70s to the 80s. These months are the most popular and expensive to visit the city. Still, it is also prime time for vacations for those who work in industries with inflexible breaks, like teachers.

December to February: With highs in the upper 50s or low 60s, wintertime is a terrific opportunity to experience Las Vegas without blistering desert heat. These months are the shoulder season, so you’ll get cheaper rates and also experience far fewer crowds. It is a noticeable difference, particularly when walking down Las Vegas Boulevard.

June to August: The dead of summer is the absolute cheapest time to visit Las Vegas. Why? Because highs are usually in the 100s. You will feel the surrounding desert landscape if you visit in the summer. Should you opt to do this, take advantage of the indoor walkways connecting some hotels like Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur to avoid the heat.

About the Area

Las Vegas travel usually brings folks downtown rather than into the other city neighborhoods. Yet city dwellers know that a place’s downtown is far from the only example of how people live there. If you get a chance to venture into other parts of Las Vegas or even beyond to see the Grand Canyon, consider a few of these first.

In Las Vegas, though, a lot of the “neighborhoods” are their own towns or are technically part of Henderson.

  • Summerlin: As the largest planned community in Las Vegas, Summerlin is a neighborhood with a lot to do — especially if you’re outdoorsy. There are over 250 parks and over 150 miles of trails to enjoy, as well as shopping and hotels. It is also considered one of the best master-planned communities in the country.
  • Spring Valley: This adorable unincorporated town is only a few miles from The Strip. It is also where you will find Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas, one of the few in the area. WnW is also formerly known as Cowabunga Canyon Waterpark.
  • Centennial Hills: Northwest Las Vegas is known as Centennial Hills. It is only a few miles away from downtown Las Vegas, with easy access to incredible natural wonders. From here, you can visit the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Boulder City is also worth a visit. It isn’t part of Las Vegas proper; it is its own city about an hour southeast of Vegas. BC is one of only two places in Nevada that disallow gambling. This little city embraces a notion of small-town vibes with small-city amenities. Both Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are nearby, too, giving plenty to do on a day trip.

How to Get There

So, you’re ready to hit the glittering streets of Sin City? Getting to Las Vegas is a breeze whether you prefer to fly or drive. Trust me, I’ve made the pilgrimage to this neon oasis more times than I can count!

If you’re looking for speed and convenience, hopping on a plane is your best bet. McCarran International Airport is just a stone’s throw from the Strip, with tons of flights arriving from all over the country. I always feel excited when I spot those iconic casinos in the air. Once you land, you can snag a taxi or rideshare and quickly be at the blackjack table.

For those who prefer a more scenic route, driving to Vegas is an unforgettable road trip. The journey through the desert is like something out of a movie – vast stretches of sand, quirky roadside attractions, and, of course, that first glimpse of the city rising from the horizon like a mirage. Just make sure your AC is in top form – that desert heat is no joke!

No matter how you arrive, one thing’s for sure – Las Vegas will welcome you with open arms and promise unforgettable adventures. Viva Las Vegas, baby!

How to Get Around

Before we dive in to transportation around Las Vegas, we do want to warn you about a common taxi scam. It isn’t unique to Las Vegas, though it is a noted problem in the city. There are some taxi drivers in the city who will engage in a scam known as long-hauling.

Long-hauling is when a driver intentionally takes a bad route to your destination. Whether it’s heavily trafficked or just a longer route, by going that way, you will have to pay them more than you would if they drove a direct way.

One way to avoid being ripped off by a driver is to load up the quickest route on your phone. If they greatly deviate from what’s being recommended, you can ask politely to take the more direct route. Your maps app should also be able to indicate if an accident or big backup is causing the driver to reroute.

While many folks will walk The Strip, first-timers may not realize that it is a four-mile stretch. Sure, Las Vegas is fairly walkable, but you’ll run yourself ragged if you hit the ground walking too much.

  • Bus: A double-decker bus, known as the Deuce, is a sight you’ve probably seen in a few too many Las Vegas-based films. It runs 24/7 from one end of The Strip to the other and can also take you to the Fremont Street Experience. Consider a multi-day pass to save money.
  • Monorail: Not quite an all-day, everyday option, the Las Vegas Monorail is a zippy way to jump down Las Vegas Blvd. There are seven stops on the Monorail route, starting at the MGM Grand and ending at the Sahara Las Vegas. It arrives at each stop every few minutes and runs until midnight, 2 am, or 3 am, depending on the day.
  • Cabs: Depending on what city you visit, cabs are sometimes less affordable than rideshares. That’s true of Las Vegas, with one big exception: surge pricing. Cabs will likely be cheaper than rideshare alternatives if you’re visiting during a holiday or major event.
  • Rideshare: Lyft and Uber generally cost about the same in Las Vegas. However, it’s always worth checking both before you request a ride—a handful of local transportation companies, like Vegas Limousine Service.

Cultural Heritage

Long before the flashes of neon up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, Vegas was founded in 1905 as a railroad town. Its name, “Las Vegas,” translates to “the meadows” in Spanish. As a desert-bound place, it was like an oasis for travelers. A popular stop-off in Nevada, particularly for folks heading to California, Vegas quickly became a happening place.

By 1941, the first casino hotel opened. El Rancho Vegas was the city’s first themed hotel, though others like the Flamingo and Thunderbird quickly followed it. By the end of the 1940s, Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas was nicknamed Glitter Gulch because of its opulent neon signs.

After World War II and the rise of the American household discretionary income, Vegas boomed. Beloved performers like Liberace and Frank Sinatra made themselves comfortable in the city, which invited a boon of musicians and performers who helped garner Las Vegas’ reputation for entertainment.

In time, major hotels bloomed here, largely along Las Vegas Boulevard rather than Fremont Street. Spots like the Wynn Las Vegas, the Venetian Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, and Caesars Palace have iconic visages. These big hotels and nine Michelin-starred restaurants give credence to the city’s reputation for everything glam.

Customs & Etiquette

Card Slappers

These guys stand around on the sidewalks, usually along Las Vegas Blvd, with a handful of cards. To get your attention, they will slap the cards together and then try to put one in your hand. Cards will usually have women on them advertising adult entertainment (prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas).

Folks who actually call the numbers on the cards have reported being robbed or drugged. You should also know that some of the card slappers have no discretion. As a very obvious and kiddish-looking 13-year-old, more than one tried to put one of the cards in my hand.

Scams

Unsurprisingly, there are many common scams that run rampant in Las Vegas. There are too many for us to list, though we can give you an idea of some of the more common ones to look out for.

  • VIP Club Passes: You might encounter men trying to give out “VIP” passes on the street. They’re not legit. Don’t pay for a street “promoter” VIP pass, which is worthless and will cost you more in the long run.
  • Las Vegas Sign Photographers: There is no such thing as an official photographer at the Las Vegas Sign. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. If you want to tip a stranger touting their photog status, you can—but you absolutely don’t have to use them.

Showgirls and Elvis Impersonators

Just like in Times Square in New York City, if you want a photo of or with a street performer, it’s going to cost you. Don’t think the chummy Elvis Impersonator will want to bother talking to you if you aren’t going to tip him generously.

If you do happen to get a photo with a showgirl or other performer and don’t intend to tip them, they might make a scene about it. The scene might happen even if you do tip them, but they determine it isn’t enough. Buskers are known for expecting at least $20.

Substance issues

For all of its glitz, Las Vegas still has a dark side. Likely in part because of its notoriety for party culture, alcoholism, and drug abuse are both rampant in Las Vegas. Fentanyl, in particular, has been a problem in the city, leading to a lot of deaths in the last few years. Las Vegas isn’t alone in this; of course, a lot of major cities are struggling with fentanyl.

Homelessness

Homelessness has been on the rise in cities all over the country. Las Vegas, too, has issues with housing. In the city, homelessness has been on the rise for the last several years. Rising rent costs have forced a lot of people out of their homes. If you encounter unhoused folks or panhandlers, treat them with respect and dignity.

Watch our comprehensive travel guide to Las Vegas

Our Hotel Reviews in Las Vegas

Regional Guides

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