Las Vegas, Nevada Travel Guide
Las Vegas Summary
- The country's best casinos
- No need to drive: cabs, buses, and limos are abundant, and monorail runs along Strip
- Huge hotels with fun, sprawling pools, top-notch spas, and other amenities
- Free entertainment at Treasure Island, the Mirage, the Bellagio, and Fremont Street
- Blockbuster shows, from Cirque du Soleil to Blue Man Group to The Lion King
- Lots of luxury for the dollar, with especially great rates during the week
- Affordable non-gaming all-suites hotels off the Strip
- Foodies paradise, thanks to world-class restaurants led by celebrity chefs
- Great deals at all-day casino buffets, led by the Bellagio
- Plenty of kid-friendly hotels and PG-rated fun, such as Mandalay Bay's shark tanks, New York New York's roller coaster and the Sponge Bob ride at Excalibur.
- 24-hour party scene
- No open container laws
- Strip hotels are close (10 minutes) to the airport
- Dry, warm-to-hot weather most of the year (but winters can get chilly)
- All the action can get overwhelming
- Congestion on Strip sidewalks and streets, slow cab rides
- Often dark, quiet, non-pedestrian-friendly streets away from Strip
- Finding budget food options can be tough
- The house always wins
- Steep ATM fees ($5 per transaction is common)
- Blistering summers; average highs in the 100's (Fahrenheit) during July and August
- Prominent, family un-friendly signage for stripclubs like Glitter Gulch, and escort services advertised on moving billboards
- Downtown: Known as "Glitter Gulch" or "Old Vegas"; quieter and generally less expensive than hotels on the Strip; casinos tend to have low minimum tables.
- Off the Strip: Hotels that offer a quieter night's sleep and, sometimes, more bang for the buck
- The Strip: The 3.5-mile-long stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard packed with more than 20 of the world's largest casino-resorts and nearly 70,000 hotel rooms
- Henderson: Suburban sprawl, great golf, gorgeous hotels, and Lake Las Vegas
- Summerlin: Luxurious pampering meets outdoors adventure at Red Rock Canyon
What It's Like
Most visitors to Las Vegas head to the Strip, the 3 ½-mile-long stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard packed with more than 20 of the world's largest casino-resorts and nearly 70,000 hotel rooms. The casinos all compete to get visitors through the doors with grand, over-the-top gestures -- from the Mirage's erupting volcano to the Belaggio's dancing fountains -- resulting in one of the world's greatest displays of pomp and glitz. Mega-resorts also use top performers, celebrity chefs, and scantily-clad cocktail waitresses to lure customers inside. Last but not least is the promise of winning big (but remember, the odds always favor the house).
In contrast, Downtown Vegas is decidedly quieter and less dazzling, with budget rooms, cheap eats, and low-minimum tables the main draws. Still, the streets have a kitschy, Old Vegas charm, and the Fremont Street Experience, a nightly music and light show, is not to be missed.
Where to Stay
Hotel rooms operate as loss leaders for the casinos in Las Vegas, so you can book luxurious and spacious accomodations at a fraction of the price you'd pay in other major cities. On the Strip, the newly opened Encore is the best bet for luxury -- its giant rooms one-up even those of the Wynn, its sister hotel next door. For the best value on the Strip, we recommend The Trump, a five-pearl hotel with large modern rooms for less than $100 a night. Families will find plenty to appreciate at Excalibur, another great budget option with a SpongeBob SquarePants movie and ride.
Visitors who don't mind staying Off the Strip -- away from the hustle and bustle -- can find larger rooms, free amenities like gyms and in-room Wi-Fi, and a mellower vibe. The 255-suite The Platinum Hotel and Spa has luxurious oversized apartments, a relaxing pool with a view, a modern gym and a stylish lounge.
In Downtown Las Vegas, when tends to draw an older crowd to its low-minimum casinos, your best bet is the Golden Nugget, which has clean, well-appointed rooms and a top-notch pool (complete with a shark tank).
Far from the action, the Las Vegas suburbs offer beautifully subdued casino-hotels and resorts, and even more beautiful scenery in the form of Lake Las Vegas (in Henderson) and Red Rock Canyon (in Summerlin).
Las Vegas Hotel Guides
We compiled lists of the best luxury hotels, best value hotels, best kid-friendly hotels, best business hotels, best party hotels, and the most amazing hotel rooms. Don't have time to read all that? Not to fear. We selected one hotel from each list that bests its competitors (if only slightly).
In a place where over-the-top glitz is the norm, a luxury hotel in Vegas truly has to step it up a notch -- from staff members who greet you by name at The Signature at MGM Grand to the Michelin three-starred restaurants with world-renowned chefs at both the Wynn and Bellagio.
We compiled this list knowing that everyone has their own idea of the perfect bachelor party. For some bachelors, the ideal party means golfing a championship course, while for others it means a relaxing afternoon by the pool, and for others still it means buying women drinks in the hopes that they'll take off their bikini tops. Not to worry -- Las Vegas has something for every vice.
Las Vegas is home to the stars -- Michelin stars, that is. Once a land of steak-and-egg buffets, Las Vegas has evolved into a foodies' paradise, with an ever-expanding roster of celebrity chefs and 17 restaurants earning coveted Michelin stars in 2009.
We've watched the swimsuit competitions by day and partied hardy by night (poor us). This is the list of hotels that we've deemed best for dancing, drinking, and general debauchery.
Many gay-friendly hotels reach out to the LGBT community with special services or events, same-sex commitment ceremonies in their chapels, and even travel packages. These seven, all members of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association or the Travel Alternatives Group, stand out.
The flashing lights, jiggling tassels, rolling dice, and 24-hour wedding chapels of Sin City have driven the plotlines of countless movies, and a notable hotel-casino is always somewhere in the background.