From the bright lights to the all night debauchery, Las Vegas has a reputation that far precedes itself. Excess is everywhere you look along the world famous neon strip, and party lovers will never be short of excitement. Contrary to popular opinion, though, you don’t need to gamble away your savings to enjoy the City of Sin. In fact, on my first trip, I was still a few years off the big 21, and there was still plenty to amaze me. With new spectacles around every corner, it really is a destination not to be missed.
Best Time to Visit Las Vegas
The city of Las Vegas is surrounded by desert so it can get pretty warm in the summer. The high season between June and August brings uncomfortable temperatures and crowded resorts. Whilst this may be popular for some, the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November offer a more reasonable climate as well as the ability to find great deals as the hotels start to wind down.
For a short trip, the cheapest time to stay is between Sunday and Thursday, although if you’re there for the nightlife, it’ll definitely be worth it to splash the extra cash to go over a weekend. Although bars and clubs run every night of the week, all the biggest events will happen on weekends, and you can’t beat the buzz of a Saturday night in Vegas!
Top Things to Do in Las Vegas
Although it isn’t for me, I couldn’t write a Las Vegas guide without mentioning gambling. Walk into any of the big hotels on the strip, and you’ll easily find more slot machines and blackjack tables than you know what to do with. This great guide is full of hints and tips if you want to take the plunge, but there is plenty to do away from the casino floors.
There are plenty of free activities lining the strip. The Bellagio Fountains begin their dance several times an hour whilst the Mirage Volcano spews fire several times an evening. Just wandering around the hotels is an experience in itself. Travel the world in a matter of hours, taking in landmarks from Venice, Paris and New York all within walking distance. Use this great list of all the brilliant free activities Las Vegas has to offer to create your own itinerary or you’ll be sure to find something great just by heading outside.
Never missing out on a way to make money, many hotels also offer paid activities. From roller coasters and arcades at New York New York to swimming with dolphins at the Mirage (yes really), you’re never short of one in a lifetime experiences. If you’re a daredevil, try the Voodoo zipline or hurl yourself off the Stratosphere Tower and fall from over 800 feet above the strip.
If you want to move away from the main strip area, catch a bus or cab to Fremont Street, the original centre of mayhem in Vegas. The area is still home to many original, classic casinos as well as a 24-hour mall, covered by a canopy made entirely of LED lights. Here is a good rundown of the best things Fremont Street has to offer, including the opportunity to have your photo taken with 1 million dollars if you happen to be into that.
Sin City is no stranger to evening entertainment and it is easily one of the best places in the world to take in a show. Various Cirque Du Soleil productions are the main headliners at many casinos and are definitely worth the hefty price tag, however, a lot of smaller productions have spread throughout the area. Burlesque is also popular, as well as residencies by famous musicians such as Britney Spears and Celine Dion.
For some culture, and I say culture in the loosest term, there are some great museums around, showcasing the history of the city. The Mob Museum is an interactive museum telling the story of The Mob and it’s role in creating Vegas, whilst the Neon Museum and Boneyard contains hundreds of old and unused neon signs from casinos been and gone. A little further afield, you’ll find the incredible Hoover Dam which is open for the public to tour.
Also within driving distance of Vegas is the Grand Canyon. The astonishing National Park is well worth a visit and is a welcome break from the man-made feel of the city. Splash out a helicopter tour for a truly amazing experience, or hike around the rim for breathtaking views. Red Rock Canyon is also reachable if you can’t get enough of outdoor adventure!
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
The hotels on The Strip are world famous and are the obvious choice for accommodation, and there is one for every budget. Although they are often a little cheaper, I would suggest avoiding the hotels at either end of the strip and opt for something a little more central. While everything looks close on TV, the strip is around 4 miles long, and you don’t want to be walking to the other end of that every day. The Harrah, Treasure Island and Flamingo are some of more purse-friendly options while still offering that Vegas luxury feel. There is a Travelodge on the strip, but the price difference is so insignificant that it really isn’t worth it. On the other end of the scale is The Bellagio, The Wynn and The Venetian which offer some of the most beautiful decor (and swimming pools) in the whole city. While they come with a hefty price tag, rooms come with two queen beds as standard, so it becomes a lot more affordable if you’re travelling in a group who don’t mind sharing!
In reality, the best attractions in all of the hotels are open to the public, and you won’t be spending too much time in your room so it might be worth saving a few pennies by staying just off the strip. High-quality hotels are popping up the surrounding streets, offering some more budget friendly options whilst only being minutes from the action. The Hard Rock Hotel is a personal favourite but here is a complete list of the best.
Most of the classic casinos in Fremont Street still run as hotels and offer a great option for those wanting to stay away from the main strip as well as independent hotels in the downtown area.
Find and book these hotels on our favourite accommodation search website: Booking.com
Another great alternative for accommodation in Las Vegas is Airbnb, where private rooms start at $30 and offer a unique way to experience the city from a more local perspective.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a discount to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Where to Eat and Drink in Las Vegas
Great food can be found in abundance on the Vegas strip, with each hotel offering a variety of eateries spanning cuisines from all over the world. Check out this list for the best in fine dining whilst good quality food can be found on the cheaper end of the spectrum from popular favourites such as ShakeShack and Grimaldi’s.
Buffets are synonymous with the Vegas lifestyle with most hotels offering a huge selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These can be expensive, but the quantity, quality and choice of food really make it worth it. The Harrah’s dinner buffet is the best value and includes unlimited seafood, whilst the breakfast at The Bellagio is the best way to start your day. To help you decide, take a look at this Vegas buffet leaderboard.
For more of a local feel to your food, Vegas plays home to some incredible food trucks, providing cheap and authentic meals from around the world. Use this list to track down the best.
Drinking is not something that is done by halves here and unfortunately, it isn’t done cheaply either. Pools parties are a big deal and both some of the world’s biggest DJs whilst helping you cool off in the desert sun. Thrillist gives a run down of the best but be sure to pack your sun cream, or things could get nasty.
The hotels also have a range of clubs of varying exclusivity. Girls are in luck as usually entry is cheaper for the fairer sex, although drinks prices inside are still not very pretty. Make sure you dress up smart before you head to some of the best, which can be found here.
If you’d rather leave a club in favour of a quieter setting, Sin City doesn’t lack its fair share of bars and lounges. The Downtown Cocktail Bar is great for an intimate drink in a luxury setting, while the Mermaid Bar reminds you that you can’t escape the “Vegasness” for long with live mermaid shows on the hour all evening. Because who needs reality when you’re in Las Vegas? Time Out give some great drinking recommendation, which can be found here.
How Much Time Do You Need in Las Vegas
If you’re heading to Las Vegas to party, then your craving could easily be satisfied in a weekend. If you want something a little more substantial to fill your time then Vegas and the surround areas could easily occupy you for up to a week.
Here are some great itineraries to give you some inspiration for planning your trip:
- Vegas Weekend on a Budget by Thrillist
- 3 Days in Vegas for First Timers by Smart Destinations
- Beginner and Experiences Itineraries by The Telegraph
Author’s Bio: Katie is a 21-year-old sarcastic writer from the UK (but living in Auckland) who is pretty into the whole travelling thing. Fuelled by turkey dinosaurs and limited cash, follow her as she embarks on her travels as she leaves the real world behind in favour of adventure, mystery and mayhem across the globe! You can connect with her by following her blog Real World Runaway.
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