Las Vegas, especially the Strip, is a hard to explain. It’s like Disneyland for adults. Flashing lights, gourmet food, decadence in abundance…some people can handle it and some simply can not.
Walking the Strip you’ll be among the most diverse groups you can imagine—bachelor parties of fratty-dressed guys, buskers dressed as superheroes, women with barely any clothes, friends drinking gigantic frozen margaritas, families dressed in matching outfits, visitors from every corner of the world, and parents with babies out at 1 a.m. But the first rule of Vegas: No judgment!
Greet new people with a smile, maybe a quick “Vegas, baby!” and continue on your way. Most people are here to escape reality, at least for the weekend. And who can argue with that.
If you’re a Vegas rookie or just haven’t visited in awhile, I’ve compiled a few tips and observations that will make your trip to the Entertainment Capital of the World a smashing success!
#1: Come With An Open Mind
Vegas is a magical oasis in the desert! In the spirit of no judgement, have an open mind when visiting. You’ll encounter people from all walks of life, from all over the world. This makes the Strip one of the BEST places for people watching. Keep your opinions to yourself. Don’t ruin someone else’s weekend just because their lifestyle is different than your’s or your beliefs. And don’t do anything that you’ll regret, like getting an impulse tattoo or losing your shirt at a casino.
#2: Gaming Machines (Pokies) Are Everywhere
The machines are everywhere, right from the start. As soon as you step off the plane, you’ll find yourself facing the bright, flashing lights of the colorful pokies.
#3: So Are Buskers
Just like pokies, street buskers are everywhere and if you stop to take a photo with them, you are expected to pay for it.
#4: The Strip Is Longer Than It Looks
The Strip may look walkable because the resorts are packed tightly and appear closer than they actually are, but expecting to easily walk to the other end for dinner is unreasonable, especially in high heels. The Strip is actually 4 miles long! Getting between the casinos on the Strip is best done by the bus, taxi, ride-share, or the Las Vegas Monorail.
If you do plan on walking the Strip, especially during the day, bring lots of water and wear comfortable shoes.
#5: Cut Through Casinos To Avoid The Heat
Particularly during the summer months where temperatures can reach more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, take advantage of air-conditioned connecting casino routes and avoid arriving at your destination drenched in sweat.
Because the casinos are always blasting A/C, #5.5 Bringing A Light Jacket or cardigan with you is always a great idea! It may seem silly to have outside, but once you’ve spent a couple hours inside you’ll appreciate having it.
#6: Only Gamble What You Can Afford To Lose
This is a biggie! There’s a saying from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas “For a loser, Vegas is the meanest town on earth,” and it’s true. Fortunes have been lost here. People have wasted away in front of pokies chasing the dream of winning the jackpot. The games are designed to pull you in. The casino staff makes you feels comfortable (and brings you a little “confidence juice”), and they fully expect to keep you happy for hours. The risk is what makes gambling addicting.
Be smart and come into the weekend with a set amount you’re willing to risk. Stick to your amount! For some the payout will be worth the risk, but for the rest of us expect to go home with your pockets a little lighter.
You also may have heard there are no clocks on casino floors and that’s true. There are also no windows so you never know what time it actually is. People can play for hours without realizing as they’ve lost track of time.
#6.5 Resort Reward Cards are an easy to obtain. Rack up points with money you spend on the propert which can translate to free perks like upgrades from the resort.
#7: Don’t Buy Casino Drinks
If you’re playing on the casino floors, don’t purchase drinks from the bar before sitting down. A cocktail waitress will approach you, though it may take a bit longer, but most casinos offer free cocktails in an effort to keep you at their tables.
#8: Gambling Is Not Required
Vegas was built on gambling, but if gambling not for you there is still a ton to see and do in the city. Enjoy strolling through the resorts gawking at their elaborate designs and sheer size, catch a show by Cirque de Soleil or world-famous musical acts with residencies, relax at a spa or by the pool, eat at fabulous restaurants, and shop your heart out. There’s no shortage of activities in a city with “entertainment” as its middle name.
If you want to say you gambled while in Vegas just place $5 on a red or black at a roulette table. :)
#9: Vegas Is More Family-Friendly Than It Used To Be
Kids / anyone under 21 years of age, is not allowed in the casino, sitting at a machine, or near the tables. Families can walk through the casino floors, but just like the drinking age, gambling age in the Nevada is 21. And yes, most casinos or at least the tables will check ID.
However, the Strip especially has cleaned up a lot over the past 10 years and several resorts provide activities for guests of all ages. From aquariums to shows and exhibitions (like Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N) to tours, Vegas has something for everyone, so do expect to see families with young children enjoying the sunshine along side the bachelorette parties and long weekend gamblers.
#10: You Can Drink on the Street
On the Strip you can enjoy a drink almost everywhere. Take your drink with you while you stroll to the next stop. Just remember no glass cups or bottles.
You’ll definitely see groups of college students out at 10 a.m. with giant plastic margaritas from Fat Tuesdays roaming around.
#11: Dress To The Nines, Or Don’t
Most movies portray the glamour of Las Vegas with friends dressed up for a night on the town, and yes you will see people in suits, sequin dresses and stilettos, but you’ll also see people in worn out t-shirts, jorts, and baseball hats. Even the occasional fanny pack.
Casual attire is accepted in Vegas, although many restaurants and nightclubs will enforce a fashionable dress code so just check ahead with any place you may be going. bouncers will deny you entry if you don’t meet their standards.
#12: Staying Off The Strip May Not Save You Money
When choosing your hotel, make sure to factor in the costs of transportation to and from other destinations. Staying on the Strip allows you to quickly walk between neighboring casinos with the occasional cab ride if you venture too far from your base, but staying off the Strip means you ‘ll either have to walk or catch a ride to most destinations.
Also many hotels do not include their #12.5 Resort Fee in their base room price. The resort fee will be added at the end of your trip and can be around $25 per day which can be a nasty surprise when you’re checking out.
#13: Never Pay Full Price
There is no reason to pay full price for a show ticket in Las Vegas. Booking tickets in advance (like on vegas.com), using coupons from pamphlets picked up at the airport, finding discount codes online, or even booking tickets last minute from street kiosks can save you money. Plus booking packages that include dinner and show can save money as well!
#14: Bring Your Appetite
Vegas, especially the Strip, is loaded with restaurants—restaurants of every ethnicity and price point, chain restaurants, restaurants owned by celebrity chefs, and more so there’s no need to eat a low-quality meal while visiting.
If you’re room has a fridge and microwave, you can also save money by enjoying leftovers or breakfast in the room instead of out. There are CVSs and convenient stores where you can grab some protein bars, fruits, or cereal for an easy snack, saving a few bucks here and there. There’s nothing wrong with being frugal.
#15: Avoid Standard Meal Times
…thus avoiding a long wait and no reservation slots available.
If you have to eat dinner at 7 p.m, many restaurants have a first-come, first-served lounge area with full menus.