People fall into two categories, those who have been to Las Vegas and those who plan to go. There’s nowhere quite like Sin City, and even if you have no interest in bright lights, big crowds or gambling, there’s still that curiosity to check out the most famous entertainment destination on the planet and find out what all the fuss is about.
If you’re looking forward to your first ever visit, you are in for an experience you’ll never forget. If not, get out your diary and start looking up the flights. Either way, the following tips will help you get the most from your time in Glitter Gulch.
Timing your visit
To a certain extent, it doesn’t matter when you visit. Las Vegas is in full swing 365 days a year, and there is no “off season.” Weather-wise, spring or fall will offer the most moderate temperatures. Keep in mind that this is a desert city, and in the height of summer, temperatures are routinely in three figures.
The most important factor is the events taking place during your visit. If you’re aiming to catch a particular show, then that will obviously dictate the dates. If not, take a look at what is on. If there’s a major business convention happening, hotel rates will increase in line with demand. Likewise, for a three or four day trip, aim for midweek so that you are not fighting over rooms with the weekend visitors.
The other important consideration here is duration. A day or two is barely enough time to scratch the surface, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to really get to experience the different aspects of the city and all that it has to offer.
What to wear
The Las Vegas climate naturally lends itself to shorts, t-shirts and open shoes. That’s fine for strolling the strip during the day and for casual dining establishments. However, you will need something a little smarter in the evening, especially if you are visiting the casinos. Plenty has been said and written about the different dress codes to be found at casinos, and while nobody is expecting tuxedos or ballgowns in the Golden Nugget or the Stratosphere, you should still aim for a smart casual look as you place your bets at the roulette wheel or try out the slots. For men, that means a smart, pressed pair of pants and a collared shirt. Ladies can go for a similar business casual look, or perhaps opt for a comfortable wrap dress.
Bars, restaurants and nightclubs tend to have a similar dress code to casinos, so get it right and you will be set for the night. The one aspect in which anything goes is when attending a show. Here, the focus is on comfort, especially if it is an outdoor event, so those shorts will be just fine.
What to play
Even if you’ve never gambled a cent in your life, you can’t attend Las Vegas without spending at least one evening in a casino. For newcomers, it can be a little overwhelming at first sight, but if you make a plan and stick to it, you’ll have a wonderful time and wonder what on earth you were worrying about.
Beginners tend to gravitate towards the slots, possibly because this is a solitary experience and so there is less scope for making a fool of yourself. That’s fine as far as it goes, but don’t neglect the table games entirely. Roulette is something anyone can play, and as it is entirely down to chance, you will be as likely to win as someone who’s been playing for years.
The other game that is well worth a try is video poker. In most casinos, you will find the consoles set up on the bar, and as long as you keep playing, the bartender will keep pouring the free drinks. It’s an easy game to learn, and if you download an app onto your phone, you can practice your strategy on the flight!
As one of the top tourist destinations in the United States, Las Vegas is well served by public transport. Local taxis are abundant, but to keep the costs down, it is well worth installing the Uber app on your smartphone, especially when it comes to airport transfers.
Even better, though, is the Monorail. It’s the quickest and most cost-effective way to get around, especially if you buy a $12 ticket, which allows you to use the service as many times as you wish in a 24 hour window. A nice bonus of riding is that you are treated to some unique perspectives on the city.
Catching a show
It’s not till you get to Las Vegas that you fully appreciate that it really is an entertainment capital in every sense. The city still attracts the biggest names, from Penn and Teller’s unique brand of magic to Aerosmith’s residency, celebrating 50 years in the business, to Elton John’s farewell tour.
The only thing worse than arriving and finding out that one of your favorite entertainer is performing the week after you leave is discovering they are there when you are, but the tickets are sold out. Take a good look at what’s on before you book your flights and you will avoid either eventuality.
Where to stay
Most destinations boast “something for every budget,” but Las Vegas really means it. There are hostels at the north end of the strip, exclusive suites at Wynns and The Bellagio, and all points imaginable in between. For a memorable experience that will not break the bank, stay at one of the casino hotels. Just keep in mind that there is also a resort fee, and this is usually payable on arrival, even if you’ve fully prepaid for the room. This online checker serves as a useful guideline, but it always makes sense to double check with the hotel, just to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you check in.