37 Pro Tips for a Las Vegas Trip
Never the same thing twice, Las Vegas is an oasis of reinvention that draws travellers from around the world with luxury hotels, high-end spas, thumping nightlife and jaw-dropping eats.
With so much to see and do in Vegas, it’s a lot to take in for a first- or second-time visitor. So with that in mind, we rounded up our favourite pro tips for planning your next Las Vegas vacation.
When you go makes a big difference on how much you spend.
1. There are more than 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas. It would take one person more than 300 years to stay in each room once. This makes Vegas a huge convention destination — and some of the largest events can fill a massive amount of rooms. Moral of the story is, check the convention calendar before planning a trip. Everything is a little bit busier when big conventions are in town — and your room will likely cost just a bit more.
2. As a rule, midweek stays are almost always more affordable at Las Vegas hotels. The same room that will fetch $300+ on Saturday night might be $99 (or less) on Sunday or Monday night.
3. If you’re planning a weekend trip, here are a few ways to maximize your time and your budget. If you’re coming from the West Coast, take the first flight in on Saturday morning and fly out Monday. Your Sunday night hotel bill will be less than a Friday night stay — and your flight will likely be less expensive too, as the Friday/Sunday combo is the pairing most airlines charge a premium for. Another way to save is to stay at a non-gaming hotel — places like Vdara and the Platinum Las Vegas often are less expensive than nearby hotels on the weekend.
4. Know your holiday weekends — especially the ones that Americans celebrate at different times from Canadians. While popular three-day weekends like Memorial Day or July 4th or Labor Day aren’t usually a good time for deals, weekend room rates can be more affordable around holidays like American Thanksgiving (in November). The four weeks (and weekends) between Thanksgiving and Christmas in particular are a fantastic time to find hotel deals — you might even see 4-star hotels charging less than $200 for a Saturday night stay. Take advantage.
5. Look at packages that bundle flights and a hotel stay to save on the travel costs. Often the total all-in package price will be a few bucks more than the airfare alone. We regularly see very strong Las Vegas package deals from Flight Centre, itravel2000, RedTag.ca, tripcentral.ca and Expedia.
Getting around town.
The Strip is a long walk from end to end. You’re going to want some wheels of some kind.
6. To rent a car or not rent a car? It really depends on your plans. Will you be cruising Las Vegas Boulevard in a convertible with the top down? Are you a resort-hopper? Here for brunch, there for spa and somewhere else for a show that night? Are you staying off the Strip? Are you headed out of town for golf or day trips to Lake Mead or Red Rock Canyon? Car rental rates can be very competitive and save you some money in these scenarios.
But keep in mind that parking is no longer free at all hotels; several hotels recently started charging a parking fee.
Taxis are always an ever-present option — with taxi queues at most resorts. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft may save a few bucks, but be wary of surge periods.
7. Nearly all of the hotels in Las Vegas are within a 15-minute drive of the airport. The quickest, most cost-effective way to the Strip from McCarran Airport in a taxi is via the surface streets; a highway trip is unnecessary.
8. You can get between resorts on the Strip using the Monorail — which runs along a seven-stop loop from the SLS to the MGM Grand until 2 a.m. weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends. A single ride is $5 and a one-day pass is $12.
Vegas hacks to remember.
9. Most visitors assume that because Las Vegas is in the desert, it’s always hot. But in the winter months, you’ll want a light jacket at night, when temps can dip into the 40s (between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius). Even in the summer months, you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors at the tables, shows and restaurants. Many resorts and casinos keep the temperatures brisk, so keep a light sweater handy.
10. Just about every resort group in Las Vegas has a rewards card — and they are worth joining. All it takes is a valid ID, and you can start racking up points and benefits for the money you spend on property — from dining to entertainment to gaming. The largest include MGM Mlife Rewards (12 resorts in Vegas), Station Casinos’ My Rewards (11 resorts), Caesars Total Rewards (10 resorts) and Boyd Gaming’s B Connected (7 resorts). You can play or stay at any of those resorts within the same program and earn points.
You might end up getting free perks like a room upgrade or a club passes during your trip. But even if you don’t score free stuff, you’ll start receiving enticing offers once you get home (think rock-bottom room rates) to book a return trip. And, in the case of the Identity program at The Cosmopolitan, you can transfer points to the Marriott Rewards program.
11. If you’re travelling with a group, agree beforehand to charge everything to one room and one card. You might get treated like a high roller by aggregating the spending power of your friends.
12. For a little downtime, book a day pass at one of the many top-notch resort spas. For about half the cost of one treatment, you’ll get access to the spa amenities — which could include drinks, steam room, private plunge pool and light food. At some hotels, spa access may already be included in the resort fee.
13. Las Vegas likes their hidden gems — whether it’s the hidden pizza place down a corridor at The Cosmopolitan; modern speakeasy bars that require a password which you’ll get via text message; or hotels within a hotel.
Two of the best hotel-within-hotel values are the Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace — room service from Nobu, high-end rooms and access to all the Caesars amenities — as well as Hotel32 on the 32nd floor of the Monte Carlo. Rooms at Hotel32 include a Personal Suite Assistant — and rates aren’t that much more than regular rooms.
All you can eat.
14. Some of the best food in Las Vegas is actually off the beaten path. Chinatown has an abundance of popular Asian restaurants that will draw a foodie away from celebrity restaurants on the Strip. None other than the New York Times praised Lotus of Siam as the best Thai food in the country — if you’re going, get there early to avoid the lines. Order off the “Northern Thai” menu, this is where the house specialties truly live.
For Japanese cuisine, try Raku and its dessert counterpart, Sweets Raku. Our deal experts love these spots.
15. Vegetarians will want to eat at Wynn Las Vegas, where each of the restaurants has a vegan/vegetarian menu.
16. It wouldn’t be a Vegas trip without a stop or two (or three) at the legendary buffets. Breakfast is a popular time to dig in, but you often get the best bang for your buffet buck at lunch. Eat a big meal in the middle of the day and you’ll be less inclined to swing for the foodie fences at dinner.
Popular buffets include the Bacchanal at Caesars Palace, Garden Court Buffet at Main Street Station and freshly made doughnut holes on the weekend at the Four Seasons.
17. If you’re looking to snag a table at one of the big foodie draws in Vegas, go early (before 7 p.m.). Many restaurants have a lounge area that’s first come, first served. We’ve scored many a sweet meal this way without a reservation.
18. It may seem like it’s always happy hour here, and that’s not far from the truth. Happy hour specials can be a way to try hip and happening spots that later that night will charge double for the same drinks and small bites.
19. Two words for you: Boozy milkshakes. Get them at Holstein’s Shakes and Buns in The Cosmopolitan. You’ll thank us later.
What happens in Vegas …
20. It stays in Vegas, but if you’re willing to share a little bit about your trip on social media — your Vegas stay might get even better with all kinds of attention from club promoters and hotel concierges. Use hashtags like #Vegas or the name of the resort, club or restaurant to get noticed, and post before, during and after your trip.
21. Travelling with a group of ladies? Club promoters are constantly on the lookout for potential VIP guests during the day. Dress to impress during the day and you may end up getting pool party day passes and nightclub passes at some of the hottest venues in the city.
22. Friday is actually one of the best nights to find tickets and entertainment deals in Las Vegas. Why? Conventions and corporate events can eat up tickets during the week for popular shows — and weekend warriors often don’t want to go right to a show when they first arrive in town on Friday night.
23. Vegas draws travellers each year just for the never-ending entertainment options — whether it’s big shows from megastars like Celine Dion and Britney Spears, seven jaw-dropping Cirque du Soleil performances or concerts at the new T-Mobile Arena. Check the calendar before you go, and make sure to take in a show or two.
24. Don’t overpack for a Vegas trip. There’s a Rent the Runway retail shop in Las Vegas — so you can dress up for a big night out without having to pack your couture.
25. Las Vegas is a year away from being a hockey town. Until then, fill up on sports action in the sportsbooks with their walls of TVs like Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo. It’s the “man cave” we all wish we had. Nothing like a small parlay to turn that midweek Winnipeg Jets – Florida Panthers game into a must-watch. Start planning your return trip for the 2017-2018 NHL season to watch your team face off on the Vegas ice.
26. Las Vegas is a premier golfing destination with three area golf courses making GOLF.com’s 2016-2017 Top 100 List of Course You Can Play. Tee off in the afternoon for steeply discounted twilight rates at some courses that could equate to about $1 per hole. Don’t feel like walking the course? Top Golf just opened at MGM Grand — so take as many mulligans as you want.
27. The Neon Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum that’s essentially a graveyard for old neon signs from the city’s history. You’ll see over 450 pieces of old Vegas signage, including fragments of old casinos. Pro tip: visit the museum at night to see some of the signs lit up and functioning for an eerie glimpse of Vegas history — and some sweet pics for your social media feeds.
Views to thrill.
28. For one of the best views of the Bellagio Fountains water show, grab a table at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris Las Vegas across Las Vegas Boulevard. The dancing fountains are on display every half hour from 3 – 8 p.m. on weekdays (noon start on weekends), and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight.
29. Sip a handcrafted cocktail at the Mandarin Oriental’s sky bar and feel like you’re floating in the heart of the Strip. It’s no secret that this 23rd-floor lounge is pricey — a cocktail will set you back $20 — but the nighttime views of the Vegas lights are unbeatable. (Hey, maybe you can make your money back on the floor at neighbouring Aria’s casino.)
30. For one of the best views of the Strip, head to the Ghostbar nightclub at the top of the Palms. You’ll get a full view of the Strip from the outdoor terrace, and if you’re there between 8 and 10 p.m. you can enjoy a champagne happy hour.
31. For bird’s-eye views, ride the elevator more than 100 stories up to the top of the Stratosphere for a drink or dinner. The tallest observation tower in the United States, the Stratosphere offers panoramic views of the whole Vegas valley. Top of the World — a rotating restaurant at the top — serves up drinks and dinner. Bonus: If you dare, experience the “thrill” of the Stratosphere’s bungee jump.
32. Because the city and surrounding area are on such a grand scale, one of the best ways to take it all in is in a helicopter. Tours run regularly day and night — and some will take you out to the Hoover Dam, the west rim of the Grand Canyon or Lake Mead.
33. It may sounds touristy, but thousands of Travelzoo members that have used our deal at the High Roller rave about the views and the experience. Book the ticket with an open bar for your half hour and you’ll save on high-priced club cocktails later that evening.
Get out of town.
34. Red Rock Canyon is a short drive from the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas and feels like another world. A great day trip for hiking, the conservation area 17 miles from the heart of the city offers a peaceful reprieve from the city’s lights and action. There are more than 30 miles of hiking trails for varying levels of skill. Swing by the visitors centre to get a map and chat with a ranger on which routes work best for your group.
35. It’s a good bet that you weren’t expecting to ski on your Vegas vacation. Less than an hour’s drive away, Mount Charleston is the closest skiing and snowboarding to Vegas and an easy day trip.
36. Another easy day trip is to the Hoover Dam, less than an hour’s drive from the Strip. This massive structure is hard to fathom unless you see it in person. The later in the day you go, the more crowded it will be. Some of the best photos you’ll get of the dam actually come from the relatively new Mike O’Callaghan — Pat Tillman Bypass Bridge nearby. If you plan an early morning trip, you can then spend the day enjoying Lake Mead — which was created by the Hoover Dam.
37. The Grand Canyon is actually a lot closer than you think. The West Rim of this World Wonder is just a two-hour drive from Vegas. Grand Canyon West is not a part of the Grand Canyon National Park — it’s run by the Hualapai American Indian Reservation. So there are entry fees, especially if you want to do the breathtaking Skywalk, a glass-bottom bridge that extends out over the canyon. Plan a morning trip and you can do the Grand Canyon and still be back with plenty of time for evening dinner reservations and a show in Las Vegas.
Ready to Go? Plan your next Las Vegas getaway, and tap the Viva Las Vegas site for more insider tips, Vegas hacks and must-see spots.