Las Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting over 40 million visitors per year. Known for its spectacular hotels, casinos, entertainment, nightlife, and shopping, a trip to Vegas can be the vacation of a lifetime. However, with so many options it can also be overwhelming to plan your perfect Las Vegas getaway.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to plan an amazing trip to Las Vegas, including tips on when to visit, how to get there, top attractions and activities, restaurants, accommodations, and key things to consider before you go. With proper planning and preparation, your Las Vegas vacation will be smooth, stress-free, and full of unforgettable experiences.
- Best times to visit are March-May and September-November when temperatures are milder
- Book flights early and look for deals on Sundays-Wednesdays for cheaper rates
- Stay on the Strip for proximity to major attractions, Downtown for budget options
- See the Bellagio fountains, High Roller observation wheel, Fremont Street light shows
- Take in Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group, or other spectacular shows
- Tour the Mob Museum, Neon Museum, Red Rock Canyon for cultural experiences
- Eat at celebrity chef restaurants and buffets for delicious dining
- Visit top nightclubs and pool parties for the true Vegas party experience
- Rent a car or use rideshares, monorail, bus systems to get around easily
- Make reservations well in advance for restaurants and shows
- Carry personal IDs, cash/cards, chargers, comfy shoes and sun protection
Planning a Trip to Vegas – Tips and Tricks
Planning a successful first trip to Las Vegas can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with proper preparation and research. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Book lodging, flights, and activities early – Las Vegas is popular year-round, so reserve hotel rooms and lock in flight deals 3-6 months in advance. Book shows, tours, restaurants you want to try as early as possible.
- Visit during off-peak times – Avoid major holidays and conventions when hotel rates and crowds surge. September-November and March-May are ideal with mild weather and fewer people.
- Travel mid-week – Weekends, especially Saturdays, tend to be more crowded and expensive for flights and hotels. Tuesday-Thursday tend to have better deals.
- Compare rates for car rentals, shows, hotels – Prices can vary dramatically between websites. Priceline or Expedia may offer bundled deals on lodging + flight.
- Choose free attractions – Walking the Strip, Fremont Street light shows, Bellagio fountains, Circus Circus acts, and more great entertainment is free.
- Visit more than just the Strip – Venture to Downtown, Fremont Street, The Arts District, and off-Strip casinos and bars for a well-rounded Vegas experience.
- Stay hydrated and wear comfy shoes – Drink plenty of water and wear broken-in shoes for all the walking you’ll be doing on your trip.
When to Visit Las Vegas?
Las Vegas enjoys sunny, dry weather year-round. The best time to visit depends on your preferences for crowds, prices, and climate:
- March-May – Moderate temps in the 70s-80s F. Fewer crowds from spring break/conventions. Affordable hotel rates.
- June-August – Hottest temps, over 100F. Good pool season. School out means more budget-conscious families.
- September-November – Pleasant temps in the 70s. Light crowds. Hotel rates drop after Labor Day. Good deals on airfare.
- December – Decorations and holiday shows. Cooler weather and smaller crowds until Christmas when rates jump.
- January-February – Coldest months with temps in the 50s. Lowest rates of the year. Chinese New Year brings influx of travelers.
No matter when you go, pack layers and sunscreen! The desert climate brings very dry air and plenty of sunshine year-round.
How to Get to Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is easily accessible by air, car, bus, and train from nearly anywhere in the world. Here are the most common transportation options to get you to Vegas:
- McCarran International Airport (LAS) – Main airport just minutes from the Strip. Services most major domestic and international airlines.
- Search deals on Sundays – Mid-week usually brings the cheapest rates, especially Sundays when fewer people want to fly out.
- Comparison shop – Compare rates across travel sites like Kayak, Expedia, Priceline to find the best fares. Consider bundled hotel deals.
- Fly early morning – Flights departing 7-10am tend to be cheaper as fewer people take them. Red-eye flights are also an affordable option.
- Major highways into Vegas – I-15 from Los Angeles/SoCal, US-95 from Reno, I-40 from Arizona. Multiple routes connect surrounding states.
- One-way car rentals – Can be cheaper to rent vehicle one-way and return from Vegas. Shop multiple rental companies.
- Parking – Most Vegas hotels offer free self-parking, paid valet options. Some off-Strip charge for parking.
- Greyhound/ Megabus – Affordable bus service from select cities mainly on West Coast. No direct connections from East Coast.
- Shuttle busses – Private and casino-run shuttles offer direct connections from certain locales. Research options specific to your area.
- Amtrak – Connects Los Angeles to Las Vegas by train. Route takes approx. 5 hours. Book early for best rates.
Must-Do Activities and Attractions in Las Vegas
With its spectacular hotels, neon-lit casinos, world-class entertainment, nightlife and so much more, Las Vegas offers endless possibilities for making memories during your trip. Here are some of the absolute must-do attractions and activities:
Fremont Street Experience
- Iconic pedestrian mall with free nightly light and music shows on massive overhead canopy.
- Classic Vegas vibe with street performers and classic casino neon signs glowing to music.
- Lower-cost dining, gambling, drinks compared to the Strip.
- Iconic 4+ mile stretch lined with staggering hotels like Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and slinky nightclubs, restaurants, shows.
- Free entertainment like Bellagio fountains, Mirage volcano, Circus Circus acts.
- Stroll in the evenings to see the Strip lit up in all its glory.
Red Rock Canyon
- Stunning conservation area just 25 minutes from the Strip showcasing Nevada’s natural desert landscape.
- Scenic drive, hiking trails, and rock climbing offer escape from Vegas crowds.
- Visit for sunrise, sunset when red rocks glow with intense light.
High Roller Observation Wheel
- World’s tallest observation wheel at 550 feet high with panoramic Strip views.
- Each glass-enclosed pod takes 30 minutes for a full revolution during day or night.
- Located at The LINQ Promenade’s shops, bars, and entertainment.
- Free choreographed water “dancing” to music every 15-30 minutes in front of Bellagio.
- Evening fountain shows lit by thousands of colored lights. Some special displays shoot 460 feet high!
- Prime spot to watch is the patio between Caesars Palace and Bellagio.
- Extensive museum housed in a former federal courthouse chronicles mob history in Las Vegas and beyond.
- Archive documents, objects, interactive exhibits tell the story of organized crime’s impact.
- Great spot for learning a key part of Vegas history.
Things to Do in Las Vegas
Beyond the major Strip hotels and casinos, fabulous neon signs, and iconic attractions, Las Vegas offers an incredible variety of things to do and see. Here are some top Las Vegas activities:
Gamble in Las Vegas
No trip to Vegas is complete without hitting the casinos to try your luck at slots, blackjack, poker, roulette, and more. Some top spots to gamble:
- Caesars Palace – Huge casino floor with thousands of slots and table games. Big name entertainers grace The Colosseum stage.
- ARIA Resort & Casino – Contemporary and upscale casino with popular slots and table games. Poker room hosts daily tournaments.
- Golden Nugget – Downtown casino featuring latest slots, a huge aquarium, and swim-up blackjack.
- El Cortez – Historic Downtown casino known for low limits and loose slot machines. Great value for budget-conscious.
Las Vegas Nightclubs and Pool Parties
Las Vegas is renowned for its exhilarating pool parties and electric nightclubs like no other. Experience the hype:
- Dayclubs/pool parties at Encore Beach Club, Marquee Dayclub, Wet Republic, Drai’s Beach Club with DJs, cocktails, dancing.
- Check out hot nightclubs like Omnia, XS, Drai’s, TAO for flashing lights, booming music spun by top DJs.
- Hakkasan and Marquee frequently host concerts by major EDM DJs like Calvin Harris and Tiesto.
- Skip brutal door lines and high cover charges by booking ahead via guest list services.
Las Vegas Shows
Spectacular live shows and residencies by music legends, dance troupes, magicians and more run along the Strip. Some top acts:
- Cirque du Soleil has multiple acclaimed shows like “O”, “Mystere”, “Michael Jackson One.”
- Celine Dion, Katy Perry, Aerosmith and more perform concert residencies at top venues.
- Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Criss Angel headline magical headliner shows.
- Blue Man Group infuses music, comedy, multimedia effects into their wild performance.
- Book early, as popular shows sell out weeks/months in advance!
In addition to gambling and entertainment, Vegas offers some thrilling ways to get your adrenaline pumping:
- Ride the High Roller, Stratosphere SkyJump, or Big Apple Coaster & Arcade for stunning views and thrills.
- Drive a real NASCAR racecar or exotic supercar at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Fly through the air on the SlotZilla Zip Line soaring 11 stories above Fremont Street.
- Shoot submachine guns, sniper rifles, pistols, automatic weapons at one of Las Vegas’ indoor shooting ranges.
Shopping in Las Vegas
From enormous malls to designer boutiques, Vegas offers seemingly endless shopping opportunities:
- Shop luxury brands at Bellagio’s Via Bellagio, The Forum Shops at Caesars, The Shops at Crystals.
- Find deals and variety at Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, Las Vegas Premium Outlets South.
- Check out Ethel M Chocolates and Cactus Garden, Bonanza Gift Shop, Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian.
- Utilize free hotel pickup/dropoff for efficient shopping excursions on the Strip.
Las Vegas Parks
Escape from the Strip’s sensory overload by experiencing Las Vegas’ natural scenery:
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers stunning desert scenery just 25 minutes from the Strip.
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area provides outdoor recreation like hiking, swimming, boating just 30 minutes away.
- Sunset Park is a nice green space in Vegas offering ponds, trails, ball fields.
- Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve features walking paths and benches near the wetlands to watch for birds.
Best Restaurants in Las Vegas
In addition to world-class entertainment and attractions, Las Vegas’ dining scene is equally impressive with celebrity chefs, expansive buffets, and restaurants catering to every taste and budget:
- The Buffet at Wynn – High-end buffet with gourmet dishes like bone marrow, caviar, crab legs.
- Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace – 600+ item buffet with globally inspired dishes and dessert room.
- The Cosmopolitan Buffet – Trendsetting buffet with creative takes on comfort food classics.
Celebrity Chef Restaurants
- Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen – Award-winning chef’s Caesar’s Palace restaurant inspired by his hit TV show.
- Wolfgang Puck’s Spago – Flagship eatery serving Puck’s acclaimed contemporary American cuisine.
- Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill – Southwest flavors like spicy ribs, blue corn pancakes, by the celebrity chef.
- Raku Toridokoro – Intimate off-Strip favorite serving inventive Japanese small plates and sake.
- Other Mama – Hip, laidback spot with globally inspired shared plates, vibrant cocktails.
- Lotus of Siam – Critically acclaimed Northern Thai food keeps locals returning again and again.
Old Vegas Favorites
- The Golden Steer – Classic red leather booth steakhouse favored by the Rat Pack since 1958.
- Hugo’s Cellar – Beloved Four Queens eatery serving tableside salads, desserts prepared with flair.
- Peppermill Fireside Lounge – Kitsch Vegas icon open 24/7 serving big portions of American comfort food.
Key Elements You Should Consider Before Traveling:
To ensure your Las Vegas trip goes smoothly, it’s important to research and prepare ahead of time. Here are some key elements to consider:
Research and Preparation
- Book hotels, flights, rental cars, shows as early as possible for best rates and availability.
- Make restaurant reservations in advance, especially for popular eateries. Walk-in waits can be 2+ hours.
- Check crowd calendars to avoid busiest convention and holiday dates that drive up prices.
- Sign up for player’s cards, rewards programs, mailing lists for casino-hotel deals.
- Location matters! Central Strip hotels provide best access but are priciest. Consider Downtown, Paradise Rd, Convention Center areas to save.
- Compare rates across different sites (Expedia, Hotels.com, direct bookings) for best deals. Consider bundled flight + hotel packages.
- Read reviews and consider amenities like casinos, restaurants/bars, parking, pools, when choosing a hotel.
- Rent a car for 3+ days to access sights like Red Rock, Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire easily. One-way rentals can offer flexibility.
- Use rideshares, trams, monorail, buses for cheaper transport if staying central Strip. Note night/weekend surges.
- Consider monorail passes, day bus passes if using transit frequently. Research routes and schedules.
Activities and Attractions
- Pre-purchase e-tickets for pricier attractions like High Roller to skip long ticket booth lines.
- For multicasino attractions like Linq Promenade or Grand Canal Shoppes, find centrally located hotels.
- Check attraction websites for deals like complimentary admission with restaurant validation.
Dining and Nightlife
- Make reservations for popular restaurants. Be prepared to wait hours without them, even on weekdays.
- Look up dress code requirements at clubs and some bars/lounges to avoid getting turned away.
- Sign up for casino players clubs and email lists for free slot play, buffet passes, show ticket deals, and more exclusive offers.
Packing and Essentials
- Bring proper ID, cash/cards. Inform bank of travel to avoid declined transactions.
- Pack comfy, broken-in walking shoes – you’ll walk a lot! Leave heels for going out.
- Bring power bank, wall charger, plug adapter. Vegas hotel rooms often lack abundant outlets.
- Carry sun protection like hats, glasses, lotion in this sunny desert locale.
Health and Safety
- Drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen to avoid dehydration, burns walking outdoors.
- Don’t drink excessively or accept drinks from strangers. Travel with friends/family for safety.
- Divide cash/cards between people and secure to body to deter theft. Backup your IDs.
- Enable geo-location tracking on your phone so your location can be found if separated from your group.
With proper preparation using this guide, you are ready for an epic Las Vegas vacation filled with memories to last a lifetime! Have an amazing trip!
How much money do you need for a trip to Las Vegas?
The amount of money you’ll need depends heavily on the type of trip and your personal preferences. Budget $50-100+ per day for accommodations on or near the Strip. Budget another $100-300+ per day for food, entertainment, gambling, etc. It’s easy to spend more on nice restaurants, shows, nightlife. Set a realistic daily budget and have an emergency fund.
How many days should I plan for Las Vegas?
Most first-timers visit 3-5 days to see major sights. With 5+ days you can take in more shows, day trips, attractions at a more relaxed pace. If it’s a quick trip, you can see the highlights in 1-2 packed days. Any less than a full day and you’ll miss out.
What is the best way to travel in Las Vegas?
For the Strip, monorail, trams, rideshares, and walking are best. Have a small group? Rent a car 1-2 days for off-Strip excursions. For long distances, rideshares beat cabs on cost. Buses and shuttles can work but have limited routes.
How much does the average person spend on a trip to Vegas?
Excluding airfare and accommodations, expect to spend $750+ per person for a 3-4 day trip if you take in a nice sit down dinner, 1-2 shows, gamble a bit, and do some activities. You can certainly spend less with budget meals, free attractions, and fewer paid entertainment options.
Las Vegas is a one-of-a-kind destination that has something for everyone – spectacular shows, luxurious hotels, thrilling nightlife, and so much more. With proper planning and preparation, you can craft the Las Vegas trip of your dreams. Follow this comprehensive guide to choose the perfect travel dates, transportation, accommodations, activities, dining, and essential items to pack. Make reservations for shows, restaurants, attractions, and tours well in advance to ensure you don’t miss out. Read up on getting around town, typical weather, and safely navigating this energetic city. Then get ready for an amazing time exploring world-class casinos, pool parties, all-you-can-eat buffets, and unique attractions you won’t find anywhere else! With an itinerary tailored to your personal travel style, Las Vegas will exceed your expectations and provide unforgettable vacation memories that will last a lifetime.