Las Vegas Tips and Secrets
I have visited Las Vegas and Stayed in it’s hotels and casinos at least twice a year every year since I can remember so I feel I am more familiar with the casinos than most anyone who doesn’t actually work there. Since I do not live and work there I still notice the things that will aggravate visitors. In my humble opinion that makes me *jazz hands* Las-Vegas-Tip-Guy-Extraordinaire here to share my Las Vegas secrets, tips, and tricks with you. (Note this is not a Vegas gambling tips guide just general Vegas trip tips.)
- Bring and wear a watch especially when you gamble. Casinos are designed so visitors will lose track of time. There will be no clocks on the casino floor, nor will there be windows to see it getting brighter or darker as the sun sets and rise. The casino floor more or less always looks, sounds, and smells the same at all times. A watch is especially helpful when you’re gambling because gambling will make you far more likely to lose track of time and miss things in addition to gambling more than you had intended.
- Cell phone reception is spotty in the casinos and on the casino floor it’s very likely that the sound of your phone ringing will be unnoticed among the thousands of hooting, buzzing, and dinging slot machines or the screaming fans of the sports book. You might want to set your phone to vibrate and ring.
- Vegas has some of the greatest shows in the world however they can often be quite expensive; many are easily over a hundred dollars per ticket. Having said that, there are still quite a few shows and attractions that are totally free. The Bellagio Fountains are definitely worth seeing at least once; calling them fountains doesn't really give any notion how cool they are. The MGM Grand has very large very impressive lions on display almost 24/7 (the lions are rotated so each individual lion actually spends only a fraction of their time in the casino). I've been to many fantastic zoos but none had a better more up close and oh-my-god-its-an-inch-from-my-face lion exhibit. If you are in Las Vegas for some large event such as the big rodeo in the Thomas and Mack Center the casinos often host free autograph sessions, parties, and so on to get people to come into their casino once the rodeo is over. Freemont Street downtown is another great example.
- Las Vegas casinos are massive and intentionally labyrinthine. It is very easy, almost inevitable, that you will get turned around and lost trying to go from point A to point B. The casino floors are massive but they are broken up by placing bars, restaurants, massive fountains, etc in the middle of things so you can never see across the casino floor you can only see a small portion of it at any time and that small portion will be occupied by slot machines, carpets, and gaming tables that are perfectly identical to every other part of the casino. Further compounding the problem is the fact that you will likely have to navigate past and around others who are usually just as, or more, lost than you are. There are some easy ways to navigate through the casinos however. Instead of trying to look through the casino for your destination look at the walls, restaurants, and ticket booths around the slot machines and tables. Restaurants make great landmarks. When you go somewhere look at which restaurants you pass on your way there and on the way back just head from restaurant to restaurant in reverse order. The casinos usually have enough restaurants that you should always be able to see the next landmark in your path.
- Las Vegas is known for being quite hot however deserts can get very cold at night especially in winter so you should always bring at least one jacket and long pair of pants. In the winter it would be smart to check the Vegas forecast before you pack because you might want to bring more than one pair of long pants.
- It’s never safe to assume someone, visitor or employee, speaks English in Las Vegas. If you talk to someone and they don't seem to respond or look befuddled they might be French, German, Chinese, etc.
- In the summer if you have a car and get take out food be sure you don't leave your McDonald’s cups inside your car; the wax paper they're made from will melt. Similarly if your car has been in the sun for a while and its 100 degrees touching any metal parts of the car will burn you, possibly quite badly, so be careful. Consider opening the doors with a shirtsleeve until you can get your car's AC fired up. (If it gets this hot you actually can cook bacon and eggs on the sidewalk; I've done it.) When it gets that hot make sure to drink some water to stay hydrated; beer and diet coke will not cut it. Tourists get heat stroke and pass out all the time.
- It's a good idea to leave some extra room in your bags when you pack you'll likely accumulate a lot of random stuff without ever really realizing it. If you have kids and go to the Excalibur you might need an extra bag.
- The hotel's in room movies usually cost as much or more than actually going to see a movie in the movie theatre. There are a couple different movie theatres directly on the strip so unless you're looking for some privacy the in room movies are likely a rip off.
- Dropping your car off in valet parking is faster than parking it yourself; however picking your car up from valet parking often takes longer that doing it yourself.
- Make sure to budget for meals, Las Vegas has a staggering variety of fantastic restaurants however their prices can run from a bit hefty to astronomical. One or two such meals won't break the bank, but it's very easy to end up eating somewhere really nice once or twice every day you're in town. Fortunately most hotel/casinos have a food court with various cheap fast food or sandwich shops tucked away somewhere. There is also a Denny’s on the strip, it’s has neon lights that likely cost more than the construction of an entire Denny’s restaurant anywhere else. (and it’s still almost unnoticeable next to everything else.
- The strip and downtown are tourist areas, but beyond the casinos and hotels Las Vegas is a major city with high crime rates, keep this in mind when you venture into the non-touristy parts of town.
- If you need a bathroom and can't find one (for some reason several casinos decided their restrooms should be as elusive as possible.) head towards the sports book; the men's room is never far away.
- Contrary to popular belief casinos don’t punish cheaters or card counters by having Laurence Fishburne beat them up (sad I know), but it’s still dumb because all those stories about having cameras everywhere absolutely are true. This also means that if Mike Tyson happens to start a riot you shouldn’t start grabbing chips, they can still see you.
- Finally, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; unless someone has a camera phone, then it stays everywhere.
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