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Las Vegas Travel Guide

Updated on January 16, 2012

Viva Las Vegas! A Guide to the Best Spots, Hotels, etc.

Check out our Las Vegas travel guide to get tips and insider info on how to explore the city and find out how it rightly earned its reputation as the Entertainment Capital of the World. Explore the lights, visual displays, spectacular shows, gastronomical buffets, grand hotels, and have a vacation you won't forget!

Spending the New Year / Holidays at Vegas? Check out some of the New Year highlights and holiday buffet menus, and you will surely book your Vegas hotel stat. Going to Vegas with the kids? You'll be surprised to find that there are plenty of kid-friendly places in Vegas.

Vegas Travel Poll

Planning to go to Las Vegas Soon?

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How to Get to Vegas - To Fly or Not to Fly?

Raod Trip to Vegas
Raod Trip to Vegas

Obviously, this question applies only to places where time, cost, and other considerations are debatable between taking a plane and driving a car (Sorry, Tennesseans). Embarking on something like a cross-country trip is of course, a different story and a worthwhile experience in itself.

Flying to Vegas

A plane ride from Los Angeles, San Franciso, Arizona, etc. can take up to 2 hours, tops. This saves you a significant amount of time and spares you the stress of confronting the traffic, which gets exponentially heavier during the holidays.

Keep in mind that the hotels can be some distances apart and you will need to take shuttles or taxis to get to them.

Driving (Road Trip!)

Cost savings usually start to outweigh that of time when you have multiple people travelling. The number of people in the party are in effect "splitting" the cost of gas that a single person would have to pay otherwise. Depending on where you're coming from, you (and your companions) will also be able to enjoy captivating scenic views on the way to your destination.

Remember that parking is not a problem., but traffic can be. Most hotels in Vegas offer free parking to encourage you to try their attractions. The Las Vegas Strip, though, is so hampered by the masses of vehicles, pedestrians, and stoplights that driving along it can take more time than anticipated. Side streets may be preferable but we never got to try them.

Taxi drivers, please feel free to recommend your typical traffic-escaping routes =)

Plane Flight or Road Trip? - Choose your mode of transportation

Calling all travelers, which do you prefer? Taking a quick plane ride or road tripping to your destination?

Would you rather take a quick plane ride or go road tripping?

The Las Vegas Strip - To Strip or Not to Strip

Strip View from Planet Hollywood
Strip View from Planet Hollywood

The Strip's night skyline is one of the best views this side of the world. For this reason alone, we highly recommend booking a hotel along the Strip with views overlooking Las Vegas Boulevard.

Staying along the Strip can also prove advantageous when traffic is heavy. You can choose to walk the distance to nearby hotels instead of getting stuck for half an hour as you try to drive to the next block. It is also easier to find a convenience center like Walgreen's or 7-Eleven by the Strip as opposed to the outskirts of the city.

If you still choose to stay at a distance from the Strip, you will most likely enjoy a slightly fatter wallet (that's extra cash to burn!) and quieter environs at night.

Vegas Tip - Did you Know?

Parking is free on almost any hotel, even if you're not staying there.


Volcano Show at the Mirage

Here are some eye-candy worthy shows you can enjoy in Vegas, without spending a single cent!

  1. The Fountains of Bellagio (Bellagio)

    One of the most iconic shows in Vegas. There's something about the combination of music and moving waters that can really captivate the senses.

  2. Fall of Atlantis (Caesars Palace)

    We rank this second to the Bellagio Fountains in terms of entertainment value. For added convenience, you can tour around the Forum Shops of Caesars while waiting for the show to come on.

  3. The Volcano (Mirage)

    A volcanic "eruption" with impressive visual effects. And the added heat produced could come in handy on cold nights.

  4. The Sirens of TI (Treasure Island)

    Shown just outside Treasure Island featuring pirates and the sexy Sirens. Watch once just to say you've seen it, and you don't have to squeeze through the large crowd to view it again.

  5. Show in the Sky (Rio)

    Since Rio is off the Strip, this show does not get much fanfare. And if you ask us, it's not really worth the trip if you're not already staying at the Rio.

Other Free Attractions - More Eye Candy

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Egyptian Artifacts at the Luxor - Since this is at the edge of the Strip, it might make sense to start out by visiting the Egyptian artifacts that are on full display in the hotel. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/4700488900/The Conservatory at the Bellagio - Indoor botanical gardens that are great for photo ops for the whole family.  They change the garden theme according to the season.The Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand - Lions, usually sleeping, on display inside glass walls within the main area.Hotel-wide themes of Paris, The Venetian, and Caesars Palace - These hotel themes stand out among the others in that they seem to warp you into the streets of Europe. Simply take a walk inside these hotels to get a feel of their romanticism and subtlNew York City and Statue of Liberty Replica (New York New York) - You can get a full view just by walking along Las Vegas Boulevard. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danramarch/2871759034/M&M’s Museum on the Strip near MGM Grand - Candy store featuring the cutest M&Ms items. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstractstv/6091530725/
The Egyptian Artifacts at the Luxor - Since this is at the edge of the Strip, it might make sense to start out by visiting the Egyptian artifacts that are on full display in the hotel. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/4700488900/
The Egyptian Artifacts at the Luxor - Since this is at the edge of the Strip, it might make sense to start out by visiting the Egyptian artifacts that are on full display in the hotel. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/4700488900/
The Conservatory at the Bellagio - Indoor botanical gardens that are great for photo ops for the whole family.  They change the garden theme according to the season.
The Conservatory at the Bellagio - Indoor botanical gardens that are great for photo ops for the whole family. They change the garden theme according to the season.
The Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand - Lions, usually sleeping, on display inside glass walls within the main area.
The Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand - Lions, usually sleeping, on display inside glass walls within the main area.
Hotel-wide themes of Paris, The Venetian, and Caesars Palace - These hotel themes stand out among the others in that they seem to warp you into the streets of Europe. Simply take a walk inside these hotels to get a feel of their romanticism and subtl
Hotel-wide themes of Paris, The Venetian, and Caesars Palace - These hotel themes stand out among the others in that they seem to warp you into the streets of Europe. Simply take a walk inside these hotels to get a feel of their romanticism and subtl
New York City and Statue of Liberty Replica (New York New York) - You can get a full view just by walking along Las Vegas Boulevard. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danramarch/2871759034/
New York City and Statue of Liberty Replica (New York New York) - You can get a full view just by walking along Las Vegas Boulevard. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/danramarch/2871759034/
M&M’s Museum on the Strip near MGM Grand - Candy store featuring the cutest M&Ms items. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstractstv/6091530725/
M&M’s Museum on the Strip near MGM Grand - Candy store featuring the cutest M&Ms items. Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstractstv/6091530725/

The Great Shows - Captivate your Senses

Cirque du Soleil O at the Bellagio
Cirque du Soleil O at the Bellagio

1. Cirque du Soleil – KÃ

Set at The MGM Grand. One of the most elaborate Cirque productions, highlighting Asian, mostly Oriental, themes within an Imperial setting.

2. Cirque du Soleil – O

Set at The Bellagio. Cirque’s water-themed showcase featuring synchronized swimming, Barge and Bateau stunts, among other acts.

3. Cirque du Soleil – The Beatles LOVE

Set at The Mirage. Beatles-themed theatrical show complete with circus acts and captivating performances. The storyline and characters are based from the lyrics and themes of Beatles songs.

4. Le Réve (Wynn) (For Kids)

Set at The Wynn. Water-themed production with flamboyant effects set in a circular stage for a better viewing experience.

5. Absinthe (Caesars Palace Outdoor Event)

Spiegelworld’s hit show featuring bizarre comedy and even more eccentric acts. Famously lauded by The Huffington Post as THE top choice if you had to watch only one show in your whole life. Warning: Contains adult material.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/adriarichards/3933525114/


The Iconic Caesars Palace

By this time, I'm sure you're all aching to find out where to stay for your trip. Here are some hotels in Las Vegas, along with some of our personal reviews.

  1. Circus Circus

    Circus Circus is designed to be a kid-friendly hotel with its carnival atmosphere - complete with a plethora of toys, games and circus shows. What it fails to realize is that this amusement park atmosphere is ruined by the hotel's overall dingy conditions.

    A complete renovation is needed if Circus Circus is to keep up with the rest of the hotels. Also, despite being technically along Las Vegas Blvd, it is too far away from the rest of the Strip that walking is almost impossible.

  2. Treasure Island

    Treasure Island (TI) possesses a healthy combination of convenient location and price, making it a good choice to get value for your money. Its Caribbean theme may not be as captivating as that of neighboring hotels but there is enough dose of pirates and adventure to make the stay enjoyable.

    TI's location along the Strip is ideal because it takes you into the middle of the action. A free tram service takes you to The Mirage and back. From The Mirage, you can easily walk to Caesar's Palace. The Venetian is also an easy walk from TI.

  3. Planet Hollywood

    Planet Hollywood maintains a hip and energetic atmosphere to attract a younger crowd. Even the not-so-young may also draw pleasure from PH's rooms which feature props and memorabilia from actual Hollywood films.

    PH has a nice vibrant feel to it. The Miracle Mile Shops exudes an LA-inspired ambience and also features an hourly indoor thunderstorm (albeit, the latter's not quite LA).

  4. Excalibur

    Excalibur is a better alternative to Circus Circus if you want to bring the kids. The hotel's Camelot theme is eye-catching especially when viewed from the outside. A free tram service is provided to get to Luxor Hotel and The Mandalay Bay.

    The hotel is not on par with its new counterparts along the Strip and is showing a lot of age. However, it may be among the best options if price is an issue.

  5. Wynn/Encore

    The latest hotel projects of Steve Wynn - the mogul behind Vegas luminaries such as The Mirage and Bellagio - are a pageant of luxury and opulence. With Wynn and its sister resort Encore, Steve Wynn has full control of the designs and in doing whatever he wants as dictated by his very sophisticated tastes.

  6. Caesars Palace

    Size alone makes Caesars Palace one of the most imposing structures in Las Vegas Boulevard. One of its most admirable characteristics is that it has managed to only increase its mystique as it ages. Caesars is also right at the heart of the Strip, taking you right in the middle of everything.

  7. The Monte Carlo

    The Monte Carlo's dated structure betrays the image of luxury that it tries to portray. Still, the hotel provides a good alternative to budget-conscious travelers who still want a good location and panoramic Strip views.

Vegas Tip - Did you Know?

Treasure Island and The Mirage are conveniently connected by a tram.

The Delicious Buffets - Gastronomical Delights

A Vegas trip is not complete without tucking into some fabulous buffets that are delicious, relatively budget-friendly, and, ridiculously filling. Below is a rundown of some buffets in the area, as well as our personal reviews.

  1. The Buffet at Wynn

    Best serving(s): King Crab Legs.

    The Vegas Mecca of King Crab Legs. The tables and counters are elegantly laid out and designed as if to lead you to the seafood section where a big treasure chest of diamond-looking ice cubes and crab legs awaits. That's not to say the other food sections aren't worthy to be explored.

  2. The Buffet at Bellagio

    Best serving(s): Chilean Sea Bass and Prime Rib.

    Bellagio's own Grand Buffet is comparable to Wynn in almost any serving, while being slightly cheaper. The Chilean Sea Bass may be the tastiest dish you'll have for the whole trip, while the Prime Ribs' meat is so succulent that it peels off the bones with such delicate grace. With the high standards set by Wynn for crab legs, the Bellagio counterparts may come off as a bit subpar and less fresh

  3. The Buffet of Buffets (24-hour All-Access to Seven Buffets)

    This is your best deal if your priority is quantity and an incessantly full stomach.

    The buffet list comprises of: Lago Buffet (Caesars), Le Village Buffet (Paris), Spice Market Buffet (Planet Hollywood), Flavors Buffet (Harrah's), Paradise Garden Buffet (Flamingo), Carnival World Buffet (Rio), Village Seafood Buffet (Rio; discounted admission), and Emperor's Buffet (Imperial Palace).

    We've only been to Carnival World Buffet (twice) and Spice Market Buffet (once). As much as the Carnival is raved upon by other reviewers, our advice is to skip on it, try the other buffets, and then let us know which ones you liked. Please?

  4. The alternative to buffets at the strip: Hikari Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar (Buffet Section)

    If you're in it for exploring hidden buffet gems, Hikari is the perfect diamond in the rough. Located in a tiny mall 15 minutes from the Strip, the place is a great escape from the busy lines of the Strip buffets.

    The price of $27 per person - ladies get $5 off after 10pm - is a great deal considering the quality and variety of sushi they serve, and the efficiency by which the chefs prepare them. They don't scrimp on the servings either. And oh, they open in the late afternoon and close at around 2am. Please learn from our experience of driving there at noon only to find a closed restaurant and a renewed quest for another buffet.

Shopping Options

For shopaholics who just can't stop the shopping itch, have no fear! Las Vegas is a haven for high-end fashion brands and outlet stores. The Boulevard is a mall roughly 5 miles east of the Strip and is open every day (take note though: on Sundays, they close by 6PM!)

Looking for great bargains for big brands in sport wear, home decor, and women's fashion? Head to the premium outlet just 2.5 miles south of the Strip. It also has its own carousel so your kids can stay preoccupied as you scurry from one shop to another getting as many bargains as you can get your hands on!

Want to stay at the Strip? We highly recommend the Wynn Esplanade, located inside the Wynn Hotel. It is a luxurious place to shop offering some very expensive brands - a fabulous place to window shop.

For those who are into the more quirky things, antiques, or souvenirs, Las Vegas also has several stores for you. You can check out the full list of shopping places in Las Vegas here

Celebrating the New Year at Las Vegas - A Las Vegas Holiday Experience

New Year Fireworks at the MGM
New Year Fireworks at the MGM

The whole Strip gets closed by city officials hours before midnight. This is to (barely) accommodate the mass of people flocking on the street to collectively welcome the New Year. The massive body count is said to increase the outside temperature by 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit as the clock inches towards 12 midnight. (On average, the weather during this season can go down to near freezing point.) By late afternoon of the 31st, be prepared to walk long distances if you still want to roam around the hotels as it will be impractical to use a car by this time.

If you decide to celebrate on the streets, get ready to join with the huge throngs of people dancing, shouting, and drinking their hearts out. You may be able to get close to a few shows taping their New Years Special amongst the crowd.

Staying in your hotel, especially if it's along the Strip, will give you a better view of all the fireworks prepared by the other hotels. Some portions of your view will surely be blocked by nearby towering hotels but the abundance and ubiquity of the fiery displays in the sky ensure enough theatrics to make you forget whatever else you may be missing.

Buy Travel Guides and Souvenirs

Need some more travel tips to Las Vegas? Check out the books below! Or check out some Vegas souvenirs you can give away to fellow Vegas aficionados or if you'd like to have a piece of Vegas with you all the time.

Photos

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Have you been to Las Vegas? Where did you stay? What was your favorite show? Share below!

Share your Vegas Experience!

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    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 5 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Loved Vegas, stayed at the Flamingo. Had a blast!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      usually just passing through but when I did stop by, the best time to do so is at midnight, tons of lights and everyone seems to be up. enjoyed my visit on your lens, squidliked it.

    • profile image

      seosmm 5 years ago

      Lots of good info. Very nice lens!

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 5 years ago

      Best city on Earth.

    • pencilonpaper profile image

      pencilonpaper 5 years ago

      Las Vegas is a must see if you like big city life, lights and parties!

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 5 years ago

      I was in Las Vegas for three nights in June of 2007. Expected to hate it. Fell in love. :) I stayed at the Gold Coast, right off the Strip. It was super convenient since they had a shuttle bus. I learned that you can get a lot of things comped in Las Vegas if you carry a bunch of dollar bills for tips! And definitely search for good deals on your stay. I got my hotel plus lunch and dinner buffets for something like $60 a night, with a bunch of extras like a nightcap every night, free ice cream, and free slots.