Las Vegas is the kind of place that’s larger than life. It’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been (and probably will ever be), and can be pretty overwhelming on your first visit. Because, quite frankly, the first time I landed in Sin City, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.
My second trip to Las Vegas was definitely much more rewarding, as I had a better understanding of this unique and mesmerising city. I’d worked out the things I wanted to see and do – and had picked up some nuggets of useful info the first time round. To help you get the most out of your first (or next!) visit to Las Vegas, I’m sharing some of the things I’ve learnt…
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You don’t have to be into gambling to enjoy a Las Vegas trip
There’s SO much more to do in Vegas than throwing your entire holiday budget down on the craps table. While for most people, it can be a city that’s all about flashing the cash, part of the fun for me was just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere.
If you do want to gamble – set a budget
On my recent Las Vegas holiday*, we put aside a certain amount (about $40) that we’d agreed to spend on gambling. That was our upper limit. We ended up winning $150 on the roulette table, cashed out and used our winnings for dinner at Yardbird (which was excellent, by the way).
Casino drinks are FREE if you gamble (but don’t forget to tip!)
I’d already been told about the free drinks in casinos, but almost refused a free cocktail as I perched on a slot machine that I fed a grand total of about $3 into in total.
Yep, if you’re partaking in a little bit of a flutter, the waiting staff will bestow FREE drinks on you. But make sure you tip, because a) it’s the done thing, b) you didn’t pay for your drink anyway, tight-ass, and c) they’ll make you a stronger one next time if you tip with gusto.
You can drink on the street
Oh, yeah, that’s totally a thing. Just make sure it’s not in a glass container. To-go cups for all!
The Las Vegas hotels are INSANE
Definitely allow more time than you think you’d need on the Strip – both times I’ve been, I’ve not been able to take in all of it before heading home to bed!
Unlike your standard Travelodge or Best Western, the hotels in Las Vegas are basically mini-resorts all on their own. Packed with restaurants, shops and ridiculous décor, non-guests are free to enter the casinos, shopping streets and public spaces. Which you should DEFINITELY do.
Personal favourites and must-do hotels for visitors: Caesar’s Palace, The Bellagio and The Venetian.
Ask your hotel if you fancy a night out
Nope, not for permission. The concierge isn’t your mum. Lots of Vegas nightclubs partner with hotels to offer special deals for guests. Which means not paying ridiculous entry fees, no queueing for half the night to get in, and maybe some free drinks…
Don’t share your ‘free drinks for ladies’ with male companions
Speaking of free drinks. ‘Free drinks for ladies’ is one of the Vegas clubs’ favourite sexist tricks to bring in more women, assumingly to bring in more men, who it’s assumed then spend money. Being the nice person I am, I gave away one of my numerous free vodka cranberries one night. Apparently, this is very frowned upon and got me nearly kicked out of a pretty-crappy-anyway club.
Factor in some chill time
Vegas is a REALLY full-on place, with loads to take in. So make sure you allow some time to chill (especially when hungover), be it by the hotel pool, or in a quiet bar.
Bring comfy shoes
Yeah, Las Vegas is biiiig. The whole of Las Vegas Boulevard is over 4 miles long, and combining this with strolling around the rabbit warren hotels, you’ll probably be doing a lot of walking. Save the heels for your night out…
There’s more to Vegas than just the Strip
On both of my visits, I stayed in downtown Las Vegas at the Golden Nugget, just off the Fremont Street experience. Fremont Street is somewhere I’d highly recommend visiting – almost like a mini-strip, with an old-school Vegas vibe.
Not every restaurant is super expensive
Sure, if you fancy treating yourself to a posh meal, there’s plenty on offer – but if you want to have some cheap eats that don’t suck, there’s a market for that too. One of the best places I ate at in Vegas was Evel Pie, a downtown ‘dive bar’ restaurant with the most delicious pizzas.
Loads of the slightly fancier restaurants also offer happy hour deals, so it’s worth researching before you go. For example, Vegas steakhouse Herbs and Rye do half price menu items from 5pm-8pm and 12am-3pm. Book in advance if you can, as these deals are pretty popular!
Pretend like you’re a pro
Particularly applicable to taxi drivers! If you’re riding in from the airport (or anywhere) and they ask if you’ve been to Vegas before, always say yes so they don’t take you on a longer and more expensive route.