Welcome to the Las Vegas travel guide! Las Vegas or Sin City as it’s often referred as is one of my favourite places to visit. I’ve been fortunate to travel there multiple times over the last few years and I’d still like to go back for more! There is so much to do and it doesn’t have to all revolve around gambling either.
I tend to visit in spring or late-summer as the weather is not always as hot which means I can enjoy some pool time and relax. However, I have been in August and it was HOT – at well over 100 degrees. I believe it gets cold in winter too.
Here is my travel guide of things to do for your first or next trip to Las Vegas. I’ve done my best to condense it as much as I can so there are some good things not included. No matter what you do in Las Vegas, it’s a place to have fun!
There is a lot of things to do in Las Vegas. Before you arrive, research your “must-dos”. The forums on Trip Advisor are a great starting point to see what people have enjoyed and would recommend for your visit.
Before you arrive, it can be helpful to make a loose itinerary of what you’re planning to do and on which days. Having visited numerous times, I still haven’t done everything. Time seems to fly by extra fast in Vegas so having a few things written down can make a big difference.
Las Vegas has one main airport, McCarran International. So if you’re travelling from within the US or elsewhere in the world, you will arrive at the airport. To get from the airport there are lots of taxis outside, it’s the easiest way to get to your hotel from the airport.
Las Vegas is only about 4 hours drive from Los Angeles and 8 hours from San Francisco so if you’re looking to extend your trip you could visit these cities too! I’ve done the drive in both directions and also south towards Phoenix. There’s not much to see on the way but driving these long distances in the USA is not uncommon (unlike in the UK).
There are so many hotels to choose from it can be a tough decision. Of course, the price comes into it too when making your choice. Sometimes I’ve got a better deal booking a hotel and flight from the UK as one on Expedia, other times booking directly with the hotel can save you some money. I’d recommend staying on The Strip, this is where everything happens and you will end up spending more on taxis if you stay off-strip.
These are the hotels I’ve stayed in whilst in Las Vegas but there are many more! What’s great about Las Vegas is you can go inside all the hotels and explore them so you’ll never miss out!
The Cosmopolitan – This hotel is awesome! It’s not as big as some of the hotels so doesn’t take as long to get from your room to the strip. The rooms are in 2 different towers. I stayed in the Chelsea Tower with a fountain view and balcony. This is the dream location for anyone who likes to take photos as you overlook the fountains of the Bellagio and can see much of the strip. The hotel itself has some nice bars including The Chandelier, where you are really inside a chandelier – I’d visit for a cocktail even if you don’t stay here. The Cosmo is also very central to the strip which makes it easy to get to any of the other hotels, bars and restaurants.
The Palazo – The Palazzo is connected to The Venetian and together they make the largest hotel on the strip. All the rooms in The Palazzo are suites and so they are spacious and perfect for when you want some downtime. As the two hotels are connected there are plenty of pools, restaurants and bars to chose from without leaving the property. The Palazzo has a very regal feel and brings a piece of Italy to the USA. You can even ride the gondolas as if you were in Venice whilst there – Although is something I’ve never done.
MGM Grand – The MGM Grand is the largest single hotel and one I’ve stayed in many times, often for business. I always upgrade to a Tower Suite as the West Wing rooms are not great. I’ve also seen the Stay Well rooms which have their own check-in with water and fruit. The check-in line can often be long (depending what time you get there). There are plenty of pools to pick from if you want to spend some time in the sun. It also has the Grand Garden Arena if there’s something happening in there it’s certainly an iconic venue. On my last trip, I watched the boxing on closed-circuit TV in one of the ballrooms. If you can’t get tickets to the main event then this is the next best thing. There are some really nice restaurants and bars in the MGM too.
MGM Signature Suites – The Signature Suites are separate to the MGM but you can access the hotel through the MGM via moving walkways, they are set back from the strip so there is some extra walking to take into account. There are 3 towers and each has its own pool, you can also access all of the MGM pools and some of the larger rooms have balconies. These are great if you want a little upgrade or plan on using the kitchen facilities (although be warned there’s not much provided for you to use). The Signature Suites have a nice deli for breakfast, it’s own bar and a Starbucks.
Planet Hollywood – I only stayed a night at Planet Hollywood, the room was large but there wasn’t much storage. It was a clean hotel and is usually more budget-friendly than the other hotels I’ve mentioned. One thing to note is there is one small pool which when I went up one morning was in the shade – So if you like the morning sun this might not be for you!
New York New York – Again I’ve only stayed for 1 night but it was nice and clean in the room. The hotel itself is like the streets of New York so is lots of fun. They have recently extended the outside area which has some nice restaurants and built the new T-Mobile arena too.
Be prepared for a lot of walking in Las Vegas, so take your comfy shoes! Looks can be deceiving and a hotel which is only next door can take half an hour to get to so be prepared to allow plenty of time to get anywhere!
It’s lots of fun to explore the strip and stop off inside the different hotels. Almost all of the hotels have some kind of theme in them so it’s great for photos and to see all the different styles. The hotels all have plenty of restaurants and bars if you need a pit-stop.
Plus of course, there’s always the gambling if you want a rest from walking! The hotels are full of slot machines and tables. I’m not a big gambler so can’t give you many tips apart from don’t lose all your money at once! When it comes to the tables I usually go for roulette as it’s simple. If you’ve never gambled before or are unsure most of the tables will provide free lessons through the day when they are much quieter. You will also find the more expensive hotels have higher buy-ins to gamble, for example on my last trip the Cosmo has $25 minimum bets at the table, whilst over the road The Flamingo had $5. As someone who only plays a little for fun, I went to The Flamingo for a few hours one night!
If you’re not into gambling there is so much more to Vegas then that so don’t let it put you off – But it is fun to have a little go!
There are so many amazing places to eat for every budget in every hotel. You really can find something for everyone. The food in Vegas is almost always good but be warned, on the whole, the portions can be pretty big. There are always places closing down and new ones opening so It is hard to keep up. When researching restaurants, take a look at what your hotels offer first (to save your feet) and then take it from there. Of course, if there is somewhere you really want to go then give it a go!
There are some wonderful Steak restaurants, these tend to be the more high end. A couple I would recommend are Lakeside at The Wynn, which also has some entertainment from the Lake of Dreams (it has to be seen to be believed) and Table 10 in The Palazzo, we had a great set menu.
For Mexican, I can recommend Canonita in The Venetian. I also loved Gonzalez y Gonzalez in New York New York, their crab and bacon guacamole is amazing!
I love a good salad and have found the pools are often good for these, the MGM and Cosmo had a great Caesar salad as did Tom Urban outside NYNY.
It’s hard not to go to Las Vegas and have a burger. Some of my favourites are Holsteins in The Cosmo, Bobby’s Burger Palace outside The Mondrian, Burgr by Gordon Ramsey in Planet Hollywood and Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay. Guy Fieri’s Vegas Bar and Grill is another good place for burgers but also American style food in general.
Pizza is my favourite food to have anywhere in the world and I’ve found some good places in Vegas! Slice of Vegas at Mandalay Bay is nice (they also have a good happy hour). I also like Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill in the MGM Grand, he has a few restaurants in Las Vegas as well. In fact, many of the celebrity chefs do! A fun pizza if you want a takeaway or late-night slice is Secret Pizza in the Cosmopolitan, it’s hidden away but worth finding – We got pizzas and took them to the room when staying there. For New York style pizza Grimaldi’s in The Venetian is excellent!
Much like the restaurants, there are plenty of bars to pick from. Depending on the time of year you go there are some nice outside bars at NYNY we liked Beerhaus at The Park. Double Barrel outside the Monte Carlo is ok for a few drinks and does good food. Also, the Rock Bar outside Planet Hollywood is fun for a few drinks. For a bar with the view of the Bellagio fountains then Beer Park outside Paris is good and they have games you can play as well. If it’s too hot or cold then stay inside!
Many of the bars in Las Vegas offer happy hours these usually range somewhere between 2 and 7 in the afternoon. You can get some great drink deals and also appetisers if you need a snack. Some of our favourite happy hours are Emerils In the MGM and Cabo Wabo at Planet Hollywood.
Some fun bars to head to for a different experience are the rooftop bars! My favourites are the Skyfall Lounge at Mandalay Bay and Voodoo at the top of the Rio, which is off the strip. There is also a really nice revolving steak restaurant underneath if you want to eat first. For a cool experience, there’s also the Chandelier bar in the Cosmopolitan which is nice for a glass of bubbly!
At the Linq Promenade, there are some great bars and restaurants which are often busy. There’s also a cupcake ATM machine if you want something sweet!
If you like to have a few drinks, you can always find somewhere open in Las Vegas!
Downtown at Freemont Street is a fun place to experience if you haven’t been before. For many, it’s the original Vegas with lots of the older hotels. The food and drinks are generally cheaper downtown but be warned it does get busy with lots of drunk people! There is also the zip line which I haven’t done but does look fun and the light show is very impressive! We also found a happy hour at Pizza Rock and their pizza looked good.
Walking is the best way to get around Vegas but you do have to allow plenty of time to get places. This can be especially true depending on how close your hotel room into the strip, in somewhere like the MGM it can take you 20 minutes to get to the door!
Traffic on the strip can also get very busy especially on a weekend so keep this in mind. All of the hotels have designated taxi pick up and drop offs and most now have Uber pick-ups points too. I tend to use a mix of taxi or Uber.
There is so much to do. Some of the hotels have their own shows such as the fountains at The Bellagio, the pirate ship at Treasure Island, the volcano at The Mirage and the light shows at The Wynn. These are all free.
There are also lots of shows to go and see. Cirque du Soleil have many shows in Las Vegas, I’ve seen Love which I can really recommend. There are lots of magicians such as Penn and Teller and then you have your music. Many of the acts only perform on certain days/time of the year so you need to plan ahead if there’s someone you want to see.
If you enjoy sport the Vegas Golden Knights have started to play in the T-Mobile stadium in the NHL (National Hockey League) and the Raiders are moving to Vegas by 2020 in the NFL (National Football League) – So this is a reason for me to go back as I am a fan of American Football!
The famous Las Vegas sign is also fun to check out, although there is often a queue of people waiting to have their photo taken at the front. We usually walk down, it’s about 20 minutes past The Mandalay Bay and then on the way back stop for lunch somewhere in The Mandalay Bay before walking back through the other hotels which all connect together.
On my most recent visit, I went to the Mob Museum which shares lots of interesting stories about the Las Vegas history, especially its connection to organised crime and the mob.
A helicopter tour of the strip is something I would recommend. It takes about 15 minutes to go up and down the strip and you get some unique views of the hotels. It’s especially fun at night! You start at Mandalay Bay and then circle around the Stratosphere at the other end before heading back.
Many people also add in the Grand Canyon. Day trips take the whole day if you go by bus or you can take a helicopter tour which saves time but is more expensive. I personally visited the Grand Canyon when driving to Las Vegas from Phoenix so I haven’t taken one of the tours but I know lots of people who have enjoyed them.
There was my travel guide to Las Vegas. There are lots more things to do and see, plus as I mentioned it’s a city which is always changing. On my very first stay, I had a night in the Sahara which has since been knocked down – That was less than 8 years ago!