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20 Tips for Your First Trip to Las Vegas

If you’re planning your first trip to Las Vegas, boy do I have some tips for you! Sin City is a fun place, and these Vegas tips will help you make the most of your vacation.

To help you get ready for your first visit to Las Vegas, I’ve compiled a list of tips to help you get the most out of your time here. Let’s get right to it!

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Tips for First-Timers

1. Visit on a weekday when things are cheaper.

Vegas is expensive, but you can bring down the cost a little if you visit on the weekdays. Hotels typically are cheaper, spas have a lower weekday rate, and some attractions have cheaper weekend tickets.

2. Don’t forget about the resort fees.

Hotels in Vegas can seem really cheap at first, and then they tack on resort fees (up to $30 per night sometimes), and suddenly you’re room isn’t so cheap anymore. Hidden fees are a common type of Vegas shenanigans.

3. Most Vegas hotel rooms don’t have a mini fridge or microwave.

They also don’t have coffee makers. The hotels want you spending money on their restaurants and the multiple Starbucks in every hotel (seriously, the Luxor has 3 Starbucks). This is also a bummer because the restaurants often give you huge portions, but you’ll have nowhere to put leftovers if you take it to go, so it results in a lot of food waste (and you can’t save money on meals by eating leftovers).

4. Sometimes cabs are cheaper, and sometimes Uber/Lyft is cheaper.

If you’re traveling to/from the airport, the taxis have a set rate that they’re allowed to charge based on zones of the hotels on the Strip. During the week, you may find that rideshares are cheaper, both for airport transfers and getting elsewhere in Vegas, but on the weekend surge pricing can make rideshares too expensive. Another trade off is how popular each option is when you need to get somewhere: the rideshares at the airport may be cheap, but there’s a lot of demand for them and no one at the taxi stand.

5. Rideshares can’t pick you up on the Strip.

So you’ll have to go to a hotel to catch a ride. Also, every hotel has a different system for rideshares, so some will have a pick-up only area and a drop-off only area, and some will have taxi only areas and rideshare only areas.

6. A map will come in handy for navigating hotels.

These casinos are designed to keep you inside and spending money. Without clocks and windows, and with a maze of slots and shops, it can be difficult finding your way out of a hotel (imagine me, hangry and desperate to get out of Excalibur). There are signs within the hotel, but I found them less then helpful as they often stopped pointing you toward where you want to go based on the sign-maker’s whim (I can only guess). I found that pulling up Google Maps along with using the signage was the best way to get around the hotels.

7. Hotels are further apart than they appear.

On the map, it can seem like everything is close together. And when you’re looking out, most of these giant hotels look like they’re right on top of each other because they’re interconnecting. But these hotels are huge and there’s actually a ton of distance covered between them. Getting two hotels over can easily take 20-30 minutes (again, imagine me, hangry and desperate to get out of Excalibur).

8. Use the free tram systems.

There are three free tram systems that are operated by the hotels they service. The ExcaliburLuxorMandalay Bay Tram takes you to these three hotels on the southern part of the Strip. The Aria Express Tram connects the Park MGM, Aria, and Bellagio. The MirageTreasure Island Tram connects these two hotels toward the north end of the Strip.

9. You’re not going to find prices listed a lot of places.

Restaurants, bars, and especially shops. There’s an extreme lack of prices displayed on the Strip. Whether this is so you don’t get sticker shock before you’ve committed to a purchase or so that places can implement a surge pricing during busy hours, I’m not entirely sure. But it’s some serious Vegas shenanigans.

10. Expect to pay $20 for a drink.

Since the prices aren’t always displayed, just expect to spend $20 on each drink. Then, if the drink actually costs less, you’ll feel better about the price! And if it does end up costing $20, well, at least you were prepared for that.

11. There’s a huge lack of Coca-Cola on the Strip.

This one was tough for me. Y’all, I’m a Coca-Cola girly, I will not drink Pepsi. But Pepsi has a deal with the major casino companies, which own almost all the hotels on the Strip. There is a Coca-Cola Store (which is a watered-down version of the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta), and you can buy Coke in the convenience stores. Vegas is one of the few places in the world where McDonald’s serves Pepsi.

12. If you’re taking advantage of the free drinks while gambling, remember to tip your server.

When you gamble in Vegas, you can get free drinks, as long as you’re actively gambling. So if you’re hitting the slots hard, all you have to do is wait for a server to come to you. And even though the drink is free, you should still tip your server for bringing it to you.

13. Smoking is allowed in casinos.

Smoking is allowed indoors in Vegas in the casino areas. And on that note, weed is legal to buy in Nevada, but it is still illegal to smoke it outside of your own home or a cannabis consumption lounge. Want a fully smoke-free hotel experience? Go with the Park MGM, Vegas’s only smoke-free hotel and casino.

14. The air is dry.

This probably isn’t a big deal if you’re not from somewhere with a lot of humidity, but the dryness hit this Southern girl like a freight train. I felt it in my nose, my eyes, my skin. And this is a dryness that needs some heavy duty lotion, not just the pretty stuff the hotel leaves for you. I recommend bringing along some lotion, eye drops, and nasal spray.

15. Water is a commodity in the desert.

I know it’s easy to forget you’re in a desert in Las Vegas, but you are. It’s hot and dry, and you need to stay hydrated. Especially if you’re drinking a lot. So be sure to have a water bottle handy and order water whenever you order a drink. My friend who just moved to Vegas admitted that she sometimes stops in at open houses just to get the bottled water real estate agents give out if she’s out and about for the day.

16. Don’t miss Downtown.

Further up Las Vegas Boulevard is Downtown Las Vegas. Don’t sleep on this area! This is where you’ll find the Fremont Street Experience, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum, and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.

(Side note: The Strip is technically considered to be from Sahara Avenue in the north to Russell Road in the south, meaning the STRAT is not considered “on the Strip”. The STRAT and above are actually in Downtown!)

17. The costumed characters expect payment for pictures.

If you desperately want a picture with a costumed character or the showgirls walking around the Strip, just be prepared to pay. These shenanigans aren’t unique to Vegas, but if you’re going to take a picture, you’d better pay up. Or just don’t take a picture with them.

18. Don’t bet the house.

I’m not here to give you financial advice, but I feel pretty comfortable recommending that you don’t lose all your money in Vegas. Please gamble responsibly.

19. The penny slots cost more than a penny.

If you’re hoping for a cheap gamble in Vegas, I’m sorry to say that the penny slots are not it. This is because even the penny slots (along with all the other machines) have a minimum bet that is way more than a penny. The traditional “penny slots” are typically a lower minimum bet than others, but still.

20. There’s more to Vegas than gambling.

You don’t have to gamble just because you’re in Las Vegas. There’s also more to Vegas than bars and partying, though I do like a lot of Vegas bars. There are tons of museums, interesting art exhibits, unique experiences, nerdy attractions, and even incredible day trips. You’ll find plenty to do in Vegas beyond gambling both on and off the Strip.

Save on Las Vegas’s Top Attractions

Want to save big on Las Vegas’s top attractions? You’ve got two great options:

Visit bucket list attractions, enjoy top tours, and discover hidden gems handpicked by local experts. With one of these passes, you’ll have everything you need right on your phone.

Get your Las Vegas Sightseeing Pass here, or get your Go City Las Vegas Pass here.

Where to Stay in Las Vegas

More Nevada Itineraries


Ready to visit Las Vegas, Nevada? Plan your trip with these tips.


Cheers!

Paige

20 Tips for Your First Trip to Las Vegas

What tips for visiting Las Vegas do you have? Share them in the comments!

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