The consensus for Vegas travel is that “winging it” is a bad idea.
With so much to do and experience, plus all the flashing lights on the Strip, hoards of people who haven’t slept in three days, musical illuminated fountains, and replicas of world wonders, you might end up frozen on the street in a mild panic.
So, here at Palazzo Paradiso, we’ve compiled this list of 15 insider tips from bloggers, avid travelers, editors, small business owners and others who know Vegas.
Armed with their expert hints, you can arrive in Sin City with a confident plan and jump right into a great time.
Just don’t forget to sleep.
Gambling in Vegas
First up, the obvious. Not everyone comes to Vegas to gamble. But for those who do, keep these tips in mind.
1. “Don’t play slot machines. They suck your money away hand over fist. Compare $600 lost over 16 hours on a $0.25 machine compared to just $40 lost at blackjack or craps @ $5 a hand.” – Michael Bluejay of VegasClick.com
2. Budget. “You don’t want to run out of money on the second day of a five day trip! So use some form of budgeting for your gaming money. Some folks put their daily allowance of gaming money in separate envelopes and anything left over at the end of the day is a ‘win’ (to keep), or added to the remaining days to make a higher limit.” – Las Vegas for Beginners
3. Get a Players Club Card at each casino. “Players club cards are now more similar to loyalty club cards at supermarkets than the slot club cards of yesteryear. Like other loyalty programs casino hotel players clubs offer various rewards and benefits based on how you spend your money… simply walk up to the players club desks when you arrive at the casino and show them your ID.
However, if you’re a neurotic planner like me you can sign up for a players club card online before your trip and just pick it up at the players club desk at the respective casino.” – Marc Meltzer of Edge Vegas, for Travel Vegas
Alcohol in Vegas
Ahhhh, the sometimes-thrilling, sometimes-tumultuous marriage between alcohol and gambling in Sin City. These tips will save you cash and hassle when it comes to indulging these two vices at once:
4. “Most Las Vegas sports books have gone the drink ticket route – offering up complimentary drink tickets only if you make a horse racing or sports bet for a particular amount. If you are interested in scoring a generous amount of complimentary drink tickets at the sports book, simply tip the ticket writer a dollar or two. This usually is enough motivation for the ticket writer to supply you with drink tickets every time you make a wager regardless of the amount of your bet!” – Tommy Lorenzo of TheVegasParlay.com
5. Must-be liquors. “When you’re playing at a table game inside a casino, if you order a particular brand of liquor, chances are you’ll get a cheaper, knock-off version of your favorite. To make sure you get the brand you want, make it clear to the cocktail waitress it’s a “must-be.” (It must be Captain Morgan, not Sailor Jerry or Admiral Nelson.) Tipping the waitress when you order can also help ensure you get the specific liquor you like.” – Scott of Vital Vegas
And another drink tip from expert Scott:
6. “Liquor prices vary widely, even within the same Las Vegas resort. A bottle of beer can cost dramatically different when purchased at the hotel’s lobby bar, at the pool bar or in the gift shop. Ask around and save some bucks.”
If you start to suffer from sensory overload or one too many cocktails—which certainly happens here!—don’t forget about the gorgeous and serene terrain that surrounds Las Vegas. A calm, desert sunrise can go a long way toward healing a hangover, if you can tumble out of bed early enough.
7. Famous for a reason. “With over 1 million visitors a year, it’s hardly a secret, but Red Rock Canyon is one of my favorite places to visit near Las Vegas, just 30 minutes drive from the glitz of The Strip. Incredible geological features mixed with desert landscaping and blazing red rocks at sunrise and sunset make this a fabulous place for sightseeing and a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts seeking hiking and rock climbing thrills.
But here’s my hot tip: it’s also a fabulous spot to get married! For the cost of a permit plus officiant fees, one of two sites with rustic natural charm are yours to exchange or renew your vows at while surrounded by the majestic panoramic views of the desert. Some wild burros might even wander past and be your witnesses. So be sure to rent a car and get over there! – Kelly Zenkewich, Editor at Little Vegas Wedding
8. “Most people know that Nevada and of course Las Vegas are land-locked…but our secret tip is to explore beautiful Lake Las Vegas and go paddle boarding! It is only a 45-minute drive east from the Strip and you end up in an oasis of palm trees and water. The paddle boarding is seasonal and a small non-descript set up on the shallowest part of the lake. It is a refreshing, fun activity and an alternative to the desert heat!” – Tiffany at Sin City Cupcakes
9. Go night golfing. In Vegas, golfers can keep out of the mid-day heat and sleep in, too. Starting at twilight, from early spring through fall, some Vegas golf venues provide lit courses for night golfing and even offer a cheaper rate than in the daytime. – Golfer’s Digest
Sin City isn’t sinful everywhere! And the glitz and lights and awe-inspiring scenery of Vegas make it a boredom-free destination for kids. They might even shock you by putting away their electronic devices for a couple minutes to take it all in.
10. “Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage [is] a must see place for children who will enjoy a face-to-face encounter with some of nature’s most exotic and majestic creatures. To explore, learn and play in an enchanting world of white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards and the family of bottlenose dolphins, the Mirage is the place to be.” – PJ of PJ Mom Blog
11. “The Cirque show Mystere allows children of all ages to attend, but most of the other shows in town do have a minimum age requirement of 5. However, once your children hit that 5 year mark they may have a blast seeing some of the various Cirque shows around town such as Ka or O. I’m partial to those shows, but there are many other shows in Vegas that children would also love like the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur, Blue Man Group at Monte Carlo (5+), or the Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s (5+).” – Summer Hull of Mommy Points
Teenagers can have their fun, too!
12. A trip up the Stratosphere…for those who like dizzying heights and thrilling rides. For $16 per adult and $10 per child you can head up to the viewing platform over 1100 feet in the air. If your kids are real adrenalin junkies they will enjoy the rides though they are definitely not for the feint at heart and strictly for older kids. Ride prices are $12-13 but packages can be bought that include tower admission and multiple rides.” – Bethaney & Lee of Flashpacker Family
Vegas Beyond the Strip
A couple insiders encouraged us to tell you about the other Vegas, away from the Strip.
Downtown is great for both stretching the budget (a steak downtown is generally cheaper than a steak at the casinos) and discovering the places where locals, foodies and other cultural connoisseurs hang out.
Here’s a travel writer and Vegas local on the subject:
13. “Take the time to visit downtown Las Vegas beyond the Fremont Street Experience. Huge developments and initiatives in this part of town have resulted in a creative space with lots of bars frequented by locals, restaurants with outdoor dining, street art and locally owned shops.” – JoAnna Haugen of Kaleidoscopic Wandering
Vegas on a Budget
Yes—it can be done!
14. “If you plan to do a lot of the paid attractions, it might be worth investing in a Power Pass. They cost $85 for one day up to $136 for five days and cover 25 attractions, including Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden, the Mob Museum, Stratosphere observation deck, Bellagio art gallery and Madame Tussauds. It also includes trips out of Vegas to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon West and a Lake Mead cruise.” – Lucy from On The Luce
15. “Do NOT take cabs all the time. They are expensive and really add up. Try the Las Vegas Monorail that runs from MGM Grand to the Wynn. At $3 a ride, you can spend more at the slots.” – Megan from The Big Fat World
Feel more prepared to take on Vegas?
We hope so. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more, or to rent our Tuscan-inspired villa, Palazzo Paradiso, found in a peaceful location just minutes from the Strip!
Amy Firmani, Owner & Host