We arrived in Las Vegas so full of excitement and hope but the problem was, we had no clue what to do and the things NOT to do in Las Vegas. To make sure YOU don’t make the same mistakes we did; here are our 22 things not to do in Vegas.
1. Do NOT underestimate the Distance
I remember sitting down in front of my laptop, using google maps to plan my itinerary.
“Oh, we will go here, then here, then walk up to this, then walk across to this and then pop over to this.”
Yeah, the hotels are massive so walking from one hotel to another can be a task; especially in the height of Summer. Be prepared for the distance – wear comfortable shoes and allow more time.
Remember to check the monorail option to help get between the hotels located on the strip. There are seven points on the monorail:
- MGM Grand
- Flamingo/Ceasars Palace
- Harrah’s/The LING Hotel
- Las Vegas Convention Center
- Saharah Las Vegas
If you are planning on travelling around a lot, get a day pass for $13 or look into a the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 day passes. We find the monorail worth using if you want to want to travel from one hotel to another, which are both on the monorail stops – for example, MGM to Harrah’s. However, if you want to travel from MGM to The Venetian, you are better off walking or getting a taxi.
Generally, these monorail stops are at the side or back of the hotels.
2. Don't “Save money” by staying off the strip
As a general rule, I tend to stay in hotels slightly outside of the centre of cities in order to save money. DO NOT DO THIS IN VEGAS. You can find reasonably priced hotels on the strip that allow you to explore the hotels and casinos at your leisure without having to rely on buses and taxis.
Additionally, when browsing hotels on the strip, make sure you check their location on a map. The Stratosphere and Circus Circus are both decent hotels with low prices, however, they aren’t in the centre of the strip. Hotels like Treasure Island and Wynn mark the end of the row of luxury themed hotels and these are around a 30/40 minute walk from the Stratosphere.
Looking for a cheap hotel in Vegas? We wrote a whole blog about how expensive Vegas is, which lists some cheaper alternatives on the strip. If you do want to stay off the strip, you can get some great vacation rentals in Las Vegas that are cheap and spacious.
Cheap Las Vegas Strip Hotels:
- The Stratosphere
- Circus Circus
- New York, New York
3. Do NOT Show you’re a newbie
A strange one that we learnt very quickly in Las Vegas. Taxi drivers will often as you if you have been to Las Vegas before – SAY YES! Vegas taxi drivers have a reputation for driving the long way around to boost fares. They are a lot less likely to do this if they think you know your way around.
Other scams to look out for include:
- “Free” VIP experiences – walking up and down the strip, you will often see ‘promoters’ trying to offer free experiences or upgrades for a local attraction. However, they will often ask for a tip (sometimes upwards of $20) for their help and the slip of paper is either heavily restricted or worth nothing anyway. Speak to your concierge instead if you are looking for VIP options in the city.
- Buying on the streets – Vegas has been known for street sellers who are selling water or soft drinks on the street, which can sometimes be bottles refilled with tap water. Check lids are not open or just purchase your drinks from the Walgreens or other convenience stores along the strip.
- Freebies – If someone is handing out free CD’s, posters or encourage photos with your favourite character in costume, it is best to just walk away. Often, you will be given free items and then shaken down for cash once you take the item.
4. Do NOT pay face value for show tickets
Like every major city with shows, Las Vegas has two prices; face value and market price. Get discounted tickets online before arriving in Vegas or browse available tickets at a nearby Tix4Tonight store on the strip.
Compare the prices of tickets using Ticketmaster then head to one of these stores to get discounted tickets (up to 50% off):
- Fashion Show Mall
- Showcase Mall
- Hawaiian Marketplace
- Bills Gamblin’ Hall
- Casino Royale
- Town Square Mall
- North Strip – near the Peppermill
- Downtown – Four Queens Hotel
Other tips for getting discounted Vegas Tickets:
- Book early to get the cheap seats
- Pick up last-minute tickets by arriving at the venue 2 hours before a show and seeing what tickets are available, these are often cheaper. It is not guaranteed that there will still be tickets left for your chosen show, so come with a few shows in mind.
- Headout offers cheaper tickets in advance but not for all shows.
- Use Vegas.com to get tickets and show packages for a good price.
- Book a weekday performance when possible.
- Stay with the hotel – If you’re just visiting Vegas for a show, consider staying at the hotel. You can get good ticket rates when staying in the same hotel or with the same company. For example, if you are staying at a Ceasar’s Entertainment INC hotel, you can get good prices for Absinthe, V, Vegas The Show, Master of Illusions and Zombie Burlesque.
- Try your hand at the Lucky Seat to get close to free tickets for certain shows in Vegas.
5. Don't Presume everything is expensive
We have visited many places in America and we surprisingly found Las Vegas to be cheaper than so many of the other big cities. There are some great ways you can save money in Las Vegas; order the free drinks whilst you gamble, eat at chains or restaurants, not in hotels and stock up on snacks and drinks in the Walgreen supermarkets dotted along the strip.
We share tips on saving money in Las Vegas but to begin with, make sure you compare hotel prices, book flights, hotels, tickets and experiences independently; avoiding the travel agencies who often heighten prices.
6. Don't plan to see the Canyons in one day
There are a lot of Canyons but even just trying to see the whole of the Grand Canyon in one day is slightly impossible! If you want to really explore the National Parks, then set aside a week to do so.
It may even be worth spending a week on the strip then moving to a hotel further afield to visit the parks.
7. Don't gamble too much
Gambling is, of course, the reason so many people visit Vegas – but be sensible. Give yourself a limit and stick to it; no-one wants to ruin their holiday by going into debt!
Remember, there are other things to do in Las Vegas other than gambling!
Another option is to head to the low stake casinos:
On the strip:
- Excalibur ($5 craps table)
- Bally’s ($5 blackjack)
- Paris/Flamingo ($5 blackjack – on occasions)
- Casino Royale (low stakes and cheap drinks)
- Treasure Island ($5 blackjack and low stake table games)
Off the strip:
- Arizona Charlie’s ($5 blackjack)
- Texas Station ($3 card games available)
- Red Rock Casino ($2 poker)
- El Cortez ($3 Craps, $5 blackjack)
- Boulder Station (low stakes and good loyalty point system)
- Santa Fe Station (low stake table games)
- Joker’s Wild ($1 craps)
- Ellis Island ($5 BJ and craps)
Alternatively, try the electronic tables. We love these as newbie gamblers and stakes all depend on what you want to spend.
8. Don't not rent a car
This was the BIGGEST mistake we made! Now, to be fair, I had only just passed my driving test a few weeks before our American travels so I was a little too nervous to start driving abroad.
BUT I WISH I HAD!
There are so many things to see and do beyond the Las Vegas that renting a car makes sense; you save money and time by driving to the National Parks and ‘off-the-strip’ attractions yourself, plus you can plan your time so you arrive before the tour buses.
9. Do NOT avoid the buffets
I remember once being told that all buffet food was bad.
I am sure many of you can agree, this can be the case in some places – but NOT VEGAS.
The buffets are amazing and offer such a great selection for all eaters. I even wrote a whole blog post >> 9 best buffets of Las Vegas << because they are so freaking awesome – our favourite was the Wicked Spoon Buffet in The Cosmopolitan!
- Browse your favourite and opt for lunch buffet times to get cheaper prices.
- The Luxor and Excalibur offer an all-day buffet wristband, so you can visit either of their buffets multiple times between 7 am and 10 pm.
- Cheaper buffets are available at Circus Circus, Palms Casino Resort, Mandalay Bay, Rio and The Mirage.
- Vegas Unzipped list some of the best coupons available for the buffets.
- You can also find great buffet and restaurant deals on Groupon
10. Don't miss the free entertainment
Las Vegas is one of my favourite cities in the world; not just because it is pretty and fun and warm and sparkly (but this helps!) but also because it is a lot cheaper than I intentionally thought it would be.
There are so many free attractions in Las Vegas – you just have to walk down the strip and into a nearby hotel to find something pretty to explore.
Some of our favourite free things to do in Vegas are the Silverton Aquarium, the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat, the Bellagio Conservatory and gardens and the Bellagio fountains.
11. Don't underestimate the airport
There we were, the second destination of our 2 months in America. We arrive at the airport and are met with thousands of people. So the McCarran International Airport is one of the busiest airports in America and there will be queues.
Arrive with plenty of time – always 3 hours with those International flights!
Las Vegas McCarran Airport tips:
- Terminal 1 is used for domestic flights, terminal 3 is used for international flights. \
- Check your gate before going through security, there are different security sections for each gate area.
- Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the airport.
12. Don't try to hail a cab on the strip
It is illegal for taxis to stop on the strip so don’t try flagging one down. Head to a taxi stand or ask your hotel to call one in for you.
To avoid drivers taking your the long way to your destination, use the Uber or Lyft apps to book a driver and know the cost before you travel.
13. Don’t ignore the daily resort fees
The hotels on Vegas strip will charge an additional resort fee on top fo your initial room price. This covers things like fitness centre, pool, internet access etc. They rang from $20 – $50 per day so check the mandatory fee before booking.
14. Do NOT jaywalk
Jaywalking is illegal and dangerous in Las Vegas. This is when you cross the street through the middle and not at the pedestrian crossings at the intersections. If you are caught jaywalking (and you likely will be because Vegas are hot on this), you can be fined a minimum of $350.
15. Don’t stop for photographs
Yes, stop to take photographs of the iconic hotels around the city but avoid photos with the dressed up characters. You will find a handful of cartoon or superhero characters along the strip, who are happy to take a photo with you one to then charge you for the photo (this can be as much as $20).
16. Do NOT use the ATM’s in the casinos
There are ATM’s all over Vegas, but it is best to either pay on card or use the ATM’s outside Walgreens or CVS. ATM’s in casinos charge an additional fee of up to $8 per transaction.
17. Do NOT use the hotel mini-bar
It can be tempting to use the mini bar in your hotel but don’t. Drinks and snacks are incredibly overpriced. There are many grocery stores along the strip with much cheaper drinks, so stick up on water, snacks and drink from these stores.
Also, don’t even pick up a drink. You are charged after 45 seconds of an item being out of the fridge.
18. Don’t stray off the beaten track
The strip is a safe place to enjoy no matter what time of the day. However, if you want to head off the strip to a nearby restaurant, resort or attraction, get a taxi. You do not want to wonder off the strip (especially at night), as these side streets are known for scammers, thieves and hookers.
19. Don’t ignore gambling etiquette
This may sound strange but there is a right way and wrong way to conduct yourself in Vegas casinos.
When you are at a table, don’t hand money directly to the dealer, lay it on the table for the dealer to spread and count. Make sure you hand signal your decisions and do not bend the cards! Also, make sure to tip the dealer, especially if you are winning. Don’t use your phone at the table and make sure your highest chips are in view at all times. If in doubt, follow others or ask.
20. Don’t buy bottled water on the street
Firstly, you will find illegal, sketchy vendors on the strip, selling water. Plus, the Vegas news have reported on some bottles being repackaged and resold with tap water. Don’t get sick from dirty water.
21. Don’t wear stilettos
Unless you are one of those women who find heals comfortable, avoid them! Casinos are huge, resorts are huge and even walking from one side of the club to another can be a trek. Wear comfortable flats, wedges or pumps to avoid getting caught out and ruining your night.
22. Don’t head to the free show
There are many people along the strip, offering free show tickets – often to comedy shows. However, these often come with a two-drink minimum and a large service charge. Check the fine print before you go.
Things NOT to MISS in Las Vegas
Of course there are many amazing things to do in Las Vegas but what should you not miss?! These are a few fun things to do in Las Vegas that can easily be missed.
- Topgolf at MGM Grand – this is is a must-level complex with entertainment on each floor. When you are done with golfing, why not head up to the rooftop pool for a bit of fun in the sun.
- High Roller Cabin – The High Roller is a popular observation wheel which offers spectacular views of Vegas. But, did you know that one of the cabins has an indoor bar? You can book this cabin during sunset and enjoy champagne whilst watching the glittering lights turn on.
- Casino Royale – You are likely looking to do some gambling in Vegas but no one wants to loose a fortune. Casino Royal is perfect for those looking to enjoy gambling without the big bucks. Table games offer a $1 minimal, unheard of in many other casinos around Vegas.
- Eat at Too fo the World – At the top of The Strat hotel, this revolving restaurant is a bucket list item for many. Reserve a table in advance and enjoy a meal with an amazing view of Vegas and Nevada. Other restaurants with amazing views include Americana on Lake Jacqueline, Binions Steakhouse, Mizumi in Wynn Las Vegas and Buddy V’s Ristorante. If you have the cash, you could also head to Restaurant Guy Savoy for views of the Eiffel Tower and Bellagio fountain or Spago by Wolfgang Puck.
- Try the buffets – We love the Vegas buffets and so should you! Wicked Spoon in The Cosmopolitan is our favourite but shop around at the different options and vouchers available and make sure you enjoy a buffet at least once on your trip.
- Head to a pool party – Flamingo, The Venetian and The Cosmopolitan all host pool parties (often on the weekends). Depending on the venue, you can rent a day bed, order a meal or snacks and dance the day away in the pool.
- Explore the hotels – Of course you will want to explore the hotels. Each resort not only has a unique theme and decor but many offer some great attractions too; from exhibits to aquariums, shopping malls to museums.
- The Chandelier Bar – Head to the Chandelier Bar in The Cosmopolitan to enjoy a cocktail in this glitzy, glamorous bar – the martinis are superb.
- Watch a show – Whether it is your favourite singer or a Cirque performance, you are going to want to watch a show whilst in sin city. We love the LOVE show in The Mirage (Cirque) but watch trailers online before booking to see which show takes your fancy.
So here are 12 things NOT to do in Las Vegas! Have an amazing time!
Tell us about your trip in the comments below!