The Essential Things to Know Before You Visit Las Vegas
Follow these tips, and you may even be mistaken for a local.
By and large, Las Vegas may be a tourist town, but this guide will help you tackle Sin City like a local. Got gambling questions? We have the answers (hint: don’t cheat). Unsure of what to wear on a night out? We’ve got the dress code, straight from experts. So whether you’re traveling for business or just, well, there to party, here’s how to do Vegas right.
Go Off the Strip
While it may seem tempting to camp out in your luxe, amenity-filled hotel, there’s more to Vegas than casinos and swanky bars. Head downtown for vintage shopping at Container Park or an Insta-worthy trip to the Neon Museum. Jon Gray, Vice President and General Manager of the Palms Casino Resort, suggests buddying up to locals for intel on the best bars and restaurants; some of his own favorites include Herbs & Rye, Sen of Japan, and Other Mama.
How to Get Around
According to Visit Las Vegas, the most common form of transport in Vegas is taxis. Don’t try to hail a cab on the Strip—it’s illegal. Instead, look for designated taxi stands, which most major hotels have. Once you snag one, ask your driver to avoid driving down Las Vegas Boulevard, as it’s very congested, according to Gray. And Traveler Contributing Editor and Vegas aficionado Mark Ellwood recommends paying with cash, to avoid credit card surcharges.
Other options include the monorail (which runs between the MGM Grand and Sahara Avenue), and the RTC buses, which have 39 different routes across the city. Day passes cost $12 and $8, respectively. Uber and Lyft recently became available in the city, so you have those as back-up options. You can always try walking, but at four miles, the Strip is deceptively long—and crowded. (Try to pick your hotel based on your itinerary, so everything is easily within reach.)
What to Wear
Ellwood says, “You should dress in Vegas like you’re meeting your future in-laws for the first time.” Keep it smart and sophisticated, and avoid anything too flashy (in other words, tone down the sequins). For men, make sure to pack a dinner jacket, as some restaurants require them. And definitely remember a bathing suit, because Vegas pools party all year round.
Most clubs have the same dress code, which JEWEL at Aria describes as “upscale fashionable attire.” On their list of no-no’s: hats, sandals, flip flops, sneakers, steel-toed shoes and work boots, ripped or baggy clothing, shorts, or athletic wear. (Men also have to wear collared shirts.) Basically, as long as you don’t look like you’re fresh off a workout, you should be good to go.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Be a courteous gambler. A Smarter Travel article recommends: 1) Tip your dealer 2) Let them count out your money on the table for the cameras, instead of handing it to them directly 3) Don’t bend the cards 4) Don’t use your phone 5) Don’t be that guy, giving unsolicited advice to your fellow gamblers.
Try to learn the basic game rules beforehand. But Gray says you can always ask your dealer for help, if you’re unsure. “‘What’s the book say?’ is code for ‘should I hit or stay?’” he said.
Don’t: Gamble away your winnings. Cash out your vouchers whenever you win big, and repeat until you leave. This way, you might leave with more money than when you came in.
Do: Carry cash, and have a good amount on hand when you arrive. You’ll need it for tips and cover charges: Plus, casino ATM fees are ridiculously high (we’re talking $5 or $6 a transaction).
Don’t: Jaywalk. You could be fined if you’re caught.
Do: Budget! It’s all too easy to be swayed by Vegas’s over-the-top atmosphere and drop a few hundred $$$ on dinner at Picasso every night. But as you’ll soon find out with your credit card bill, not everything that happens in Vegas stays there.
Don’t: Overdo it. Vegas is a 24-hour town, but don’t feel pressured to keep up. Gray advises travelers to pace themselves and drink plenty of water.
Do: Get brunch. Whether you opt for a dizzyingly large hotel buffet or a sandwich at Eggslut, Vegas definitely does breakfast right.
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