First Time in Las Vegas: 11 Tips to Know Before Visiting

July 1, 2020

Planning your first time in Las Vegas? You’re in for a treat. Sin City is truly like Disneyland for adults. The city is like ice cream, once you get a taste, you only want more. As you start planning your itinerary, booking the best Vegas hotels, and searching for the top Las Vegas shows to go to, keep these tips in mind:

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KEEP AN OPEN MIND

First an foremost, keep an open mind to Vegas and everything it has to offer! For years, I wrote off Vegas as a destination entirely because my mind was filled with the stereotypical, dirty, sleazy impression of it. I couldn’t have been more wrong about it. Yes, the city is definitely an adult, 21+, travel destination, but it certainly is more vibrant, trendy, and full of culture than it’s made out to be. Start your first time in Las Vegas with no expectations except to have fun.

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{The sign’s correct. Las Vegas *is* fabulous}

THE FUN STARTS AT LAS MCCARRAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

LAS might be the only airport I’ve ever been in with slot machines. In fact, it’s one of only two airports in the States with slot machines {the other being Reno-Tahoe}. McCarran International Airport has approximately 1,300 slot machines, and they’re everywhere. In the middle of walkways, in waiting areas, you name it. Ironically, I made more off the slot machines in the airport than I did at the actual Las Vegas casinos. Play them in moderation while waiting to board your flight for an unusual and unique airport experience.

LAS McCarran International Airport Las Vegas Nevada welcome to las vegas

THE STRIP IS FURTHER THAN YOU THINK

Vegas is deceiving when you look at a map. Yes, the airport and the Strip are close, but even the distance walking up and down the full distance of the Strip can get lengthy. Resorts off the strip on W Flamingo Rd such as Rio and the Palms appear much closer and walkable than they actually are. The city as a whole is larger than most think. On top of that, the Las Vegas casinos themselves are absolutely massive, and can take upwards of 15-20 minutes just to get from the door to your destination within the casino itself. Allow more time for travel than you think necessary. Expect to use a rideshare app such as Uber or Lyft several times, or ideally just rent a car. See the best car rental options in Las Vegas by clicking here.

DON’T BOOK THE MOST INEXPENSIVE HOTEL ON THE VEGAS STRIP

Hotels on the Las Vegas strip range anywhere from $25 a night to upwards of $100,000 a night. With that, the quality, amenities, and type of guest ranges greatly. Oftentimes, the least expensive rooms in Vegas are in inconvenient locations on the strip, or are lacking in room quality, and amenities. Also keep in mind that Vegas hotels DO charge resort fees, oftentimes around $45 USD a night. I personally love the The Palms Casino Resort which consists of both the Palms Hotel, and Palms Place. Several Palms Place suites can be booked on AirBnB and they don’t have a resort fee. If you’re traveling with a group larger than four who would like to stay together, it’s a great option! I really enjoyed that it was actually across from the strip on W Flamingo Rd, which kept us close to the action but with some breathing room to wind down and relax. Click here for $35 off your first AirBnB trip!

THE BEST LAS VEGAS HOTELS ON THE STRIP

The following are the best Las Vegas hotels on the Strip for your first time in Las Vegas:
The Cosmopolitan
amazing amenities, restaurants, and location. You could honestly spend the whole trip in the resort alone. My favorite hotel on the Strip by far.

The Wynn
Easily one of the best buffets in Vegas. Great shopping, including one of the few dedicated Off-White boutiques in the States.

The Venetian and The Palazzo
Both part of the same resort, the Palazzo tends to be a little more contemporary and slightly larger than the Venetian. Four outdoor pools, over 20 restaurants, Italian theme.

above: all you can eat buffet at The Wynn
below: Beauty and Essex {my fave fave fave trendy nightlife restaurant} at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Try the grilled cheese dumplings {bottom right}. You’ll thank me later.

WHERE TO FIND THE BEST LAS VEGAS HOTEL DEALS ON THE STRIP

Several of the most popular hotel discount sites don’t work well with Vegas due to the demand for the top hotels on the Strip. I recommend the following if you’re trying to save money on a high quality stay:

AirBnB
I’ve seen suites for the MGM Grand {on Strip} and the Hard Rock Casino Hotel as well as Palms Place {off, but near Strip} on AirBnB at great prices. I used AirBnB to book Palms Place and avoided the $45/night resort fees of other hotels in Vegas. Click here for an additional $35 towards your first trip!

Expedia
Expedia is a great way to compare hotel rates of all the various hotels on the Strip. It also has reviews so you can hear from other travelers prior to booking and making your decision!

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GAMBLING IN VEGAS? JOIN THE CASINO PLAYER’S CLUBS

Gambling is easily one of the most recognizable tourism features of Las Vegas. Whether it’s your first time in Las Vegas, or you’re a seasoned Vegas veteran, and you decide to partake, join the player’s clubs for the casinos you play at! The player’s clubs are typically free and several offer free game credit to play in the casino. Why gamble with your own money when you can just use the casino’s?

down the rabbit hole neon sign at Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada

DON’T BUY DRINKS AT THE CASINO BAR

The biggest rookie mistake you can make during your first time in Las Vegas is buying drinks at the casino bar. The drinks at the casino bar are just as expensive as at the fantastic Vegas cocktail bars and clubs, and you chances are that if you’re buying from the casino bar, you’re planning on playing in the casino. You can be getting the same drinks for free just three feet away. Sit down at an inexpensive slot machine, play a round or two, and wait for a cocktail waitress to come take your order. The drink’s on the house and you could get away with playing less than $3 in slots for it. Just make sure you always tip your waitress!

PACK FOR THE VEGAS CLUB DRESS CODES

If you’re not from a major party city such as NYC or Los Angeles, club and bar dress codes overall are likely unenforced or nonexistent. In Vegas, the dress code is important and making sure that you pack accordingly will save you from panic later. Below are some common themes among Las Vegas club dress codes for both men and women. I’ll also be linking some great clothing options that will pass with the Vegas bouncers.

LAS VEGAS CLUB DRESS CODE FOR GUYS

DON’T wear:
baggy jeans
baseball caps
jerseys
loungewear
tennis shoes
open toed shoes
shorts
athletic wear of any kind
hard soled shoes
boots {with the exception of clean dress boots underneath pants, such as a Chelsea boot}
t-shirts
tank tops

DO wear:
“upscale casual” {Vegas clubs LOVE this phrase}
button down shirts
slacks
black, high quality denim without rips or tears
dress shoes

LAS VEGAS CLUB DRESS CODE FOR LADIES

DON’T wear:
ripped jeans
t-shirts
loungewear
flats
baggy clothing of any kind
fully sheer clothing

DO wear:
bodycon dresses
heels {even if they’re short!}
polished hair and makeup
black, high quality denim without rips or tears
mini skirts
on-trend tops and bodysuits

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GOING TO A VEGAS CLUB? GET YOUR TICKETS

Just like top clubs in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, most of the best nightclubs in Vegas will require you to either pay a cover, or to purchase tickets for entry in advance. On nights in which major DJs are headlining {most weekends} the club will sell out, and you likely won’t be able to purchase at the door, so be sure to order online in advance! Most Vegas ticket fees are lower for ladies than they are for guys, and range between $20-80.

FIND A VEGAS CLUB PROMOTER

The best thing you can do for an amazing night out in Vegas is to find a Las Vegas club promoter. Online tickets will only get you into crowded GA, whereas club promoters have tables and drinks for a more enjoyable experience all around. Keep in mind that some guest lists for Vegas club promoters are ladies only, or have very limited spots for men. If there are guys in your party, try to make sure the amount of women you’re requesting for guest list entry outnumber them! Many Vegas club promoters have free entry for their guest lists, some may charge a reduced rate for men, or a reduced rate on high demand nights. If it’s your first time in Las Vegas, some of the best ways of finding promoters include dating apps such as Tinder, and social media such as Instagram. If you happen to make friends with a Vegas local, try asking them as well!

ENJOY ON DAY TRIPS AND HIKES OUTSIDE OF THE CITY

One of the most underrated features of the Las Vegas area are the stunning hikes and day trips available! Helicopter tours from the Vegas Strip to the Grand Canyon offer stunning views and allow you to land and explore as well. Click here for helicopter tour options. These tours last anywhere between two to six or more hours depending on if you’d like to land, how long you’d like to explore, etc.

Another hidden gem of the Las Vegas area are the many hot springs and hikes near the Strip! Just 45 minutes off the Strip is the Arizona Hot Spring. Also nearby is the Gold Strike Hot Spring and Nevada Hot Spring. Nearby hikes in the area include the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and the Calico Basin Trail. These springs and trails offer breathtaking, scenic views of the Southwest and are a great way to spend a day detoxing from partying before nightfall hits.

SEE THE LAS VEGAS ART INSTALLATIONS

One of the biggest surprises I encountered while in Vegas was how much art was everywhere. Hotels and restaurants featured work from current, on trend, innovative artists such as Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Shepard Fairey, and Dustin Yellin, to name just a few! For example, not only does the Palms Resort and Casino have an entire suite designed by and named after Damien Hirst, one of their bars, The Unknown, is entirely centered around his work as well. Dustin Yellin’s work is the centerpiece of Apex Rooftop Social Club, The Palms’ stunning rooftop cocktail lounge {and one of my personal favorite spots to drink in Vegas for their off-menu vodka cucumber mojito. Tell the bartenders at Apex to experiment or give you their best cocktail in the liquor of your choice and they won’t disappoint}. My trip was near Lunar New Year, and as a result, the Wynn had stunning floral installations throughout their lobby. I could’ve spent a couple days just running around casinos and checking out the art!

Also in Vegas’ art scene is the iconic Neon Museum. Located just above the Las Vegas Strip and the art district, the Neon Museum is essentially a graveyard for some of the coolest neon signs you’ll find. There is an entrance fee, however the Neon Museum is a non-profit.

above: The Unknown Bar by Damien Hirst at the Palms Casino Resort
below: Apex Rooftop Social Club featuring art by Damien Hirst

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above: work by Takashi Murakami at the Palms Casino Resort
below: decorations at the Wynn

Vegas can be one of the most fun and purely indulgent trips you can take. Just keep and open mind and come prepared!

xx,
E

IN MY VEGAS WARDROBE

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