So many travel to Las Vegas to gamble and drink their memories away. As appealing as that may seem to some, I wasn’t going to Vegas just to party, though it was definitely on my bucket list.
There’s more to Vegas and the surrounding area than booze and lounging so my friend and I decided to explore a little more than just the inside of hotels.
On a Friday I had a friend message me saying she wanted to do a spontaneous trip and she suggested NYC. Since I had already been to NYC this year I wanted to switch it up, so I suggested Las Vegas. She agreed and that night we had our flights booked.
Best Time to Visit Las Vegas
The best time to visit Sin City is during the shoulder months of March to May and September to November. Though you’ll be able to score travel deals throughout the year these months are the best for a combination of prices and weather.
During the winter months there is a huge influx of visitors, especially around New Year’s Eve. The summers can be extremely hot, reaching temperatures of 37°C and higher. Trust me, I went during this time and it was tough to walk for long on the Strip!
Temperatures during the shoulder months can dip down to 15°C but still reach the low 30’s so pack a few layers when it cools down at night. Lastly, be sure to book a trip during the week to score the best deals on airfare and accommodation as Las Vegas is a weekend destination so prices tend to spike.
Las Vegas Budget
Las Vegas on a budget? It can happen! You may be planning on being a high roller for the weekend but there are certainly some ways you can save money so you can spend it on more important things.
*All prices are quoted in USD.
If you want to do Las Vegas on a budget then it can be done for a daily budget of $50-100. This budget is if you’re staying in a hostel, cooking some of your own meals and not eating at prime spots on the strip and using local transportation.
Hostels can be as cheap as $20 a night for a dorm. Public transport can be less than $8 a day depending on how long you buy a pass for and meals you can find very budget options like Subway and McDonalds but except to pay $15+ for cheap sit-down restaurants.
If you’d like to stay in a hotel, not take public transit and eat out at nicer restaurants then have a daily budget $150-300. This can be even higher depending on how fancy you want to be!
Hotels can be booked using points to save or you can score hotel deals by staying at some of the cheaper hotels. Eating out at nicer but not the fancy restaurants will cost $25-50 a meal and transit can be done for $25 or less a day depending on how much you taxi/Uber.
Las Vegas Transport
Getting around Las Vegas is very simple, even if you’re taking public transit.
Getting from McCarran International Airport to the Strip: The easiest way to get from the airport to the strip is by taxi but this is the most expensive option and not all taxis accept payment by cards. Prices range from $12 to $25 depending on where on the Strip you’re headed.
Uber and Lyft are both available at the airport and are 30-40% ($13-17) cheaper. Pick up in terminal 1 is at the 2M parking garage and on the valet parking level of the parking garage in terminal 3. The cheapest option is taking the 109 bus from the terminal located outside on the ground level.
You can purchase your fare at the kiosk before boarding. One final option is a Las Vegas airport shuttle that take you directly to your door and cost as little as $7 one-way.
Transporation in Las Vegas is easy. The Strip is long so walking, especially in the heat is not always an option. The cheapest option The Deuce which is public double-decker bus that runs down the Strip and to downtown Las Vegas. You can purchase 1-time tickets for $2, 2-hours for $6, 1-day for $8 and 3-days for $20.
There are free trams between certain hotels that can save you from walking. Know where the attractions are that you want to see and you can plan to take the tram.
Taxis are the most costly way to get around town but you can calculate rough rates here for an idea. Also note that you should never hail a taxi from the side of the road as they can be fined. Be sure to always grab one from a hotel. Uber and Lyft are also available through the city.
Las Vegas Travel Insurance
- Picking travel insurance is an essential part of planning a trip for everyone, including your trip to Toronto
- If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel
- World Nomads is an affordable option that I personally recommend
- I’ve made 2 claims with World Nomads for doctors appointments and antibiotics in the Philippines and Australia
- No idea where to start? Check out my travel insurance guide to help you pick the best option for you
- Don’t think you need travel insurance? Read these travel horror stories
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
You won’t find uber budget-friendly places to stay in Las Vegas on the Strip but you can find Las Vegas Strip hotels for cheaper than you’d think.
Budget Las Vegas Accommodation
Hostels in Las Vegas are the cheapest accommodation in the city. I personally recommend Hostel Cat and it’s perfectly located between the Strip and downtown Las Vegas so you can the best of both worlds and public transit runs right past!
- Hostel Cat | BOOK NOW: Hostelworld
- Las Vegas Hostel | BOOK NOW: Hostelworld
- Sin City Hostel | BOOK NOW: Hostelworld
Mid-Range Las Vegas Accommodation
I think you’ll be surprised that some mid-range hotels in Las Vegas are some of the more popular ones. You don’t have to fork out a ton of cash just to stay on the Strip!
- New York New York | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
- Harrah’s Hotel and Casino | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
- Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
Luxury Las Vegas Accommodation
These are the best of the best hotels in Vegas that will show you a side of luxury you’ve never seen. Get ready to splurge (but it totally be worth it)!
- Encore at Wynn Las Vegas | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
- Bellagio | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
- The Venetian Hotel Resort Casino | BOOK NOW: Booking.com
Las Vegas Itinerary
Day One – Travel & Downtown Las Vegas
Early Tuesday morning myself and my friend took off from different cities, and spent our layover together in Philadelphia where we drank mimosas for 4 hours in celebration of my birthday that was the day before, and for our spontaneous trip.
When we arrived in Vegas our jet lag was already catching up with us. Though it was only a 3 hour time difference, waking up at 3:30AM and having very little sleep on the plane didn’t help our situation. Regardless we found our hostel, dropped off our bags and headed out in search of food.
We decided on a small Mexican place and left feeling more than tipsy after one very strong margarita each. Back in our hostel we met two of our roommates – some Brazilian guys who had just gotten in from California. Together we walked to a cornerstone to buy some beer and socialized in our hostel room until a knock on our door disturbed us.
A man informed us that we were invited to join him and other’s from our hostel for 25 cent beers at a bar close by. Forcing ourselves to keep our eyes open we went out to a bar in downtown Las Vegas (not the strip!) and got to know some of the other traveler’s staying at our hostel.
My friend, exhausted, left early and I spent the rest of my night with a guy I had just met. He invited me to roam the strip, as he was leaving tomorrow, and wanted some pictures of it at night. We weaved in and out of hotels and gambled briefly (I ended up winning $75!) before calling it a night and heading back to the hostel.
Day Two – The Strip & Show
My friend and I headed out for the strip after a quick breakfast to explore the hotels and strip by day. We started at the Luxor and made our way to the Venetian, on the opposite end of the strip, by dinner.
We had an Italian lunch inside the New York New York casino and roamed through the shops of each hotel and occasionally stopping to gamble. We stopped for a snack and drink in Caesar’s Palace and marvelled at the detail of it all.
Just roaming through the hotels and casinos itself is a long day, with more to see than one could imagine. But determined to fill our days, we backtracked to have a big buffet dinner at Aria before our Cirque De Soleil show, Zarkana. It was my favourite part of the day, and was a show that did not disappoint.
Once again exhausted we went back to the hostel to get some shut eye before we had to be up early the next day.
Day Three – Grand Canyon & Night Life
It’s easier said than done to wake up at 5:30AM after a full day of walking, but we managed to and got on our shuttle in time. Instead of spending the day in Vegas we had opted in for a tour to take us to the Grand Canyon with stops along the way at Hoover Dam and on Route 66.
Being able to sit and get some extra shut eye on the bus was exactly what we needed since it’s about a 4 hour drive to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. We had the longest time to explore at the Grand Canyon where we walked along the South rim, stopping often to take pictures. But it’s beauty and sheer size couldn’t be captured in pictures, it simply must be seen in person.
Back at the hostel we knew that we wanted to have a night out on the strip, living it up at one of the famous hotel’s nightclubs and were invited to do exactly that by our Brazilian roommates when we got back at 9PM.
We got dressed up and drank until we had a strong buzz before heading out to Marquee at the Cosmopolitan hotel. Though we had called beforehand to confirm we arrived to find the club closed on a Thursday.
We found ourselves at Caesar’s Palace Omnia, buying overpriced drinks and dancing on a terrace overlooking the shining lights of the strip, while making new friends. I would have opted to do a club crawl instead to see more of what the Strip has to offer.
Day Four – The Fremont Experience & Roof Top Lounge
Our last and final day we decided to take it easy. Mainly because exhaustion had reached a point that I didn’t know existed and my friend was too hungover to do much. We made our way to downtown Las Vegas where we had breakfast and roamed around the shops and entertainment.
With our bathing suits tucked in our oversized purses we headed to Radius, the 25th floor roof top pool lounge at the Stratosphere where we spent the rest of the day recovering from our three previous busy days and soaking in the hot desert sun without dying from it’s heat.
It was the perfect way to end our time in Vegas, relaxing before we had to make our way to dinner and then to the airport for our midnight flights back home.
Things to do in Las Vegas
1. Downtown Las Vegas (The Fremont Experience): An area where the locals tend to head to is Fremont Street, avoiding the the strip and tourists. It’s definitely worth your time to get out of the crowds and enjoy some food or drinks for a bit cheaper.
There are shops, bars, restaurants, more gambling (of course) and even zip lining. It also has free light shows and music performances, all under a canopy to keep you out of the sun and heat.
2. The Famous Strip: I think this is pretty self-explanatory as you can’t visit Vegas without checking out all the hotels. Give yourself some time and a good pair of walking shoes. There’s plenty of food, casinos, activities, and a ton of shopping (there’s a mall in every hotel!). You can weave your way in and out of the hotels for a break from the heat. There’s no shortage of things to do there.
3. A show: Why go to Las Vegas and not see on of the many shows offered at any of the hotels along the strip? Vegas is here for your entertainment, so go out and see it! With so much to pick from we narrowed it down to Zakana, a Cirque du Soliel show at Aria hotel.
We picked up our tickets that day and enjoyed the show at night. If you want to spend every night at clubs, make sure you check out one of the earlier shows as there is usually two per night.
4. The Grand Canyon: If you have the time, actually you should make the time, to go and visit this natural wonder. Easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, I could have spent days there just looking. Check at the reception desk for tours.
They’ll most likely pick you up at your hotel entrance, provide breakfast, and will allow to see more than just the Grand Canyon like the famous Route 66 and Hoover Dam.
5. The nightlife: Of course this is something you should give a try. Partying in Vegas is a must-do at one of the many hotel nightclubs along the strip. We went to Caesar’s Omnia nightclub and spent the night on the terrace that overlooked the strip.
Make sure whatever nightclub you want to go to is open (especially during slow season), and check out whats DJs are playing (if you’re into that), as Vegas brings in top DJs from all over the world.
6. Pool Lounge: Vegas is hot, no matter what time of year it is (note, do not go during their summer if you can’t stand the heat…like I did) so a relaxing day to recover from walking or partying is perfect to spend at a pool lounge.
We checked out Radius, 25 floors up at the Stratosphere. We got lucky and got in for free, even though those who are not staying at the hotel are charged a $10 cover.
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