9 Vegas tips and tricks for first-timers and veterans alike


Whether you’re visiting Vegas for the first time or you visit often, here’s nine tips and tricks to get the most out of your trip.

Las Vegas is known worldwide for casinos and nightlife, but there are also many other tourist attractions available. Museums, shows, famous chefs and chain restaurants add to the unique atmosphere of Vegas and make it the perfect city to try something new. Read on to learn about must-see attractions and how you can maximize your trip experience.

1. Don’t ignore downtown

Container Park in Downtown Vegas. Photo courtesy of Mason Moriarty.

Downtown Vegas has a more chill atmosphere when compared to the Strip. But that doesn’t mean it has less to do. Not only does the downtown area have older and more classic casinos, but the El Cortez boasts the loosest slots in Vegas. The Neon Museum nearby holds a graveyard of neon signs from hotels and casinos that have been demolished, some of which have been restored. Be sure to stop by the Mob Museum, which is housed in the 1933-built Post Office and Courthouse. Container Park, a small outdoor mall of restaurants, shops, and a playground made of old shipping containers (and guarded by a fire-breathing giant praying mantis sculpture) is a perfect afternoon experience. Don’t miss checking out Fremont Street at night. The canopy reveals it’s a giant video screen by showing stunning music video-like concerts on the hour. As an added bonus, since downtown Vegas isn’t as flashy as the Strip, food and hotels tend to be cheaper; A big bonus if you’re in town for multiple days.

2. Join Loyalty clubs

When visiting a casino, don’t pass up joining the loyalty clubs, even if you’re only stopping by. There’s a huge variety of bonuses you get for signing up and playing with your card, ranging from discounted food to raffle tickets to free play. Sign up is free and pretty easy, just requiring an ID and email. At the very least, the cards are a fun souvenir to take home and document your trip with.

3. Be warned: second-hand smoke is a real issue

If you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke, be sure to bring along an inhaler, allergy medicine, or a filtered mask. As a Chicagoan where smoking indoor has been banned for years, visiting the casinos and choking on smoke was a startling surprise. Paired with the dry desert air, this is a combo that can wreak havoc on your respiratory system. The downtown casinos do tend to be smokier. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to avoid it is to move to a different machine or part of the casino.

4. Trick your friends into thinking you made it big

While visiting Downtown, don’t forget to stop by Binion’s Gambling Hall for a free picture with one million dollars. The photo is completely free (though tipping your photographer is encouraged). They let you touch, lean on, and pose with a glass-encased money pyramid. Scan or snap a pic of your printed photo and play a trick on your friends, family, and co-workers by making them think that cool million is your prize money.

5. Check out some nature and cross off some items on your bucket list

Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Monica Betel.

While Vegas might seem to be all about the neon and bright lights, don’t forget that there’s a plethora of beautiful scenic locations close by. In one direction lies Red Rock Canyon, a National Conservation area that boasts breathtaking views of red sandstone mountains. There’s a 13-mile scenic drive that winds its way through the park with strategically placed parking lots that allow you to get out and hike the trails or snap some photos. In the other direction lies both the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam, two items you can check off your bucket list if you’re up for a bit of a drive.

6. Bring some comfortable shoes and be prepared to walk the Strip

While there’s definitely more to Vegas than the Strip, you still shouldn’t pass it up. With all the famous casinos, the High Roller (a giant Ferris wheel), lights so bright it makes night feel like day, the famous Bellagio fountain show, and more — the Strip has enough to entertain for several nights. However, due to the congestion and unique way the pedestrian walkways crisscross over the street, often it’s easier to walk to your destination than grab an Uber or Lyft. If you’re going to dress fancy, be sure to bring along a change of comfortable shoes to slip into.

7. Wednesday is the slowest day

If your trip is longer than just a weekend getaway, be sure to visit the Strip on Wednesday. It’s by far the least crowded day and guarantees that lines for popular tourist attractions are at a minimum. Take a ride on the world’s tallest Ferris wheel the High Roller (and maybe splurge for the in-capsule open bar), go see a Vegas show, or grab a table at any of the amazing restaurants.

8. Many stores will ship merchandise

Traveled light or just don’t have room in your luggage? Several locations (in fact all the stores I inquired about), will ship merchandise or have online stores. This is a perfect way to avoid extra baggage fees, plus has the added bonus of a self-bought present arriving at home for you. It’s also a great idea to surprise friends and family with a souvenir without having to hand-deliver it.

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9. Keep an eye out for bargains

While planning out your daily activities, keep an eye out for money-saving bargains. Groupon regularly has discounted tickets to shows, museums, and attractions. Several casinos have free parking available, which is a perfect way to save on cab fare if you’ve got a designated driver. For buffets, see if there’s a day-pass that lets you revisit for the whole day. Lastly, check out CityPass or Go City Pass. These are services that allow you to pay a flat fee for a pick-what-you-want selection of attractions. While the initial investment may seem pricey, often you can save a good chunk of change over visiting each attraction individually.