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Insider Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Vegas Vacation

BY: Jorie Larsen | Apr 1, 2016

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Las Vegas, that glittering strip of neon in the Mojave Desert, is an American institution. The city synonymous with excess has global appeal, attracting more than 41 million visitors in 2014. (That’s just one reason why we named Sin City one of our best vacation spots in the United States in 2015 and 2016.)

There’s an overwhelming amount of things to do in Las Vegas, so we turned to Bob Sehlinger, creator of the Unofficial Guide travel series and author of The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas and The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, for some insider Las Vegas tips. Here are his dos and don’ts for every part of your Sin City vacation.

Where should I stay, and when should I go?

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DO stay in the heart of the Strip—ideally, between Flamingo Road and Spring Mountain Road. This area overflows with restaurants, shows, and hotels to fit every budget.

DO go in the off-seasons, including late September to early December and late February to mid-May. Perks include “enjoying outdoor activities without frying or freezing,” Sehlinger says.

DON’T forget to look at the calendar before you book your trip. You can enjoy Vegas with smaller crowds if you avoid holidays, major sporting events, and conventions with 30,000 or more attendees.

How do I get into clubs?

DO dress the part for your night out. Sehlinger says, “Showing up early, dressed nicely, is half the battle.”

DON’T expect VIP treatment from the doormen. They’ll sometimes “employ intimidation and humiliation to pressure a group's point man into investing his life savings in bottle service or huge tips to pass through the pearly gates,” Sehlinger says. Or, they’ll keep you waiting in a long line only to finally grant you entry into an empty club.

DO try to wait in line with a group of women. It might feel icky to say so, but it’s a Vegas truth: “Parties of women, the younger and more attractive the better, have the least difficulty being admitted,” Sehlinger says. Guys without women in their parties “are treated worst. Big groups of guys should abandon ship and head for the nearest sports bar,” he advises.

If you’re a man traveling solo or with a buddy, boost your chances of admission to a club by asking to join a party of women. Sehlinger recommends working with an independent VIP hosting company, which can waltz you to the front of the line for a small fee. The app PartyPetition matches you with hosts online.

How do I get good seats at a show?

DO see a show, even if it’s last-minute. Snag a deal on tickets, and, if you’re traveling with kids, see our list of the most kid-friendly shows in Sin City.

DON’T forget your cash. In some show rooms, a maitre d’ assigns the seats. “In this case, if you arrive early and offer a $5–$20 tip per person, you might get some of the best seats in the house,” Sehlinger explains.

DON’T buy VIP seating. “[It’s] almost never worth the price,” he says.

What if I’ve never been to a casino?

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DO dress up, even if you’re not a high roller. Sehlinger says, “You'll be amazed at the difference in how you're treated and respected if you look spiffy.”

DO take advantage of the free drinks while you gamble. But be warned: “you'll more than pay for them in gambling losses.”

DO step away from the chaos if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sehlinger recommends The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian (which features a replica of St. Mark's Square) as “lovely venues for Strip decompression.”

What are the best sights to see?

DO spend time people watching. Sehlinger’s favorite spots are in front of Harrah’s, The Linq, New York-New York, the Monte Carlo, and the pedestrian bridges that cross the Strip. But the best place to people watch, hands down, is Fremont Street. “It’s a real zoo,” he says. 

DON’T miss out on an aerial view of the Strip. Head to the terminus of the Calico Tanks hiking trail in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area for “an unmatched mountaintop view.” Or, go to the rooftop pool at the Cosmopolitan or the revolving restaurant in the Stratosphere Tower. You’ll get a fantastic nighttime view of the illuminated Strip west of the main drag at The Palms or the Rio.

Where can I eat on the cheap?

DO take advantage of happy-hour deals, even at the more upscale properties. Sehlinger says to search for “dining coupons Las Vegas” online to explore a wide range of offers.

DON’T expect elegance if you’re looking to dine on the cheap. “Most of the meal deals you find will probably be served in coffee shops or other modestly appointed rooms,” he says.

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