I entitled this page “comfortable shoes” because there is probably no more important thing you can bring along on your trip and nothing more important for getting around the city. Even the trip back and forth from your hotel room to the casino can be a good hike and you are likely to do that several times a day. And if, like so many other visitors, you do most of your sightseeing on foot, taking good care of you feet is a must. Here’s a few other tips for navigating Las Vegas:
- The one trip most visitors make is from the airport to the hotel and there are a number of options. The quickest and easiest is to take a cab. Follow the crowd outside baggage claim and cue up by the taxi pick up area. The line can look daunting but it moves quickly. Once onboard, let the driver know where you want to go and you will be on your way. Cabs are not cheap and your trip can easily exceed $20 or $30. Not only that, but unscrupulous drivers are notorious for “long hauling” unsuspecting tourists, usually by taking the freeway tunnel to get to the Strip. Ask your driver to use the surface streets unless you are staying Downtown.
- The latest option for airport transport is to use a ride sharing service like Lyft or Uber. The pick up area is in the parking garage on level 2M, which is a short walk from the baggage claim area. This option has become increasingly popular because it is normally 30% to 50% cheaper than a taxi and the whole transaction is done through an app on your phone. No need to mess with cash and you’ll have a good idea what it will cost before you even request a ride. If you have never used these services before, there is normally a great bonus for first time customers.
- The least expensive airport transportation is to take the bus. Yes, you can actually board a bus (located on Level Zero) and be dropped off very close to Fremont Street or Las Vegas Boulevard. The bus you want is the WAX (Westcliff Airport Express) and it will cost you just $2. The schedule varies but is normally about every 30 to 60 minutes. The closest Strip access is in front of the Tropicana and it also stops at 4th and Carson, just a block from Fremont Street. Luggage is welcome.
- Another option is to rent a car. Unless you plan to travel to attractions outside the city or visit a number of Off Strip casinos, I do not recommend this, particularly for first time visitors. While Las Vegas is not a terribly difficult city to navigate, there are a lot of drivers (like yourself) who aren’t sure exactly where they are going. It can be stressful. In addition, most major Strip hotels now charge a daily fee for parking. Besides, if you are imbibing, you certainly don’t want to be driving.
- Once you’ve settled in to your surroundings, you will want to explore. Just remember that the size of the resorts and the way Las Vegas Boulevard bends slightly can make objects appear much closer than they are. That hotel that appears to be right next door could be a mile away. Allow plenty of time when walking, particularly in the summer months when temperatures normally exceed 100 degrees.
- The Las Vegas Monorail seems like a great idea, a way to quickly travel from one end of the Strip to the other. Sadly, it is inconvenient, with the stops located nearly a block behind Las Vegas Boulevard. For short trips, walking can actually be quicker. And it isn’t cheap. A single ride will set you back $5. It isn’t a bad option if you want to get from the MGM Grand to the Convention Center, Westgate or SLS or vice versa. For shorter trips, particularly for a group, a Lyft or Uber might actually cost less.
- There are also a number of free trams that will help you navigate up and down the Strip. The Excalibur to Mandalay Bay one (which also stops at Luxor on the way back) is fairly convenient and quick and is particularly good if you are staying at Mandalay Bay and want to explore. The Bellagio to Park MGM tram (which also stops at Crystals inside City Center) is a bit more of a hike but is still useful if you are staying at Park MGM or the Spa tower at Bellagio. Finally, the Mirage/Treasure Island train is up and running again. It saves a fair number of steps and is kind of fun.
- Of course, Las Vegas has a pretty good bus system and it is an inexpensive way to get around. The buses are reasonably new and comfortable but can get very crowded during peak times and travel times are often long. A 2 hour pass is available for $6, 24 hours for $8 or 3 days for $20. For that, you can go anywhere in towm and ride as much as you like. It is a decent option if you are on a budget, but not a first choice.