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Mark’s First Timer Tips

Here are my top tips for someone taking their first trip to Las Vegas:

  • Do not rent a car.  It is easy to get around the Strip and downtown by  bus, cab, Lyft/Uber, Monorail or   walking. Give yourself some time to get familiar with the city before attempting to drive it yourself.  Trying to drive down the Strip while gawking at the sights is a recipe for disaster – especially when you add Las Vegas’ free-flowing alcohol to the mix.
  • Don’t try to visit Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon. Make your first trip about Las Vegas. Save those for a later trip (or even better, make a trip specifically to see those sights).
  • Take in some of the free spectacles like the Fountains of the Bellagio, The Bellagio Botanic Garden, The Volcano at the Mirage, the Fremont Street Experience or the circus acts at Circus Circus.
  • See a show. There are so many choices that you will find something that you like. You can find discounted tickets for many shows at the Tix4Tonight kiosks around town.  I suggest Cirque du Soleil’s classic ‘Mystere‘, Penn & Teller, and  Legends in Concert.
  • Join the players club for wherever you are staying and playing. Even if you don’t gamble, most players clubs will reward you for your membership by giving you discounts at their restaurants and  gift shop as well as giving you comps (or even a higher tier card) based on your lodging and other expenses. (see my “I Don’t Gamble. Why Should I Get a Player’s Club Card post for more info).
  • Check out my “What can a non-gaming partner do in Vegas?” post for additional ideas.
  • Gamble a little. I suggest heading to Fremont Street for more casual, lower limit gambling if you are new to gambling. As a general rule, the slots are looser and the video poker paytables are better downtown, too.
  • Enjoy the free drinks provided  while gambling. Whether you are playing a table game, slot machine or sitting at the bar playing video poker, you can get basic drinks comped. Premium liquors may or may not be comped, but it always worth asking for what you want.
  • Visit a museum (really). The Neon Museum  and  the Mob Museum  are my top choices. If you are a car aficionado, visit the Shelby Museum . Play pinball or an arcade game at the Pinball Hall of Fame. For a quick fine art fix, visit the small  Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.
  • Get out of your comfort zone; just a little. Do the SkyJump at the Stratosphere;  drive a bulldozer at Dig This!; or eat something that you might not be able to get at home like the grilled octopus at  Estiatorio Milos or the Foie Gras Cotton Candy at Bazaar Meat at The Sahara.

If you have your own first timer tips, feel free to share them in the comments section!

Viewer E-mail: What can a non-gaming partner do in Vegas?

(Updated May 2018)

I get this question from time to time.
“My partner/spouse is going to Las Vegas (typically for a conference, but sometimes just for fun). I’m going too, but I don’t gamble. What is there for me to do?”
I’m assuming that you will spend evenings together and already have ideas for that, so I’ll focus on daytime activities. Here are my suggestions. Continue reading Viewer E-mail: What can a non-gaming partner do in Vegas?

Center Strip Hotel Options

Just like the North Strip and South Strip, the Center Strip has a range of hotels to choose from, all within easy walking distance of each other. It used to have a wider range of room rates, but the loss of the Bourbon Street (many years ago) and with the Cromwell replacing Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, there aren’t any truly budget conscious options. The variety now is in hotel/casino brand and design.  The main center Strip hotel options are Aria, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Paris, Planet Hollywood, the Flamingo and in the near future, the Cromwell.

The most affordable option here is the Flamingo. It also has the smallest basic rooms, which are 350 square feet. That is small for a modern hotel room, but was really nice back when the Flamingo was built. The Flamingo also has one of the best pools in Las Vegas. When it opens, the Cromwell will probably be the most expensive, but right now the most expensive option is the Cosmopolitan.

Like my previous posts on the South Strip and North Strip options, I’m going to make 3 suggestions from the list. Continue reading Center Strip Hotel Options

North Strip Hotel Options

In a follow-up to my South Strip Hotel Options post, some friends are in a similar situation with an annual convention that has higher room rates than it has in the past since it will be at the Mirage this year.  I like the Mirage and suggest staying there if possible, but I have a few suggestions if you are looking for more affordable alternatives. Continue reading North Strip Hotel Options