Are we crazy for going to Vegas on NYE? Yes.
December 15, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

We're going to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve and also the next night. We're staying at the Stratosphere, and are avoiding ridiculously priced "parties" hosted by celebs. Do you have any advice on navigating the Strip, fun free places to go, special public events, and where to watch the fireworks (and do those happen at midnight, or earlier?)? I'm familiar with Vegas--I just want New Year's Eve specific advice. Thanks!
posted by faunafrailty to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The strip becomes a pedestrian mall about 6pm on NYE and 300K drunk people are in the street. The only way to get from Sahara to Mandalay Bay is on foot or the monorail.

Note that some hotels will have their security guards only let their registered guests inside during the height of the mayhem for fire safety purposes.
posted by birdherder at 2:19 PM on December 15, 2008

My best gf and I went to Vegas a few years ago on NYE and we just walked up and down the strip. We were handed plastic glasses of champagne, cigars and streamers on the sidewalk in front of several of the major casinos. The people watching on the strip is the best! We watched the fireworks on the MGM Grand corner facing NYNY, I don't remember what time they went off. I can't say if there are any special things to do that night down at Freemont, but the next night you should stop there for the free light and sound show.
You can go to the M&Ms factory for a free little cheezy tourist movie, it's 3D.
The animatronic/live action Titan thing at Caesar's Forum Shops is cool to see once. It's over by Cheesecake Factory.
And not free... but the Atomic Testing Museum is my favorite place to go in Vegas. Cost is about $12.00 per person and it has a ton of information and the docents have a very "interesting" view on atomic energy. Definitely a must see!
posted by phytage at 2:30 PM on December 15, 2008

My parents, who have partied their hearts out at Mardi Gras and gone to Times Square to see the ball drop, went to Las Vegas for NYE a few years ago. They said the strip was basically destructive mob, that got angrier as the night progressed. They ended up going back to their hotel.

Not to be a killjoy, but plan for the crowd being uncontrolled and there being no cabs or shuttle buses. If you're planning to head to the South end of the strip, it's probably a good night to get a monorail pass.
posted by 26.2 at 4:43 PM on December 15, 2008

Definitely get a monorail pass. Its a long cold walk down the strip back to your hotel after a night of partying. Cabbies will quote insane rates because of all the traffic from closing off the strip.

I've been there to celebrate several times and havent seen a destructive mob. There are pockets of rowdy people but the police usually get there and contain it quickly. Anytime you mix alcohol with crowds you are bound to get some asshats who cause problems.

You're likely to get a good view of the fireworks anywhere on the strip, they shoot them from muliple locations. Just stay away from the pedestrian bridges as they will block any view in case the flow of people moves you from your camped out spot. I recall being at the corner of Vegas blvd and Flamingo and watching the fireworks over the casinos north-east of the intersection.

Some more general advice. Wear warm clothes. (as a socal native, I was freezing my ass off.) Comfortable shoes are a must, you'll be walking a lot. Use the restroom before you leave your hotel (or exit a casino to goto the strip). Like birdherder said, some hotels will post guards and not let non-guests into the hotels once the NYE festivities start. You'll have to deal with ungodly long lines to use porta potties.
posted by aGee at 10:24 PM on December 15, 2008

Ditto what everyone else says, and double on the cabs. You don't want to count on cabs to get you back to your hotel. Various parts of my group waited at least 3 hours in different cab lines last year. I would plan on not going farther than walking distance from your hotel.

We ended up watching the fireworks go off over the Eiffel Tower from in front of the Bellagio, but it didn't look like the view would be bad from anywhere.

Stay close and don't bother trying to call each other if you get separated -- you won't be able to hear. Text messaging works better. Or maybe have a designated meeting spot (in front of, not in a casino).

You may be able to get into some of the cheaper hotels if you have to use the restroom (or warm up). We were able to get into Bill's Gambling Hall (formerly Barbary Coast) with just a little finagling, but even they had door guards.

And yes, you're crazy. But I'm crazy enough to go back again this year, so it must be worth it. :)
posted by natabat at 10:54 PM on December 15, 2008

Response by poster: Thank for this information. I would have had no idea about hotels closing themselves off to anyone but registered guests! Which seems kind of weird because, outside of getting those free glasses of champagne, what are people drinking if they can't go into casinos?

Phytage: We went to the Atomic Testing Museum last year, and you were right, it's really informative and interesting. We liked it but it was a little strange to visit after having been to Hiroshima. It's hard to get rah-rah about atomic testing after that!
posted by faunafrailty at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2008

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