Vegas me like I am an alien
August 12, 2023 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I will be visiting for 3 nights in September to go to a concert over the weekend. Where can I stay? What is the deal? I have gathered a little from previous asks, but feel very "born yesterday".

We will not have a car. We are Europeans and I think we aren't gonna be charmed by like, mini Eifel Towers or fake canals? We aren't there to gamble, but probably wouldn't mind a game or two, or some oldschool slots. We want to visit the strip, but not all of it, what's a good spot?

I gather there is "old vegas" and "new vegas"? Is old Vegas == downtown == freemont experience? Is New Vegas == the strip? Is the Freemont street part at the start of the strip and it goes on from there? On my want list is Omegamart and The Neon museum but otherwise I am open to things to do and see. Is there anywhere with genuinely good food to eat?

Most vitally, I would like some suggestions for nice but affordable, central (to where?) hotels to stay in. Am open to less central, less affordable if it is an amenity rich hotel with frex spa etc.
posted by Iteki to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (34 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: you definitely don't want a car in LV. taking cabs or ubers is waaaay better.

old vegas == downtown/fremont experience, yes. its kind of charming and less touristy, a bit cheaper too. not so flashy and large scale as the strip. its a relatively small area so you can see it all by walking around.

the strip == new vegas. you kind of need to pick your battles. the strip is LONG. and everything is so big that your sense of proportion will be completely out of whack. I haven't been super recently so I don't know the newest casinos, but I think you can't go wrong with the mid-strip Caesar's Palace area. after dark, when it is cooler, its fun to walk from casino to casino and just people watch and stroll in the casinos. I'm not a big gambler so I have no advice there.

if you want to stay on Fremont, def try to book rooms in the Golden Nugget. classic old school Vegas with an amazing pool which has a shark tank in the middle!!! (you cannot actually swim with the sharks!)

the strip is definitely more expensive. the MGM Grand has an amazing series of pools and a Lazy River (I think they may have been embroiled in some labor controversies, so you can check that if its a concern to you where you spend you money.)

have fun!
posted by supermedusa at 10:55 AM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Quick add on as my mrs is looking at stuff now, she's been looking at things near the south end or middle of the strip (but offset a little, say near the golf course), is that a better or worse idea that in town? My initial feel is that the back-streets to the strip are going to be less populated/interesting to wander in?
posted by Iteki at 11:00 AM on August 12, 2023

Best answer: Regardless of where you’re at, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a fantastic way to spend some time, even if you’re not super into pinball. I haven’t been to their new location (the old one was in a strip mall and looked closed and was still amazing).
posted by furnace.heart at 11:04 AM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

If I was there, I would definitely check out the newly opened Punk Rock Museum. I found old Vegas to be more gross, and less old-timey. Seconding the Pinball Museum as a must do. Neon Museum is also worth a trip, and since it’s next to old Vegas you could take a quick gander. Momofuku in the Cosmopolitan is excellent, and I’ve heard great things about their brunch but haven’t actually been. Sorry for the lack of links!
posted by sacrifix at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2023

Once you’re off the strip, even by one street, in my experience there’s basically nothing (I live in Vegas). It turns into strip malls and warehouses and typical walking unfriendly American city really fast. There’s also all the parking garages and support buildings for the convention centers and hotels etc. The Strip is designed to be a singular thing you only go one way on, it’s not integrated into the urban fabric or whatever. Stay on the Strip itself if you want to get that experience.

As for food, there’s a lot of very good food but it’s going to be really expensive. There’s also lots of very expensive thoroughly mediocre food. What kind of food or dining experience are you looking for?
posted by MadamM at 11:17 AM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

Just to really drive it home because I saw you mentioned wandering- some of the off strip areas are streets set up so that you pretty much can’t walk on them. I’ve tried to park for free at one casino and walk to another without just going all the way to the front and walking on the Strip itself- wasn’t possible. Imagine trying to go “off route” or take a behind the scenes route at Disney World or another big theme park. It’s just not built that way.
posted by MadamM at 11:21 AM on August 12, 2023 [5 favorites]

Catch Cirque du Soleil!
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:28 AM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is all really good info, thanks folks! We are leaning towards these places, are we nuts? Oasis at Gold Spike up in old town or Oyo near the airport. The Delano is also on the table. Any feelings?
posted by Iteki at 11:34 AM on August 12, 2023

I would really recommend staying on the Strip, tbh, otherwise you will feel very far away from most things, you won't be able to get anywhere other than by car, and you just won't get the Vegas experience. Like, it will look close and possibly even walkable on a map, but it will not be, because as MadamM says, a lot of those streets are not pedestrian friendly, and also even if you drive, you need to factor in traffic issues. A thing to also keep in mind re walkability: it is very hot. Very. This will impact how much and how far you are willing/able to walk.

I agree that mid-Strip Caesar's Palace area is a good area to stay in terms of feeling centrally located. Also, there's a monorail on the Strip, and some hotels have their own train that runs between their different properties, which can make getting around the Strip easier. Youtuber Safiya Nygaard stayed at every hotel on the Strip recently, and the videos are a good overview of the vibe and feel of each hotel. Of the hotels you list as options, I would pick the Delano.
posted by yasaman at 11:46 AM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Generally speaking, the city of Las Vegas does not have many places that are interesting to "wander in", other than the main tourist areas. So that's basically downtown, the strip, and the arts district. If you'd prefer to do your wandering in wilderness, Red Rock Canyon is about a 30 minute drive away, but would most likely require a car rental. I think there are other wildnerness areas nearby, but those also would require renting a car.

One thing to keep in mind is that the distances on the strip are deceiving, and it may be hotter than you expect, even in September. Temperatures could be around 95F/35C. If you're planning on walking outside, wear sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and don't be afraid to stop frequently or just take a cab if you're hot or tired. The casinos might look like they're not very far apart, but this is deceiving because they're so large. It can be a 1 mile walk from one casino to an adjacent casino. The strip is a bit over 4 miles long. It's about 7 miles from downtown to the south end of the strip.

Omegamart is great! I can't speak for the neon boneyard, but I've heard good things about it and really want to go.

Las Vegas has world-class food, including multiple restaurants with Michenlin stars. It also has a lot of expensive, mediocre restaurants.

Delano will be much, much nicer than Oyo or Oasis, but will also be substantially more expensive. I think Delano is totally worth the money, but my budget is probably on the high side. Delano has an excellent spa. All of the major resorts on the strip will have a spa, with nicer amenities at the more expensive hotels.

Feel free to memail me with other questions.
posted by cruelfood at 11:53 AM on August 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

+1 for renting a car for a day to do Red Rock Canyon and/or Valley of Fire, but it will be hot so plan accordingly. Some of both spots can be enjoyed from a car, but to really get a sense of their beauty you need to hike. Given that you aren't big on casinos, I'd say you'll enjoy your time your time more if you don't only spend it in Vegas proper.

Vegas has a very good Chinatown, which is really more of a Pan-Asian Town.

I only stayed one night in town proper (I flew in for a hiking vacation), but often hotels on the strip are really cheap, like $25-$30 a night. Just check
posted by coffeecat at 12:25 PM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

You really should say what concert you are going to to get actual recommendations, unless a 90 minute walk each way through a half dozen hotels and thousands of people instead of just an elevator ride isn't that big of deal either way.
posted by Back At It Again At Krispy Kreme at 12:47 PM on August 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

At both the Fremont Street Experience and on the strip, you will encounter people dressed as Marvel characters, Disney characters, showgirls, and other similar things. These are buskers, and they will expect to be paid for photographs. Some have gotten aggressive or violent when not paid. I suggest not engaging with them. Similarly, there will be people handing out cards or brochures, usually for escort services. I suggest ignoring anybody who is handing out things.

If you're taking a taxi, make sure you have cash. I think most or all taxis are supposed to take credit cards, but there is a substantial extra charge for using a credit card. I've also had taxi drivers claim the card reader wasn't working, but I suspect they were lying to avoid fees on their end. Lyft and Uber are both popular in Las Vegas, and won't typically be a long wait. One thing to be aware of with both taxis and Uber/Lyft is that the taxi stand is not always at the front door of the casino, and the Uber/Lyft pickup is often not in the same place as the taxi stand.
posted by cruelfood at 1:19 PM on August 12, 2023

Anecdata, FWIW: It was a decade or maybe even two ago, so take this with a very large grain of salt, but once when I was in LA, I drove to LV with no plan deeper "go to some casino". I had no problem finding a convenient hotel (or motel, I forget) to sleep in and to leave my car at. This was in downtown.
posted by Flunkie at 2:41 PM on August 12, 2023

Margaritaville is my favorite place in Vegas. People think they’re too good for it but they’re wrong.
posted by dianeF at 3:57 PM on August 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

Omega Mart!
posted by itesser at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Since you mention it specifically, I stayed at Oasis at Gold Spike last October for 4 nights. It was very very cheap to stay there on weeknights, and was totally ok. The rooms are small and basic but modern-looking. The rooms are smaller than they look in photos. The pool was unheated but looked nice, although the EDM they play in the pool area was audible in our room at night time (turning on the AC to add more white noise fixed this.) It is clean, but not super clean, and there seems to be a lot of construction on the streets around there.
posted by lizard music at 4:50 PM on August 12, 2023

I feel obligated to mention Hash House.
posted by omgwtfpmr at 5:18 PM on August 12, 2023

If your concert is at a casino consider staying there.

Delano is great— hopefully you’ve found a deal on the room rate!
You don’t need a car most folks use cabs and ubers to get around.
As mentioned casinos are farther than they appear!

There is a three hotel building called Resort World that has a Southeast Asian ‘street food’ area with many different places offering their specialties. There are also night clubs there and concerts too.
posted by calgirl at 7:26 PM on August 12, 2023

We spent 4 days in Vegas (our first time there, also non-gamblers). Agree that you don’t need a car for general getting around, since traffic + hotel parking + parking wherever you went just made it not make sense. We did do a one-day car rental to hike at Red Rock Canyon, as others suggested - it’s an easy trip and beautiful. We really enjoyed the Neon Museum and had a great time at The Mob Museum as well.

If you can spring for it, the Cirque du Soleil show O at the Bellagio is incredible.
posted by Mchelly at 7:31 PM on August 12, 2023

We spent a few days last January, just off the strip at the Tuscany. It was comfortable and very reasonably priced, though Vegas prices vary a lot depending on demand.

I was walking close to 30,000 steps a day in Vegas. We don’t gamble but as a site to take in American excess it really is something to behold. It reminded me a lot of Disney but with a lot more shopping malls. It’s so bizarre to go from fake Paris to fake Italy to fake Egypt. There is lots to gawk at for free.

We enjoyed OmegaMart also.
posted by Cuke at 8:02 PM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I go every year, and I stay on the strip at the Mirage. It is central to the other hotels I want to visit, like the Bellagio for beauty and Cosmopolitan for the best little gourmet restaurants that are all in one spot together (in my opinion).

The buildings are huge and far apart. It’s deceptive. Everything is farther away than it appears, so I never wander, I always have a concrete plan.

The hotel/casinos are purposefully maze-like so that you will stop and gamble. If you don’t have the hotel map up on your phone as you enter, it’s easy to get lost.

Omegamart is a quick Uber ride away. It’s awesome.

The areas in back of the casinos are typically industrial. There’s nothing back there you want to see.

If you stay on the far north or south ends of the strip, you’ll need to Uber more because there is far less within walking distance. That said, I admittedly have enjoyed staying at Mandalay Bay for good restaurants (try Libertine Social) and the Michael Jackson One cirque du soleil. Walk to the Laugh Factory for comedy. Nothing much else within walking distance.

My typical agenda:
Stay at Mirage. Pool, dolphins, tigers. Beatles Love cirque du soleil is amazing (and I really don’t like the Beatles but you’ve got to see this show.) Restaurants there are okay but not great.

Eat brunches at The Henry in the Cosmopolitan hotel. (Short walk from Mirage.)

See Area15/Omegamart.

Eat dinner at Cosmopolitan - I like China Poblano but there are several other delicious restaurants right next to it.

See a show.


I hope you have fun!
posted by Knowyournuts at 8:21 PM on August 12, 2023

Wherever you stay, you might want to employ this one simple trick to glean high end souvenirs! (THANK YOU HERR DOKTOR!)
posted by vrakatar at 8:22 PM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

If you're only there for 3 days, definitely say on the Strip. Most of the Strip hotels are huge, so large you can get lost trying to find your way out. But opposite the Bellagio is The Cromwell. It used to be an old-school hotel called the Barbary Coast, and many of us stayed there when MeFite jonmc got married in Vegas a few years ago. It's now been slightly upgraded but is still reasonably un-fancy by Vegas standards.

It's a small hotel, on a corner, and is right smack dab in the middle of the Strip, so it's really easy to get to everything. It's reasonably cheap by Vegas standards, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles and attractions (zoo, funfair, etc) that you get in the bigger hotels. But it's really convenient and close enough to everything you might want to see.

If you're thinking of 'old' Vegas, the El Cortez is totally Old Vegas, and is downtown in the Fremont St area.

As others have said, once you get off the Strip, there is nothing, and walking past largely unoccupied service areas behind the Strip hotels would be a risk to personal safety that I would not wish to take. If I were you, I'd stick to a hotel on the Strip. Don't stay out by the airport, there's really nothing to see there.

Be prepared to walk a LOT - the distance between Casinos is deceptive if you look on a map. They look next door to each other but you're walking half a mile between each. But it's fascinating to people watch. Make sure you have really comfortable, supportive shoes.

Another thing about Vegas is that, whilst New York might be the city that never sleeps, Vegas is the city that never shuts the f**k up. From every single establishment along the Strip music is piped out - mostly 70s-90s pop/soft rock, to get people into a happy, nostalgic mood so they'll spend more money. But it is relentless. When I visited Vegas with a friend a few years ago we needed a break from the sensory overload of lights and sounds and rented a car to drive out to Death Valley (which might not be the ideal destination this year, given it is hotter than hell there, and it was March the year when I went and still extremely hot).

But be aware that Vegas is full-on, and doesn't let up. It is truly amazing though, and there is so much to see. Hit up one of the buffets - the Wynn is fantastic.

There's a lack of free WiFi in most places, it's usually only for paying guests in the hotels, so make sure you have sufficient data on your phone. If you're visiting from Europe and your phone is compatible, you can get an e-SIM fairly easily.
posted by essexjan at 1:42 AM on August 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: These are all great bits of advice, thank you! I am starting to get a hang of it. The Cromwell would be perfect, but it is about a thousand dollars a night (fri-sun, we are cutting back with a night now). The Tuscany is great looking but it is off strip and you have me all stressed about that now :) mind it's only one block-ish off strip and leaves you out at the Bellagio which is probably a good compromise. The concert is miles away so we are going to that separate from accommodation, many of our co-concert-goers are at the Delano which is why we were thinking there. We don't have a deal, is there a way to get a deal?
posted by Iteki at 5:55 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Just another bit on hotel scale. The MGM Grand at the south end of the strip is a Las Vegas monorail stop. The station is in the back of the hotel (the monorail runs roughly parallel to the strip just 1 block East). It can easily take 15 minutes to walk from the front door of the casino, through the casino, to the station in the back.
posted by mmascolino at 7:04 AM on August 13, 2023

Response by poster: Actually, we just found a decent price for Cortez which also has a generous cancellation policy if anyone comes past with any crazy deals :) we feel much better prepared and really appreciate the reality check on wandering around! We will be little cab-borne people for our two nights :)
posted by Iteki at 7:07 AM on August 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: And roll up your sleeves for the same question about San Francisco shortly!
posted by Iteki at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

I went there for a meetup with some old friends. Went to The Beatles LOVE/ Cirque du Soleil, which was fantastic; that's my era, I'm sure the other options are equally fabulous. Las Vegas relies utterly on tourists so it's relatively safe. Our hotel had a pool, outdoor swimming in a desert was really pleasant.
posted by theora55 at 8:23 AM on August 13, 2023

Just a few things I hadn’t seen mentioned yet:

-cigarette smoke and its smell is everywhere in casino spaces - just FYI
- walking is hot and you’ll need water. Bring a water bottle. You will find there are few places to fill it since casinos would prefer to charge you $5 for a single use bottle, but you can manage. I also heard from our Uber driver that many people on the way in from the airport ask for a stop at a grocery and buy a case of water for their room.
-Cirque de Soleil is as good as people say. Initially I thought it might be cheesy, but no, it’s astounding. We saw Mystere which was their original Vegas show and I can recommend it.
-the Bellagio has amazing themed gardens in the solarium, free to see and worth it. I didn’t think the fountain/light show was great but it was something to do.
-for actual gambling and also food/drink, the Mandalay Bay was my favorite. It was IMO the most like a casino you’d see in a Bond movie, not overly themed or gimmicky, slightly classier. They had good free live music in the lounge areas.
-in general I was pleasantly surprised by all the live music we heard. It dawned on me that a lot of people of great talent are in Vegas working on various aspects of show biz which means a concentration of good musicians. Whenever we caught someone singing in a piano bar or doing a live music happy hour, it was excellent.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on August 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

This might not be worth a car rental but one of my favorite memories from Vegas was driving to a random fast food taco place away from the strip and bringing them to a nearby municipal park to eat. Heat permitting, I guess.

What I would NOT recommend is basing an entire evening's plans on someone in your group's random restaurant group loyalty program and the availability of passion fruit margaritas, which you send back because they aren't passion fruity enough.
posted by ropeladder at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Seconding MeowWolf MegaMart! We are going to U2UV in December and definitely plan on checking that out!

We are also going to Death Valley and Zion as side trips on either side of that show, and the American west is amazing and pretty unique geography, especially as a European you know about cities and Eifel towers and that shit.

AND, you might just check out the Sphere if you aren't going there for the U2 show. I have no idea if it's open, or on view, or whatever, but...
posted by Snowishberlin at 4:21 PM on August 13, 2023

The Atomic Museum on Flamingo Road, dedicated to nuclear weapon testing, contains things you can't see anywhere else.
The High Roller Observation Wheel, the second tallest in the world, is a very good ride at sunset or in late afternoon, when the desert and the city are in raking light.
posted by the Real Dan at 7:03 PM on August 13, 2023

This may be an unpopular opinion, but your last day is worth booking one more night at the hotel. Vegas is sensory overload and it is nice to have a base camp before you head back to LAS.

We checked our luggage at the bell desk, which was fine, but it's nice to just have a place to chill out, use the pool one more time, sort out your bags, etc

And keep an eye on airport delays too! Best wishes, and ride the coaster at New York New York! Don't take random CDs from street hustlers! Bet it all on red!
posted by Khazk at 7:36 PM on August 13, 2023

« Older Recommendations for indoor Surveillance camera   |   Don't look now there's a monkey on my back Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments