Thursday, November 10, 2016

What We Didn't Know Then

Vacationing in Las Vegas isn’t difficult. Throw around a little money on the tables, see a show or two, and maybe spend an evening at one of the nightclubs. But we’re here to offer some unsolicited advice to help you get the most out of your stay in Vegas. The following are some things we wish we’d known about Las Vegas before our first visits. In the immortal words of Faces, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger!”

The Airport Is Close to the Strip
Despite what the cabbies and ride-share drivers might tell you, transportation from the airport to the Strip does not require a highway. The passenger pickup area at McCarran International Airport leads directly to Paradise Road. It’s less than 5 miles and under 20 minutes to Stratosphere via this thoroughfare. You’ll know you’re being long-hauled if the driver takes you from the airport through the tunnel that passes under the runways and onto the interstate. Stick to the surface streets.

Downtown Is Cool
Sure the Strip has gorgeous fountains and huge theatrical productions, but Downtown isn’t far behind. The biggest selling point is the cheaper prices … on everything. Las Vegas visitors staying Downtown can gamble, drink, eat and sleep for much cheaper. Thanks to hefty revitalization efforts, Fremont Entertainment District has flourished over the last half decade. We’re not simply talking about the area under the canopy. Now known as Fremont East, the six-block stretch of Fremont Street east of the canopy boasts hip new restaurants, locally owned retailers and exciting nightlife. It’s Downtown Las Vegas where you’ll find hidden gems such as The Smith Center for the Performing Arts and The Mob Museum. As an added benefit, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada recently set up a bicycle rental program, allowing tourists to explore all this vibrant neighborhood has to offer.

Off-Strip Resorts Are Family Friendly
There are plenty of family friendly attractions in Las Vegas, but it’s the resorts off the Strip that cater more to younger tourists. Silverton, just off Interstate 15 south of the Strip, boasts a fish tank complete with a living mermaid. However, her hours were recently cut back and she now only makes brief appearances during the weekends. Red Rock Casino, at the western edge of town, houses a massive arcade that will keep children busy for hours. It’s also a stone’s throw from Red Rock Canyon, a scenic conservation area popular for its hiking and rock climbing. Nearly all the casinos outside of the Strip have onsite movie theaters and/or bowling alleys the entire family can enjoy. You’ll also reap the added benefit of not paying Strip prices for everything.

Walking Shoes Are a Necessity
If you are staying on the Strip during your Las Vegas vacation, be ready to walk. The distance between Mandalay Bay and Circus Circus is roughly 4 miles, and as an example, Bellagio’s property in total spans approximately 4.8 million square feet. Unless you plan on Segway-ing around the city or racking up a substantial Uber bill, you’ll be hoofing it.

Grand Canyon Is Closer Than You Think
A four-hour drive to the Grand Canyon might be out of the question during a Vegas vacation, but a 45-minute helicopter flight is more than feasible. It’s also more affordable than you might think. A helicopter tour to Grand Canyon includes a flight over Hoover Dam and the Strip. Some options also include a landing within the canyon, during which guests can enjoy a champagne toast and intimate views of this natural wonder. Our preferred vendor offers complimentary transportation within 5 miles of the Strip to and from its plush Las Vegas Boulevard terminal. A late morning trip will have you back in time for your dinner reservations.

Now you’re a Vegas veteran. For more useful Vegas travel advice, fun facts and recommendations, follow VegasDaze on Twitter.

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