The Strip by night, a neon dream.

Welcome to Las Vegas! The best City Guide so far!

Las Vegas is the third most visited tourist destination in the US with more than 40 million tourists each year, significantly more than Niagara Falls. Las Vegas is a city everyone has an idea of, even those who have not been here because it’s not like any other city in the world. The first game license was awarded to the Northern Club in 1931, and it was mainly workers at the big Hoover Dam that where customers. Post-war, Vegas blossomed with casinos and entertainment. The Rat Pack with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davies Jr., Elvis, Bing Crosby put up their iconic shows here.

Las Vegas today is not as much casino as it once was, although they are still everywhere. The las Vegas of today is more about gourmet restaurants and world class entertainment and a  family-friendly city. Las Vegas is definitely a fascinating place, but do not forget it’s also in a fascinating area. So take a few days extra and visit the beautiful National Parks scattered around Las Vegas.

Words: Jonas Larsson  Photo: Camilla Lindqvist 

 

Down Town Las Vegas is the where it all started. Bring your quarters and win some money at El Cortez, one of the most iconic casino.
When in Vegas, go on a day trip to one of the many National Parks nearby. A helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon is a memory for life.

Travel Tips 

Flight: I prefer Norwegian, cheap flights, modern aircrafts and a greener alternative. From app. $ € 5 000 return.

Passport and ESTA: Make sure your passport has a minimum of three months’ valid. You also need some kind of visa, most people only need ESTA, and you can apply for this online and usually get approved right away. Always have a printout of your ESTA even though you are unlikely to show it. 

Passport: Always have your passport. Even if you are an adult, you may be denied access to bars or clubs if you do not have a valid ID on you. Feels strange to Scandinavians but that’s how it works in the United States. 

Time of year to go: The summer in Las Vegas is literally boiling hot. Even the wind is like being in front of a giant hair dryer, so avoid summer. Spring, fall and winter is great. Pool clubs will close in October good to know if you love being tipsy in swimwear. Keep in mind that if you are going out to the Grand Canyon, it’s definitely best to do it in the fall or spring. 

 

Practical facts 

Wi-Fi: The larger hotels usually include wi-fi. In others it may be free in the lobby but you can pay to have it in the room. Throughout Down Town, Old Las Vegas, there is free wi-fi.  

Alcohol: Cheap. Everything is a bit cheaper in Old Vegas and Fremont Street with the surrounding area. One tip is to be careful with alcohol, you should play so you should be on top and keep in mind that it is hot so it may be wise to be careful. 

Tips: The wages are minimal for those who work here, they live on their tip. Often it’s quite cheap too, so tip generosulsy 10-20 percent and at least 15 percent at dinner. One dollar a drink at the bar. Bell boys and janitors expect tips, so always have cash at hand.  

Heat: It’s incredibly hot in Las Vegas; keep in mind that you’re actually in the middle of the desert. So be smart, drink a lot of water, wear a hat and put on sunscreen. Good shoes and frequent breaks are also smart; you’re on vacation, keep calm. 

Dress Code: At most casinos you can wear shorts and t-shirts, though you may dress a little nicer. At a nicer restaurant; wear long pants and nice T-shirt. Most places have their “dress code” on the website. Upscale fashionable attire may be a requirement for some clubs. 

 

Flamingo is one of the more iconic hotels and casinos on the Strip.

To stay 

Bellagio: Luxury at its best. Do you want to be Brad Pitt in Ocean’s Eleven? Have a cocktail at the bar and watch the famous fountains that spray water to music and lights in a dazzling show. Rooms from $ 169. 

Tuscany Suites: Little ‘Off Strip’ but very centrally located is this attended Old Vegas hotel. Charming with low hotel buildings scattered in a quadratic structure. A small but nice pool area. The casino is nice and old school, the rooms a bit boring but big. A good budget option. Rooms from $ 30. 

Artisan Hotel: The coolest hotel on this list. With its Gothic décor, European-style pool (rooftop pool), carnival and famous nightlife, this is the place for night hawks who want to get a little more alternative to Vegas. Rooms from $ 40 

The Metropolitan: Next door to the Bellagio but at a fair price. A modern hotel with pool parties, casinos, and restaurants. With its 17 restaurants, it widens in diversity. Rooms from $ 100. 

 

The numbers 

Number of hotel rooms: On the strip there are more than 62,000 rooms. All of Vegas have more than 150,000 rooms distributed in over 300 hotels.  

Visitors: Every year, 42 million people visit Las Vegas. Revenue on casino business is nearly $ 10 billion a year. The hotel has 90 percent occupancy and the average price for a room is $ 120 a night. The average age of the guests is 47.7 years, and people tend to stay for an average of 3.4 days. 

The very first casino: The very first casino opened in 1931 under the name Pair-o-Dice Club. First on the strip was El Ranchero Vegas and opened in 1941 and had 63 rooms. Hotel Nevada opened in 1906 and became Golden Gate Casino in 1955 and is still operating today. Golden Gate Casino has served 25 million shrimp cocktails in less than 32 years! Yummi! 

Biggest win: Elmer Sherwin was here as a tourist. Ten hours after The Mirage opened, he won $ 4.6 million. But Elmer is not the one who let a big win stop him, 16 years later at the age of 92, he won 21 million dollars! Elmer who had a big heart gave much of his gain to charity.  

 

Cool knowledge 

The Flamingo Hotel is named after a long-standing showgirl who had a relationship with the hotel’s founder. 

 There are eight slot machines on every inhabitant in Las Vegas. 

 There are more rooms, 3 933, at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas than there are residents in the small Italian village of Bellagio.  

 There is a black book in Las Vegas, if you end up in it, you messed up, and you will not enter any casino in the city. 

 

The Casinos are huge and fascinating.

Casinos 

El Cortez: In Down Town Las Vegas, here you can still pay with quarters on the slot machines. The hotel and casino opened in 1941 and owned earlier by the mobster Bugsy Siegel.  

Bellagio: The casino at the Bellagio is huge, modern and easy to get lost in. If you are a beginner then come earlier in the day when there are not so many people and ask for help from the dealer or someone else working here. They are always nice and helpful.  

The Mirage: A classic hotel and casino. The decor goes in tropical style and beyond the noise of the game  you can hear the sound of a waterfall. Good to calm the gamblers. Be sure to eat at one of the many restaurants or see a show. 

The Venetian: This is a magical place. A mini-Venice! It’s actually very nice, and a bit in the upper price range. Do not miss the LAVO Casino & Sports Lounge, a speakeasy casino with black jack and dice. 

Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel: Another classic casino and hotel. Binion’s opened their doors in 1951 by owner Benny Binion, and was then decorated in river style. Large-flowered velvet wallpaper and carpet mats, which they were the first in Vegas. The slogan for Binion’s is “Good Food, Good Whiskey, Good Gambling”… 

 

You can do some serious shopping in Vegas, either you are looking for the exclusive brands or go two one of the outlet malls.

Shopping  

The Shops at Crystal: Luxury shopping in stylish Crystal, here you will find stores like Bulgari, Cartier and Dior. The tasteful shopping center is adjacent to the hoteland casino  Aria, so do things in the right order, win first at the casino and burn the winnings here without looking back. 

Fashion show: Gigantic shopping center on the strip, here you can spend a lot of time in the 250 stores, you can have a snack and a break at one of the 25 restaurants and you will not be completely ruined as most stores are priced in the middle segment.

Grand Canal Shoppes, Venetian: With more than 160 stores, your shopping needs will be catered for. But it’s more for the unique interior you go here. Take a gondola ride,  roam the alleyways and across the Venetian square in an everlasting blue hour. Stop on the oxygen bar and charge the batteries. 

North Premium Outlet and South Premium Outlet: You have not been in the US unless you been to an outlet. Fortunately, there are two giant outlets in Las Vegas, the north and the south. Both are good and you can really find cheap shopping here. A pair of Levi’s are purchased for one third of the price at home. 

Forum Shops at Caesars: American Apparel, Apple, Calvin Klein, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel, Gucci and about 154 other stores can be found in Caesars Palace’s own shopping mall. Stroll around saltwater abstraction, Roman architecture and a great mix of shopping from mid-range to luxury. 

 

Don’t get caught up too long at the Mob Museum …

Museums and activities 

The Mob Museum: It can be said right away, this is a fantastic museum! Even if you do not have a great interest in people who place severed horse heads in someone else’s bed, you will be fascinated by the many sides of organized crime. 

Lip Smacking Foodie tour: Are you the least interested in food and drink or just want a good guide to Las Vegas cuisine, then start your stay with a foodie tour. Not only do you taste good food and drink, you get a perfect introduction to where to eat and drink. If you are a smart, you ask the guide for other restaurants that you should visit while you are in Vegas.  

The Neon Museum: A must for the design-interested. The neon museum can best be described as a cemetery for old neon signs. However, there is life to be found in this cemetery, some of the signs are being renovated and still functioning. It’s incredibly fascinating to take a guided tour and hear the story behind all the beautiful signs that are now stacked against each other. You can take both day and evening trips. 

Count’s Kustoms and Count’s Car Tour: If you’re a fan of cars and motorcycles and especially customized ones, it’s to Danny’s “Count” Kustom’s you go. Danny and his gang are building cars, motorcycles, running a bar and playing in a heavy metal band. You can visit their showroom or even take a guided tour to the Las Vegas kustom world. You visit car builders, tattoo parlours and bars, lunch is included. countskustoms.com 

 

Hip restaurants Down Town 

Carson Kitchen: In the old Carson hotels premises is this modern and nice pub. Here you can eat “social plates” snacks you share, or à la carte. If you’re not hungry, there is a nice backyard and a bar on the roof. Nice hangout and great food. 

Glutton: Glutton looks quite plain from the outside, but inside the doors, the chef and owner Bradley Manchester create amazing food. Much cooked in the large wood burning oven that is centrally located in the room. Here you can also get a “craft cocktail” in the nice bar. Great neighborhood feel.  

Park on Fremont: “Fucking beautiful” lights up against you with a neon script outside in the almost magical garden in the middle of down town Las Vegas. And that’s exactly what it is. A pretty and clever interior decor with stuffed birds and neon signs makes it Park on Fremont one of my absolute favorites in Las Vegas.  

Therapy: In a former 99 Cent Store is this gem located. It has been more or less fully booked since they opened some years ago. Modern food, super nice cocktails, local beers and friendly staff are the recipe. Recommended! 

 

You can find some really fine dining on the Strip as well as more moderate priced restaurants.

Great restaurants on The Strip 

Lemongrass, Aria: In one of the most popular new hotels, Lemongrassis a Thai restaurant. A mixture of traditional Thai food. 

Bouchon, The Venetian: Thomas Keller, the man behind the famous French Laundry in Napa Valley, California, has created a French-style bistro. Bouchon is well worth a visit for the food lover. 

Herring Bone: It never rains in southern California; it’s never raining in Las Vegas either; that’s why the Herring Bone with its distinctly southern Californian food is so popular. Do not forget the champagne, every Monday is the half price of selected bottles, why not get a bucket? 

Cosmopolitan, secret pizza place: This is not fine dining! Rather, a place you sneak into to get something fast and cheap to eat. The problem is that its no signs, no logos. A little tip, bet on the third floor, sneak into the hallway with all the vinyl covers on the wall. 

Guy Savoy / Caesars Palace: In the Augustus Tower at Caesar’s Palace, this two-star Michelin restaurant is run by star chef Guy Savoy. Here it is French fine dining that applies. Do you want to see the chef’s work? If so, book the Chef’s Table then you are literally in the kitchen and eat, very entertaining. 

 

Day parties 

Azure Pool: At Palazzo’s pool club. Rent your own cabana, relax in the sun and keep calm. Certainly there is a DJ, but the atmosphere is relaxed and fun. Maybe take a massage when you’re there. 

Just the Pool Lounge / The Mirage: Here it’s European style, you can, in other words, sunbathe topless. The Mirage also boasts that they have the hottest staff in the city. Yes, thank you. 

Daylight / Mandalay Bay: Here is the nightclub that saw the light of day. Full speed all day to international disc jockeys and up to 5000 lightly dressed guests. This is the party place for those who did not go to bed last night. 

Encore Beach Club: Here are the world’s hottest DJs like Calvin Harris and Marshmello. It’s party time all day long at the pool for the party princes and princesses.   

Rehab / Hard Rock: This was where day clubs were born in Las Vegas. Drinks, pumping music, live performances and dancing. Expect a senseless party all day long. You can choose your favorite pool party among three pools.

 

The best nightlife 

Hakassan / MGM: The great hotel MGM’s famous nightclub is Las Vegas style, upholstered without being fancy. Buy ticket online in advance. Hakassan has two clubs, lounges and restaurant on floors 3 and 4. 

XS / Wynn: The newly designed XS at Wynn is one of the coolest and most high tech clubs in Las Vegas. Here DJ’s like David Guetta, Alesso and Cascade. Bottle service on the dance floor. 

Jewel / Aria: At the popular hotel Aria, the nightclub Jewel is located. Their Flawless Monday on Mondays is a great way to start the week. Ladies get free champagne between 9.30 and 11.30 and then take over the dance floor and party as it is 1999 again! 

Marquee / Cosmopolitan: How about this? Pool Club, The Boom Box, the Library, The Main floor plus a roof bar, yes everyone can feel at home. If you want to chill in The Library, listen to some mixed music in The Boom Box or dance the butt of you on The Main floor, it’s your choiche. 

1OAK / The Mirage: A little more grown-up club especially on Fridays, Flash Back Fridays, when they run old school acts such as Naughty By Nature. 1 Oak is a bit New York in the middle of Las Vegas, the dress code is “Upscale Chic” so change shorts and t-shirts to a little more slim outfit, slip into the club and look like a million dollars and the evening is yours. 

 

You are always welcome at the many bars in town.

Our favorite bars in Las Vegas 

Chandelier in The Cosmopolitan: Are you looking for sophisticated bar hang out, why not try The Forbidden Fruit, the signature drink at the Chandelier bar. Chandelier is nothing less than a bar inside a giant crystal chandelier.  

Moon and Ghost bar at Palms Casino Resort Roof bar / nightclub at Palm Fantasy Tower, with a magical view of the city. This is a popular place and can be a little tricky to get into but well inside you will not be disappointed. The alternative is Ghostbar on the 55th floor, also with amazing views.  

107 Sky lounge at Stratosphere: At the top of an iconic building that stretches 243 meters above the hill you will find the seventy-six bar. It’s a landmark in it self and very old school cool.

Foundation Room at Mandalay Bar: The former private club for high rollers now releases ordinary mortals as well. The whole place breathes classical men’s club, and on the terrace the view is unmatched. Here you can still mingle with great players and feel some of the classic Las Vegas atmosphere.  

Frankie’s Tiki Room: Aloha, it’s a Tiki bar, whats not to like?! Open 24/7 is not the only advantage of Frankie’s, tiki bars has a big Renaissance now. Are you looking for some sweet Island love, fruit cocktails and Hawaiian shirts, then this is your place. 

Mermaid Bar & Lounge at Silverton Hotel and Casino: Have a drink at the Mermaid Bar & Lounge. Here you can rinse down food and drink by watching mermaids swimming around the giant aquarium together with some hundreds of fish. Avoid Tuesdays, and then mermaids have land permissions. 

Commonwealth: I down Town Las Vegas, you will find this gem. 557 square feet of bar, roof terrace and a speakeasy, where you need to contact the bar in advance and hope that they will give you the secret password. 

Gold Spike: Gold Spike is a playhouse for adults, besides being a bar and club, there are a lot of games  that you can enjoy. Even a bed if you’d get a little tired. 

Millennium Fandom Bar: Weird is an understatment. Here you will find Bobba Fett, Dr Spook, Princess Leia or any other figure from the film history or comic book world. This bar is a meeting place for cosplay, but you can come as a regular square as well. 

 

Down Town Cointainer Park is a cool little shopping centre with great restaurants.

Don’t miss 

Fremont Street Experience: Wonderfully crazy in Down Town Las Vegas. A large part of Fremont Street is covered by a giant arcade and LED-monitor which is several hundred meters long. Here are spectacular lightshows. Visit the Heart Attack Grill for a fat festival, order the “Quadruple Bypass” burger and a “Butter-fat shake”. 

Down Town Container Park: This is a small shopping center with shops selling everything possible. All of them are housed in old freight containers stacked on each other. There is also a stage, bars and restaurants, and least but not last there’s a giant praying mantis that shots fire from the antennas in the evenings. 

See a show: Yes, this is the city of the shows. Everything from Cirque Du Solei, via Celine Dion and old punk Billy Idol to classic Rat Pack imitations. Keep an eye out for discounts and order your tickets from home, so you don’t have to deal with that on your vacation. 

Eat well: Treat yourself a little while you’re here. Here international chefs are flocking with all their Micehlin stars, but there is something for everyone. Most of the restaurants are located in the hotels and most hotels have a number of good taverns in all price ranges. In Down Town, it’s one nice and affordable restaurant after the other. A fun and easy way is to attend one of the foodie tours with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours.

 

If Elvis did it, it can’t be wrong!

Get married!  

A little White Wedding Chapel: One of the most famous. Here Frank Sinatra married Mia Farrow in 1966. If you can or cannot get out of the car, “The Tunnel of Love” is perfect for a drive through wedding. Here two will be one for about 300 dollars.  

Graceland Wedding Chapel: Should you marry Elvis style, this is one of several good options. You can drive the big Elvis package for $ 799. Here, members of Kiss, Deep Purple and The Thompson Twins have married during their 70 years of history.  

Little Church of The West: This chapel has been featured as the Vegas Best for ten years in a row in the Las Vegas Review Journal. It is also included in the register of historical buildings. In the little cozy chapel, Angelina Jolie and Zsa Zsa Gabor have married, but not with each other. From $ 209.  

Viva Las Vegas Chapel: Are you thinking on a theme wedding? This is where you should get married. Everything from a classic Elvis wedding through Bond, Camelot, Dracula to a Sci-Fi wedding. Here you will find more props than in a larger movie studio. Marriage renewals are especially welcome here. From $ 245.  

WeeKirkChapel: This is the oldest chapel that is still in use. The chapel opened in the fifties and is one of the more popular. Here you can get the Elvis wedding, of course, but also the Grand Canyon wedding is one of the most common. From 50 dollars.  

 

 

More places to find information 

Fodors: Fodors is one of the world’s oldest travel guide companies founded in 1949.

Books: Fascinating reading about Las Vegas in the seventies and the Mafia era. The Murder of Sonny Liston, A Story of Fame, Heroin, Boxing & Las Vegas by Shaun Assael. About 150 kr on amazon.com 

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Southwest USA & National Parks. A guide to the national parks and sights in and around Las Vegas. 136 kr on bokus.se 

Family Guy: Maybe not so informative, but very funny. 

 

The lingo 

High roller: Person who plays so often and so much that they get free hotels, food, drinks, etc. There are special member clubs for high rollers.  

Eye in the sky: In Las Vegas there is surveillance cameras everywhere. So, behave!  

Whale: A high roller that plays for at least half a million dollars an hour without blinking.  

RFB: Abbreviation for Room, Food, Beverage. If you’re a whale or celebrity, you can get RFB treatment.  

Pigeon: Person who constantly loses but continues to play to win back the money.  

 

Get around 

Walk: On the strip you can walk if you do not have a long distance. However, it takes longer than you think to get out, partly because when you cross the big streets you have to go up and down on bridges, partly because there are very many people and not least because you want to stop a lot. Tips: good shoes, sunglasses, hat and water. 

 Rental car: Should you make any excursions,  the most practical is of course to rent a car. Take a day and explore a couple of the previously suggested excursions. But there are also a variety of guided tours, ranging from jeep safari to regular coaches. 

Tram / monorail: There are free trams between some casinos, you can take them even if you do not play, see lasvegas-how-to.com/free-tram.php. There is also a monorail above the ground and parallel to the strip, a day pass costs 12 dollars. 

Taxi: Taxi rates are regulated by the state of Nevada so all companies have the same prices and it is quite cheap. The lead-out fee is just over three dollars and then it costs just over two dollars per mile. Tip between 10-20 percent, in the upper part if you have heavy luggage. 

Uber: Your Uber app if you have one, works here too. Very smooth and significantly cheaper than taking a taxi. You can choose if you want to tip the driver but 10-15 percent is nice. 

 

Out and about 

Grand Canyon: The almost 50-mile canyon that has been carved out by the Colorado river for more than two million years is absolutely beautiful in the morning or in the evening, but even if you come by the day, it’s fascinating. It’s a two hours to drive from Las Vegas. 

Zip line in Bootleg Canyon: Bootleg canyon is a zip lining excursion. With Flightlinez, you’re revisiting your childhood going down the mountain in a harness. Not as scary as it seems, you feel safe. In addition to a lot of water, the guides have an inexhaustible supply of bad jokes, which you will eventually find more dangerous than the ride itself. From $ 159. 

Red rock: Red rock canyon is only about 4 miles from the strip. Red rock is a wonderful natural experience. To get here, you have to rent a car or go on a guided tour with jeep with Vegas Rock crawlers (lasvegasrockcrawlers.com)  

Valley of Fire: Nevada’s oldest and largest state park. The valley has got its name of the red stone, but perhaps also because it is very hot here. There are two campsites so bring tents, water and watch both sunset and sunrise. 

Bike on the Old Railroad: A good combo with the Zip Line in Bootleg Canyon. Rent bikes and cycle along the old railroad track that connects Hoover Dam with Boulder City. Rent a bike in Boulder City and give you out, and you do not forget water. More links for biking here and about there railway here.

 

Come and get it zombie boy!!!

Odd things to do 

Dive with sharks: Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium. You must have a diving certificate. For those who prefer to stay on dry land, the aquarium is a fantastic experience in itself. From $ 650 ($ 1000 for two booking at the same time) 

Dig this Vegas: Digging with giant excavators and driving bulldozer, could it be any better? Move large car tires, shove up piles of sand.  Note, alcohol check is mandatory, so celebrate your breakthrough as a constructor afterwards. 

Speed ​​Vegas: Real racing! All you need to bring is a valid driving license. Then just jump into one of the coolest cars in the world and burn rubber. 

Battlefield Vegas: A bit of the craziest thing you can do in Las Vegas. There are a lot of different weapons to choose from. CHoose between zombie or bad guy for target. You can also crush a car with a tank! Prices from $ 50. 

Pinball Hall of Fame: Here you have everything you could wish for when it comes to pinball. The oldest game is from 1947 called Bally Heavy Hitter. The newest is CSI, Stern, so whether you’re old school, new school or just an ordinary pin head you’ll have a great time here. 

 

The desert city in the twilight.

Websites 

lasvegas.com Las Vegas official website. Here you can find everything happening right now in Las Vegas and order a show, hotel and various package solutions and more. 

inoldlasvegas.com: For the nostalgic. Here you will find pictures and information about old Las Vegas. Fascinating everything looks so cool in the fifties. 

vegasexperience.com: The Official Site of Downtown and Fremont Experience. Here you will find all the information you need about Old Las Vegas and what’s on at Fremont Street. 

vegas.nu: A Swedish page with many great tips and interesting reading about Las Vegas. Here you will also find hotels and book directly from the page. 

Atlas Obscura: This website always find the obscure (!) things at the destination. Here you can find odd things to do in Las Vegas if you’re tired of gambling.. 

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Jonas Henningsson

Journalist and photographer, founder and editor-in-chief American Trails.