A lot of travelers want to go to Las Vegas one day, and a lot of them have a vague sense of what the city is like. If you’re among this group, you might for instance imagine playing games at massive casinos, luxuriating in skyscraper resorts, and walking along the famously eccentric Vegas “Strip.” These activities more or less comprise the general Vegas vibe that you can pick up on even if you’ve never visited. But of course, once you actually touch down in the Nevada desert, there’s a little bit more to the town than its most famous images and activities!
In fact, despite its reputation as a sort of carefree destination for spontaneous adult adventures, Las Vegas is a city best approached with a plan. There are just so many things to do there that you’ll want more than a vague outline in mind for a first visit. So here, we hope to help get you started with five tips you can use to have a great time in Vegas.
1. Look to Fremont Street
The Vegas Strip completely dominates recommendations for tourists in town. But a lot of people who get out and explore a little more wind up having just as much fun on Fremont Street, which is a very lively downtown district. To give you some idea of what to expect there, we’ll refer to a list of things to do written up by Thrillist, which included great drinking and dining, wandering old shipping containers, zip-lining out of a gigantic slot machine, taking in the videos that play on the main plaza ceiling, and more. It truly is an alternative Las Vegas, with plenty of food, drink, gambling, and music, all offered a bit more casually and at much more reasonable prices. There’s also an over-the-top, almost carnival-like atmosphere to it, which may sound like a lot but actually makes for a fun way to shake things up in the middle of a Vegas trip.
2. Learn Your Poker Before You Go
A lot of people visit Vegas assuming they’ll be able to simply sit down at gaming tables and learn the ropes. That can be the case at some of the more casual venues, during slower hours. But for the most part, whether you’re gaming at Fremont Street or in a main Strip casino, it’s best to know your way around the poker table before you take a seat at it. If you feel you need to brush up on the basics, the beginner’s guide by Poker.org offers a nice overview that you don’t have to buy access or subscribe to. There you’ll find a clear overview of the rules and terms relating to popular poker games (like Texas Hold’em, Five Card Draw, and Omaha), as well as some guidance on how to bet. Ideally, you’ll want to actually practice some of this before you try your luck in Vegas. But at the very least, studying a guide like this will prepare you to hold your own and enjoy the games.
3. Pick a Pool
When you’re looking through the Vegas resorts, and the hundreds of articles comparing and contrasting them, it will be tempting to make your selection based on room quality, in-house casinos and restaurants, or even spa facilities. But the truth is that most of the major resorts are pretty impressive in all of these categories — and you can typically go and play the casino or visit the spa even at a resort you aren’t staying in. So instead, choose your accommodations based on the pool! The Las Vegas pools are incredible attractions, and each one is completely unique. You may well find in fact that the pool is the most distinct aspect of your resort, while many other features are at least somewhat interchangeable.
4. Catch a Live Show
It’s hard to overstate how much of a role music plays — and has always played — in defining the Vegas experience. This is a town where everyone from chart-topping pop stars, to famous hip-hop artists, to classic rockers still make a point of stopping in the midst of global tours. It’s where the likes of Elton John, Celine Dion, and Britney Spears have set up shop for lengthy residencies. And it’s where in eras past, icons like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley became larger than life. Both of those two are still just about synonymous with Las Vegas, to the point that the Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas wedding even featured an Elvis impersonator! The point is, live music is and has always been part of the experience in Las Vegas, and no matter who may be passing through town it’s a good idea to try to see a show. It’s the only way to do Vegas properly.
5. Eat Breakfast
Finally, remember to eat some good breakfast! Las Vegas gets a whole lot of attention for its fancy dinner spots, and with good reason. The city is basically a celebrity chef hive, which naturally leads to a lot of great dining experiences (even if some are a bit pricey or over the top). But the more unique side to Vegas dining is the focus on breakfast and brunch, with several resorts being specifically known for their decadent morning menus and overflowing buffet tables. Per CNTraveler.com, the Herringbone at Aria, Giada at the Cromwell, and Bouchon at the Venetian are among the very best breakfast experiences. But don’t overlook the gigantic buffets at the Wynn or Caesars either!
Las Vegas of course offers a lot more activity than we can bring up over the course of five tips. And as much as we support the idea of having a plan, some of the fun is in simply exploring the city and finding experiences. But the tips above go against some of what you might expect and — we believe — will help you to have the best possible time at this legendary destination.