Tips Every First-Time Las Vegas Visitor Should Know

For those who are planning their first trip to Las Vegas we've laid out some basic guidelines on what to expect. Firstly, expect crowding everywhere in and around the Strip area. The Strip is the epicenter of tourist activity as the overwhelming majority of people visiting the city play and stay there. Other "major" tourist areas in town are downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street Experience) and the Green Valley/Henderson/Boulder City area.

Be ready for lines almost everywhere, so while planning time out with the kids allow yourself some extra time to prepare diversions for them or, if accompanied by another adult, split up any "standing in line" duty. While one adult is in line there will undoubtedly be activities or attractions within the immediate area that the kids can enjoy with the other adult.

Expect To Walk

Expect to walk quite a bit. While the Las Vegas Strip is only four miles long, there is so much to stop for that it could quite literally take you days to cover all the things to see. For both adults and kids we recommend leaving the flip flops behind and opting for sneakers/ trainers instead. Bring a pair of dress shoes for dinners, shows, and evenings out.

Expect To Eat....A Lot!

Las Vegas has a burgeoning dining scene so you should expect to loosen a notch off the old belt while there...you'll enjoy the assortment of dining options.

Carry Water and Suncreen

When traveling during the summer months (late May to late September) be prepared for outside temperatures of over 110 degrees Fahrenheit or 45 Celsius. However, be warned that air conditioners are abused by hotel operators and you'll experience indoor temperatures in the low 70s Fahrenheit or 20s Celsius. For those who get cold easily, bring a sweater. We know this sounds crazy but you'll believe it when you arrive and end up buying a sweater! If you expect to travel during the fall months you'll enjoy spectacular weather.

There's a misconception about the Las Vegas weather in that many believe it to always be hot since it's a desert. Not so, since the Las Vegas Valley is a high-altitude desert it can get bitterly cold during winter and it's not unusual to see snow in December and January. Be sure to pack appropriately when visiting during this winter months.

Steer Clear of Leafleters

Expect leafleting on the sidewalks of Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip). They'll try to hand you everything from topless bar handouts to tobacco and alcohol store coupons. When with the kids, we recommend staying away.

What To Pack

If you're traveling with small children bring games, books, and/or coloring books not only for the journey, but for downtimes or times with babysitters in the hotel room.

If your kids are old enough to use electronics, bring them. They'll keep entertained for hours which means that you can free yourself up from being their entertainment. A great option is to buy DVD movies or download some children's programming at the Apple iTunes store.

During summer months pack for extreme temperature swings as the outside temperature can be well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While inside casinos, with their ultra arctic airconditioners, it can get well below 70. Some the coldest summer months we've ever had weren't in San Francisco, but in Vegas.

As we mentioned before, those hot summer months (late May to late September) normally reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit (45 Celsius.) But as soon as you step into the casinos the air conditioning will drop temperatures down to the low 70s Fahrenheit. With this in mind you'll need to pack both sunscreen and sweaters!

What to bring:

  • Bathing Suit
  • A Sweater
  • Tennis Shoes / Trainers
  • Dress Clothes
  • Shorts/Jeans
  • Power Adapters/Sunscreen
  • T-shirts

If traveling with an infant, bring enough diapers for a couple of days but don't stock the luggage full it them. There are plenty of places on the Strip to purchase almost any item you'll need.

If traveling during the winter months don't make the mistake of thinking that you can pack light clothes, Vegas can get cold, very cold, so prepare accordingly with sweaters and jackets. It's unlikely to rain while you're traveling in Las Vegas.

Vegas Prices Are Still Very Reasonable

Prices for food and lodging in Las Vegas are still very reasonable compared to other major cities, though the days of 99 cent steak dinners are long gone. Plan on spending around $50 per person/day for reasonable quality dining. Hotel room prices are packed with value when you consider that the hotel you'll most likely be staying in will be new and of superb quality. Do not travel to Las Vegas without a hotel reservation. Even though the city's room inventory stands at over 140,000, it has the highest occupancy rate of any major city in the U.S., by far at over 90% on an average yearround basis?that's an amazing figure! So be certain to plan ahead and book your hotel room online.

Where you'll end up paying big dollars will be in the entertainment area. Show ticket prices can be outrageous. You'll find that a high end show like "O" will easily cost over $100 per ticket; that is if you're lucky enough to even find a ticket.

If you're traveling from a foreign country, convert your native currency to dollars before you arrive for best rates and extra convenience. If you cannot do so we recommend buying U.S. currency at the American Express office at the Fashion Show Mall located next to the Treasure Island hotel. The rates are fair and it's a reputable name you can trust.

Travelers Cheques are always a safe option but beware of the transaction and currency conversion fees upon redemption. Even American Express offices may charge you a transaction fee (currency conversion fee) for cashing in their own cheques. This happened to a couple of us at NineBlue while traveling in Asia even though the American Express office we purchased our Travelers Cheques in told us we'd face no further charges upon redemption. In our opinion the safest way to travel is a healthy combination of credit cards and cash.

Getting Around

Navigating Las Vegas is rather simple. The Strip is only four miles long so you can easily walk from hotel to hotel, or if you're in a hurry or simply don't want to walk you can either take a cab, the local bus called The Deuce or The Monorail.

Walking

Walking the Strip is a must on any trip to Vegas. It's a great way to see all the casinos, people watch, and catch the free attractions that have sprung up along the way. The casinos have, in recent years, created pedestrian friendly facades in order to attract the walk-by tourists, and these have in turn become the very reasons you should walk the strip. You'll see dancing fountains, volcanoes erupting and pirate battles. But aside from these shows and the dazzling neon light displays, walking the strip is a feast enough for your eyes. Before you head out on your walk, here are some hints and tips to help you along your way:

Stick to the pedestrian bridges when crossing major junctions on the strip.

Yes, Las Vegas Blvd is becoming more pedestrian friendly, but becoming is the operative word. The heavy streams of traffic have no patience for those traveling by foot. As well as being the only safe way to cross the major junctions, the pedestrian bridges also provide great photo opportunities. From the top you can snap views stretching all the way down the strip.

Las Vegas Monorail

The Las Vegas Monorail runs behind the casinos on the eastern side of the strip. That's the side with Paris Las Vegas, the Venetian and the Wynn. The monorail begins at the MGM in the south and runs all the way up to the Sahara in the north. It's pricey, but by far the fastest way to get from one end of the strip to the other.

The Deuce

The Deuce runs up and down the strip like the hop on hop off tourist buses you find in most major cities. Just buy a day pass and it will drop you off and pick you up at all the major casinos along the way.

Food Markets and Grocery Stores on The Las Vegas Strip

Like most people, we're big fans of Whole Foods especially for their food court where yummy pizzas, hand-rolled sushi and other prepared food can be purchased for in-store dining (or take away). What's not to love about that?! The Town Square store marks the fourth and most central Whole Foods location in Las Vegas. It's a great location for visitors who want to take a break from endless buffets and enjoy healthier options. You'll be tempted to stock your hotel room with dried fruit, trail mix or their delectable baked goods. A visit to this Whole Foods location might be that "jackpot" that has been too elusive in the casinos.

How far is Whole Foods Grocery Store from Major Strip Hotels?

  • Distance from Bellagio is 5 miles
  • Distance from MGM Grand is 3.1 miles
  • Distance from Circus-Circus is 7.1 miles
  • A cab ride from these locations will cost anywhere from $10 to $15

Whole Foods Market Las Vegas Store Hours

Store hours are 8:00 am to 10:00 pm daily. Telephone number is 702-589-7711

Be Mindful Of The Desert Sun

Las Vegas is a sunny destination and it can feel like stepping into paradise. But all too often this feeling of escape can mean both parents and kids drop their guard. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe in the sun:

Protecting from the sun

Most people these days remember to slap on the sun tan lotion, but are you doing it correctly? Children's skin is more sensitive to the sun than adults and they need a higher factor. Choose a lotion with a number of at least 20, but the higher the better. You should apply sun block at least 30 minutes before heading out into the sun, and reapply it every couple of hours. If kids are playing in water, reapply more frequently. Remember, that sunburn won't show up straight away. What might seem only slightly pink by day will turn into a painful burn in the evening. The best bet is to keep everyone out of direct sunshine between 11 am and 3 pm, as this is when the sun is strongest. If that's not possible wide brim hats, caps and sunglasses will help keep them protected. Remember that babies should never be left in direct sunlight; and teach safer tanning to those teens resolute they want a ?cool tan'.

Protecting from the heat

Sunburn isn't your only worry. Less visible but more dangerous can be heat stroke. It can be as difficult to spot in adults as it is in children but a general feeling of tiredness and nausea are telltale signs. If you think your child is suffering from the heat get them to drink plenty of cool fluid in a shaded cool place. Water is fine but sports drink will also replenish salts, sugars and minerals lost when sweating. To prevent heat stroke keep the family well hydrated and insist on plenty of breaks in the shade.

Swimming

In sunny destinations swimming is usually the top pastime for kids. But remember that children should never be left to play in water unattended. Children who cannot swim should be given flotation devices like arm wings and life-jackets, but don't rely on these to keep your kids safe. Never let kids play in Jacuzzi's/hot tubs.