25 Things Women Should Know Before Visiting Las Vegas

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Gray Cargill is a member of the Journeywoman Network and the author of The Vegas Solo, a guide to help solo travelers plan their Las Vegas vacation. She has been visiting Las Vegas solo annually since 2001. We asked Gray to advise our readership about the best ways to enjoy this city from a woman’s point of view. She writes…

Years ago, before I knew anything current about Las Vegas, I didn’t think it was a place I would want to visit. “Isn’t that the land of gambling and strip shows?” I thought. “What’s there for me?” Lots, as it turns out. In fact, I soon became a huge fan of Las Vegas, and have visited almost yearly since 2001. Now I view it as a terrific vacation destination for the solo female traveler. Vegas offers a wide variety of activities sure to appeal to most tastes, and the 24/7 nature of the city means no matter what schedule your internal clock is set to, you’ll find things to do.

If you’ve never traveled solo before, it’s an easy first trip, since you don’t need to rent a car. Most of what you will want to do is in a compact area of the city, and if you pick your host hotel correctly, you can have a fun night “out” without even leaving your hotel. Other visitors are friendly because Vegas puts them in a good mood. It’s very easy to strike up conversations with strangers: Just ask them if they’ve seen any shows yet, or if they’re winning. What else do you need to know about Las Vegas? Here are my 25 best tips for women traveling to Las Vegas:

1. Some sin in the city…

There’s some sin in Sin City. Get used to it. You will see people gambling who probably shouldn’t be. You will see very inebriated people at all hours of the day and night. You will see billboards with half-dressed men and women, you will have to walk past people on the sidewalk thrusting pamphlets at you advertising “adult services”, and your hotel may have a topless-optional pool. If you’re easily offended by such things, you might want to stay off the Strip. Otherwise, just ignore it and enjoy yourself. No one says you have to participate in those things.

2. The airport is close by…

The airport is a few miles from the Las Vegas Strip, so it shouldn’t take long to get there by cab. To avoid being long hauled from the airport, be sure to tell your cab driver to only take surface streets—no tunnel, no highway. (This rule does not apply if you’re staying south of the airport or off the Strip.) Google the best route from the airport to your hotel, so you can suggest some streets, just in case. If you suspect you have been long hauled, write down the name and license number of your cabbie (which should be posted in plain view in the front of the cab). Be sure to tell the valet at the hotel when you arrive, and call the Taxicab Authority (702) 668-4000 to report it.

3. Practice big city smarts…

Regardless of what you may have seen on CSI, Las Vegas is perfectly safe as long as you stick to the well-lit tourist areas. Use the same common-sense safety practices here as you would in any city: Don’t go to private places with new friends. Don’t cross the street against the light (I recommend using the over-the-street walkways). Keep a firm grip on your valuables at all times. Leave the bling at home. Don’t dress too provocatively if you want to avoid unwanted male attention. Don’t drink to excess.

4. They still smoke in Las Vegas…

Something that often surprises visitors from elsewhere in the US is the fact that Vegas still allows smoking in casinos. The larger mega-resorts have higher ceilings and good filtration systems, which helps, but the smaller, older casinos can get quite smoky. If you’re very allergic to smoke, Vegas might not be the best destination for you. There are nonsmoking hotels in Las Vegas (such as the Renaissance Las Vegas), but many shows and restaurants are located off of casinos. It’s difficult to avoid it entirely. Bring some dryer sheets to refresh your clothes.

5. For those with tight budgets…

If you’re in Vegas on a tight budget, stay Downtown or at an off-Strip hotel. If you want to avoid renting a car, I recommend a hotel that offers free shuttle service to the Strip, such as the Orleans (from Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall). For a $7 24-hour pass, you can get between the Strip and Downtown via bus, and food Downtown is a lot cheaper as well. You can also get better deals than the general public on hotels (on- or off-Strip) by signing up for emails at Las Vegas hotel websites a few months before your trip.

6. Go exploring…

One of the most popular activities in Las Vegas is to explore all the resorts on the Strip, some of which are heavily themed, such as the Venetian, Paris, and New York-New York. Even though the Strip is only four miles long, the square footage inside the casino-resorts can be very high, and hotels are not as close to one another as they appear to be. So wear comfortable walking shoes and take advantage of the free trams, monorails, and people-movers whenever you can. There is a free tram between Treasure Island (TI) and the Mirage; one between Bellagio, CityCenter, and the Monte Carlo; and one between Excalibur, Luxor and Mandalay Bay. There are people movers (moving walkways) leading into and out of Ballys, one leading into the Mirage, and one at the Venetian. If you have mobility issues, you can rent an electric scooter from your hotel’s concierge desk or an independent rental company.

7. Check out Downtown…

Many Vegas visitors never make it beyond the Strip to see Downtown (Fremont Street), which is a shame, since it offers a very different experience from the Strip. Downtown is “old Vegas” or “classic Vegas,” where the hotels and casinos are all right off the pedestrian street and you can walk easily from one to the other. A five-block stretch of Fremont Street is blocked off for pedestrians beneath a canopy where you can see music videos overhead every hour from dusk to midnight, and listen to live bands on stages. Downtown offers excellent meal deals and better gambling odds than the Strip.

BONUS – Films about Las Vegas…

Viva Las Vegas (1964) starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margaret. This was a perfect postcard from the city of shows and gambling.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971) James Bond investigates a diamond smuggling pipeline and a reclusive billionaire.

Rainman (1988) Tom Cruise’s character exploits Dustin Hoffman’s character who’s an autistic savant, by using his amazing memorization skills to win at Blackjack at Caesars Palace.

Indecent Proposal (1993) Robert Redford pays $1,000,000 for one night with Demi Moore.

What Happens in Vegas (2008) A romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher.

8. Drink plenty of water…

This is the desert, after all, and it’s very easy to get dehydrated here. I always bring a bottle with me wherever I go. If you don’t want to spend $2-4/bottle at hotel sundry stores, you can buy cheaper water at the ABC stores in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, at the Fashion Show Mall, and on Fremont Street; or at Walgreens on the Strip; or you can buy cold water for $1 from street hawkers on the overhead walkways. (It’s perfectly safe, I do it all the time.)

9. Upscale spas…

Nearly every resort in Las Vegas has a luxurious spa. Do take advantage of them. You don’t have to be staying at a hotel to use services at its spa. Some of the more upscale spas include Qua at Caesars Palace, Canyon Ranch at the Venetian and Palazzo, the Spa at Bellagio, and the Bathhouse Spa at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Be forewarned: prices for spa treatments in Las Vegas may be higher than your home town. But the spas are probably a lot nicer than your hometown, too.

10. Everyone loves a good show…

No trip to Las Vegas would be complete without seeing a show. Luckily, there are shows to fit every budget, as well as a variety of entertainment for all tastes: You can catch a headliner act, a concert, several different Cirque du Soleil shows, Broadway acts such as Phantom of the Opera and the Lion King, magicians, comedians, and more. If there’s a show you really want to see, book your ticket in advance. If you don’t mind playing it by ear, you can get same-day discounts at the Tix4Tonight booth, which has 10 locations on the Strip and Downtown. (They don’t always have tickets for the top-tier shows, though.)

11. Shop, shop, shop…

Ladies, if you love to shop, you are going to love Las Vegas! High-end retail stores abound on the Strip, such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and more. You can spend many hours (and much money!) at Caesar’s Forum Shops, the Fashion Show Mall, the Venetian Canal Shoppes, and the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood alone. The Las Vegas Premium Outlets (150 outlet stores) are available via the Gold Line bus from the Strip. For inexpensive souvenir shopping, I recommend the Showcase Mall on the south end of the Strip next to MGM Grand; the Bonanza Gift Shop on the north end of the Strip; or Fremont Street.

12. Pools are outside…

Most Vegas hotel pools are located outside, not inside. If your idea of a vacation involves pool time, you might want to avoid the winter months. Also, not all Vegas pools are created equal. Some of the best pools in town (the Flamingo, the Mirage) can also be the most crowded, requiring you to get in line an hour before opening just to get a lounge chair. For party pools, head to Rehab at the Hard Rock or Wet Republic at MGM Grand. If you’re looking for a quieter, more relaxing pool experience, go to one of the upscale hotels (Bellagio, Palazzo/Venetian, or Wynn/Encore) or to a hotel whose pool tends to fly under the radar (Paris, Ballys). If you’re looking for a good pool Downtown on Fremont Street, go with the Golden Nugget.

13. Lots of money-saving coupons…

Solos are mostly out of luck when it comes to using coupons to save money in Vegas since most coupons are two-for-ones. But if you’re travelling with a girlfriend (or a few), do take advantage of them. You can find them in the in-room magazines and coupon books you will see all over town, including the back seat of cabs. Even solo, though, you will see lots of happy hour and meal deals all over town that you can take advantage of.

14. It pays to be a woman in Las Vegas…

You will generally be allowed into adult pools for free, while men will have to pay. You stand a better chance of getting into the nightclub of your choice than your male counterpart. And there are ladies-only specials you can take advantage of, including happy hours. For instance, on Tuesdays, the Las Vegas Hilton offers 50% off spa services from noon to 6 pm, and ladies drink free inside the Tempo Lounge from 6 pm to 9 pm.

15. Catch a free show…

There are a number of free and not-so-free attractions on and off the Strip. If you only have time to do one, let it be the Bellagio Fountain Show. The Bellagio, inspired by the Bellagio resort on Lake Como in Italy, has a man-made lake out front where you can watch fountains that are choreographed to music. There is nothing quite like standing on the Strip at night, listening to Andrea Boccelli and Sarah Brightman singing “Con Te Partiro” and watching the water jets swaying to the music and soaring several stories in the air. Best of all, it’s free.

16. Free drinks in the casinos…

Yes, it’s true: You can get free drinks while gambling in the casinos! Cocktail waitresses will come around asking if people want cocktails. Just get their attention and order what you want. Even though the drinks are free, do be sure to tip the waitress when she brings you your drink. $1-2 per drink is fine.

BONUS – Botanical Gardens change with seasons…

If you want more than gambling while in Las Vegas, Nevada, head to the Bellagio Casino. Their 13,000 plus square foot Conservatory and Botanical Gardens changes with the seasons and is an absolute pleasure to behold. Specially designed lighting spotlights every flower to accentuate its best features. To ensure that the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens maintain magnificence 365 days a year, 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for each season. For example, Fall brings a water wheel cider mill, an apple tree that winks at you, wood sprites, huge scarecrow, and so much more. Enjoy it, everybody!
(Wendy, Sergeant Bluff, USA)

17. Don’t forget to tip…

Speaking of which, Las Vegas has a very generous tipping culture. Everybody here expects a tip. Be sure to have plenty of dollar bills on you at all times. If you should find yourself out of ones, you can generally break a larger bill in the casinos at “bill breaker” machines.

18. Nightlife requires extra vigilance…

Las Vegas is famous for its nightlife and nightclubs. If you like to dance until dawn, you will not have a problem finding somewhere to do that. Most people are at the nightclubs for the same reason you are: To have a good time. That said, it’s a good idea to practice common-sense safety at the clubs: Don’t drink to excess. As a woman, you may have men offering to buy you drinks. That’s fine, just make sure to make them nonalcoholic drinks once you’ve reached your limit. Always keep your eye on your drink, so no one has an opportunity to slip a drug into it.

19. For the price of a drink…

If you’re looking for less expensive nighttime entertainment, go listen to a lounge band or duelling piano show, both of which are free as long as you’re purchasing a drink now and again. Dueling piano shows are fun and can be a great way to meet other travellers.

20. Forget formal tours…

Don’t waste your money on a formal tour of the Las Vegas Strip; you can easily self-tour the Strip. Do consider a tour for a lengthy day trip outside of Las Vegas (for instance, to the Grand Canyon), or for experiential activities such as a helicopter tour or horseback riding.

21. Vegas from on high…

The Las Vegas Strip is at its most beautiful from a height at night. There are several ways you can get that sky-high view: 869 feet up from the top of the Stratosphere for about $16 dollars (which buys you 360-degree views of the city); 460 feet up from the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas for $10-15; from upper-story lounges such as the Ghostbar at the Palms or Voodoo Lounge at the Rio for the cost of a drink; or by helicopter (for about $70). There are also some restaurants offering stunning views from on high, such as the Voodoo Steakhouse at the Rio, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris, and the Top of the World at the Stratosphere.

22. Solo dining tips…

Las Vegas sees a lot of solo visitors every year, so no need to feel self-conscious dining alone here. If you’re in the mood to chat, you can dine at the bar, if you feel like eating quickly, there are buffets, and if you feel like savouring your meal in solitude, I recommend a table with a view. Try a restaurant with patio dining overlooking the Bellagio Fountains, such as Olives or Mon Ami Gabi; or, for people-watching, one that faces into a shopping area (there are several at Caesar’s Forum Shops), a casino, or indoor plaza (such as St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian). There are also a few dinner shows in Las Vegas (Tony ‘N Tina’s wedding, The Rat Pack is Back, and Tournament of Kings).

23. Player’s club cards…

If you plan to do any gambling at all, sign up for a player’s club card in every casino you play in. Why? By inserting your card into a slot machine or giving it to the pit boss at a table game, you will accrue rewards points that can be used for comps (free stuff) or at the very least, be eligible for discount hotel rates for future trips that the general public is not eligible for (based on your play).

24. Seek out quiet spots…

Looking for a quiet spot away from the sensory chaos of Las Vegas? Try a spa, the Flamingo Gardens and wildlife habitat, MGM Grand’s West Wing Bar, the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage, or the Mystic Falls Atrium at Sam’s Town (accessible from the Strip and Downtown by free shuttle). Often times you can find comfy couches and chairs tucked away in quiet areas of hotels near the conference centers. If you have access to a car, your best bet for some peace and quiet is getting off the Strip and/or out of town (the Springs Preserve walking trails, Red Rock Canyon, or Mt. Charleston are all possibilities).

25. Don’t forget to pack…

Earplugs – Vegas is a 24/7 party town. Not everyone quiets down after midnight.
A watch – Casinos do not have clocks, because they want you to forget what time it is while you’re gambling.
A sweater – Even when the temperatures outside are soaring to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, casinos, restaurants, and hotels have the air conditioning cranked to Arctic temperatures.
Eye drops and nasal spray – The air in Las Vegas is very dry and can lead to dry eyes and nosebleeds if you’re not used to it.
Sunblock – The sun shines brightly in Vegas, even in the winter.
A small flashlight – Restaurants and bars in Las Vegas can be so dark at night it’s difficult to read the menu or your bill. It’s good to have a flashlight, just in case.

BONUS – If you need a doctor…

Need medical attention? The Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino houses an urgent care facility and it is an option for those with problems not serious enough to require a hospital visit. It’s open Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm only and walk-ins are welcome. Tel: 702.309.5144

If you need a prescription filled, Walgreens (3763 Las Vegas Blvd. S., across from the Monte Carlo) is open 24 hours a day. Tel: 702.739.9638

Source: The excellent guidebook, ‘Las Vegas Spend Less See More’ by Pauline Frommer

Evelyn Hannon

Evelyn started Journeywoman in 1994, and unknowingly became the world's first female travel blogger. She inspired a sisterhood of women, a grassroots movement, to inspire women to travel safely and well, and to connect women travellers around the world. She passed away in 2019, but her legacy lives on.

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