How to Plan a Trip to Vegas

The very name of Las Vegas conjures pictures of fun and excitement. The thriving casino and restaurant scene, as well as the malls, museums, and national landmarks, make it an excellent vacation choice.

But you’ll have to do a little homework before traveling there.  First of all, budgeting and timing–from your hotel and flight, to gambling, to shopping–is crucial to a successful, safe, and fun getaway.  Knowing how to plan a trip to Vegas is educating yourself on which attractions and hotels will fit your budget.

How Long Should You Stay in Vegas?

Consider what sorts of things you’d like to do in Vegas.  Do you want to hit every single hot spot, or would you rather just see a few things and call it a trip?  Depending on your itinerary, your vacation can last from a few days, up to even a week.

Knowing the length of your vacation is the first step to budgeting it as well.  For example, you could spend just a few nights in a more expensive hotel, or a week in a cheaper hotel.  You’re spending about the same money either way, but you’re spending it on different things based on the length of your stay.

How Much Money Should You Budget for Vegas?

Las Vegas is, frankly, an expensive city.  Dinners, entry tickets, shopping, gambling…it all adds up fast.  Add in the hotel and airfares and you might have a money-induced headache.  To be safe, the recommended budget for one person in Vegas is between 1,000 and 3,000 dollars.

What Is the Cheapest Day to Fly Into Vegas?

Flights to Vegas are typically cheapest on weekdays and Sundays.  However, events occurring in Vegas at the time of your trip can cause flight and hotel rates to increase.

Fortunately, websites like Kayak and Travelocity will compile prices up to three days before or after your travel date.  Kayak and Orbitz will also tell you the cheapest flights throughout the week that you’ll be traveling.  Not to mention Google Flights (Google knows everything, remember).

A rule of thumb is to purchase your flight and hotel separately, so you’ll spend less money.  After all, you want to save as much as you can for real fun.

Which Part of Vegas Do You Want to Stay In?

Which part of Vegas you stay in depends on how fast-paced you want your vacation to be.  For instance, the Strip is the most popular part of the city, filled with casinos, restaurants, bars, and shops.  Hotel rates are also more expensive, and hidden costs can add up fast.

Remember: the Strip itself is many miles long, so transportation might be necessary even within the Strip itself.  But if you are an avid walker–and also don’t mind carrying an essentials bag –this might not be so bad.

On the other hand, the downtown area has cheaper hotel rates.  There just are not as many tourist attractions or neon lights.  However, that might not be a problem if you don’t mind shelling out a few dollars for transportation, or if you have a sturdy pair of walking shoes.

You don’t have to settle for just one or the other, though.  You could choose to stay downtown, and visit the Strip during the day, or vice versa.  Either way, you should consider which hotels are closest to your desired activities, and plan accordingly.

What Is The Best Time of Year to Go to Vegas?

Vegas is a blast any time of year, but some times are better than others to visit.


Las Vegas is in the desert, so the fall and spring seasons are the best time to visit, to avoid the intense heat.  Vegas is relatively warm all year round, but the October to April period can be slightly unpredictable–not to mention much too cool for an outdoor pool.  Moderate temperatures (the 40s through the 70s) can also feel different to different people, so pack for all kinds of weather, no matter the predicted forecast.

Also keep in mind that the hotter the temperature outside, the lower hotels will set their air conditioners, so be sure to bring a trusty jacket or sweatshirt.


To avoid the weekend chaos of Vegas, you can choose to stay from Sunday through Thursday.  These are not only the quietest days in Vegas but also the cheapest.

Again, keep in mind that if you want a quieter, cheaper vacation to Vegas, significant city events cause hotel and flight costs to go up. The Las Vegas website keeps an updated list of what’s happening when in the city.

Significant events also include holidays, like the Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, Halloween, etc.

How Should I Dress For Vegas?

Most of the time, casual dress is all that’s required.  Unless you’re going to see a snazzier theatre show, out to a fancy dinner, or out to the clubs, regular street clothes will work just fine.

Although it’s tempting to go out on the town in fancy heels or loafers, you might have to walk across lengthy theaters or casinos.  So bring comfy but functional shoes.  Nothing ruins a vacation faster than sore, blistered feet.

What Kind of Hotel Should You Stay In in Vegas?

If you’d rather spend money on tourist attractions, a cheaper (economy) hotel makes more sense.  These can cost anywhere from 24 to 150 dollars a night.  Sites like can help you find cheap hotel rates.  Hotel rates could also be cheaper if you are a rewards member.

Remember that the cheapest hotels are usually off the Strip and come with basic amenities. The Golden Nugget often pops up as a favorite downtown spot.

Conversely, if you have a higher, more luxurious budget, a more expensive resort works too.  The views and amenities will be more exciting, for a cost range between 300 to 700 dollars a night.  Hotels of this kind include the Palms Casino Resort or MGM Grand.

What About Booking A Local Room?

For a truly unique living experience in Vegas, you can consider booking a room through a room-sharing company.  Rather than staying in a hotel, you can stay in a Vegas resident’s apartment or house.  Depending on your host, they may show you their favorite parts of the city, or at least provide recommendations for activities.

Since sites like Airbnb have rates as low as 20 dollars a night for all the amenities you’ll find in any hotel, this can be a cheaper option as well.

If you want to forego a host or a hotel altogether–or if you have a larger traveling party– consider renting an entire house for 200 to 1,000 dollars a night through Airbnb.

Regardless, make sure your rented property is licensed through the city of Las Vegas.

What Kind of Itinerary Should You Plan?

Your ideal itinerary depends on the length, as well as the pace, of your vacation.  Plan your vacation schedule at least two weeks in advance, especially if you want to get deals on shows, tours, or anything that requires an entry ticket.  There are many popular recurring shows in Vegas, but tickets can still go fast.

However, not every day of your trip needs to be scheduled down to the minute.

Here’s a rule of thumb: save at least one day to wander without a formal plan.  Do this close to the beginning to ease your way into the trip.  Wandering the Strip, with its iconic bars, shops, restaurants, casinos, etc, can give you a feel for the Las Vegas cultural landscape.  Plus, you spent a lot of time and money planning this trip, so plan a day where not much happens at all.

Tempting as it is, you don’t have to see every single square inch of Vegas.  Consider first how long you’ll be staying, and plan according to the time you have.

Which Tourist Attractions Should You Check Out in Vegas?

Picking an attraction to try first is like asking which cake to sample first at a dessert table.  But there are at least a few standouts in the Las Vegas attraction category.

The Paris Las Vegas Hotel

The lobby of this grand hotel is designed to evoke the feeling of being in Paris, France.  You can enjoy a coffee in one of the French coffee shops, or even a view of the Eiffel Tower replica.  Just like with the real Eiffel Tower, you can take an elevator to the observation deck at the top.

Recently, the hotel introduced a light show, taking place every night, at every half-hour on the hour.  The show features choreographed colored and twinkling lights, with over 300 color-washing light fixtures and 800 white strobe lights.

The Neon Museum

Vegas’ legacy includes its beautiful and flashy neon signs.  This museum has preserved many of Vegas’ old neon signs and lights from as far back as the 1930s.  You can take a guided tour, and you’re even allowed to take photos.  The Boneyard (the main campus of the museum) is also available for personal or commercial photoshoots.

Ziplining at the LINQ

Any tourist that has ever wanted to fly will enjoy the zipline at the LINQ.  Tourists can fly around 35 miles an hour, 12 stories above the LINQ Promenade.  You can fly in 1 of 3 positions: seated, superhero (lying on your stomach with outstretched arms), or backward in either seated or superhero.  Tickets range between 25 and 35 dollars for any flying position.

The High Roller Observation Wheel

Ever thought a bar could be combined with a 550-foot tall Ferris wheel?  For a 30-minute revolution, you can enjoy a view of the Las Vegas Strip–as well as your favorite alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks–in one of 28 roomy cabins. Prices vary from day to night hours (a daytime ticket is 25 dollars, and a night ticket for Happy Hour is 52 dollars).

Besides enjoying Happy Hour on the High Roller, you can also enjoy a soothing yoga session for 1 full hour.  Both beginner and advanced students are welcome.

Hoover Dam/Grand Canyon Excursions

If you’re an outdoorsy type, you can take a day trip to the Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon.

Tours for both these locations range between 70 to 600 dollars and can last between 3 and 6 hours.

You can explore these locations by walking, or you can take a motor-coach or even helicopter.  The Hoover Dam is only 30 miles (a roughly 40-minute drive) away from Vegas, but the Grand Canyon is 250 miles.

What to Plan For the Nightlife?

Beyond the casinos and bars, Vegas is crammed with magicians, cabarets, comedians, circuses and more.  The Las Vegas website keeps an updated schedule of events, which you can continually reference during your vacation.


Many of the shows in Vegas are ongoing.  Even better, the performers and acts in these shows are among the finest and most diverse in the world. Ticket prices range between 20 to 300 dollars, depending on the performance and your view in the theater.

Some of the most popular shows and acts include:

  • Cirque du Soleil: A troupe of magicians, fire-breathers, jugglers, and musicians, Cirque du Soleil revolutionized circus performance by engaging audiences’ physical and imaginative interaction.
  • Penn and Teller: The longest-running headlining act in Las Vegas, Penn and Teller perform magic and comedy in a riotous combination, performing at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
  • Absinthe: a raunchy, though comedic, showcase of artists performing incredible flexibility, strength, and danger at Caesars Palace. This act is part of a circus-themed interactive show called Spiegelworld, which thrives on raunchy and somewhat offensive comedy.
  • Blue Man Group: A combination of music, insanity, and three bald blue-skinned men having a good time, audiences can enjoy colorful paint drums, the zany Drumbone (half drum half trombone), and even the one and only Big Drum, at the Luxor Hotel.

Las Vegas also hosts musician residencies for a few months at a time.  This year, Vegas is hosting Aerosmith, Billy Idol, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, and Gwen Stefani, among other notable artists.


Just like the rest of Vegas’ live entertainment, there is something for all partying tastes when it comes to the club scene–trippy, colorful, intimate, etc.

Pro tip: many Vegas clubs and bars have individual cover charges for entry.  To avoid these, you can purchase a Las Vegas Nightlife Pass for roughly 800 dollars.  This one pass can get you into almost fifty of Las Vegas’ pool parties, bars, night clubs, and lounges through the VIP line.

The Jewel, located at the Aria Hotel, boasts a multi-faceted (get it: because jewels have facets) experience, literally and figuratively.  LED ribbons hang down over the clubs’ pillars, and a wall of light behind the DJ booth provides an ever-changing, colorful feast for the eyes.

Similarly, the Omnia, located at Caesars Palace, has a spectacular LED feature: a chandelier that morphs and moves up and down throughout the night.

If you’re not much of a nightclub person, there are plenty of day clubs and pool parties.  The Encore Beach Club and the Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay have plenty of sitting room around huge beautiful pools, as well as VIP areas with views of the DJ stage.


There are just as many awesome Vegas bars as there are restaurants and casinos.  The Dorsey, for example, serves classic cocktails made with high-end ingredients and even serves beef sliders and curly fries during evening hours.  The Juniper Cocktail Lounge (named for the juniper berries that produce gin) houses the most extensive collection of gin in the city.

But some bars, like The Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan hotel, combine luscious drinks with luscious beauty.  You can enjoy your favorite drink while sitting beneath and between beautiful curtains of light.

If you’re looking for something more low-key in downtown Vegas, consider the beer and wine selections of Atomic Liquors, The Velveteen Rabbit, or the Oak & Ivy.  For a little extra fun, send a text message reservation to The Laundry Room, a hidden speakeasy in the Prohibition-themed Commonwealth.


If there’s one thing that screams “Las Vegas,” it’s the casinos, each one full of the same neon glitz as the signs on the Strip.

Caesars Palace is among the best-known casinos, sporting an ancient Rome theme.  At the Bellagio, you can enjoy some of Vegas’ most spectacular fountain shows before or after you play.  The Venetian-Palazzo is an ode to classical Italian art and architecture, full of hand-painted frescos hovering above every game table.

However, all that mesmerizing beauty will be hard to enjoy if you go over your gambling budget.

Before you take your cash to the blackjack table, make sure you have set a gambling budget for yourself.  Bring only the money you are willing to spend and don’t take out any more once you’ve spent it all.

To further protect your budget, make sure you study up on any gambling game before playing.  You could lose money fast if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Finally, set your gambling budget according to your overall vacation budget.  If gambling is what you want to spend the most on, then limit spending on other fun things.  Also, if the casino happens to be in your hotel, leave your ATM card in a secure place in your room so you won’t be tempted to get more cash.

Be Responsible For Your Own Safety

It might be plain common sense, but when you plan a trip to Vegas, also plan for your own safety.  Some parts of the city have a reputation of indulgence, (it isn’t known as “Sin City” for nothing) and can be dangerous.

It may be fun to indulge in a place that mildly encourages it (“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”), but be careful not to indulge in more than your morals allow.

Be especially careful about what you post on social media, as family members and employers may be witness to some unintentionally embarrassing moments.

How Can You Get Around in Vegas?

There are plenty of ways to get around Vegas. Check out your options.

Rent a Car

You can drive or rent a car, especially if you’re staying farther away from the places you want to see.  This is usually cheap, and some hotels don’t charge for parking.  But keep in mind that Vegas has a lot of “backstage” parking, which can be challenging to access.  The Strip can also be intimidating to navigate if you’re driving yourself.

Take the Monorail

The monorail is a good alternative, especially if you want to travel the Strip and also skip the hassle of parking.  It makes stops every 4 to 8 minutes at 7 different Strip hotels and runs from 7 a.m. till 2 or 3 a.m. depending on the day of the week.

You can also pick up an Unlimited Ride Pass to save you time and money.  Or you can purchase 1 to 7-day passes, which range from 5 to 56 dollars.

Rideshare Services, like Lyft or Uber

Lots of locations in Vegas, especially the airport, have designated pickup areas for rideshares, like Lyft or Uber.  Regular ole taxis are an option, but they’re also much more expensive.

The Deuce Bus Service

Las Vegas’ premier bus service runs 24 hours a day and makes stops all along the Strip and even into downtown.  Stops are less frequent between 2 and 7 a.m. but the service still runs all day and all night.

What Are Some Kid-Friendly Attractions in Vegas?

While Vegas is filled mainly with adult entertainment, there is still plenty of family fun to be found.

The Springs Preserve, for instance, has gardens and interactive exhibits to entertain both adults and children.  The Preserve often offers unique workshops, such as gardening and cooking, and sometimes has special events, such as an ice cream festival and a beer festival.

General admission for the Springs Reserve also includes entry to the Nevada State Museum.  Part natural history museum and Nevada history museum, guests can observe dinosaur fossils, explore a stalactite cave, and even watch an atomic explosion.

In terms of pure child-going entertainment, the Adventuredome, located at the Circus Circus hotel, includes classic carnival games, roller coasters, and even water rides.  The Adventuredome can be enjoyed by children of all ages, whether they prefer a hot air balloon simulation, or a roller coaster worthy of a daredevil.

Similarly, many hotels have swimming pools, bowling alleys, and movie theaters.

What Are Some Notable Restaurants in Vegas?

Vegas is home to a melting pot of chefs and cuisines from all over the world.  Whether you want to eat fancy for a night or nibble on something quick and greasy, Vegas has it all.  Much like everything else in Vegas, though, make sure your wallet is good and ready.

Speaking of worldly cuisine, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant atop the Eiffel Tower replica, helmed by Chef J. Joho, is an excellent choice.  This award-winning restaurant offers classic French food and drink.  If you’d like a window reservation (highly recommended), they suggest a 4:30 time slot.

Las Vegas is home to plenty of celebrity-helmed restaurants.  Gordon Ramsay has five restaurants across the city, most notably the Pub and Grill at Caesars Palace and Steak, Las Vegas at the Paris Las Vegas hotel.  We cannot forget about Hell’s Kitchen, of course, inspired by the television show of the same name.

If you enjoy Asian cuisine, consider David Change’s Korean restaurant, Momofuku, or Morimoto’s Japanese cuisine and sushi.  You can find both these restaurants and more in Las Vegas’ Chinatown, whether you’re craving a cheap bite of orange chicken, or a more high-end eating experience.

Vegas is famous for its steakhouses too.  SW Steakhouse, located at the Wynn Hotel, comes with a lovely water feature view and open-air seating.  Take note that the dress code is all elegance (dresses and polo shirts required), and children under five are not permitted.  José Andrés’ Bazaar is much more unique, with its emphasis on bending traditional Spanish cooking.

The Top of the World Restaurant, located at the top of the Strat Hotel, offers not only a spectacular view of Las Vegas Boulevard, but it turns a full 360 degrees in 80 minutes. It’s also won several consecutive awards for its wine and dining atmosphere.

How Can You Save Money While in Vegas?

In a city where money gets thrown away faster than garbage, saving money is critical.  And it’s much easier than you think.

You can sign up–for free–for player’s cards at resorts.  You might also get rewards after spending a certain amount of money, and you can use other cards while shopping for discounts at restaurants and shops.

No matter where you go, Groupon can save you a few bucks on select attractions or restaurants.

Although, there is also plenty of free entertainment in Vegas too, such as the Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower water and light show, and the aquarium at the Mirage hotel.

Final Thoughts

It is impossible to try every attraction in Las Vegas in one trip.  But knowing how to plan a trip to Vegas begins with knowing what appeals to you, as well as how much you’re willing to spend.

Leave a Comment