Which part of town?

Las Vegas isn't one contiguous neighborhood, it's split into different sections which cater to various desires. Don't worry though, you're not stuck in one area. The main areas -- as far as visitors are concerned -- are separated by only about three miles and a short cab ride. You can even use our handy Taxi Fare Estimator to get an idea of costs.

The Strip

The Strip is a cocktail made of equal parts glamour and debauchery, with just enough seediness tossed in to add flavor. It's the glitzy part of Vegas that TV shows and movies showcase, and it's where mega-hotels have blossomed over the last decade. Because of The Strip's high visibility things are more expensive than Downtown, but it's where to stay if you want everything -- gambling, entertainment and nightlife -- all in one area.

Best for:
  • People looking for "the total Vegas experience"
  • Those who like clubs and other hip nightspots
  • Big-time shoppers
  • Those who love luxury and want to be pampered
  • Almost all first-time visitors
A bad fit for:
  • Visitors on an exceptionally tight budget
  • Anyone who can't handle big crowds
  • People who have a hard time doing a lot of walking

Downtown

One word describes Downtown: cheap. Hotels, gambling, food and entertainment are all much less costly here than on the Strip. The trick is in learning the difference between "good cheap" and "bad cheap." Put some thought into choosing your hotel, be realistic about what to expect and you can find a good balance between vacation frivolity and bargains.

Best for:
  • Low-budget visitors
  • Serious gamblers who don't care much about other attractions
  • Older people
A bad fit for:
  • Anyone looking for shows or concerts
  • Lovers of nightlife
  • Singles hoping to hook up

Off-Strip

There are many, many casinos in the Las Vegas area that aren't on the Strip or Downtown, but most of those cater to the locals. For our purpose we're talking about the Stratosphere, the Rio, the Palms and the Hard Rock. Of these, the Strat is a nice place that suffers from a location in the middle of nowhere. The Rio is an upscale hotel where men with enhanced wallets and women with everything else enhanced fit right in. The last two, the Palms and the Hard Rock, are the party spots of choice for 20-somethings on the prowl.

(Note: Another hotel, LVH-Las Vegas Hotel & Casino [formerly the Las Vegas Hilton] is sometimes considered an Off-Strip location because it is not situated directly on Las Vegas Boulevard and is a little apart from the other hotels in the area. However it's also a stop on the Las Vegas monorail, which is one of the main ways of getting around the Strip. So for our purposes we'll consider it to be a Strip hotel.)

Best for:
  • Serious partiers
  • Those who would rather spend $40 at an exceptionally nice pool than at gambling table
  • Attractive young visitors looking to score
A bad fit for:
  • People who want to visit lots of casinos
  • Anyone who gets annoyed by 20-somethings in hair gel and flip-flops

Places to avoid

Be suspicious of in-flight magazine ads that tout casinos, hotels and hangouts as "where locals gather." This may be true, but they gather there because they're sick of tourists, and the atmosphere at places like this is geared toward this "I'm tired of everything being over the top" attitude. If you came to Vegas looking for excitement and to revel in the city's surrealness, you're going to be disappointed by locals' joints. Stick to the weirdness of the Strip, Downtown and Off-Strip.

13 responses to “Which part of town?”


  1. Angie said:

    Thinking of visiting Vegas for the first time with my husband at the end of May. We are early 40's, enjoy seeing and experiencing new things. Not much for the party scene and looking to be close to lots of things but away from the partiers. Trying to do this as inexpensively as possible, but who isn't? A show or two would be nice and would like to not have to rent a car. I am going to keep exploring the site, but thought I would throw this out there. Thanks!


  2. Jonathan. john said:

    Will be visiting Vegas for the 1st time in a while. August maybe. Need to attend Chris angels show or any thing more fun. Can some one recommend?


  3. Steve the Texan said:

    Karen,
    The MGM Grand is fairly near mid-Strip (a little on the south end, but not very far), but the Mandalay Bay is pretty far removed from the center. That said, it's one of my favorite places. It has what I think is the best pool on the Strip, so if that's important to you, don't rule it out just because of the location. If you want to stay closer the middle, though, the Bellagio, the Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island and the Mirage would all be good options.

    Doug,
    I love Fremont Street and the Golden Nugget, but if nightlife and pool parties on high on your agenda you're probably better off staying on the Strip. (Note: The Golden Nugget does have a great pool, but there's not a party scene that revolves around it.)


  4. Karen said:

    My husband & I are going to Vegas the last 2 weeks in August for my 40th. Thinking of staying at MGM or Mandalay but a few friends say it is too far from everything ie: should look at something closer to the middle of the strip. Can you recommend somewhere? Cheers


  5. Steve the Texan said:

    Mich,
    Circus Circus isn't one of my usual recommendations for a young couple looking to enjoy the full Vegas scene. There's nothing wrong with the hotel, but the location (far end of the Strip) and typical guest demographics (tends to skew slightly older and geared toward families) may not be what you're looking for.


  6. Mich said:

    My boyfriend and I are going to vegas in june, we have already booked our stay at circus circus, but after reviewing all of the reviews on this hotel, I feel we may have made a mistake. We are looking to have a great time as a young couple (21 and 23) and see as much as we can.

    should I try to change our hotel reservations, or will be be content where we are?


  7. Steve the Texan said:

    Roma,
    You won't go wrong with any of your three candidates. Paris is located slightly more toward the center of the Strip, but the MGM Grand probably holds a slight edge in terms of overall niceness (if a good pool is important to you, the MGM Grand has an excellent one). But the difference between the three is negligible.


  8. Roma said:

    Hi, We are going to Las Vegas for the first time. Been Looking for a place to stay. So many to chose from. Between the MGM Grand, Paris and New York New York, which place in your favorite?


  9. Steve the Texan said:

    CJ,
    I think Mandalay Bay would be a very good option for you. The hotel is moderately plush, the rooms are comfortable and security is fine. It's also home to what I think is the best pool on the Strip. It's more an artificial beach than plain ol' pool, and it's a great place to relax. The only knock on Mandalay Bay is that it's off on the south end of the Strip, a fair walk from popular spots further north. It's an excellent spot, though. I don't think you'd regret staying there.


  10. CJ said:

    My husband and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. We live in Jersey and spend a lot of weekends in Atlantic city. We are looking for a hotel on the strip that is classy but not to break the bank so to speak. I need a nice pool and extreme cleanliness (I'm a bit of a germaphobe). He likes to roll over at 2:00 AM and go down to the blackjack table leaving me sleeping. This makes me uneasy so security is also a factor for both me being alone in the room in the middle of the night and him walking the hotel in the middle of the night with a pocket full of money. This is my criteria where do you suggest we stay. I've been liking the Mandalay online, any opinions on the place?


  11. Tiffany said:

    I am 34 and I live in Indianapolis,In. I have never been to Los Vegas but I am very much interested in visiting I'm not rich and I am not poor just a average single mother of two looking for a nice time in a large city


  12. Steve the Texan said:

    Tim, here's a link to a section of the site that may be helpful:

    * Gay Vegas


  13. Tim Lentz said:

    Is there a gay scene in Las Vegas? what areas of city , any gay hotels or B & B's, clubs etc. ?

Post a comment

Your comment

Carrot Top: Luxor Las Vegas