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Reason #1 I like Bovada:

Play for free
with no hassles

Most online casinos insult you with popups and spam, and they give you the hard sell even if you just want to try their free-play games.  Fortunately there's Bovada, which gives a much friendlier experience.  That's the main reason why I advertise them exclusively.

  • No registration required. Most casinos let you play for free with fake money, but there's a catch: They make you register an account first.   That's not just a hassle: after you register you can expect them to badger you by email trying to get you to deposit real money.  But Bovada lets you play right away without forcing you to register an account.  One click and you're in.  Here, try it.
  • Plays right in your browser.  If you'd rather not download the casino software to your hard disk, you don't have to.  The games play right in your web browser.  Nice.
  • Works on Macs.  The play-in-browser games are MacOS compatible!  Before Bovada, Mac users were pretty much out of luck for gambling online.  Not any more.
  • No popups.  I'll never understand why companies think it's a good idea to annoy their visitors, but that's standard practice at most online casinos.  Bovada is one of the rare exceptions -- no popups, no popunders, just the website.

Bovada's not perfect, but there's no better site for U.S. players.

Visit Bovada

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
Play these
free slots now

Gambling problem?
  1. Call the 800-522-4700 hotline or get online help
  2. See these horror stories.
  3. Know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.
Avg. High/Low Temps.

57 / 37 14 / 3
63 / 41 17 / 5
69 / 47 21 / 8
78 / 54 26 / 12
88 / 63 31 / 17
99 / 72 37 / 22
104 / 78 40 / 26
102 / 77 39 / 25
94 / 69 34 / 21
81 / 57 27 / 14
66 / 44 19 / 7
57 / 37 14 / 3

When to visit

Visit mid-week if you can!  Hotel rooms often cost three to four times as much on the weekends as during the week! Plus, with weekend crowds you'll wait in line for everything. Mid-week visitors save tons of money and have a much better time.

Vegas rarely gets below freezing in winter, but it will bake you in summer with average highs of 100°F+ (37°C+).  See average temps at right, or the forecast for the next week.

Getting to Vegas

Hipmunk will get you the cheapest airfare most of the time. Use the "Flexible Dates" feature to save even more.  For more tips see my guide to cheap airfare.  Though I actually hope you won't fly.

Here's a link to the McCarran Airport website to check flight times.

Buses from Los Angeles take 5 to 7 hours and roundtrip prices start at $8 (Megabus), $40 (GoVegasBus), $55 (Greyhound), or $63 (LuxBus, the "luxury bus").

Rideshares can be found on Craigslist.

Vegas isn't served by train, but Amtrak (the train company) lets you book a trip to Vegas on their site; they take you on a bus for the last leg of the trip.  The closest the train gets to Vegas is Los Angeles or Kingman, AZ, which are 6.5 and 2.5 hours away from Vegas by bus respectively.

Where to stay

The Strip is usually your best bet, because it's where most of the sights & sounds are, and you usually won't pay extra to stay there.  The catch is that every strip hotel charges a resort fee of $5-25/night, but some of the downtown casinos don't (Four Queens, Fremont, California, and El Cortez).  So those non-fee hotels will usually be your cheapest bet, though sometimes a strip hotel will be cheaper even with the resort fee.  Before the resort fee, strip casinos sometimes have rates as low as $24 a night mid-week, and $50 on weekends.  Every hotel/casino on the strip is very good quality, too.

If you're coming on the weekend and need to pay less than $50, you can do so be staying dowtown or near the Strip (rather than on the Strip).  See our cheap hotels page for more.

If this is a special/romantic trip and you want luxury, the classiest hotels are the Four Seasons, Venetian, Bellagio, and the Wynn.  But a better value is to get a suite at one of the lesser properties.  You can get a massive suite with a hot tub at places like the Luxor and Stratosphere for a fraction of what you'd pay for just a room at a high-end hotel.

See my list of Vegas casinos to see which are on the strip, downtown, and elsewhere.

Getting to your Hotel

THE BUS. The Westcliff Airport Express goes from the airport straight to the South strip (MGM Grand, Tropicana, NY NY, Luxor), and then to downtown.  The #108 bus goes from the airport straight to the Stratosphere and Downtown.  Either bus is $2.  If you're going elsewhere, you can take the #108 or #109 and then transfer to a Strip bus.  (If you're making a transfer, buy a $7 day pass when you get on the first bus.)  See our bus page for more.

SHUTTLES. The private shuttles are $6 (to the Strip) or $8 (to downtown) per person.  They're a great deal if you're traveling solo, a kinda good deal if you're traveling as a couple, but no cheaper than a taxi if there are 3+ in your party, since taxis are the same cost for 1-4 people. To find the shuttles, go to the space between the two big baggage claim areas and face the direction of the escalators that are coming down from the second floor.  Walk past the escalators, walk out the door, and look left or right.  Note that your hotel likely doesn't have its own shuttle service, unless you're a high roller.

TAXIS. Taxis will run you about $17 to the Strip or $23 to downtown, plus the (recommended) 15% tip. See our guide to taxis.

CAR RENTAL. There's no need to rent a car.  Buses go up and down the Strip and to downtown 24/7, and walking is also an option.

Here's a map of all the strip casino/hotels.

Get a free room upgrade when you check in

When you check in, sandwich a $20 bill between your credit card and ID and casually ask if there are any complimentary room upgrades available.  Nine times out of ten you'll get it, and if you can't then the clerk will return your $20.  See FrontDeskTip.com for more.

Vegetarian Food

If you're a vegetarian or vegan you're gonna be shocked at how little is available for you on the Strip.  But my vegetarian survival guide will make it a lot easier.

Getting around

Walking the strip is a viable option.  Cabs are expensive, and you often have to wait in a long line at the hotel to get one.  (They can't and won't stop on the street.)  The entire strip is only four miles long and you could walk the whole thing in an hour and a half.

Two buses serve the Strip:  The Deuce, and the "Strip & Downtown Express" (SDX).  There's no such thing as a single-ride fare, you pay either $5 for a two-hour pass, or $7 for a 24-hour pass (good for 24 hours from the time of purchase).  Get the $7 pass for sure.  The Deuce stops at every casino, so it's slow.  The SDX makes only a few stops so it's faster, but it might not pick up or drop off exactly where you like.  Both buses run frequently, 24/7.  See more about the buses on our transportation page.

Up to four people can ride in a taxi for the price of one,  so if there are 3+ people in your party then a cab ride could be competitive with the bus.  Personally, I usually boycott taxis because so many of them drive so dangerously.  Taxis cost $3.30 to get in, $2.40 per mile, and a $1.80 surcharge for airport service.  See our taxis page for more.

Our Top 10 Tips
  1. Visit mid-week. Hotel rooms often cost three to four times as much on the weekends as during the week!  Plus, with weekend crowds you'll wait in line for everything.  Mid-week visitors save tons of money and have a much better time.
  2. Get a player's card. Go to the Player's Club desk at any casino you visit and sign up for a free player's card, even if you don't plan to gamble there.  Then the casino will mail you offers for discounted or even free rooms on your next visit.  You can also sign up for the MGM/Mirage and the Harrah's cards online, which combined will work at 23 Vegas casinos.
  3. Don't lose your shirt. Don't bet more than you can afford to lose. Set both a budget for your whole trip and one for each playing session, and if you lose it, stop playing.
  4. Don't play slot machines. They suck your money away hand over fist.  Compare $600 lost over 16 hours on a $0.25 machine compared to just $40 lost at blackjack or craps @ $5 a hand.  See our crash course on table games to have a much better chance of winning.
  5. Tip the dealers $5/hr. and the cocktail waitresses $1 every drink or two.
  6. Ask for comps. When you play either slots or table games the casino will reward you with buffets, show tickets, or room discounts. Ask at the player's club booth (slot players) or at the tables (table players) for how to claim your goodies. (more on comps)
  7. Use the buses. The Westcliff Express bus goes straight from the airport to the South Strip (MGM Grand, NY NY, Luxor, Tropicana) for $2.  The #108 goes from the airport to the Stratosphere and then to downtown, for $2.  Pay $7 for a 24-hour pass when you get on any bus, and then ride any bus in the city for free for the next 24 hours, including the Deuce and Strip/Downtown Express buses.  See our special page that tells you all about the buses.
  8. Don't try to get taxis on the strip. Taxis can't stop directly on the strip; that's why they're passing you by. Go to the taxi area of the hotel to get one. Up to 4 people ride for the same price as 1; if there's just 2 of you, don't be afraid to yell out, "Anyone want to split a cab to [some casino]?" It doesn't just save money, it's eco-friendly.
  9. Walk. The whole strip is four miles long and you could walk the whole thing in an hour and a half.  Plus, it helps work off the calories from the buffets.
  10. Get Half-Price Show Tickets. You can get deeply-discounted tickets for most Vegas shows at one of the several Tix4Tonite booths on the Strip and downtown. See all our tips for getting free and cheap tix.
  11. Bank your winnings. Set aside half your win when you win big, and never gamble it, so you have a guaranteed win.
Other Stuff

Shows, Comedy, Nightclubs
Half-Price Tickets: Tix 4 Tonite
Current shows. Destination 360.
Comedy clubs: Las Vegas Online and Vegas.com.
Nightclubs: Vegas.com.
Dance Clubs: 10Best, LV Tourism
Lounge Acts: Vegas.com and Review-Journal.
Here's my my review of Ka.

Free Stuff in Vegas
VegasFreebies tells you what you can get for free, and where.

Las Vegas Leisure Guide offers many printable coupons for casinos, shops, and shows, but their selection isn't that large.

Social Clubs & Organizations
See the list at the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Tourism Statistics
• 39k yearly visitors, spending an average of $952 each
• Avg. gambling spend per visitor is $480, down from $650 before the recession (2013)
• 133k hotel rooms with 89% occupancy and an average rate of $103/night.
• See more tourism stats from UNLV and LasVegas.com.

Here's a complete list of upcoming conventions.

Every single casino in Las Vegas allows smoking, though most poker rooms are smoke-free. Sometimes some of the table games have no-smoking signs, but those are the exception and not the rule. A former casino employee who got lung cancer from secondhand smoke started Smoke Free Gaming to try to get casinos to ban smoking.

West-side Hike & Bike Trails
If you're staying on the west side of town (e.g., with a friend or in an Airbnb rental, or maybe you live there), then here's a nice map of exercise trails in west Las Vegas.


Other Vegas Guides

Here are other all-in-one guides cover all aspects of Vegas for visitors -- gambling, dining, weddings, conventions, recreation, bookstores, you name it.

The Strip

Photos/Virtual Tour of the Strip
Photos, movies, and 360-degree virtual tours of casinos and the Strip from LasVegas.com. And here are some more 360-degree movies from LasVegas360.

Historical Map of the Strip
This map shows what hotels used to be on the Strip, and what's there now. Also check out our Vegas Casino Timeline.

Fun stuff

News.  What's new and changing in Vegas.

Las Vegas on $19/day
This isn't a how-to guide, it's an incredibly funny story of how two guys managed to spend less than $19 a day on their Vegas trip. (The rest of their site has how-to tips for saving money.)  Note this is circa 2000, so lots in the story -- like the prices -- are rather dated.

Vegas Trivia
From LasVegas.com, BestReadGuide, FunTrivia.com.