Help a Reader Travel: Las Vegas

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsThe Pacific Coast HighwayArgentinaCosta Rica, Cape Code & The IslandsIceland, GenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsrael, and Peru.

So this weeks travel destination includes Las Vegas. I received the following email from reader Jacob:

“I am looking for a long weekend getaway to Las Vegas. I am planning on going with my girlfriend and have never been before! There are just too many hotels to chose from, so I’d love some suggestions! I want a full pool to hang out with and will probably go to the tables for a little, nothing major. I’d also like a location that allows me to walk up and down the strip visiting the other hotels. Right now it is just a potential three day trip, but I can always extend if need to. Is there anything else to do besides walking along the strip, a fun pool, and the casinos? All suggestions are welcome!”

I actually have been to Vegas, three times. Twice for work trips, but I was able to take a few personal days, and once when I was about 10 years old with my family. For the work trips, I stayed at the Venetian and the Palazzo. I love both hotels, and really think of them as one. I believe the Palazzo is all suites. If I remember correctly, both (or maybe it was just the Palazzo) have huge bathrooms with TVs in them as well. It is really fun to walk around inside the hotel and there are some great restaurants. The pool area also has a fun vibe and I thoroughly enjoyed the lounge chairs in the pool where you were half in/half out. I also had some good luck at their casino! When I went with my family forever ago, we stayed at Circus Circus one night and the Excalibur the other. I really can’t comment on those hotels now, but I do remember the kids casino being tons of fun! Every hotel has a very different vibe, so it really depends what you are looking for. For example, the Wynn is much more upscale while the Palms is more of a party scene.

For things to do: Walk up and down the strip visiting the other hotels. MGM Grand has the lions, New York New York has a roller coaster, Mirage has a volcano and the white tigers, Treasure Island has the pirate ship, Rio (which is off the strip) has Mardi Gras, Venetian has the canals, and Bellagio has the light show. There are probably a few others I am forgetting as well. There are also many shows in the various hotels and great restaurants along the strip. You can also go off the strip to Fremont strip (which was the original strip) and see the light show. I liked this part of town and the tables had much lower minimums at night! If you want to get out of town you are not too far away from the Hoover Dam (about 45 minute drive). You can take the Dam tour with the Dam tour guide. I saw this when I was 10 and remember it being cool! You can also go to the Grand Canyon (about 4 hours) or Zion National Park (about 2 1/2 hours).

If you’ve been to Las Vegas, let’s help out reader Jacob by commenting below. Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



  1. I would stay at a mid-strip location for the first time. My friends asked for an upgrade “$20 sandwich” at the Paris since they mentioned it was their first time and got a corner room with Bellagio fountain and Eiffel tower views. Paris also has a good Hertz car rental on site in case you want to rent a car for the day. Casino Royale is a great little place for small minimum gambling right on the strip. I think the MGM lion exhibit is gone, David Copperfield took over and made them disappear. =) Just remember you can’t walk from the strip to Fremont Street…

  2. ive been over 10 times and stayed at all the hotels. If you like peace and quiet which is hard to come by in vegas the mandarin oriental is outstanding. I found it to be the best hotel hands down. If you like all the action and craziness stay at the cosmopolitan, its in a good area and theres alot going on. If you can get a good deal stay at the mandarin you could always walk to the aria or cosmo casino. The mandarin service is second to none, probably the best service ive had at a U.S hotel.

  3. Do you like food? If so, you should try brunch at Bouchon in Venetian, or the buffets at Wynn or Cosmopolitan.

    I recommend getting a rental car so you can visit other casinos or do some outlet shopping. Self parking is free at most casinos, and cars are cheap. I recently did the Avis 5K AA mile bonus, and the rate was $90 for 3 days.

    I think the best deal is Aria…3 nts gets a $200 credit, plus you can book through Visa Sig to get breakfast daily and $25 dining credit and internet. But I’m not sure about their pool, and how it compares to other hotels.

  4. First thing to do is invest $40.50 and buy an online subscription to The Las Vegas Advisor (no affiliation, just a satisfied customer). You’ll easily get your money back from their Membership Rewards (coupon) Book. Full details are available at , but just the 1/2 off purchases up to $100 ($50 value) at The Palms more than pays for the investment. You can also read all the back issues (I’d go back about 4 months and start reading forward from there).

    LVA will give you a lot of insight into what’s happening, and you’ll be better able to decide where you want to be for the things you’re interested in. IIRC, they run a pool review in one of the spring issues; since the travelers specifically mentioned a pool to hang out at, there’s a good reference all in one place.

  5. I am a longtime Vegas vet and I would strongly recommend the Mirage. It’s a great value, perfect location, and has a little bit of everything. The dining isn’t anything special for Vegas but the pool is fun and you can walk to anywhere worth seeing in 15 minutes.

  6. I’d totally recommend the Mirage too, as per @Daniel’s suggestion. The value is the best for the area. The rooms aren’t suites like the Venetian, but they are nice. The pool is great. And if you pay attention to where you book it, you can usually score food and drink credit.

  7. Have you considered the Golden Nugget downtown? Old luxury, fantastic swim up bar in huge pool that has a see thru waterside going thru a shark tank, priced much better than strip hotels, feeling of safety since the entire area is under a canopy that lights up with a free show every night. Walk easily to other casinos. If you don’t stay there, be sure to visit it at night. Smiles:)

  8. Here’s my take on hotels (i’ve sampled around 18-19 hotels so far) :

    1. Bang for the buck – definitely Mirage (as others have suggested already)
    2. View of the room – Cosmo, facing the Bellagio fountains
    3. Large cheap room (of reasonable quality) – Palazzo
    4. True luxury – Wynn if you want view, Encore if you want space
    5. True luxury without the douche bags – Mandarin Oriental
    6. Obnoxiously over-the-top modern : Aria
    7. Family friendly (but not overrun by screaming babies) – Mandalay Bay

    Avoid list :
    1. Monte Carlo
    2. Paris
    3. TI
    4. Luxor

    Worst bang for the buck :
    1. Caesar’s Palace

  9. I live in vegas and would be willing to give him all the info he needs in the world. Feel free to give him my email address. Mandalay Bay is also on sale for 80.00 per night right now for a suite. Great deal and by far the best pool in town. Locals can also get 2 for 1 Cirque tickets etc.


  10. I’m with Whitney, and would go for the Golden Nugget downtown for value. For the strip, AMEX Platinum FHR Bellagio. But I disagree with Whitney on the Monte Carlo. Good value with tram service to Aria and Bellagio, so sleep there and save a bundle!

  11. There are two must-dos for me in Las Vegas if you’re a foodie: bunch at the poolside restaurant at The Four Seasons, and dinner at Lotus of Siam. If you’ve got a hangover worthy of Vegas, two things make the 4S breakfast epic: 1) the world’s best huevos rancheros; and 2) the ice cubes. The first time I went, I ordered an iced tea. After finishing the glass, I was slightly dismayed to see what looked like dirty ice cubes. They were– brown. Ugh. Then I realized: these were ice cubes MADE OUT OF ICED TEA! No dilution! Brilliant! And not just any iced tea, but really yummy passionfruit iced tea. So… go.

    Second, there is no better Thai food than Lotus of Siam. It’s in a really out-of-the-way location, but trust me, it’s worth it. The only comparable Thai I’ve had was in Chiang Mai.

    Also, despite the really ridiculous name, I like staying at THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay. It’s all suites, and the bathtubs are huge and brilliant. Also, you don’t have to walk through the casino to get to your room, so it seems more private and more laid back than other hotels.


  12. GO SKYDIVING! Best thing I’ve ever done in Vegas. I was scared out of my mind, but it’s an incredible thrill and the view of the strip + the Dam + all that desert is unreal. I went with Skydive Las Vegas but there are several vendors. Whatever you do, buy the photos and the video. It will double the cost of the excursion, but you will be so happy to have it and show to allllll your friends and family;) There may be Groupons/Living Social deals for these kinds of activities.

  13. I’ve to Vegas few time and I think first is to rent a car. They are cheap there to rent. This way you can stay in any hotel and it would not matter how far you are from the strip.
    Every hotel has a show, some free some for $. I’d say must see is a Le Reve at Wynn. Big O is really overrated. Interesting restaurant and view deck is at the top of Stratosphere casino. Great view of the strip both during day and night. Although food in the restaurant sometime could be off.
    While renting a car he can be free to drive to Red Rock Canyon and Hoover Dam instead of paying for the excursion. And not to be tied up to somebody’s schedule.

    For food – interesting diner is Peppermill. Huge portions, interesting atmosphere.

  14. If you want to walk up and down the strip, definitely pick a centrally located hotel. The strip is WAAAYY Longer than you think.

    Staying downtown (Old Vegas) is definitely an experience and a lot of fun as well.

    Finally, agree with @slava that renting a car is a good move. Parking is free at any hotel on the strip (they want you IN, no barriers to entry) and having the flexibility to get away is nice.

    If you have the car, GO TO RED ROCK CANYON OR MT. CHARLESTON. Very close and very cool. All the fake crap is nice, but is pretty kitchy and will get old quick. Check out the real nature.

    Finally, if you are a starwood fan, the Westin about a block of the strip is nice, has a good casino and is a little quieter than the madness a block over.

  15. Don’t rent a car. The strip is a parking lot. Take Taxis or walk.

    Stay at a place on the strip near all the other places you want to go. That means the Mirage, Paris, Venetian, Wynn, Encore, Ceasars or Bellagio. Everything else is too far away.

    The Mirage is the best bang for your buck. And the best pool. As others have already said. You can often get $44/night deals here if you sign up for their emails.

    But Whitney has you covered above. All good advice.

    See a Cirque show. Yes they’ll cost you $80-$100 a ticket, but they’re worth it. La Reve at the Wynn is close. Don’t go to the one at New York New York. Its just embarrassing.

    Got lots of money? Get a view room at the Bellagio. Have very little? Stay at the Pink Flamingo maybe. Family friendly and older but a decent pool and good location.

    Food? Try the Four Queens in downtown. Awesome classic old time steak/seafood. Canaletto’s for italian in the “St. Marks Square” area of the Venetian is a long time favorite. Or SushiSamba at the Palazzo, Brazilian Sushi. Best Burgers? BLT at the Mirage. Add a milk shake spiked with hard liquor to quench your hangover. Or just sit outside at Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris and have a Steak Frites while you watch the fountains across the way at the Bellagio.

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