I’ve been visiting Las Vegas several times a year since 2005, usually for just a weekend at a time. It makes a great getaway from Phoenix, which is where I live. Las Vegas has a vibe unlike any place I’ve ever been.
There are two types of people here in Phoenix: those who drive to Vegas, and those who fly. Each type thinks the other is crazy. I drive. It’s a pleasant five-hour drive each way, the scenery is spectacular, and I have my own car when I get there. Your mileage may vary.
My biggest hint for Vegas: You don’t have to stay on the Strip. Hotel rates are usually somewhat cheaper off-Strip, but the real savings is on the food, which can cost less than half. Also, if you like table games but you’re not a high-roller, you’ll find the off-Strip casinos have significantly lower minimum bets, even at the busiest times of the week. Many off-Strip casino hotels have regular shuttles to their on-Strip corporate cousins. If you brought or rented a car, driving in Vegas is not at all difficult. As long as you stay off the Strip itself.
My blog posts about Las Vegas
- Cosmopolitan Las Vegas: Finding the secret hidden pizza joint on the Strip: There’s a not-so-secret pizza place in the Cosmopolitan, but it’s pretty well hidden. Here’s how to find it.
- Dinner at Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas: My take on this celebrity chef’s first Las Vegas restaurant at Paris Las Vegas.
- Dinner at Nora’s Cuisine: A family-run Italian restaurant. Popular with locals. Definitely worth a cab ride from the Strip.
- Last-minute solo getaway to Las Vegas: The results of my last-minute decision to do an overnight trip to Vegas.
- Vegas revue: Bally’s, Fremont Street, and Les Folies Bergeres: Follow-up on the overnight trip.
- Las Vegas again: Celine Dion, The Orleans, and learning craps: A weekend trip to Vegas that should have been spent in bed. Taking Monday and Tuesday off made more sense at the time.
Some places we enjoy in Las Vegas
- The Orleans Hotel & Casino: Located about two miles west of the Strip, this is one of our favorite places to stay in Vegas. Great rates, affordable dining choices, and plenty to do. Easy shuttle ride to the Strip, too.
- Ellis Island Casino & Brewery: Looks like a dive, but lots of fun. Great place for cheap dinner and beers. Ask about the steak special. Seriously. Don’t worry, what you save on the meal, you’ll put in the slots.
- Pink’s at Planet Hollywood: This Pink’s doesn’t have the ambiance of the Hollywood location, but it also doesn’t have the lines. What it does have is an excellent place to sit with a hot dog and soda and watch the Strip. That’s worth something.
- Archi’s Thai Kitchen: Found this place while looking for something different for dinner. Delicious Thai food west of the Strip. It was here that I began to understand the concept of Thai hot.
Resources for planning a trip to Las Vegas
- Cheapo Vegas: The authority on staying in Vegas on a budget. Funny to read, even if you’re not planning a trip.