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 primary 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.  Just close any registration boxes that appear, and then you can play without registering.  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, even for free-play.  Not any more.

Bovada's not perfect, but there's no better site serving most of the U.S.

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.

Visiting Las Vegas:  Crash Course

Last update: April 2019

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.

Best times to visit.  Vegas is usually slower:
  1. January after the first week
  2. July & August, when the heat is oppressive
  3. The week before Thanksgiving
  4. December before Christmas

Avoid busy times of year.  The busiest times are:
  1. Consumer Electronics Show (typically early January)
  2. Superbowl weekend (early February)
  3. March Madness (mid-March)
  4. Independence Day (July 4)
  5. Memorial Day Weekend (early Sept.)
  6. Halloween (Oct. 31)
  7. National Finals Rodeo (early Dec.)
  8. Christmas/New Year's

Avoid summers.  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

Note that flying is a powerful contributor to climate change, which is why I stopped flying to/from Vegas myself.  If you're flying anyway, then note that 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.

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), $10 (FlixBus & GoToBus), $55 (Greyhound), or $129 (LuxBus, the "luxury bus"). Don't expect to sleep on LuxBus, b/c the attendant will regale passengers with jokes & stories over the sound system throughout the trip.

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 where most of the sights & sounds are, but it's a bit pricier than downtown.  Downtown certainly has its fair share of attractions, and it's a quick bus ride from downtown to the strip.  See my list of Vegas casinos (and/or my map) to see which hotels are on the strip, downtown, and elsewhere.

Beware that just about every hotel in Vegas charges a "resort fee" of $15 to $39 that is separate from the nightly rate, and which you probably won't see on the online booking page.  See my cheap hotels page for more on discount lodging.

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.

I found a list of pet-friendly hotels.

Getting to your Hotel

UBER/LYFT. Slightly cheaper than taxis: $15-20, but they can't pick up at the terminal:  you'll have to walk to the parking garage.

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

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 $8 day pass, good for 24hrs, when you get on the first bus.)  See my bus page for more.

HOTEL SHUTTLES. Your hotel probably doesn't offer shuttle service, except to high rollers.  Here's a list of hotels that offer shuttle service.

SHUTTLE COMPANIES. 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.

CAR RENTAL.  There's no need to rent a car.  Buses go up and down the Strip and to downtown 24/7, lots of stuff is within walking distance, you won't like driving on the congested Strip, and parking is inconvenient and expensive.  Also, the car rental place isn't actually at the airport, you have to take a shuttle to/from the rental place.

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 for more.

Smoking: Get ready for it

Every single casino in Las Vegas allows smoking and they're all quite stinky.  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.

Vegetarian Food

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

Getting around

Walking the strip is a viable option.  The whole strip is only four miles long and you could walk the entire thing in an hour and a half.  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.)  Driving between casinos can be a chore since the Strip is often gridlocked, parking in the casino garage is often time-consuming, and then you've got to walk from the garage to the hotel/casino.  Save the car for visiting off-strip destinations like downtown.

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.

Most hotels now have a staging area for Uber and Lyft.  I avoid them because of their long list of sleazy scandals, including getting the Texas legislature to overturn Austin's requirement that their drivers undergo fingerprinted background checks.

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.  I usually boycott taxis because so many of them drive so dangerously, because to them, time is money.  Taxis cost $3.30 to get in, $2.40 per mile, and a $1.80 surcharge for airport service.  See my taxis page for more.

Bargain Corner

Discounted show tickets.  The "Tix 4 Tonight" counters all over town sell deeply-discounted tickets to most shows.  The catch is that sometimes they offer discounts on only the pricier seats, and it can actually be cheaper to pay full price for a cheaper seat at the box office or online. (more...)

Free things to do.  See the list.

Coupons. See my separate page on coupons.

Other stuff

Conventions. Here's a complete list of upcoming conventions.

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.

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—is rather dated, but still a blast to read.

Practice gambling with play money

Before you throw down your hard-earned cash in a casino, PRACTICE FIRST!  Learn the games with play money where it doesn't cost you anything if you lose.  Seriously.





Site Contents ©2001-2019 Michael Bluejay.
I believe everything herein to be accurate, but I'm not responsible for errors or omissions.  I'm pretty irresponsible, actually.

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