Getting around the Las Vegas Strip
Last update: September 2020
Walking the strip is a viable option. Cabs / Uber / Lyft 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 bus is cheaper but it's often not much faster than walking. Renting a car is often a big waste—traffic on the Strip is often gridlocked and you have to park so far away that you'll wind up walking anyway. Finally, you'll discover lots of interesting stuff when you walk that you'd miss in a taxi. Walking is my preferred way of getting around the strip. The whole thing is only four miles long and you could walk the entire strip in an hour and a half.
But walking isn't a perfect option. First of all, the Aria/Cosmo/City Center monstrosity is absolutely hostile to pedestrians. In that area you can't cross at street level, and the detours to the walkways are lengthy and laborious. You could walk on the other side of the street, but that area of the south strip is packed with people so walking is slow-going. Another annoyance are the guys who constantly thrust ads in your face for call girls. Finally, walking is the summer often means braving 100°F+ heat. Still, I walk if I'm going only a mile or two. For longer distances, I take the bus.
By the way, please wait for the green light when crossing! Tourists seem to have no regard for the traffic signals, and many of them pay the ultimate price for that lack of judgement. Vegas is twice as dangerous as the national average for pedestrians. It's the 6th-most dangerous city for walkers in the U.S. A ped gets killed here about every four days Pay attention and obey the signals!
Buses: The Deuce and the Strip/Downtown Express (SDX)
There are two buses that run up and down
the Strip, and to downtown, The Deuce and the Strip/Downtown
Express (SDX). Here are the differences:
Downtown Express (SDX)
& down the Strip, and Downtown
every ~12 minutes
(except every 30 minutes between 2:00-5:30am)
for two-hour pass • $8 for a 24-hour pass
No, you can't buy a single trip for less.
You can buy the $8 pass on the Deuce, or from a machine at an SDX stop, and the pass works on every bus in the city, and the 24 hours starts from the time you buy it.
|Where to get tickets
||On the bus or
||From machine at
the bus stop (NOT on the bus)
(i.e., every casino)
|Goes to LV Premium Outlets
|Goes to Convention Center
|Goes to LV Outlet Center
|Goes to the South Strip
Transfer Terminal (SSTT)
The SDX is usually fast, but the Deuce can be pretty slow, and when the Strip is congested the Deuce isn't much faster than walking. Downtown to Mandalay Bay (5.7 miles) is as quick as 40 minutes, but once it took me 1:23 in traffic, and I could walk it in 1:44. (When I ran the Vegas Marathon, I did that route in 51 minutes—almost as fast as the fastest bus.) But even though the Deuce is often barely faster than walking, it does get you out of the heat, and is a relief when you're tired. Also, if you're able to snag the front two seats upstairs then you get a great, cheap tour of the Strip. And of course, the SDX is always faster than the Deuce.
Note that if you have occasion to ride a
numbered local bus (not the Deuce or SDX), you can buy your $8 day
pass on any bus in the city, and that pass works on any bus in the
city, including the Deuce and SDX.
Some trivia: RTC is constantly renaming the Strip Express bus. It used to be the #302 route. Then it was the Ace. Then it was the Gold Line. Now it's the "Strip & Downtown Express" (SDX). Odds are they'll change it again before too long.
Some casinos run their own private trams between their properties. These trams are fast, free, and run from 9:00am to 10:30pm, every 8 minutes. The only downside is they don't take you very far. Trams run between:
- Treasure Island < > Mirage
- Park MGM < > Aria < > Bellagio
- Mandalay Bay < > Luxor < > Excalibur
Las Vegas Monorail
The monorail is a joke, and fairly useless for traveling the Strip. It runs behind the strip hotels, and it's a fair hike to get to and from it. It's also too expensive, has too few stops, doesn't run late, and doesn't go the whole length of the strip. It's often much faster (and cheaper) to take the bus or walk.
Now, if you're going to or from the Convention Center or Westgate it's great. Otherwise, you probably won't find it very convenient.
Tickets are $5 for a one-way ride or $13 for a day pass (vs. $8 for a day pass on the bus). You can see the stops on my Strip map.
There are some hotel
shuttles that go from casino to casino. The most popular
is probably the one that goes between Bally's and Rio,
which leaves Bally's every 30 minutes between 10am to 1am.
Uber / Lyft
Most hotels have staging areas for Uber/Lyft, but there aren't as many staging areas for them as it does for traditional taxis. They can't stop on the Strip itself, because there's nowhere to stop.
I boycott both because of Uber is an incredibly ethically-challenged company, and because in my hometown of Austin, Uber & Lyft refused to comply with local regulations, then paid for a "grassroots" election to try to override local laws, and when voters defeated their measure, the companies then lobbied the Texas state government to cancel Austin's law, which it did. None of us should want a world in which corporations bully and bribe the government in order to get favorable treatment.
I generally boycott the taxis because most drive so dangerously, threatening pedestrians and bicyclists, and because buses and shuttles work fine. Taxis also aren't as convenient as you might expect, because they can't and won't stop on the street; you have to wait in the line at the hotel, and sometimes those lines are long. Here's more on taxis in Vegas.
The trolley is a bus which looks like an old
streetcar. It's only $2, but it's super, incredibly
slow. That's because it stops at every casino on the
Strip, and not on the street, either, but rather it pulls in to the
casino's loading/unloading area. I took this thing once.
You don't need to rent a car
If you're not venturing beyond the Strip and Downtown, you absolutely do not need a car. In fact, a car might just slow you down. Between gridlocked traffic and distant parking (you can't park directly on the strip—you have to go to a parking garage and then walk), taking the bus or just walking is often competitive on time, and a lot less stressful. Not to mention cheaper, even before we consider that free parking is becoming something of a dinosaur.
Even if you're going to Hoover Dam, a tour bus is often a better option. It's cheaper, safer, less polluting, more relaxing (you can sleep on the bus), and your driver will point out interesting things about the places you pass, which you wouldn't know about if you were driving yourself. There are places along the strip and downtown that sell the cheap Hoover Dam bus tours. A friend and I took one of them and it was definitely more fun going with a group.
Also, you can't even rent a car right at the airport any more. The car rental place is now three miles from McCarran.