It’s almost comical that most of the fun things people like to do these days can be described as “something you need to survive”. When you get done with a rollercoaster, you look at your friends and say, “Oh my gosh, we made it.” When you make it through a haunted house without peeing your pants, you are ecstatic that you “survived”.
If you’ve ever sat at the McCarran airport and listened to people on their way out of town, you know this is the truth. Everyone is high-fiving and celebrating that they survived without losing all of their money, getting kidnapped, or exploding their livers. What a time to be alive!
These people are the lucky ones. They’re the ones that persevered through the heat, sleepless nights, and the wall of fireball shots to make it out to the other side. Let’s have a moment of silence for those that are lost somewhere inside Drai’s still to this day.
As much fun as it sounds to be lost in a club forever, we can assure you it will get old fast. For that reason, we have put together a guide to help you survive the strip. While most of our guides are aimed at Vegas locals, this is one that is probably going to be of a lot of help to tourists as well. Once you land on the strip (as a local), you instantly lose your local distinction.
You’re no longer in the protected class of the city. You’re in the wild and have to fend for yourself just like the tourists. While that may be terrifying, we’re here to get you through everything you need to know. So if you’re planning a trip to the strip soon, read on and get yourself ready to be a survivor.
Prepare for the Elements
It BLOWS our mind how many people forget that Las Vegas is built in the dead center of the Mojave Desert. What does this mean? Well, if you haven’t stepped outside in Vegas ever, this means that it gets hot. We don’t mean like “Oh man, it’s a bit warm out today” hot, we mean “I AM MELTINGGGGG” type of hot.
Yes, there is no humidity (usually), but that just means you feel like you’re in an oven rather than in a sauna. While that’s uncomfortable, what’s more, important is the dangers that can bring if you don’t prepare yourself properly.
Normally, we would say that the biggest risk here is your health…and it is. But we’ve also found that most people looking to party and have fun in Vegas care more about whether or not something is going to interrupt their good time. So for that reason, we are going to say it this way. The heat can be a risk to your health, but it’s a huge risk to ending your good time. If you get dehydrated or overheat, you’ll end up in the hospital and unable to enjoy the rest of your day/weekend/trip, etc.
Scary, we know. The good news is that taking care of this really only takes a little pre-planning and some common sense. Here are our top tips to survive the elements and heat in Las Vegas and not put an early end to your good time.
1. Hydrate…WITH WATER
Hydrating does not just mean drinking anything. If you drink a ton of alcohol or soda, you’re not doing your body any good to stay hydrated. This is the number one people turn into heat casualties on the Vegas strip. DRINK WATER.
You need to make some sort of a plan to do this BEFORE you get drunk. Drunk you probably has no interest in water but you will when you’re passed out collapsed on the pool deck of Drais. Drink some water before you go, have some water with every meal (assuming that you’re eating), and every now and then just slam a bottle of water. Every time you hit the bathroom, use the water fountain.
ALL of these are simple and straightforward, but they only work to keep you standing if you actually take the time to do them. Most people don’t realize how much the heat can take out of you especially on a long day on the strip or at the pool. If you get nothing else from this guide, HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE!!!
2. Take “Heat Breaks”
You are NOT a wuss/weak/lame/etc. if you take some breaks from the heat and let your body recover some. Head into a casino and enjoy some of their beautiful air conditioning. When you eat, go to restaurants that are indoors and are cranking the AC. For some reason, people think they have to go 1000% when they’re on the strip, and that’s just not the case. The real troopers are the ones that can successfully survive the long haul.
3. Wear Sunscreen
It’s great to get some sun and get that tan on when you’re out on the strip in Vegas, but a sunburn will literally put you out of the game faster than just about anything. You can wear something with a lower SPF that doesn’t block all the sun but will help you from getting burnt.
Do not forget to reapply as well. Sunscreen does not last all day and usually is only good for about an hour if you aren’t sweating profusely. You can also dress appropriately in clothing that breathes well and protects you from the sun. Hats are a great way to keep things off your face or believe it or not, long sleeves end up being cooler out here than short. Yes, you heard that correctly.
Please don’t make your friends or the EMTs peel you off the pavement especially if you’re a local. It surprisingly happens to locals who don’t spend much time on the strip. It’s easy to forget how long those days are and just how hot it is when you choose to venture out especially in the summer months.
Beat the Crowds
We all LOVE dealing with tons of people and waiting in lines, right? Ok, maybe not so much. It’s no secret that the Vegas strip is frequently packed with people especially on holidays or on weekends. For locals, we have the luxury sometimes of hitting the strip on weekdays and off peak times to avoid the crowds. Sometimes, though, when we have friends in town we’re forced to venture out into the wild when it’s packed.
For those of you that are tourists reading this guide and have not been here before, think about the most crowded club you’ve ever been in…add several thousand people and you have the strip on a Friday or Saturday night. If it’s a holiday or a big fight weekend, add several thousand more people to that mental image.
Luckily, if you’re smart, you can find ways to avoid the crowds as much as possible and not let them ruin your good time.
The swarms of people start before you even set foot on the strip. If you’re planning on driving there, you need to be strategic. If you want to save a few bucks as well, you need to be even more strategic. Most casinos on the strip used to offer free parking to everyone but those days are sadly gone now.
If you’re curious what it costs to park anywhere on the strip, we’ve put together a dedicated guide to the pricing and parking on the strip. There are some more tips in there as well for avoiding crowds but we’re going to touch on a lot of that here. We also draw attention to the casinos that still allow some form of free parking for locals. Usually it’s 24 hours of free parking or some smaller properties still have free parking.
You also need to be strategic about which intersections you use to get onto the strip. First, try to avoid Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard. People love to block the intersection there and it can take you literally days to get through there at peak times. Your best bet is to enter the strip further south or further north. This is true even if you’re going to a casino that is right there at that intersection.
Second, always come onto the strip north or south of where you are going depending on which side of the street it is on. The idea here is that you want to be able to turn right into wherever you are going. This way you don’t have to wait for days for left hand turn lights.
Back Roads - The Real Secret
The real secret to beating the strip traffic is avoiding it at all costs. There are back roads that parallel the strip on both sides that will significantly help you in maneuvering around the city. On the west side of the strip is Frank Sinatra Drive and on the east side of the strip you have Koval Drive. These two streets will still have some traffic but move SIGNIFICANTLY faster than the strip ever will.
Just make sure that you are very clear on which cross streets to use to get where you are going. If you jump off of one of these side streets at the wrong spot, you may find yourself in the middle of the strip mess and can add sometimes 30 minutes to an hour to your trip. It may sound ancient and old school but map quest or just looking at a map of the city may be your best friend.
Show and Event Lines
If you’re going to a show or an event on the strip, you need to be aware that there are usually going to be lines to pick up tickets. The bigger the show or event, the longer the lines are going to be. The more important thing to know…the closer to show time it is, the longer the line is going to be to pick up your tickets.
What does this mean? This means that you need to make provisions to get your tickets early if you want to avoid the lines. Trust us, you want to do this if possible. The first thing you can do is look to see if you can print your tickets online at home or use your phone to get into the event. Some places on the strip will allow this but some will still require you to pick up tickets.
If the venue requires that you pick up your tickets at the front or at the box office, you need to find out exactly when you are allowed to pick them up and more importantly, when the earliest you can get them is. If you can swing by earlier in the week, that's the best. If not, going early in the day well before the event will make a world of difference. You still may have to wait in a slight line to get into the show or event, but the ticket line at the box office is always the real killer.
What we recommend a lot is that people come early and get their tickets and then go grab dinner or drinks somewhere. Then, you can come back right before the show and have a good laugh at all the people stuck waiting in line.
As this section of the guide is the most important to us, we will be spending some extra time and a little extra TLC on getting it prepared for you. We will be adding to it within the next few days and the next few weeks and well, forever actually as we find more great hidden gems on the strip for locals.
A Shameless Plug For Plug In Vegas (Our Favorite Local's Favorite)
It should be no secret to you that our favorite "Local's Favorite" is us! Yawn, yes we know that sounds cheesy. It's like wearing your own band's shirt to your concert but we really do think we have an awesome service that locals will love (and already do!)
We offer free show tickets, free event tickets, and free fun and party invites to our members. It's inexpensive and an AMAZING way for you to enjoy the city without breaking the bank. If you'd like to learn more about us and how we can help you and your family better enjoy the city, check out our FAQ below and we hope you'll join us as a member!
Don’t Try and Over Do It
For those of you that are locals here, you’re probably going to be aware of this one because either yourself or someone you know has fallen victim to “trying to do too much” on at least one occasion. If you’re a tourist or you’re new in town, this is one thing you’re really going to want to pay attention to.
Vegas is not going anywhere anytime soon. It will be here tomorrow. You do not have to do EVERYTHING in town all in one day. What happens when you do that? You exhaust yourself, don’t usually make it the whole day, and then are exhausted and out of whack for the next few days.
You end up being able to do LESS because you can’t function the whole day. We have one tip you need to follow to protect yourself from doing this.
Have a Realistic Plan
It all comes down to having a REALISTIC plan of what you want to do. Here’s a fun side story. A member of our staff used to plan bachelor and bachelorette parties. Groups would come to town and plan a pool day their first day, a dinner, and a nightclub. She wouldn’t mention it to them, but she completely stopped booking the nightclub the first night because nine times out of ten, the group was too exhausted and half of them were passed out in bed, and they wanted to cancel.
This is because the group had an unrealistic plan. For those asking, yes she tried to advise them differently, but people come here with big eyes and just don’t listen to great advice sometimes. When you go to the strip, take your time. As a local, there’s really no need that you have to do an entire day on the strip. If you do have to though (or you’re a tourist reading this), plan breaks and naps in there somewhere. Give yourself a relaxed schedule to allow you to enjoy everything that you do fully.
Trust us on, this one. Make a REALISTIC plan and stick to it!
Don’t Get Hustled
Everyone on the strip is there to help you have a good time. This is an example of a sentence that is not true at all. Sadly, even though there are a lot of great people on the strip, there are a lot of bad apples that are looking to take advantage of you and couldn’t care less if you’re a local or not. They just love money and don’t care if they have to be a little scummy to get their hands on it.
We’re going to lead off with a cliché phrase that couldn’t be more fitting. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are some great offers and some freebies on the strip, but remember, everyone’s end goal is to make money. If you can’t figure out how they’re planning to make money off of you, something may be off.
Don’t get too paranoid about this one that you ruin your good time and don’t have any fun, but just be on guard. Your best bet is to avoid the street vendors and only deal places with actual storefronts. Your even BETTER bet is to plan everything you want to do before you come to the strip.
Wanting to go to a club or a show? Don’t wait until you get to the strip to buy or get your tickets. Get them online where you can do your research beforehand. While there are still some scams on the internet, you are WAY more likely to get ripped off from some random person on the strip than you are online.
You also have some recourse online with the company that you use. It’s really hard to contact “random guy or gal on the strip” when you find out that things aren’t what you thought they were.
Something that we are confused why we have to mention it, but apparently they are still getting people these days. If someone is offering you the chance to bet on something (like a street game), you are NEVER going to walk away a winner. The most popular we’ve seen is the classic three card monte. As you can see if you clicked on that video, you are not going to win.
Save your gambling for inside the casinos where you know you’re at least getting a fair shake.
With millions and millions of people venturing to the Vegas strip every single year, there are bound to be some dangerous situations that you need to be aware of. While the city and police department really do a great job keeping things in line, the ultimate responsibility to keep you safe falls on you.
We’d like to give you as many tips as we possibly can to keep you safe, so your good time doesn’t have to be spoiled. Whether you’re a tourist here for a week or a local on a weekly stroll to the strip, we don’t want you to have a bad time by something that you could have prevented.
Watch for Pickpockets
Any time you get around a big group of people, you should assume that the pickpockets are out in force. These people are masters at pulling your wallet out of your pants or slipping their slimy hands into your purse or backpack and lifting whatever they want.
Thankfully, this one is easy to prevent if you take a few quick and easy precautions.
- Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket where it’s tighter, and you can see if someone tries to make a move on it. If you get bumped into, immediately slide your hand down there to check. These criminals are sadly very good at what they do so you have to be on guard. Also, turn your wallet long ways (hot dog style) as criminals have reported that wallets like that are much harder for them to lift.
- Women, your purse needs to be in front of you and not flopping behind you where you have no way of keeping an eye on it. You can have it over your shoulder but just hold it in front of you when you are walking through crowds or out on the strip. Again, these sad excuses for people are good at what they do, and we do not want you to be a victim.
Keep an Eye on Your Drinks
This one is more for the ladies but men, it’s a strange world we live in so keep an eye out for this as well. Sadly, people in this town still try and drug people in their drinks to either rob them or take advantage of them. Again, this one is fairly easy to keep yourself protected one as long as you take some precautions and continue to use those precautions after you’ve had a few drinks.
- Only take drinks directly from the bartender or from someone you trust. No, the guy you met three nights ago does NOT fall on the list of people you should trust. We’re talking friends of several years at least or family. Anyone else that does not directly work as the bartender making the drink cannot be trusted.
- If you leave to get up, take your drink with you. Leaving it unattended is a perfect chance for someone to slip something in there. If you forget and come back, toss your drink and get a new one. It’s not worth the risk to save a few bucks.
- If you’re talking with someone at the bar, don’t turn away from your drink where someone can slide up and drop something in there. Again, keep everything in front of you, and you’ll be ok.
Don’t Get Too Drunk or High
Yes, it can be a lot of fun to let your inhibitions go and let your hair down. The problem is that if you let yourself to get a little drunk or way too high in the process, you’re putting yourself at risk. When you’re too drunk, you can’t protect yourself, and your judgment is severely clouded.
Yes, we sound like your mother, but it’s for your own good. Remember, it’s not your friend’s responsibility to watch out for you. You are an adult, and it is your responsibility to watch out for you. If that’s an issue, you should be nowhere near the strip.
Don’t Run Your Mouth
For some reason, a lot of people think that the Vegas strip is a place that you are fully shielded from any harm. They think they can do and say whatever they want and nothing bad is going to come of it. As Vegas locals for many years, we can tell you that there are fights on the strip ALL the time. Usually, these fights start over people running their mouth or insulting someone else.
The worst part is that the fights are usually not fair. It’s frequently one person versus an entire group or gang of people. The strange part is people think it’s only troublemakers and gang members that get in fights on the strip. This is your wake-up call. “Regular” people get into fights all the time and usually not when they want to.
Just don’t be a punk and if someone says something bad to you, let it roll off your shoulders. They aren’t worth your time or a response, and all you stand to gain is a bad ending to your night.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This is the catch-all for safety tips. If you are always aware of what is going on around you, you stand a much better chance of not getting hurt or ending up in a bad situation. This means not getting too drunk, not getting lost, having a plan of where you are going and what you are doing, and always knowing where the exits are when you’re inside somewhere.
We live in a scary world these days, and a little prior planning and preparation can go a long way in keeping you safe and making sure you have a great time on the Vegas strip.
This section of the guide is also important to us. We like cheap drinks but we want them to be good. Currently, our staff is probably highly intoxicated somewhere "working" on finishing this section. Expect to see some gems on here in the next few days. Until then, keep milking those free drinks while you're gambling. The penny slots are the best bar in the casino.
Additional Tips For Locals
For now, we are leaving this section for miscellaneous tips that come in to help make the Vegas strip a better experience for you. We'll be reaching out to our members to get all the tips they have that don't fit into a category above. Check back often as we plane to update this section regularly.
Good luck on the strip and remember that it's ultimately up to you what kind of time you have there. Don't try and over do it, be safe, and plan ahead for everything!