I’m making my first trip to Las Vegas and people tell me that I have to stay on the Strip to get the “full experience.” Is that true?
The Las Vegas Strip, a four-mile stretch of Las Vegas boulevard, is the quintessential Sin City experience (Ironically, the Strip does not actually lie within Las Vegas, but rather, in two unincorporated towns just south of Las Vegas. For the purposes of this post, however, we’ll pretend it is in Las Vegas.). It’s the only in the world place where you can see both the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty just by looking out your window. With views like those, shouldn’t staying on the Strip be a requirement, particularly if you’ve never been there before?
At one point, that sentiment might have been true, but given the number and quality of hotels right off the Strip, it’s no longer a given that the Strip is the only place to be. Sure, it’s nice to be able to look out your window and see a pirate show, but Las Vegas can be deceitful that way. Remember, the best view of the Bellagio fountains comes not from the hotel itself, but rather, Paris across the street. If you want access to the main tourism area, which stretches from about Mandalay Bay on the south end to the Stratosphere on the north (although another couple of miles north will get you downtown), you can still do it by walking, driving or hopping on public transportation. Here are a couple of options for you:
The Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino is starting to show its age, but it still offers large rooms and a reasonably good location, although it’s more than the block from the Strip that it claims to be. Originally a locals casino, it was bought by Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment) in 1999 and folded into its collection of properties. The hotel has a Brazilian theme and a faux festive atmosphere, but the price is right and there is a shuttle to get you back and forth to the Strip.
If you’re looking for more of a party scene, check out The Palms Casino Resort. It’s one of the places to see and be seen, with a couple of pool areas, several nightclubs and a great room product. The shuttle runs every 30 minutes and will take you to the Forum Shops at Caesars.
South Point, the hotel/casino formerly known as South Coast, is another property that was built for locals, as part of the Coast Casinos group of properties. Given its distance from the main part of the Strip (It’s about six miles south of Mandalay Bay.), the hotel has done a better job than most of maintaining the local flavor, with amenities such as a movie theater and bowling alley. Again, we’re not looking at the swankiest property in Las Vegas, but it offers great value and easy access by way of public transportation or a car.
If The Palms is the party spot on the west side of the strip, then The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino is the east side equivalent. Best known for the Rehab Pool Party and Japanese restaurant Nobu, you won’t need a car to get to the Strip. For that matter, you probably won’t want one, as it is only a few blocks to the east.
Bottom Line: At one time, there were few hotels off the main part of the Strip. But with the growth of Las Vegas, you can get everything from a Hilton Garden Inn to a top locals property with easy access to the sites. Don’t be afraid to stay within walking distance and you can save enough money for a good day at the slots.