There are two main areas of Las Vegas: the Strip and Downtown. For many people, that's all there is to Las Vegas. But there is actually more to the town than that: Although maybe not as glitzy and glamorous as the Strip and Downtown -- okay, definitely not -- Paradise Road and east Las Vegas are home to quite a bit of casino action; Maryland Parkway boasts mainstream and some alternative-culture shopping; and there are different restaurant options all over the city. Many of the "locals' hotels," most of which are off the regular tourist track, offer cheaper gambling limits plus budget food and entertainment options. Confining yourself to the Strip and Downtown is fine for the first-time visitor, but repeat customers (and you will be) should get out there and explore. Las Vegas Boulevard South (the Strip) is the starting point for addresses; any street that crosses it starts with 1 East and 1 West at its intersection with the Strip (and goes up from there).
The Strip is probably the most famous 4-mile stretch of highway in the nation. Officially called Las Vegas Boulevard South, it contains most of the top hotels in town and offers almost all the major showroom entertainment. First-time visitors will, and probably should, spend the bulk of their time on the Strip. If mobility is a problem, we suggest basing yourself in a South or Mid-Strip location.
The South Strip can be roughly defined as the portion of the Strip south of Harmon Avenue, including the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Monte Carlo, New York-New York, Luxor, CityCenter, and many more hotels and casinos.
Mid-Strip is a long stretch of the street between Harmon Avenue and Spring Mountain Road, including Planet Hollywood, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Bellagio, Caesars, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bally's, Paris Las Vegas, the Flamingo Las Vegas, and Harrah's, among other hotels and casinos.
The North Strip stretches north from Spring Mountain Road all the way to the Stratosphere and includes Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, the Riviera, and Circus Circus, to name a few of the accommodations and attractions.
Just Off the Strip
With land directly on the Strip at a premium, it isn't surprising that a veritable cottage industry of casinos, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, attractions, and services have taken up residence in the areas immediately surrounding the big mega-resorts. Within a mile in any given direction you'll find major hotels such as Rio Las Vegas, Orleans, the Las Vegas Hilton, and the Hard Rock to name a few, as well as important visitor destinations such as the Las Vegas Convention Center. You'll also find many smaller chain/name-brand hotels and motels offering reliable service at rates that are usually cheaper than you'll pay in a big casino-hotel on the Strip.
South and East of the Strip
Once you get a little bit of distance between you and the Strip, you'll start getting into the types of neighborhoods that will look much more familiar to you, except, perhaps, with a lot more desert landscaping. Shopping centers and housing tracts dominate the landscape of the bedroom community of Henderson while lower-priced motels and chain restaurants take up a lot of space along the Boulder Highway corridor on the far east side of town. But sprinkled throughout are some fun, low-cost casino-hotels and some out-of-the-way restaurants and attractions worth knowing about.
North and West of the Strip
The communities of Summerlin and North Las Vegas are where many of the people who work on the Strip live, shop, eat, and play. Yes, there are some major casino-hotels in the area including the stunning Red Rock Resort and a few notable restaurants, but for the most part what you'll find here are dependable chain stores and eateries that offer comfort shopping and food at better than Strip prices.
Also known as "Glitter Gulch" (narrower streets make the neon seem brighter), Downtown Las Vegas, which is centered on Fremont Street, between Main and 9th streets, was the first section of the city to develop hotels and casinos. With the exception of the Golden Nugget, which looks like it belongs in Monte Carlo, this area has traditionally been more casual than the Strip. But between the Fremont Street Experience and other ongoing improvements, Downtown offers a more affordable alternative to the Strip. With prices on the Strip running amok, there is more reason than ever to focus your tourist attention and dollars down here. The area is clean, the crowds are low-key and friendly, there is a collection of great bars just east of the Experience, and the light show itself is as ostentatious as anything on the Strip.
The area between the Strip and Downtown is a seedy stretch dotted with tacky wedding chapels, bail-bond operations, pawnshops, and cheap motels. However, the area known as the Gateway District (roughly north and south of Charleston Blvd. to the west of Las Vegas Blvd. S.) keeps trying to make a name for itself as an artists' colony. Studios, small cafes, and other signs of life continue to spring up.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.