For the purposes of organization, we’ve divided the Strip into three sections. The South Strip can be roughly defined as the portion of the Strip south of Harmon Avenue, including the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, the Park MGM, New York–New York, Luxor, CityCenter, and many more hotels and casinos. First-timers should consider staying here or in the Mid-Strip area simply because this is where the bulk of the stuff you’re going to want to see, do, and eat are located.
The Mid-Strip is a long stretch of the Las Vegas Boulevard South between Harmon Avenue and Spring Mountain Road, which includes such big-name casinos as Planet Hollywood, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Bellagio, Caesars, the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas, Harrah’s, and more. As mentioned above, this is a great area for newbies, and it’s also the preferred location for people with mobility issues since fewer steps will get you to more places.
The North Strip stretches north from Spring Mountain Road all the way to the Stratosphere and includes SLS, Wynn/Encore, Stratosphere, and Circus Circus, to name a few. Although there are certainly things to see along this chunk of the Strip, development has mostly stalled, so you’ll see more things closed or partially constructed in this area than you will open and completed. With the exception of Wynn/Encore and SLS, it is the lower-rent part of the Strip, with all of the good and bad that comes along with it.
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, the Fremont East Entertainment District, and a general resurgence, Downtown offers a more affordable yet still entertaining alternative to 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 18b Arts District (roughly north and south of Charleston Blvd. to the west of Las Vegas Blvd. S.) is making a name for itself as an artists’ colony. Studios, galleries, antique stores, bars, small cafes, and the fun First Friday Las Vegas festival can be found in the vicinity. Eventually it may warrant its own neighborhood designation, but for now we include it in the Downtown category.
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 megaresorts. Within a mile in any given direction you’ll find major hotels such as the Rio, the Orleans, the Westgate Las Vegas Resort (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton), and the Hard Rock, and newcomer Lucky Dragon 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 & 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 & 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.