I have been to Las Vegas over 50 times. Here are 9 big mistakes I see most first-timers make.

Many Las Vegas tourists fly into Harry Reid International Airport in Paradise, Nevada.USA Peon/Shutterstock

  • My husband and I have been to Las Vegas over 50 times over the past two decades.

  • I’ve seen first-time visitors repeat mistakes, from missing hotel deals to refusing to leave the strip.

  • With some planning, travelers can stay within their budget and have a great time in Sin City.

I have been to Las Vegas over 50 times and want others to enjoy Sin City as much as I do.

Wendy Lee holds a cocktail.

I have been visiting Las Vegas for over 20 years.Wendy Lee

With over 50 trips to Las Vegas under my belt, I consider myself an expert on all things Sin City.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I started traveling to Las Vegas every June to celebrate our anniversary. The summer trips were so much fun that we added an annual Christmas time visit to our calendars.

We still couldn’t get enough, so we returned to the city more and more over the past two decades.

I love Las Vegas, so I’m always disappointed when I hear people complain about it, especially when so many of their negative experiences could have been avoided.

Here are the common mistakes I see many first-time visitors make, along with tips on how to avoid making them yourself.

If your schedule is flexible, check hotel rates for different dates to find the best deal.

The Bellagio in Las Vegas

The Bellagio Hotel and Casino is one of my favorite hotels in Las Vegas.Wendy Lee

Hotel prices in Las Vegas go up and down throughout the year. Sometimes they are aggravated by large gatherings around the city. Other times, they collapse due to scorching temperatures and post-holiday lulls.

Before booking, I recommend checking room rates for a wide range of dates to find the best cost option. Weekend prices are generally less expensive on weekdays, so take advantage of any flexibility in your schedule. Also, lower prices will often mean less crowded hotels.

There are many resorts to choose from on the Strip. Some of our favorites are Aria Resort & Casino, the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, NoMad Las Vegas, and Resorts World Las Vegas.

Vacationing in Las Vegas can be expensive, so decide ahead of time what to do.

Toscana Restaurant

Toscana offers delicious Italian fare, and is one of our go-to restaurants in Las Vegas.Wendy Lee

Between the casinos, shows and restaurants, a Las Vegas vacation can add up. With a little planning and prioritization, you can enjoy your trip to the fullest without blowing your budget.

My husband and I always decide where to splurge and where to save when we plan our travel itinerary. Because we love delicious food and special dining experiences, we make sure to account for the costs associated with dining at restaurants like Michael Mena, Toscana, and Brezza.

If you don’t want to splurge on high-end food, you can still find great food at more casual joints — like Eataly, EggSlut, Evel Pie, or Famous Foods Street Eats.

The strip can be expensive, so you can save a little money by going downtown. There, you’ll find the Fremont Street Experience, nostalgic hotels, The Mob Museum, and more affordable bars and restaurants.

Reservations are always a good idea when it comes to dining at popular Las Vegas restaurants.

Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill at the MGM Grand Hotel

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is located in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.Shutterstock

If you’re hoping to try some of Las Vegas’ most popular restaurants, make reservations in advance. On our recent trips, I’ve been surprised at how many restaurants were fully booked when I called to make a dinner reservation.

Spago, Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant in Bellagio, serves a brunch that’s all the rage. If you want to try it, plan to make a reservation a few weeks in advance.

And a table at The Mayfair Supper Club, also located at the Bellagio, has become one of the hottest tickets in town. Book at least a week in advance, especially if you plan to visit on a Saturday or Sunday.

You can probably get discounted tickets to shows and activities, but you’ll have to be resourceful.

O Cirque du Soleil sign and statue Las Vegas

“O” is a Cirque du Soleil stage production at the Bellagio.Shutterstock

Las Vegas used to be all about gambling, but it has become a multifaceted entertainment hub.

There are shows and concerts every night of the week, and visitors can choose their own activities from touring museums to riding roller coasters.

Ticket prices for these attractions can be expensive, but you can often find deals on discount sites, such as Groupon and Travelzoo. Tix4Tonight also sells discounted tickets to same-night shows at booths on the Strip and downtown.

Shop for basic items at local drug stores and convenience stores to save a few dollars.

ABC Stores in Las Vegas, Nevada

During my visits, I have noticed that food and drinks at ABC stores are generally cheaper than items sold in hotel shops.Shutterstock

The last time we went to Las Vegas, we forgot sunscreen. Although we could replenish our supplies in the hotel gift shop, I have found that basic items sold at resorts can be expensive.

So, we went to one of the many nearby drugstores, which sold bottles at prices we see at our convenience stores back home.

If you want to buy snacks or drinks, I recommend stopping at the ABC stores on the Strip or downtown. Convenience store prices are generally cheaper than resort shops.

Be prepared to walk a lot – and then some.

Las Vegas

It takes about 90 minutes to walk the Las Vegas strip from start to finish.George Rose/Getty Images

Many people underestimate the amount of walking they do when they arrive in Las Vegas.

To get from one end of the Bellagio to the other, we needed at least 10 minutes. And it takes about 90 minutes to walk the entire length of the strip along Las Vegas Boulevard.

There are almost no crosswalks for pedestrians on a busy street. Instead, people travel up and down the Strip using stairs, escalators, and pedestrian bridges. The setup creates a safer path for pedestrians, but requires more detours.

I recommend packing comfortable shoes and giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.

If you’re not able to walk (or you just don’t want to), you can still get around the strip, which is wheelchair accessible. Monorails, buses, and trams run frequently, with stops at major resorts and attractions.

Unless you have a reason to use your car, I don’t recommend moving it after parking it at your hotel.

Las Vegas skyline at night

There are many options when it comes to modes of transportation in Las Vegas.Education Images/Getty Images

After parking our car at a hotel, we almost never move it until we check out. We prefer to pay for parking only once and don’t want to worry about car logistics if we are out of town.

We mostly get around on foot. We also use ride share apps. Most hotels have signage directing guests to specific Uber and Lyft pickup locations, often separated from busy main entrances.

We also take the free tram, which stops at many resorts on the Strip. In my experience, they are a safe and efficient mode of transportation. Since hotel signs clearly indicate the departure point, they are also easy to navigate.

Local museums don’t make it into every traveler’s itinerary, but they do show a different side of Las Vegas.

Neon Museum Sign in Las Vegas

Travelers can purchase Neon Museum tickets ahead of time to guarantee entry.Wendy Lee

For years, I laughed at the idea of ​​going to a museum in Las Vegas, but I’ve since changed my tune. Now, it’s one of my favorite things to do there.

The Neon Museum features vintage signs from famous hotels, restaurants and bars. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts hosts rotating exhibitions, so be sure to check the schedule online. And Perception is a 17,000-square-foot digital museum. Currently, it is showing an exhibition about Leonardo da Vinci.

I haven’t visited The Mob Museum or the National Atomic Testing Museum yet, but they are at the top of my Las Vegas bucket list.

Enjoy the strip, but don’t be afraid to take some time off it.

Wendy Lee stands in Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire State Park is only an hour away from the strip.Wendy Lee

When you’re ready to trade the non-stop hustle and bustle of the strip for some nature, take a 30-minute drive to Red Rock Canyon or an hour to Valley of Fire State Park. Both are great for sightseeing and hiking.

Visitors should also consider driving an hour from the larger resorts to visit Hoover Dam in Boulder City. When it was built in the 1930s, it was the largest dam in the world. To this day, it’s worth watching.

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