Or Driving, Taxi or Monorail
Your Options for Getting Around in Sin City
Credit: Tracy S. MorrisIf you stay on the strip in Las Vegas, chances are good that your hotel has provided everything you need from casinos to hotel restaurants. But if you want to explore the strip, you will need to figure out how to get around. Here are some options for exploring the Las Vegas Strip and beyond.
A shuttle runs from the hotel down the strip and to the downtown area and takes passengers directly to their hotels. You can take this shuttle for a small per-person fee, which is typically less than the price of a taxi. This is a practical option if you are traveling alone. If you are with a group of more than two people, the per-person fee may actually make a taxi the less expensive option. The downside of a shuttle is that if you find yourself riding with a lot of strangers, you may have to sit through all of their stops before reaching your hotel.
You will find taxis right outside the airport and parked in front of every major hotel. They are convenient because they will pick you up right at your hotel’s front door and take you directly to your destination. If you are at the airport and you can find a couple of travelers going to your hotel, you can even split a cab, and a fare. The downside of traveling by taxi is that the fare can really add up. There is a surcharge for passengers picked up at the airport, one for gasoline, airport levees and time penalties for being stuck in traffic. Not to mention a 10 to 15 percent tip to the driver. All of this is on top of the fare, which as of this writing was more than $3.00 for the first mile and more than $2.00 for each extra mile.
The Las Vegas City Bus Service is the cheapest means of transportation in the city. Unfortunately, during the peak of the tour season, it is often crowded and unreliable.
If you want to take the bus, hop on the Deuce, a double-decker bus that exclusively traverses The Strip area. From the top of the bus, you can take in the sights of the strip as you travel.
Renting a car (or bringing your own) is one of the most convenient means to get from point A to point B in Vegas. If you want to drive off of the strip, driving there will make sure that you can get to where you are going and back with minimal fuss. By comparison, you may have to call a cab to find one that will pick you back up again and your destination may lie outside a reliable bus route. Renting a car is one of the most expensive means of navigating the strip. As of this writing, a daily care rental was slightly more than $30 per day.
Trams and Monorail
Several hotels have tramways built between them. The hotel system operates these railways. For example, there is a monorail that runs between the Mandalay Bay and the Excalibur with a stop at the Luxor. A tram runs between Treasure Island and the Mirage. Another monorail runs between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo. These options are free to ride, but they close at 10:00. If you use them to get to a late show that is far from your hotel, you may have a long, tiring walk back to your hotel in the middle of the night.
Another option is the Las Vegas Monorail. This monorail operates by fee, and stays open until 2:00 AM. Riders can buy a ticket or a multi-day pass at kiosks near the monorail station entrance. The current route extends from the MGM grand at the south of the strip to the Sahara at the north end of the strip with stops along the way. Finding the stations can be confusing. The rail system is not directly on the strip and the stations are usually behind the hotels. Riders must either go around the hotel or walk through the maze of casinos in the hotels to get to the station. But the monorail will make the trip from one end of the strip to the other in 15 minutes.
Most visitors will try this to some extent. After all, the hotels don’t look very far apart. But the Vegas air is very clear and the hotel facades are huge. This all means that everything looks closer than it really is. The Strip is 3 miles long, and while hotels have sidewalks in front of them, actually getting to the front door of each hotel is a bit of a maze.
Walking is one of the best means to absorb the carnival atmosphere of Vegas. In front of the mega hotels it is rather tame, but in front of the smaller casinos and fast food places you will meet costumed street performers, singers, water-vendors and others of a less savory nature.
On the downside, you may also develop blisters and contend with the weather. Even in spring, the sun is warm enough to burn and nights are chilly. Summer brings intense heat and winter is cold and windy. And once you are tired, you still have to turn around and walk back to your hotel.