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Vegas Travel Tips
FlopTech Staff 06.21.2009

If you're planning a trip to Vegas this summer, here are some tips we've mashed together to help you navigate Sin City a little more smoothly. Most of these tips are for when you're driving and want to avoid the Strip when it's jammed up. But there are a few do's and don'ts that apply no matter how you get around, plus a few of our staff favorites. Whatever you do, have a great time!

View from 53rd floor room at Palms

About Valet Parking
Valet parking can get full after dinnertime on weekends. If you plan to club-hop or casino-hop on the weekends it's probably better to take a taxi. It really sucks to have to park at some other casino or on a side street.

Tip the valets. These guys remember who tipped them and who didn't. They'll be extra helpful if you tip them. And they know everything. Directions are the least they can offer.

Driving Don'ts
Avoid parking outdoors in the sun at all costs. It can get so hot that if you're still using CDs, they'll warp and get stuck in your player. Happened to Rocket Boy last summer when he railed the $50K HORSE event. And steering wheels, seats, seat belt buckles and shifters knobs can get hot enough to burn you!

Avoid driving on Las Vegas Boulevard (aka "the Strip") between Wynn and Luxor whenever possible. At peak periods the Strip can be one massive gridlock. Instead, take Industrial or Sinatra on the west side of the Strip and Paradise or Koval on the east side. Somewhat more milage, but there is far less traffic, it moves much faster, and there are fewer pedestrians dawdling along in the crosswalks.

One more thing: never, ever park in the lot at Bill's Gamblin' Hall. This is the old-school place just south of the Flamingo. It used to be called Barbary Coast and now is the home of the surprisingly cool Drai's nightclub. Every single time we've driven west on Flamingo to get to Palms or Rio, we see some poor sucker trying to pull out onto Flamingo from Bill's.

Take a taxi if you're going to Bill's and/or Drai's. If try to drive into or out of their parking lot, you're completely at the mercy of thousands of strangers in a hurry. You'll get freight trained by traffic screaming past or crowded out by bumper-to-bumper traffic stopped at the red light. You'll need to wait until some kind soul looking for good karma in the next life stops to let you in. This has got to be the worst entrance / exit in all of Vegas.

Getting to Casinos from Industrial or Sinatra
Here's how to get to casinos on the west side of the Strip, from Treasure Island down to Mandalay Bay, from Industrial or Sinatra. Your mileage may vary, and please check this Google map to confirm. This map is centered on Sinatra drive behind Bellagio.

View Larger Map

Treasure Island - Take Spring Mountain Road, then turn south on the Strip for a few yards and enter the main valet.

The Mirage - Enter Pershing from Industrial, continue on Buccaneer, take the first right, and snake around to the main valet. (We've only done this once, so we're not 100% certain.)

Caesar's Palace - From Sinatra, enter Jay Sarno Way and drive through the parking structure. Exit the tunnel and keep right. You'll end up at Caesar's main entrance and valet.

From Industrial, enter the property from Twain. Twain becomes Forum Service Drive, and keep going until you hit an apparent dead end. Turn right at the parking structure, left onto Jay Sarno Way, then through the parking structure. Keep right once you're in the open again and you'll end up at Caesar's main entrance and valet. We've done this a lot.

To get to the Forum shops, hook a hard left u-turn after exiting the parking tunnel. You'll be going the wrong way through the valet parking lot. Make a right turn after the lot and join normal traffic entering the Caesar's Forum Shops parking valet.

Bellagio - From West Flamingo, enter the north valet from Via del Nord. There's a stoplight there to make the turn onto Via del Nord easier. The north valet is far closer to the poker room and can be less crowded. You'll end up in the Via Bellagio shops, so just turn right to get to the poker room. (See enlarged map below.)

Monte Carlo - Not sure about this one. You might be able to take Rue Monte Carlo from Sinatra, then drive around the property and make a right on the Strip to get to the front entrance.

New York New York - Take West Tropicana, make a left onto New York Boulevard, drive up to the Strip, and make a right to get to the main entrance.

Excalibur - Take East Reno, make a left on Luxor Drive, and a right on Excalibur Way to get to the main enrance.

Luxor - We haven't confirmed this, but it looks like there's no easily accessible back entrance. Instead, take East Reno, turn south onto the Strip for a few yards, and turn into Luxor's main valet.

Mandalay Bay - Enter from West Mandalay Bay Road, and make a right to get to the main valet at the front entrance.

Enter Bellagio from Via del Nord to park at the north valet

Getting to Casinos from Koval or Paradise

The east side of the Strip is a little trickier to negotiate. Paradise runs behind all the casinos, but it's far away from many of them. Koval is closer, and runs behind everything from the Venetian down to MGM Grand. And finally, Audrie is the key to getting in the service entrance of Paris. Here's a Google map centered at Koval and East Flamingo:

View Larger Map

Wynn - From Koval or Paradise, take Sands Avenue heading west. If you're going to the poker room, and the Strip is in full gridlock, you could enter the property from Wynn South Gate Drive and park at the south valet and walk clear across the casino to get to the poker room. It's interesting to do this just one time, to get a feel for Wynn's layout.

Or if the Strip isn't too congested, you could continue on Sands, make a right on the Strip, and enter the main valet. Self parking is also an option if you're going to the poker room, since the southeast corner of the self parking lot is so close to the poker room. And you'll need to self park if valet parking is full.

The Venetian - From Paradise, take Sands then make a left on Koval. Make the first right, keep to the right and drive straight west toward the Strip for about two blocks, following the signs to the main valet.

Harrah's - From Paradise, take Sands then make a left on Koval. Take the first right, just south of the Venetian. Then turn left behind Harrah's. Turn right between Harrah's and the Imperial Palace and drive west toward the Strip and enter the front valet.

Imperial Palace - Same as Harrahs, but make that final right turn after the Imperial Palace instead of Harrah's. Drive west toward the Strip and enter the front Valet.

Flamingo - Same as Harrah's and Imperial Palace, but make a right after passing behind the Flamingo. You'll find valet parking before hitting the Strip.

Bally's - Enter the property by turning south from West Flamingo.

Paris - From Paradise or Koval, turn west onto East Harmon, then north onto Audrie. Turn left after passing behind Planet Hollywood and follow the signs to the main valet.

Planet Hollywood - From Paradise or Koval, turn west onto East Harmon and enter the property from Planet Hollywood Way.

MGM Grand - From Paradise or Koval, turn onto East Tropicana heading west toward the Strip and enter the main valet.

Tropicana - From Paradise or Koval, turn west onto East Tropicana and enter the property before hitting the Strip.

Off-Strip - The Rio, Palms, and the Hard Rock
The off-Strip casinos are easy to get to. Just take West Flamingo to get to Palms and the Rio. And just take Paradise to get to the Hard Rock. You can't miss.

Unless you're on Industrial or Sinatra and you're trying to get to the Rio. It's impossible to get onto West Flamingo from Sinatra or Industrial. West Flamingo looks like it intersects Sinatra and Industrial on a map, but it's actually an overpass above those streets. You might need to get onto the dreaded Strip itself to get onto West Flamingo.

West Flamingo has several long red lights and there is quite a lot of traffic coming to and from I-15. It just might be the second busiest street in Las Vegas.

Taking Koval to the Rio instead of the Strip

At the Rio - There is a separate player's valet for WSOP entrants. Not sure if it's any better than the standard valet, but it's there.

If you're staying at a hotel on the Strip and you're planning on railing (or playing) WSOP events, do NOT try to walk to the Rio. It looks like a short distance on a map, but it's just not worth saving the gas + valet tip or taxi fare. We've seen guys walking on the Flamingo bridge. Sucker move.

Even if you're "just across the street" at Palms, do NOT walk to the Rio. Looks close on a map, and the Rio is so big that it looks closer than it really is. It's actually almost half a mile from door to door, and it'll be 100+ during the day and probably 80+ at night for most of the summer.

Rio's valet parking will probably be full even during the daytime for some of the more popular WSOP events. You'll end up self parking, which will put you about half a mile from the Amazon room. We're not kidding. The Rio is an enormously large property. The self parking lot is about a quarter mile from the casino entrance, which itself is a quarter mile from the Amazon room. It's a 10 minute walk minimum. Wear comfortable shoes, especially if you're going to be standing around railing some of the WSOP events.

Leaving the Rio - To get onto Sinatra from the Rio, do not take Flamingo. Flamingo is an overpass above Sinatra and Industrial so you'll end up on the Strip or on Paradise. Instead, after you exit the Rio's valet, head east on Flamingo just until you get to Hotel Rio drive. Veer right onto Rio drive, then turn left or right at the stoplight on Industrial aka Dean Martin Drive.

If you're going to the Mirage or Treasure Island, stay on Industrial and drive in the back entrances. If you're going to Caesar's, head straight into Caesars's on Twain and follow the directions given above.

If you're going to any of the casinos south of Caesar's (Bellagio, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Excalibur, Luxor, or Mandalay Bay), you'll need to get onto Frank Sinatra Drive. Turn right from Hotel Rio Drive onto Frank Sinatra Drive, then drive south and follow the directions given above to specific destination.

At Palms - This is one of the places that runs out of valet parking at peak periods. And the valet staff will temporarily close off the valet entrance for security and privacy when VIPs arrive and leave. You're probably better off taking a taxi here on weekend nights. Self parking isn't too far away, but it's still kind of a hike.

Staff Favorites
We haven't been everywhere in Vegas, and we haven't ordered everything where we did go. But here are just a few staff faves.

Fave cheap burger - Fatburger on the Strip
It's right across the Strip from the City Center project, everything is fresh, and it's all hand made. Great quality and value for a burger joint.

Fave brunch - Bellagio
There might be a better brunch in terms of either selection or quality or value. But for the perfect balance of selection plus quality plus value, Bellagio's brunch is unbeatable.

Fave sushi - Yellowtail at Bellagio
We like the vibe, the fish is spectacularly fresh, and most importantly, they get the rice right. If you don't hit that perfect balance of vinegar and sugar in the sushi rice, it's not sushi. They do get it right at Yellowtail.

Fave hotel bar - Parasol at Wynn
If you want to people watch, indoors, this is the place to do it. The hotties are here. All of them. Oh yeah, the drinks are top notch and you'll also pay top dollar for them.

Fave Strip View - Ghost Bar at Palms
One advantage of an off-Strip location is that you can see the Strip better! It's visible in all its gaudy megawatted glory from the Ghost Bar. And for a cheap thrill, stand on top of the plexiglas window and look 54 floors straight down.

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