I've been to Las Vegas over 50 times. Here are the 9 big mistakes I see most first-time visitors make.

  • My husband and I have visited Las Vegas more than 50 times in the past two decades.

  • I've seen first-timers 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've been to Las Vegas over 50 times and want others to enjoy Sin City as much as I do.

Wendy Lee holding cocktail
I've been visiting Las Vegas for over 20 years.Wendy Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hotel prices in Las Vegas rise and fall throughout the year. Sometimes they soar due to massive conventions happening around town. Other times, they drop because of scorching temperatures and post-holiday lulls.

Before booking, I recommend checking room prices for a wide range of dates to find the most cost-effective option. Rates are usually less expensive on weekdays than weekends, so take advantage of any flexibility in your schedule. Plus, lower prices often mean the hotel will be less crowded.

There are so 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 what's worth splurging on ahead of time.

las vegas casino
Before you spend a ton of money at casinos, go into your trip with a financial plan.Aaron Black/Getty Images

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

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

If you don't want to dish out money on high-end dining, you can still get great food at more casual joints — such as Eataly, EggSlut, Evel Pie, or Famous Foods Street Eats.

The Strip can get pricey, so you can also save a bit of money by heading downtown. There, you'll find the Fremont Street Experience, nostalgia-filled hotels, The Mob Museum, and an array of more affordable bars and restaurants.

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

Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in 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 by how many restaurants were fully booked when I called to make dinner reservations.

Spago, Wolfgang Puck's flagship restaurant in the Bellagio, serves a brunch that's all the rage. Plan to make reservations a couple of weeks beforehand if you want to try it.

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

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

O Cirque du Soleil sign and sculpture las vegas
"O" is a Cirque du Soleil stage production at the Bellagio.Shutterstock

Las Vegas used to be all about gambling, but it's evolved into a multifaceted entertainment hub.

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

The ticket prices for these attractions can be pricey, but you can often find deals on discount sites, like Groupon and Travelzoo. Tix4Tonight also sells discounted tickets for same-night shows at booths on the Strip and downtown.

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

ABC Stores in Las Vegas, Nevada
During my trips, I've found that the food and beverages at ABC Stores are usually more affordable than the items sold in hotel shops.Shutterstock

We forgot sunscreen the last time we traveled to Las Vegas. Though we could've replenished our supply in the hotel gift shop, I've found that the basic goods sold in the resorts can get expensive.

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

If you're looking to purchase snacks or beverages, I recommend stopping at ABC Stores on the Strip or downtown. The convenience store's prices are usually more affordable than ones at resort shops.

Be ready to walk a lot — and then some more.

Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip takes around 90 minutes to walk from start to finish.George Rose/Getty Images

Many people underestimate the amount of walking they're about to 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 approximately 90 minutes to walk the entire length of the Strip along Las Vegas Boulevard.

There are almost no pedestrian crosswalks on the busy street. Instead, people travel up and down the Strip using stairs, escalators, and pedestrian bridges. The setup creates a safe route for pedestrians, but it does require more roundabout traveling.

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

If you're unable to walk (or you just don't want to), you can still get around the Strip, which is wheelchair accessible. The monorail, buses, and trams run frequently, with stops at the major resorts and attractions.

Unless you have a reason to use your car, I don't recommend moving it after you've parked 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 we park our car at the 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're out on the town.

We get around mostly by walking. We also use rideshare apps. Most hotels have signage directing guests to designated Uber and Lyft pick-up spots, which are often separate from the hectic main entrances.

We also take the free trams, which stop at many of the resorts on the Strip. In my experience, they're a safe and efficient mode of transportation. Since hotel signage makes the departure point clear, they're also easy to navigate.

The local museums don't make it onto every traveler's itinerary, but they show a different side of Las Vegas.

Neon Museum sign in las vegas
Travelers can purchase tickets to The Neon Museum ahead of time to guarantee entry.Wendy Lee

For years, I laughed at the idea of visiting 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 exhibits, so be sure to check the schedule online. And Perception is a 17,000-square-foot digital museum. Currently, it's displaying an exhibit about Leonardo da Vinci.

I haven't visited The Mob Museum or the National Atomic Testing Museum yet, but they're high up on my Las Vegas bucket list.

Enjoy the Strip, but don't be afraid to take some time away from it.

Wendy Lee standing in Valley of Fire State Park
The Valley of Fire State Park is only an hour away from the Strip.Wendy Lee

When you're ready to trade the Strip's nonstop commotion for some nature, head 30 minutes 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 major resorts to tour the Hoover Dam in Boulder City. When it was built in the 1930s, it was the world's largest dam. To this day, it's worth a visit.

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