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One of the most unique cities in the United States, here’s an honest account of a solo trip to Las Vegas and what to see when in Vegas alone.
It hurts to say I took a solo trip to Las Vegas. And I’m an avid independent traveller who, at times, absolutely relishes the freedom of solo travel.
It almost goes without saying that Las Vegas is definitely one of the more unique cities in the United States – fun, vibrant and slightly mind-blowing. Except for my memories of it from a trip four years ago are not as crazy as what you see on The Hangover movie, or even remotely on the scale of ‘party’.
I ended up in Las Vegas alone and not because I lost my friends after a drunken stupor.
It was never intended as I travelled the Los Angeles – San Francisco – Vegas route, but circumstances made it that way and I was content with having to seek out new friends. Except Vegas is NOT the place to be WITHOUT a mate or three to explore and party with.
I didn’t see any other solo travellers in las Vegas. Not one. Except for one guy who was socially awkward and sat in a fast food joint wearing a Vegas hat and Vegas t-shirt and talked everything (you guessed it) Vegas. It attracts those types too. And then there was me – the lone wanderer, trying to infiltrate groups and slide into the throng of spectators at a Casino during a game of Roulette, and being asked by members of staff in that to-the-point American way: “You are on your OWN? Where are your friends?”
While I would spend my days sunbathing (minus a hangover) in the glorious desert heat, this was the tragic conversation I endured for three days in nearly every casino I passed through in the evening – because it’s at night where it sucks to be solo here.
However, I made the most of my time in Vegas. Since the majority of the city’s income depends on gambling and entertainment, casinos owners have to go out of their way to make their properties appealing to tourists, which means I had a city of spectacular sites as my playground.
Here are four ways to see Las Vegas as a solo traveller. Be prepared to be blinded by lights in a spectrum of colours and speeds, stunned by the multitude of sounds and overwhelmed by the throng of people and don’t forget your camera! If you are partying hard it will be a useful tool to recollect the evening the morning after, although I wouldn’t know about that!
- Visit Las Vegas Casinos – Join Table Crowds or Explore the Strip
- Head to Downtown Las Vegas – For Light Shows and Adrenalin
- What to See in Las Vegas on a Solo Budget
- Las Vegas Day Trips – Go to The Grand Canyon and Travel in a Group
- The Verdict on Taking a Solo Trip to Las Vegas
Visit Las Vegas Casinos – Join Table Crowds or Explore the Strip
Las Vegas casinos, found on the main road which is known as ‘The Strip’, have their own style and flair, each with their own unique offering, including shows, artists and other attractions. It’s easy to keep yourself busy since every casino has something going on outside of the general gambling arena but be prepared to fork out for shows including Cirque du Soleil, some of the world’s top magicians and high profile music acts. You can get a good overview of the rules, etiquette and quirks of Las Vegas Casinos here including how to join table circles.
If joining gambling tables isn’t your thing in order to socialise, go explore the architecture and attractions. One of the older and eccentric-looking casinos is New York New York. Not only are you greeted by the Statue of Liberty but you can also ride the (rickety and slightly head-ache inducing) roller coaster around the casinos. I stayed in Excalibur, which was a giant castle (and also one of the cheapest options). Next door is Luxor and, as a fan of all things Egyptian, I absolutely loved walking around the pyramid-Esque décor and the giant Sphinx. I still have yet to go to Egypt but this filled the gap for the time being. I also wandered around the Caesars Palace shopping mall, knowing I couldn’t afford a thing. Unless I gambled – I guess that’s the point?
What Vegas does best is to try to replicate other cities. If you have ever wanted to go to Paris but couldn’t afford the flight to France, no problem! The Paris casino has a replica of the Eiffel Tower in front of the casino and whilst only half the size, it is still a sight to behold, especially at night. Inside you are greeted by Parisian style streets, but instead of people sipping coffee, they are pulling on the slot machines. Ever wanted to go to Venice too? It’s right here, with canals, gondola rides and Venice’s famous picturesque bridges. Everything about Vegas is extravagant; an ego in lights.
Head to Downtown Las Vegas – For Light Shows and Adrenalin
Downtown (old) Las Vegas is known for its history and the Fremont Street Experience, known for its dazzling Visa Vision light show declared the world’s largest video screen and home to the Slotzilla Zipline and Zoomline experiences which you can book here from $25 upwards.
For those that have been to Vegas but have never ventured downtown, Fremont Street is partially covered with a giant canopy and every half hour starting at dusk they have various different light shows with a variety of themes. I was only able to catch one when I was down there, but it’s spectacular and a great alternative to the craziness of the Strip and an interesting insight into what some of the very first casinos looked like in comparison to today’s spectacle!
“The Experience” (as it is known) is not just about the light show. In addition, you will find street vendors, live music acts, and various displays depending on the time of the year. The Elvis act (you can’t visit Vegas without seeing one) was brilliant, performing there every weekend. Failing that, you will find many imitations on the Strip.
Getting Around Vegas
While you can leisurely stroll the length of The Strip, getting around Vegas is easy due to its many transport routes. Not only do many hotels offer free shuttle trams between venues, but It’s also easy to grab a cab and take the bus to Downtown Vegas.
What to See in Las Vegas on a Solo Budget
If you want the most unique view of Las Vegas without jumping out of an aeroplane, go to the observation deck at the top of the Stratosphere or have lunch in the Top of the World Restaurant. It sits 800 metres above Vegas and has a restaurant that rotates 360 degrees for a complete view high above the city.
There is also the zipline on the LINQ Promenade – the only zipline on the Las Vegas Strip itself. Get your fast-track ticket here.
The High Roller 550-foot observation wheel is also a popular option, for a 30-minute relaxed journey with a view, also with fast-track tickets.
I decided to check out the views from the observation deck and ride some adrenalin-pumping rides known as The Strat (formerly The Stratosphere). Thrill Rides and a Sky Jump, all of which hang over the side of the hotel building – a very scary experience but a very unique way to see Vegas!
For those wanting the famed helicopter flight over Vegas, enjoy this 15-minute ride with views of the Bellagio fountain, the laser beam at the Luxor and the bright lights of the Stratosphere Tower.
Las Vegas Day Trips – Go to The Grand Canyon and Travel in a Group
Day trips from Vegas are a popular choice for those wanting to escape the action and see more of the wider area. The Grand Canyon isn’t far away and combined with a trip to the Hoover Dam, makes for a great nature-filled escape. It also means you get to visit another US State. You can book tours in Vegas hotels and tour ticket booths or pre-book online. They all include a hotel pick up and drop off transfers.
- This bestselling full-day Grand Canyon National Park South Rim trip, includes a quick visit to the Hoover Dam, the scenic landscapes of the Southwest Desert and views of the Canyon from the South Rim at Mather Point, where you will get to spend around three hours exploring.
- Book the slightly shorter Grand Canyon West bus tour with this skip-the-line ticket that includes a guide and hotel pick-up and drop-off.
- If you are only looking for a Hoover Dam tour, this 3-hour round-trip option with a guide is a good choice.
Spending a week in Vegas? Then you have a lot of exploration options for the daytime – this adventurous checklist on over a dozen Vegas Day Trips has you covered.
The Verdict on Taking a Solo Trip to Las Vegas
From sunbathing and sight-seeing to shopping and watching some of the world’s most magnificent shows, there’s only one thing I didn’t do in Las Vegas as a solo traveller – party and lose all my money.
While I only gambled away a few dollars, the Casinos were a great place for people-watching, before emerging again out into the street of bright lights ready to head to the next stop and do it all again.
Next time I return to Las Vegas I’m taking a group of friends with me. And that will be a completely different story.
READ MORE: Visit the Destinations page for more US travel stories.