The bright neon lights and bumping party vibes make Las Vegas one of the top vacation destinations in the United States. Whether you want to try your luck at the tables, enjoy some world-class entertainment, or just lounge by the pool, Las Vegas is a classic destination for a fun getaway.
While most people assume that a Las Vegas vacation mostly consists of gambling, partying, and general shenanigans, this is a HUGE oversight—there’s tons of awesome things to do here! So if you’re looking to fill your days in Sin City with something more than endless slot machines, here’s a Las Vegas itinerary that’ll help you have the most epic time with 5 days—or less!—in this frenetic and unique city.
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How To Get to Las Vegas
Las Vegas, located in southern Nevada, is the biggest city in the state and home to its very own airport, Harry Reid International Airport.
Airfare to and from the city is usually quite affordable (we always check Skyscanner for the best rates!) and because of the city’s popularity with visitors around the world, over 170 cities have direct flights there. So good news—you can usually snag a pretty sweet deal on a decent flight!
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
There are three different areas to consider when determining where you want to stay in Vegas—the Las Vegas Strip, Fremont Street, or near the airport.
Where to Stay on the Las Vegas Strip
The most popular—and most expensive—area to stay is right on the iconic Las Vegas Strip. By staying here, you’ll literally be footsteps away from some of the most popular attractions in Las Vegas, like the Bellagio Fountains, the canals at The Venetian, and the volcano show at the Mirage.
- Budget: One of Las Vegas’ absolute best hidden gems is The Jockey Club, an old timeshare resort that’s right in the heart of the Strip. While the rooms are a bit outdated, you can usually get them for an absolute steal here and, given its vantage point overlooking the Bellagio Fountains, its location seriously can’t be beat. If you want to learn more about Las Vegas’ best kept secret, we wrote an entire post with everything you need to know about staying at the Jockey Club.
- Mid-range: What could be more iconic in Vegas than Caesar’s Palace, the setting for movies like Ocean’s Eleven and The Hangover? Beyond just the delightfully kitschy Roman gladiators you’ll find stationed around the resort, there’s also tons of perks, like swim-up blackjack tables, arguably one of the best buffets on the Strip, and Omnia nightclub, which attracts world-class DJs and has one of the best rooftop bars in the city.
- Luxury: If you’re looking to splash out (and there’s no better place to do so than Vegas!), the Bellagio is definitely it! From its stunning botanical gardens to its famed fountains, the Bellagio is reminiscent of a European palace—and feels just as luxurious.
Where to Stay on Fremont Street
Located about a 15-minute drive from the Strip, Fremont Street is the “Old Vegas”, where you’ll find casinos and hotels of the city’s yesteryear. Beyond the classic casinos, this area is also home to the Fremont Street Experience, which offers the world’s largest LED Canopy screen that displays nightly overhead light-shows; street performers, like spray paint artists; and a zipline that ejects its participants from an enormous slot machine, over the crowd below.
Because most of the properties here are older and not quite as flashy, they tend to be quite a bit more affordable than the Strip. So if you’re looking for a place to stay on a budget or for something a bit more off-beat, Fremont Street is definitely worth considering.
- Budget: There’s nowhere more centrally located on Fremont Street than Four Queens, a Vegas staple since all the way back in1966. Between its retro vibes; affordable rates; and best of all, no resort fees, the Four Queens is an excellent option for those looking to enjoy Vegas on a budget.
- Mid-range: Yet another classic, the Golden Nugget is delightfully kitschy, with the world’s second largest golden nugget on display (clocking in at 61 pounds!) and a water slide that shoots through a 200,000 gallon shark tank. Beyond the kitschy atmosphere, the rooms are clean and spacious and the friendly staff are always happy to help.
- Luxury: If you’re a sports enthusiast, the adults-only Circa Resort offers the (self-appointed) “best pool in the world.” Its unique rooftop pools are situated on three separate levels for optimal viewing of its 143-foot high-definition screen, which constantly displays the biggest sporting events. While none of the accommodations on Fremont Street will match the luxury available on the Strip, Circa’s attentive staff and modern rooms (with fancy electronic curtains!) makes this the most upscale resort in the area.
Where to Stay Near Harry Reid International Airport
Lastly, for those traveling with children or who would prefer quieter accommodations away from the constant pulse of the city, there are a handful of affordable hotels near the airport, away from all of the noise and, let’s be honest, drunk people (not that there’s anything wrong with that—it is Vegas, after all!).
These generally lack the unique personality of other accommodations in Vegas, but they can be a lovely place to rest your head at night and regroup before exploring Sin City.
- Budget: Club Wyndham Grand Desert has many of the benefits of a Vegas hotel, like three outdoor pools, four hot tubs, and proximity to the Strip. However, you won’t have to pay the dreaded resort fees while staying here and it’s much quieter and relaxed than other locations in the city.
- Mid-range: Like many of the popular options on the Strip, the Tahiti Village Resort leans into a kitschy theme, with a sand-entry pool, lazy river surrounded by tiki torches, and bars serving up lots of tropical drinks. Still, it’s a very practical place to stay for families—for example, each room comes with, at a minimum, a kitchenette, with most offering a fully-equipped kitchen—perfect for making meals back in the room to save some money.
Las Vegas Itinerary
Spending 5 days in Las Vegas? Below, we’ve outlined exactly how you should spend your time exploring this chaotic, wonderfully weird city and the surprisingly beautiful surrounding area.
Given that many travelers visit Las Vegas for significantly shorter than 5 days, this Las Vegas itinerary has been specifically designed so that you can simply pick and choose the days—or even activities—that sound most interesting to you. Each of the days’ activities are focused on one main section of the city or the surrounding area, so it’ll be easy to just mix and match!
Time to check into your hotel! If you arrive before the earliest check-in time, almost all of the hotels in Vegas will allow you to leave your bags with the bellhop so that you can explore unencumbered.
To get acquainted with Vegas, the very best place to start is the Strip. With all of its neon lights, comically enormous alcoholic drinks, and street performers, it can be a bit of a sensory overload. Nevertheless, it’s the best way to check off all the touristy stuff from your list right away.
For example, kick off your time in Vegas by wandering through the over-the-top themed hotels. Gaze up at the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel & Casino; ride the Big Apple Coaster at New York, New York; and dance along with the Bellagio Fountains. You could seriously spend hours and hours, just walking around and taking in the quirky decor and attractions at most of the resorts on the Strip.
If there’s a hole burning in your pocket, there’s also plenty of shopping to be had here. Adults and kids alike will love venturing through the multi-level M&M’s World or tasting their way through Hershey’s Chocolate World. Or hit up the Coca-Cola Store instead, where you can try their fun taste test, sampling their drinks from all around the world. For a totally different vibe, Las Vegas offers some of the highest concentration of luxury shops in the world, ranging from Harry Winston and Gucci to Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
If you’re tired after your long day of travel and don’t feel like walking, a Las Vegas bus tour, like this hop-on hop-off option, is another amazing way for a new visitor to get an introduction to the city. On these buses, you can learn all about the city and its history from a knowledgeable guide—and get off to explore where you want to.
If you want to kick your trip off with a bang, consider booking a helicopter tour, like this one or this one, over the Strip at night. While the flights are quite short, it’s one of the most affordable—and spectacular—places to fly, with jaw-dropping views of the city’s famed lights from a thousand feet above.
After spending your first day in town navigating the crowds and spectacles of the Strip, it’s time to explore old Vegas, along Fremont Street.
You can either wander around on your own and check out the classic retro Vegas hotels and casinos, like the Golden Nugget and Four Queens, and see some of the area’s quirky points of interest, like a pyramid of a million dollars at Binion’s or a chunk of the Blarney Stone at The D.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Vegas without a few quirky restaurants to grab a bite, like Evel Pie, an Evel Kneivel-themed pizza joint (this is where Jess and Justin of Uprooted Traveler had pizza to cap off their Vegas wedding!), or Atomic Liquors, the oldest bar in Vegas that got its name, when patrons flocked here in the late 1940s and early 1950s to watch atomic bomb blast testings from the roof!
If you want to learn more about Vegas and some of its sordid history, join a group tour, like this one or this one, that will guide visitors to all the must-see locations in the downtown and Fremont Street area. Many of the casinos along Fremont Street were associated with the mob and there’s tons of fascinating stories about the unsavory happenings over the last century. And, as a bonus, the guides are usually locals who can provide an insider look at what it’s actually like to live in Sin City.
If you’re particularly interested in Vegas’ seedier side, the Mob Museum is an incredible museum that chronicles the history of the mafia in the United States and Las Vegas, including interactive exhibits and even a real-life speakeasy. It’s definitely one of the most fun museums I’ve ever been to!
In the evening, it would be a waste to visit the entertainment capital of the world without seeing a show. You’ll have endless options to choose from here, such as:
- Concerts/Musical Residences: Las Vegas is a hot spot for some of the hottest musical acts. Oftentimes, artists will have a residency at a certain hotel for an extended period of time, which allows fans to plan a pilgrimage to Vegas to go to one of their concerts (I’ve done this myself on many occasions!). Tons of artists, from Bruno Mars and Adele to Lady Gaga and perhaps, the most famed Vegas resident of all time, Elvis, have all taken the stage here.
Beyond just A-list stars, you can find other one-off concerts that happen each night at the city’s different venues and cool clubs.
- Comedy: Las Vegas comedy clubs offer a mix of comedy stars and up and coming talent. If you’re looking for a place to let loose and just have a good time, consider checking out Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, the Laugh Factory, or the Comedy Cellar.
- Family-Friendly Shows: Cirque du Soleil is a popular contemporary circus that puts on many different shows in Vegas. Most of their shows are perfect for the whole family, mixing elements of comedy and magic, entrancing acrobatics, and stellar music. Mystère is a popular option about how humans connect with the universe or O, one of the most iconic Cirque shows, which takes place above a 1.5 million gallon tank and, fittingly, is all about the ethereal nature of water.
Alternatively, the Blue Man Group, which is part performance art, part rock band, also puts on a memorable and entertaining show people of all ages would enjoy.
Finally, don’t forget about magic! Vegas is home to a slew of magicians and hypnotists. Many of these family-friendly acts, like The Mindreading Magic Show, Masters of Magic Show, or the Witches and Warlock Show, will leave your entire family in awe or in fits of laughter!
- Adult Shows: I mean, it is Sin City, after all! Many adult-themed shows run throughout the year.
Jess of Uprooted Traveler has gone to the Magic Mike Live, as part of a Vegas bachelorette party, and Zombie Burlesque, after her and her husband, Justin, renewed their vows in the city, and had a stellar time at both!
After the first couple jam-packed days of your Las Vegas itinerary, this might be the perfect time to relax a bit.
If you’re visiting during warmer weather (usually beginning in March and ending in October), this may be the time to just soak up the sun and hang out by the pool.
If you’re visiting during the colder months, consider, instead, booking a spa treatment—even if your hotel doesn’t have an onsite spa, almost all of the best resorts allow non-guests to book treatments, like The Spa at Aria or Qua Bath and Spa at Caeser’s Palace.
If you’re looking for a few low-key activities, head to snap a photo in front of the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign or see the graveyard of neon signs of Vegas’ yesteryear at the very cool Neon Museum. History buffs will love Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor, where you can see an unopened champagne bottle and a piece of the actual hull, amongst 250 other artifacts from the world’s most famous shipwreck.
Finally, Las Vegas food tours, like this one or this one, are another fun activity to add to a rest day. These kinds of tours are low-key and relaxed, plus you get to hang out with a local guide and, most importantly, sample some of the best food the city has to offer!
After a more chill day, branch out from the city area and spend the fourth day of your Las Vegas itinerary exploring the natural beauty surrounding the city.
For example, join a Red Rock Canyon tour, like this one or this one, where you’ll get to explore a stunning National Conservation area, known for its red sandstone cliffs and Native American petroglyphs.
If you’d prefer to explore on your own, you can rent a car for the day and enjoy the park at your own pace.
Alternatively, you can drive to the Valley of Fire, which is renowned for its rugged cliffs of shocking colors of red, orange, and pink. Some of the best trails to see the incredible geological formations here are the Fire Wave or the Pink Canyon—it’s like being on another planet!
If outdoor recreation isn’t really your thing, but you still want to enjoy what greater Las Vegas has to offer, check out Seven Magic Mountains, the Instagram-famous sculpture of colorful rock piles, towering over the barren desert. You can visit this unique art installation by yourself or instead, avoid the hassle of a rental car or ride share and, instead, join a tour that stops at Seven Magic Mountains, like this one, that also stops at the famed “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and the California desert.
While you’re by the Seven Magic Mountains, consider visiting the Pioneer Saloon, Southern Nevada’s oldest saloon that dates back to 1913. The saloon still feels like it’s straight out of the Wild West and, unsurprisingly, has been featured in a number of movies, like Miss Congeniality 2, The Mexican, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
One of the most popular things to do in Las Vegas is not actually in the city at all, but rather one of the most iconic landmarks in the United States—the Grand Canyon! There’s plenty of tours to choose from, like this one or this small group option, both of which take you to the western rim to the amazing Skywalk, where you can walk on a glass bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the canyon floor below.
Most of these tours also make a stop at the Hoover Dam, the largest dam in the United States—you’ll learn all kinds of fascinating information from your guide here, like the fact that the dam produces 4 BILLION kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric power each year, which is enough to serve 1.4 million people including one of the world’s most power-hungry cities!
Of course, if you rent a car, you can definitely make the two hour and 15 minute drive to the West Rim by yourself or, alternatively, consider making the two hour drive west to Death Valley National Park.
Clocking in as the largest national park in the contiguous United States, it’s no surprise that there’s a ton of incredible things to do in Death Valley National Park, including strolling on Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, or the Golden Canyon Trail, where part of the original Star Wars movies were filmed.
If that sounds like a bit too much adventure for your last day, consider relaxing instead, such as hanging out by the pool, hitting some of the best shopping on the Strip, or catching another show.
It can also be fun to more deeply explore the casinos and resorts on the Strip to find some hidden gems you might have missed on the first day. For example, consider seeing the thought-provoking works of art at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, hop on a gondola at The Venetian, or see the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States at the Stratosphere.
Frequently Asked Questions about Planning a Las Vegas Itinerary
Do you need a car while visiting Las Vegas?
If you’re planning on staying primarily on the Strip and Fremont Street, you definitely don’t need a car—and to be honest, they can be more trouble than they’re worth!
Most of the resorts have free parking, but it’s not unusual to find a hotel or resort that charges for it. Plus, a lot of the attractions are within walking distance of one another or just a short Uber ride away, so the rental car fee likely wouldn’t be worth it.
However, if you’re staying in Las Vegas for three or more days, you might consider renting a car so you can get out and explore some of the incredible natural beauty around the city, like Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, or Death Valley.
How Many Days Is Enough for Las Vegas?
If you just want to explore the Strip and Fremont Street, you can definitely see the highlights of Vegas in just two days.
But, if you want downtime to enjoy the pool or explore the city and cool natural sites around it, three to four days would be the optimal amount of time to experience Vegas.
Is 3 Days in Vegas Too Long?
Three days is usually the perfect amount of time to spend in Vegas, with plenty of time to see the Strip’s main attractions, but also explore some of the more off-the-beaten-path sites in and around the city.
I’d just advise not hanging out on the Strip, in casinos, or at pool parties the ENTIRE time—the throbbing music, artificial lights, and kooky characters milling around can get to be a bit of a sensory overload after a while!
Can you visit Vegas on a budget?
While getting to Vegas is usually cheap, actually enjoying the city can be pretty pricey—eating out and seeing shows can definitely add up!
This is a meaty topic that deserves its own post, but some rapid fire ideas are:
- Alcoholic drinks in most bars and casinos on the Strip can easily be $15 a piece. Instead of racking up a huge bill, play the penny slots for a bit and get a free drink from the casino or simply buy a cold can of beer from one of the many Walgreens on the Strip (Vegas, of course, allows open containers!).
- Hit free attractions, like the Bellagio Fountains, the Volcano at the Mirage, or the nightly Light Show at the Wynn.
- Consider getting a Go-City All Inclusive Pass, that allows you to hit an unlimited number of attractions during a certain number of days for a set price. It’s a great way to do a TON of individual attractions that would cost a lot if you paid for them a la carte—like a helicopter tour, the Linq zipline, or the Big Apple roller coaster at New York, New York—at a much more affordable rate.
- Eat off the Strip. Most of the restaurants you’ll find on the Strip are quite expensive—and frankly, sometimes, undeservedly so. Off Strip, you can find world-class restaurants with much more affordable prices, like the iconic Lotus of Siam or Herbs & Rye, which was named one of the best 50 bars in North America.
The energy and fun that radiates from Las Vegas certainly make it a top vacation destination. Hopefully, this Las Vegas itinerary gets you thinking about how you can best plan your vacation for optimal enjoyment. Whether you prefer a loose and spontaneous experience or a schedule that has you hopping all day long, enjoy your time in Sin City!