Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Strip secrets of the natives

Tips on where to park, eat and take care of your business - from people that know.

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Staff Photo

Tip: These shoes may look good, but they are not good for walking the Strip.

DINE Ellis Island (a block off the Strip, on Koval) has a secret steak dinner that's not on the menu. It's $6.99 and it comes with a beer or a shot. — A. Cebula

PARK If you often lose your car in the more complicated parking lots, text yourself your location before you go into the casino. Or pick a section you'll remember easily and find a spot there: I always try to park in 3D; a friend likes 4G. — X. Woodman

PARK Park in the usually empty top levels. You can park closer to the elevators and it doesn't really take any more time to get there. — D. Kazee

SAVE Only secret I'll give away is the Stage Door: $1.50 beers, $3 cheap bar food, $3 drinks. — J. Fischetti

COMFORT Poop like a king: Many casinos have separate restrooms for their high rollers. You can find these restrooms in or nearby the high-roller lounges. They're smaller, emptier and fancier than their main floor counterparts. And on special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, visit the bathrooms in Daniel Boulud at Wynn and in Silk Road at Vdara. Your butt will thank me. — R. Lax

DRIVE Paradise and Frank Sinatra Drive are priceless shortcuts for getting almost anyplace on the Strip. — J. Brown

DRINK Main casino bars and sports book bars generally are cheaper places to drink than the posh lounges and clubs. — D. Kazee

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Be warned: Check the price of gelato when you order it at the Forum Shops at Caesars.

EAT Skip the gelato. I ordered a "small pistachio" from the gelato kiosk by FAO Schwarz in the Forum Shops, and only when I arrived at the register at the far end of the stand did I learn that it cost $9.99, before tax. Good thing I didn't order the "VIP Size" (aka, "Our Most Popular Size") — that one costs $16.99, before tax. The "Terminator" portion (Terminator? Huh?) costs $24.99 before tax, and the "Las Vegas Portion" costs $44.99, before tax. — R. Lax

SAVE Sign up for casino e-mail promotions — many great unadvertised room, food and show specials. There are deals out there. You just have to look. — D. Kazee

CLUB Whether you are on the list or not, always head straight for the table line at the club and declare yourself: "One local lady?" Most times they would rather have you inside the club drinking than outside fuming. — X. Woodman

VALET Befriend valets. Tip them, learn their names, make sure they learn yours and be consistent. Check in with them every time you show up. After one month you will be a valued patron to them, known by name, and able to valet when others are being turned away. In fact, tip anywhere you intend to return to. — X. Woodman

CLUB Meet the lead VIP host at each club. The junior hosts tend to be new or transient; the lead host likely has been dubbed as such in return for loyalty and time served. — X. Woodman

DRINK Give your cocktail server your business card; these days they too must have lists, little black books, loyal patrons, etc. — X. Woodman

WATCH Tourists are fun to watch. Some good spots: window seats at Diablo's Cantina, the Strip-facing rail at Margaritaville, Forum Shops. — J. Brown

DRESS Comfy shoes, unless you're going to one club specifically. But if you're going to be walking, put vanity aside. And dress for the transition from hot to cold and vice versa. — J. Brown

WISE Unlike the tourists, you already know the basics but they bear repeating: Stay hydrated, moisturize, don't leave valuables unattended. — J. Brown

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The best time to visit the Strip is early in the morning when the tourist crowd looks like this -- nonexistent.

PLAY If you'd rather avoid the tourists, early morning hours, from about 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. are perhaps the slowest time on the Strip, particularly during the week. — J. Brown

SAVE Join player's clubs. Sure, the casinos are keeping track of you, but accumulate enough points and they'll surprise you with something free. And get yourself on the mailing list for hotels. You may get unadvertised room rates or discounts. — J. Brown

DRESS If you're planning to purchase something from one of the memorabilia stores or art galleries at the Forum Shops or the Grand Canal Shoppes, wear your most tattered clothes. The dean of my law school went into the Forum's movie-memorabilia store dressed like a million bucks and asked how much the signed Wizard of Oz poster cost. I went in a couple hours later, dressed like hell, and the salesman quoted me a price 25 percent less. — R. Lax

WATCH Located across from the Mirage check-in desk, Kokomo's Lounge offers the best people watching in Las Vegas. Head there during the afternoon if you want to watch clueless tourists look confused, or at night if you want to watch drunken clubgoers fight and cry. If price is an issue, you can order a Diet Coke. But be sure to tip your waitress a couple bucks. — R. Lax

PARK The parking garage at Wynn has electronic signs that tell you how many spaces are available on each floor. Ignore them. The numbers appearing on these signs often bear no apparent relationship to the number of free spaces available. I drove to Wynn three nights ago, and the sign on the parking garage's second level read "9," but half the spaces were free. — R. Lax

PLAY Let's say you're on a date and you find yourself at the Circus Circus Carnival or the Excalibur Midway. Could happen to any of us. Let's also say you want to win your date a stuffed bear, but you don't want to spend a fortune doing it. Which game should you play? One that has a winner every time, one where players compete against each other. Like the Squirt Gun Shootout or the Horserace Ball Roll. If you play the games, you'll usually find yourself up against a handful of uncoordinated toddlers. And if you find yourself against the coordinated ones, remember: a little trash-talking goes a long way. — R. Lax

DRIVE For Planet Hollywood or Paris Las Vegas, enter and exit on Audrie Street (behind the properties' parking garages) to avoid driving on the Strip. On busy nights at Mandalay Bay, skip the garage and use the outdoor lot beyond the Shark Reef. — S. Patterson

DRINK Congratulate bottle patrons celebrating a birthday; they're so stoked they're likely to invite you for a glass of champagne. — X. Woodman

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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