If you are planning a visit to Vegas, should you stay on the Las Vegas Strip or downtown?
Choosing to stay on the Las Vegas Strip or downtown depends on your budget and preferences. Downtown Las Vegas is cheaper and more accessible but a little bit less safe than The Strip. The Las Vegas Strip, while more expensive, is a lot more luxurious.
Ultimately the choice of where you stay is up to you, but this guide will help you decide: Las Vegas Strip vs. Downtown.
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Pros of Staying in Downtown Las Vegas
There are a lot of advantages that come with staying in Downtown Las Vegas. Things are generally more affordable and accessible than they are on the Las Vegas Strip. You also get to enjoy the old Las Vegas vintage vibe that a lot of people love on Fremont Street.
Everything is More Affordable Downtown
Pretty much everything in Downtown Las Vegas is more affordable than it is on Las Vegas Boulevard. This is because the casinos and resorts downtown are older and smaller than the ones on The Strip. They are also usually three-star hotels, while almost everything on The Strip is four or five stars.
In addition to hotels and casinos, even the bars and restaurants in Downtown Vegas are cheaper than they are on The Strip. You can reduce your costs even more by taking advantage of drink specials and happy hours. Fremont Street is a particularly popular place in Downtown Las Vegas.
Check out some of the cheap eats on Fremont Street.
Downtown Las Vegas is More Walkable
Unlike the sprawling mass of Las Vegas Boulevard, Downtown Las Vegas is much more walkable. The most popular part of Downtown Las Vegas (Fremont Street Experience) is actually closed to vehicle traffic. This makes it so much easier to stroll from one casino to another while enjoying the open container laws of Las Vegas that let you drink in public.
This district contains just a few blocks of space. This means that it is easy for you to explore the entire area over the course of a single day and night.
Top Casinos and Attractions in Downtown
Downtown is full of fun and unique casinos and attractions. These include:
- Circa Las Vegas
- Fremon Street Experience
- Plaza Hotel
- Golden Gate
- Arts District
- Downtown Container Park
- Neon Museum
- D Las Vegas
- Mob Museum
- El Cortez
- Downtown Grand
You could easily spend an entire weekend downtown without running out of things to see and do. In fact, many returning visitors to Las Vegas enjoy the downtown area so much that they never even go to the Strip!
Cons of Staying in Downtown Las Vegas
There are also some problems that come with staying in Downtown Las Vegas. The area is less child friendly than Las Vegas Blvd. There are also more problems with crime if you wander outside of the tourist areas.
Downtown Las Vegas is Not As Child Friendly
Las Vegas is often referred to as Sin City, and you can argue that there is not a single place in the entire city that is truly kid-friendly. However, this is especially true of Downtown Las Vegas. While it is growing more popular every year, the city is still in the process of revitalizing this neighborhood.
This means that there are still large problems with homelessness and drug abuse in the downtown area in general. The always popular Fremont St. in Downtown Las Vegas is particularly unsuitable for children. A lot of the costumed characters who parade around this pedestrian-only street are dressed in explicit and revealing costumes.
(Note: That being said, there are children from babies to teens at all hours of the day and night on Fremont Street with their parents. It really depends on what a parent deems as appropriate.)
There are still some of these problems on the Las Vegas Strip. However, they are not quite as prevalent because of the immense presence of police and security on and around the main drag. In other words, more of Sin City’s “sin” is kept out of the public eye on the Strip compared to the downtown area.
For all of the gaudy splendor and adult activities found on the Las Vegas Strip, there are still some attractions that you can feel safe taking your children to. These include things like Adventuredome at Circus Circus, M&M’s World, and the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.
The Casinos in Downtown Las Vegas Are Older and Smaller
This is both a pro and a con, depending on how you look at it. Downtown Las Vegas is where Las Vegas began and as such many of the casinos are older and smaller than those on the Las Vegas Strip.
In many cases, resorts downtown are not as luxurious or over the top as the ones on Las Vegas Boulevard. There are exceptions, however. Check out our article Circa vs. Golden Nugget to learn about two of the more luxurious casinos downtown.
The Open Container Laws Are a Little Bit More Prohibitive Downtown
One of the things that Las Vegas is most famous for is the city’s extremely loose open container laws.
However, there are a few more restrictions when you are drinking at the Fremont Street Experience. You can still drink outside when you are there. However, your drink has to be in a plastic cup that you purchased from a casino bar within the covered pedestrian walkway area.
When you are on Las Vegas Boulevard, on the other hand, you are allowed to walk into any liquor store and purchase a bottle or can of alcohol and start sipping away on it in public for everyone to see as you stroll from one casino to the next.
Pros of Staying on the Las Vegas Strip
There are also many advantages that come with staying on the Las Vegas Strip. There is a lot more glitz and glamour found along the Strip than downtown. There is also a lot more options for nightlife, fine dining, and entertainment.
The Razzle and the Dazzle of The Strip
The biggest plus that comes with staying on Las Vegas Boulevard is getting to experience all of the glitz and glamor that comes with being on The Strip. Say what you will about the place, staying in Las Vegas is a unique experience.
You might find some of the resorts to be a little bit too gaudy for your taste. You may even think that some of the entertainment options are a little cheesy. But that is what makes Las Vegas well, Las Vegas. This is a city whose entire identity is wrapped up in being exuberant and over the top.
Top Las Vegas Strip Casinos and Attractions
As you may imagine, the Las Vegas Strip is home to some of the most famous casinos, hotels, and attractions in the world. A small sampling includes:
Nightlife and The Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is the epicenter of Vegas’s nightlife and casinos. Wherever you are on The Strip, you are just a short walk away from a party. Staying on Las Vegas Boulevard also gives you easy access to some of Vegas’s hottest nightclubs.
You can find some of this in Downtown Las Vegas, but it just is not the same as staying on the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas Strip Fine Dining
The Strip has become a popular destination for food enthusiasts. You no longer have to deal with cheap shrimp and low-budget buffets. Now you can enjoy some of the most fabulous restaurants in the world led by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsey.
Cons of Staying on the Las Vegas Strip
Of course, there are also downsides to staying on Las Vegas Boulevard. Everything is prohibitively expensive, and things are more spread out than they are in Downtown Las Vegas. This means that it is much harder to get around when you are on the Las Vegas Strip.
Everything on The Strip is More Expensive
You can certainly swing some pretty good deals for a stay on The Strip, but everything will still be expensive. The average weekend visit to Las Vegas can run close to $1000 before you even factor in airfare or hotel prices. ( See: The Cost of a Trip to Las Vegas (Let’s Break it Down))
Even if you are not planning on gambling, the high price of food and drinks can cost you an exorbitant amount of money if you are hanging out on The Strip.
Although Downtown Las Vegas is getting a bit more expensive as the area gets more popular, it is usually a more affordable place to stay than The Strip is.
Things Are More Spread Out on The Strip
The Strip is only a few miles long, but navigating it can still be a headache. There are lots of escalators and elevated walkways that you have to circumnavigate in the hot desert heat. Because of how massive the casinos are, even popping over to a venue next door can still feel like traversing multiple city blocks.
In Downtown Las Vegas, the majority of casinos and attractions are found in one compressed area, and it is easy to walk from one to another.
Las Vegas Strip vs. Downtown – Final Thoughts
Should you stay on the Las Vegas Strip or in Downtown Las Vegas? The choice is up to you, but we’ve considered the most important factors above. Downtown Las Vegas is cheaper and more accessible but more restrictive and dangerous. Las Vegas Strip, on the other hand, is a lot more expensive but also more luxurious.
My recommendation is that if this is your first trip to Las Vegas you should stay on the Strip, and plan to spend at least one evening downtown on Fremont Street. That way you’ll be sure to get the full Vegas experience.
If you’ve been to Las Vegas before, then you might want to consider staying downtown for a change.
If you need help choosing a Las Vegas hotel, check out our article here to help narrow down the list of hotels that will work best for you and your traveling companions.