Las Vegas Is Back! Five Tips for Your Return to Sin City During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: The volcano attraction in front of The Mirage Hotel & Casino erupts
Las Vegas is back!
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced a full shutdown last year and limited capacities at hotels, casinos and restaurants through the first five months of 2021, Las Vegas has fully reopened.
With COVID-19 vaccines widely available and many Americans ready to travel again, Las Vegas is once again buzzing as a popular vacation spot.
While many are traveling again like "normal," the effects of the pandemic are still everywhere, including Las Vegas.
In late May, my wife and I traveled to Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday, and after spending six days in "Sin City," here are five key tips to know for anyone planning their own trip this summer:
5 Las Vegas Travel Tips
1. Book Restaurant Reservations
If you're on a trip with a couple of friends and are just grabbing quick bites throughout your vacation, then this isn't that big of a deal.
However, if you enjoy specific sit-down restaurants or are a 40-year-old "adult" vacationing with a spouse (like me), be sure to plan ahead and make reservations.
Las Vegas is busy once again, but the restaurants still have yet to get fully caught up, meaning the demand is larger than the supply. So, don't expect to be able to just pop into your favorite joint, especially on a weekend, and grab a table without a significant wait.
In fact, we found multiple instances in which a restaurant's hours posted on its website were not correct, which made finding places to eat even more difficult.
So, my recommendation is to always think about making reservations.
This doesn't mean you need to book reservations weeks in advance. Sure, if you have that special place that you know you want to hit, then by all means book a table as early as possible.
However, my group did very well making reservations the day before or even the morning of with very few problems.
2. Expect to Travel By Foot
I've always been a big proponent of using the monorail in Vegas to travel along the strip, however, during our trip it had yet to reopen. That said, the monorail officially reopened May 27, so think about using it as well.
In addition, there is shortage of rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, making it difficult and/or expensive to find a ride quickly, while cabs were actually much easier to find.
We ended up doing a lot of walking during our trip, even more so than normal.
Thankfully, we stayed at The Mirage, which offers a great, center strip location and within relatively easy walking distance to our personal favorite casinos, restaurants, etc.
Now, I'm not saying you need to stay at the same hotel we did.
Just know that there's a good chance you'll be walking more than you might expect. So, when you do decide to book your resort, keep this in mind and try steer your stay toward your favorite part of Vegas.
Oh yeah, and per usual bring comfortable shoes as well.
3. Take Advantage of Mobile Apps
This could be considered a subset of No. 2 above, but with more difficulty than normal traveling around the city, be sure to download these mobile apps when visiting Las Vegas.
For example, savvy sports bettors understand the importance of shopping for the best lines. However, quickly finding the sportsbook with the best odds for the bet you want to make AND getting to that casino can be a lot of work, especially if where you need to be isn't close.
You can avoid all of this by downloading The Action Network's mobile app to look for the best possible odds and track your bets in real-time, then using each casino's sportsbook app to place wagers right from your mobile phone.
And the value of mobile apps goes much further than just sports betting.
We downloaded the MGM Resorts mobile app ahead of our trip and were able to check into our room, with our mobile phones also acting as our room key, without ever needing to visit the front desk.
Not having to wait in line to check in at your hotel during peak times is a godsend, especially as Vegas' popularity continues to boom this summer.
4. Don't Expect Masks
This isn't necessarily a tip, nor is it a political statement. It's simply an observation from our trip and an answer to the most common question we've received from friends and family since returning from Las Vegas.
The rule during our time in Vegas, at least at the Strip properties we visited, was that vaccinated guests did not need to wear masks.
This is an honor system and we saw very few people wearing them.
Again, the point of this observation is not to be pro- or anti-mask, but to make anyone considering a trip aware so they can make their own personal decisions before booking.
5. Limited Food & Beverages on Flights
This will likely return more to normal as the summer progresses, but there are still very limited food and beverage options on flights, which certainly impacts traveling to Vegas.
This is also dependent on the airline. For example, we were able to order alcoholic beverages on our Delta flight to Vegas, but alcohol was not available on our Southwest flight home.
In our experience, food was limited to a couple of bags of snacks, so if you're someone who needs to eat a real meal, especially if your flight to Vegas is a long one, be sure to grab something at the airport before your trip or to bring with you on the plane for an in-flight meal.