Beautiful overview of the Las Vegas Strip

What’s the least expensive time to visit Vegas?

There are two prime discount months: July and December. The intense summer heat depresses visitation in July and room rates (and airfares) plummet as temperatures soar; and people tend to travel during the holidays, not right before or after.

But the absolutely least expensive time is the week or so before Christmas. There’s a five- to ten-day stretch (it varies from year to year, depending on the calendar) between the big National Finals Rodeo convocation and the Christmas rush, during which the casinos practically give away their rooms, discounts and deals abound, and crowds are thin. (Even traffic on the Strip is light.)

As soon as Christmas Eve rolls around, however, the crowds descend and costs skyrocket. The week-long party culminates on New Year’s Eve, Las Vegas’ busiest night of the year.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the largest conventions in the world, hits town the second week in January, then the place settles down for a bit in a post-New Years (and CES) lull.

Note that a number of Las Vegas shows are dark during this period and that few, if any, special events are taking place. But if you simply want the best values, shortest lines, easiest bookings, and potentially better weather than the rest of the country, plan your trip for this period.

Is prostitution legal in Las Vegas?


As part of the general clean-up of the city’s image, initiated in large measure by Howard Hughes, and to safeguard the revenues from gambling, in 1971 state legislators passed Statute 244-335 (8), rendering prostitution illegal in counties with a population of more than 250,000. That lets out Clark County (Las Vegas) and Washoe County (Reno).

Prostitution is also illegal in the Carson City Capital District and Lincoln County (northeast of Clark County).

The closest legal brothels to Las Vegas are in the Pahrump area (Nye County), roughly 60 miles west.

But what about all the working girls floating around casino bars and clubs and advertised in the sex rags from newsracks lining the Strip and on cards handed out by smut peddlers on the sidewalks?

It’s still illegal. But as long as it’s not obviously flouted in the tourist corridor (such as by scantily dressed streetwalkers), Las Vegas tradition tolerates it.

Is Las Vegas a good place to get married?

According to the Clark County Recorder’s Office, just under 81,000 weddings were performed in Las Vegas in 2014, down 37% from a high of 126,000 in 2004. Many of these take place in the Las Vegas wedding chapels, of course, while others are in more traditional venues, including the more than 500 places of worship to which Las Vegas is home, plus the Office of Civil Marriages downtown. Still others take place in private gardens, in hot-air balloons and helicopters, on horseback, even in gondolas.

If you want to be kidnapped by cowboys, beamed up by Captain Kirk, serenaded by Elvis, married in the front car of a roller coaster, or at a drive-thru wedding window, Vegas is definitely the venue for you.

There are approximately 60 wedding chapels in and around Las Vegas. An exact count is difficult for various reasons, but five dozen is pretty close. These stand-alone chapels vary quite widely in aesthetics, cleanliness, and the comportment of the managers, while the casino chapels are (usually) classier, though they can be more expensive and harder to book. To some extent, you get what you pay for, which can be anything from less than $100 for a quickie ceremony by a “Marryin’ Sam” (officiate) at the Fragrant Garden Chapel and Chop Shop or others of that ilk up to $20,000 or more for the super-deluxe package at one of the five-star resorts, and that’s before you’ve started popping the bubbly.

Receptions are easy to arrange, given that every hotel has meeting and reception facilities that can handle four to 400 and all kinds of restaurants on-site.

Wedding coordinators are common at the hotels as well as the chapels and they can steer you in the right direction.

Finally, if you get married in Las Vegas, you’re already in the number-one honeymoon destination for Americans (ahead of Hawaii at number two and Jamaica at number three).

Is it legal to drink alcohol publicly in Las Vegas?

When it comes to alcohol consumption, this city has some of the nation’s least restrictive rules. Nevada law designates the Las Vegas area as one of the few places without an open container law in the United States.

We checked with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept. and they confirmed that it’s fine, as long as you’re 21 or older, to wander down the Strip –- or any other street in town –- openly swigging your beer or sipping a cocktail; no brown paper bag required.

Here, however, are the exceptions: Drinking isn’t allowed within 1,000 feet of a church, synagogue, public or private school, hospital, substance-withdrawal-management facility, and homeless shelter.

You also can’t consume alcohol on any premises in which you buy it in a closed container. If you purchase an alcoholic beverage in a container that needs to be popped, twisted, or otherwise opened, you have to be at least 1,000 feet away from the premises where you bought the drink.

It’s absolutely fine to bring your drink into a casino, but generally, it’s not acceptable to take a drink from outside into other licensed establishments, such as bars or clubs, which make their money from serving their own liquor.

Of course, no property is too thrilled if you try to take out a drink in their glassware, but most are happy to supply a to-go cup if you want to leave before you’ve finished.

In fact, it’s illegal to carry glass beverage containers on the Strip, even if they contain non-alcoholic beverages. Plastic only. This helps to prevent broken glass on the streets and sidewalks.

Drinking in a moving vehicle is another story. According to Nevada’s open-container law (NRS 484.448), it’s “unlawful for a person to drink an alcoholic beverage while he is driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle upon a highway” or “for a person to have an open container of an alcoholic beverage within the passenger area of a motor vehicle while the motor vehicle is upon a highway.”

However, this law exempts “a motor vehicle which is designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, or in the living quarters of a house coach or house trailer.”

In plain English, legally, it’s okay to drink while you’re a passenger in a fare-charging vehicle — such as a cab, limo, shuttle, or party bus, or in the back of an RV. However, limos must have a partition between the driver’s seat and the passenger area of the car in order for passengers to lawfully have an open container.

If your cabbie says no, you can quote him the open-container statute, but be aware that some companies have their own restrictions.

The city’s Citizens Area Transport (CAT) buses have a no-eating/drinking/smoking rule, and alcoholic beverages are not allowed on the Strip Monorail.