Driving in Las Vegas: What You Need To Know

When you’re traveling to Las Vegas, you needn’t worry about options for getting around. Many options for getting from here to there are available–bus, taxi, monorail, or your own feet–but many will tell you that renting a car or driving your own is the key to truly experiencing Vegas. For a city this busy, though, drivers need to keep some things in mind, especially coming from elsewhere in the U.S. and those not familiar to Vegas roads. Following these tips will let you make the most of your visit to Las Vegas.

Navigating Las Vegas

Going for a drive in Las Vegas requires knowing what to expect from traffic. Early morning and evening rush hours, about 7 to 9 AM and 4 to 6 PM respectively, tend to be heaviest as with most cities. However, tourists can underestimate just what Vegas traffic looks like. The Strip, the most concentrated area for casinos and attractions, sees the most traffic even at the best of times.

Avoid getting caught in the morass of traffic on the Strip during rush hours by taking parallel roads. Industrial Road, Frank Sinatra Drive, and Paradise Road run close to Las Vegas Boulevard but typically move faster while still providing reliable access to notable attractions. I-15 is your best bet for longer north-south trips across town. The main east-west route is an expressway called the Desert Inn arterial; it runs under the Strip and over I-15 to evade traffic on both roads, though this also means there’s no crossing from Desert Inn to either.

Staying aware of road conditions is a good idea, as road work is a common sight in Las Vegas, and drivers can expect lines of highway cones and frequent detours. On roads that already have been worked on, though, you can expect a comfortable drive. Signage is useful and easy to rely on. Keep an eye out for drivers in other lanes and oncoming turns, as Las Vegas driving is not always agreeable.

Rules of the Road

Throughout Nevada, the speed limit on highways is 70 or 75 mph outside cities. In Las Vegas, that limit is consistently 65 mph. Main thoroughfares typically have speed limits posted at 45 mph, and elsewhere in the city you’ll see anywhere from 25 to 35 mph. Within Las Vegas city limits, speeders rarely get away unnoticed by the police.

That same vigilance also applies to drunk driving, so be mindful of this if you plan to get some drinks at the casino or restaurant in the evening. A BAC of 0.08 or higher, as in other neighboring states, will have you arrested on a DUI charge, but police may pull you over at lower levels to perform a field sobriety test.

Drivers from out of town will be thankful that turning right on a red light after coming to a stop is legal when not otherwise stated. Similarly, U-turns are legal unless specified, which can be good to know if you accidentally find yourself approaching heavy traffic.

Finding Parking

Essentially every hotel offers huge parking garages and lots, as do many casinos and restaurants. Self-parking is often free or inexpensive, though you may be there a while looking for space. You will likely require a validation stamp for your parking ticket in downtown casinos, though. If a facility offers valet parking, it’s well worth the few bucks for the valet’s tip.

Street parking should be reserved for when you’re truly lacking for options. The Strip itself has no room for parking, and parking regulations on streets elsewhere in Las Vegas are strictly enforced, with meters watched closely at all hours. If you’ll be out of your car for more than a short period, a lot or garage is a safer bet.

Rental Car Services

Local car rental services can be found throughout Las Vegas, especially at the airport or along the Strip. Rates at the airport typically receive significant deals because of high demand and heavy competition, while the Strip will typically charge more for rentals. Overall, the average can be anywhere from $20 to $70 per day, with finding a car for less than $30/day being fairly simple. At busier times of the year, though, expect rates to skyrocket. These are good times to schedule a rental ahead of time to avoid even higher prices. Consult with rental services or the airline online for information. You may also be able to contact a hotel representative, as they often have business relationships with car rental companies.

Give yourself plenty of time to pick up and return your rental vehicle in your schedule, especially before catching your flight. When you need to fill up, whether a rental or your personal vehicle, you’ll find gas stations across all of Vegas, with many open all day. Gas prices are a bit steep compared to the national average, but you generally won’t find any part of town that’s especially high-priced.