This might sound crazy, but with such a short time in the city, I would advise hiring a car – preferably a Mustang – and getting out of it! Pick up a car from the airport (I can recommend Avis as they have decent cars, are reasonably priced and their free-to-join Preferred scheme means you can avoid the queues) and head south east to the Hoover Dam.
Keep on driving, stopping at a diner on Route 66 for a meal, such as Mr D’z Diner in Kingman before continuing on to Williams, Flagstaff or Tusayan for the night.
Holiday Inns at the 2 former can easily be had for points; the latter is just the National Park frontier town, but there are several hotels including a Best Western which come recommended but is pricier due to its location.
Get an early night, and then be up early to beat the crowds into the Grand Canyon National Park. Entry is $30 payable at the toll booths. Ignore the signs if you are early and park in car parks 1-4 (4 is the closest to the bike hire). Order a bike from Bright Angel beforehand, and pick it up along with a sandwich and coffee before setting off westwards along the rim. It is possible to do about 40 km at a leisurely pace to see all the sights along to Hermit’s Rest in the west and Desert View in the east.
Head back to Las Vegas after lunch, preferably with the top down listening to some classic road-trip music, which will get you into the city in time for a sunset cruise down the Strip before checking into your hotel.
For such a short time in the city, best pick a place close to the airport. Las Vegas is deceptively large and even ‘close’ to the airport is a few miles away. Choose the Tropicana at the southern end of the Strip for a reasonably priced stay. Affiliated with Hilton, there is a separate check-in suite for Diamond Members and the high rollers of the casino. If you are lucky, you will get upgraded to a duplex suite with superb views over the city.
There are so many places to eat, you will find whatever you want. Each of the big hotels have several restaurants to suit any budget and taste.
You can’t go to Vegas and not have a flutter – but make sure you get the casino’s Players’ Card before you do. Every time you put money into a slot machine or onto the table, the player’s card tracks it – the more you put down the bigger the comps the casino may offer you.
A friend who has been staying at an off-strip casino every time she visits for the last 25 years or so was comped a week’s accommodation in a suite and a $150 daily food and drink credit, easily worth $2500 at the going rate on her last visit.
Vegas also has some decent shopping opportunities, such as the Galleria at Sunset, Town Square and the Las Vegas South Premium Outlets, the last of which is located right next to the car hire centre and is perfect for some last-minute bargains before heading out from McCarran Airport.
There is so much to see and do – I have been twice and still want to go back! It is great for a longer holiday as well as a quick stop over. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit one of the most interesting places I have been to!