The locals' guide to... Las Vegas

Gambling, Tom Jones and free drinks, how could Las Vegas not be fun? If hedonism is your middle name, first ask your parents why, then book a trip to Nevada's most famous city.

Our top tip - escape the strip with a Grand Canyon Aerial Sightseeing Tour

For more ideas on what to do on your Las Vegas trip, check out our blog posts.

Las Vegas

How do I get away from large tour groups wearing matching caps?

Las Vegas is the drag queen of cities - bright, brash and flamboyant. Shy and retiring it certainly isn't, so avoiding the crowds altogether would defeat the point of a Las Vegas holiday. But if your luck starts to run out on the Black Jack table there's plenty of desert to escape into. Marvel, for example, at the oddly shaped Joshua Trees in the eponymous national park. You may be inspired to pen a song or two, just like Bono.

Where do the locals party?

The Crown And Anchor British Pub, near the university, is idiosyncratic and out of the way enough to discourage tourists on Las Vegas city break. The menu includes a battered fish sandwich, banger and mash, scotch egg and full roast dinner with all manner of British beers as accompaniment.

Restaurants without an 'all-you-can-eat tourist buffet'?

The Peppermill is right on the Las Vegas boulevard, but still attracts the locals into the chaos - recommendation enough. This 1970s style diner with appropriately garish décor has an unpretentious, all-American menu ranging from a straight-up hot pastrami sandwich to the more pricey range of flame-broiled steaks. On the dessert menu there's the 'Elegant Brownie' - an oxymoron perhaps, but a tasty one.

tip The locals' absolutely secret number one tip : Las Vegas mid-week is a sedate affair as tourists and Americans arrive for the fun at the weekend. You can get a luxury suite in one of the top Las Vegas hotels for a steal on a Wednesday, but you won't get to see the big names.

A quick guide to where the locals hang out

Las Vegas

The pick-me-up: The Mirage Casino's Secret Garden is a sweet place to relax between bets. There's an indoor rainforest, dolphins and the fabulous volcano.

The breakfast: Eat breakfast early, between midnight and 7am to be precise, and it's cheaper than chips at the Sourdough Café in Arizona Charlie's Decatur Casino and Hotel. Many of the casinos offer breakfast on their 'graveyard menus' and with no night or day in Vegas it doesn't feel as odd as you'd expect.

The middle-of-the-night toasted sandwich: Most of the casinos will have in-house 24-hour restaurants providing a steady stream of grilled cheese sandwiches. But the Ellis Island Casino menu is the best of the bunch.

The flicks: Drive-in movie theatres are fast disappearing in the US, so take in a film at the West Wind Las Vegas 5 Drive-In and support this American cultural classic.

The shops : At the Las Vegas Outlet Centre you can pick up designer bargains without leaving the Vegas behind - there are hourly laser shows too.

The water: The Bellagio's dancing fountains show is an requisite on any Las Vegas holiday.

The trip: Take an excursion to the Red Rock Canyon to walk off all that surf and turf in some astonishing surroundings.

The view: The Stratosphere Hotel's Top Of The World restaurant provides an awesome view of the city's place in the vast desert.

The museum: The Neon Museum displays shiny signs recording the city's colourful past, from the 1940s to the present day.

The club: The Double Down Saloon on Paradise Road describes itself as anti-Vegas but rumour has it a Hollywood crowd hang out here. Try the bacon-infused vodka martinis.

Can I drink the water?

The eight essential questions you'll need answering

Which local animal is likely to hospitalise me?

Siegfried and Roy's Royal White Tigers at the Mirage will get their own back one of these days.

Which native liquor will make me think I am attractive?

Gamblers get 'free' drinks in Las Vegas, so take your pick. But it is kind of the law that there's a paper umbrella in there somewhere.

How can I avoid a beating by the local hard nuts?

Don't try any dirty tricks at the tables, keep your hands off unless you're gambling and don't case the slot machines.

Will I get lost?

Travel in Las Vegas generally involves walking up and down the strip, so no.

Will I find myself?

You might find yourself married. Las Vegas law makes it terribly easy.

Should I take an umbrella?

It's in the desert, so not unless you're getting friendly with Bellagio's fountains.

What should I order in a restaurant to impress the locals?

'All you can eat' is not a challenge. But Nathan's food stand at New York New York holds a hotdog eating contest every year.

Can I drink the water?

Yes, but it's not free like the cocktails.

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