We know that your time in Vegas is valuable. Every minute wasted in a waiting line is one that could have been enjoyed at a craps table or on a dance floor. If you’re renting a car during your Vegas stay, there’s one biggie to consider: traffic.
Yes, the big letter “T” can be a nasty culprit when you’re trying to get from point A to point B. It’s usually a good idea to bunk near the center of your planned activities (South Point Casino, for instance, probably isn’t the best choice if you’re just here to see Celine). But if you’re driving to your various outings, a few routes that are little-known to tourists can get you there faster – and with fewer headaches.
The most familiar path for visitors is back and forth on the Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard). The north end starts at the Stratosphere tower and the south end is essentially marked by Mandalay Bay. Those four miles might not seem like a great distance (unless you’re on foot), but on a weekend or event night, driving them can easily take upwards of 45 minutes. The addition of T-Mobile Stadium has amplified the situation even more.
You might be inclined to avoid congestion by choosing Interstate 15, which runs mostly parallel to the Strip. But that choice is as risky as a roulette wheel. Accidents, back-ups, a major construction project and reckless drivers are the norm on I-15, leaving you at the mercy of gridlock, tow trucks and emergency vehicles. That can be a real stress-inducer if you’re tight on time and have a show to attend.
Skip the Strip: Alternatives to Las Vegas Boulevard
Instead, consider Frank Sinatra Drive, which runs behind the west side of the Strip. It serves as a service road for hotels like Luxor, Park MGM, Aria and Bellagio. This little-known route is a favorite for shuttle and taxi drivers. It provides easy in-and-out access to many resorts without dodging pedestrians and lookie-loos.
Two similar roads run behind the east side of the Strip. Koval Lane stretches north to south between Tropicana Avenue and Sands Avenue, covering the territory from MGM Grand to Venetian/Palazzo. It’ll give you easy access to rear entrances and parking structures for many major hotels like Flamingo, The Linq and Harrah’s. A short eastward jaunt from Koval Lane via E. Harmon Avenue will take you to the backs of Planet Hollywood, Paris and Bally’s.
The other helpful alternative is Paradise Road. Paradise also runs parallel to the Strip, starting at Tropicana Avenue (near McCarran International Airport) but a little further east than Koval. The upside of Paradise is that it runs all the way north to Sahara Avenue. It’ll bring you to Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate Resort and the rear entrance to SLS Las Vegas.
Paradise Road is also ideal if you’re headed to the Stratosphere or Downtown. Turning left (east) on Sahara Avenue will bring you to the north end of the Strip, where traffic is much lighter. Continuing north on Las Vegas Boulevard will take you Downtown, past several whimsical wedding chapels, neon-festooned motels from the ‘50s and ‘60s, and of course, a famous pawn shop.
Easier Access to Off-Strip Hotels
My favorite shortcut is the one I use most frequently, and whenever I’m staying at off-Strip properties on the west side of town. We’re talking The Orleans, Palms (and Palms Place), Rio and Gold Coast. It’s a nearly-direct shot from the McCarran Car Rental Center to any of those properties.
When you arrive at the rental center, all agents give you the same instructions: “Take three rights when exiting the facility to get to the Strip”. But if you ignore that third right at Las Vegas Boulevard and continue on Warm Springs Road, you’ll cross over the interstate and meet up with Dean Martin Drive. Make a right turn onto Dean Martin and you’ll be at any of those off-Strip properties in a jiffy.
This little-known route doesn’t pass by any major tourist attractions (that is, until the Raiders Stadium reaches completion), but Larry Flint’s Hustler Club and world-famous In ‘n’ Out are on the way. You’ll be able to fuel up fast, with clear roads ahead.