If it’s your first time staying on the Strip, a mix of buses, taxis, monorails and feet will get you to most places. However, if you are planning to venture off the strip to explore all Las Vegas has to offer, here are some driving tips to help you if you rented a car and you don’t know your way around.
The Las Vegas streets get very congested in the morning and evening rush hours (7–9am, 4–6pm), as well as weekends, when traffic is horrific in tourist areas after 4pm. The Strip is slow-going most of the time and turns into a parking lot when the town is busy.
The nearby parallel streets—Industrial Road and Frank Sinatra Drive to the west, Paradise Road to the east—move faster, and provide access to several casinos. For north–south journeys longer than a block or two, it’s often worth taking I-15, which runs parallel to the Strip. If you’re trying to get east–west across town, take the Desert Inn arterial, a mini-expressway that runs under the Strip and over I-15 (though there are no junctions at either). Because Las Vegas is constantly tearing itself down and rebuilding itself, there’s usually a great deal of road construction going on the I-15. You could always call ahead to check for road conditions, call 1-877 687 6237 or see www.nevadadot.com/traveler/roads.
Speed limits vary in Nevada. In general, the speed limit on freeways is 65mph; on the highway, it’s either 65mph or 70mph. Limits on main urban thoroughfares (such as Tropicana Avenue) are 45mph; elsewhere, limits are 25mph, 30mph or 35mph. Look for signs in construction zones and near schools, which often enforce a reduced limit.
Unless otherwise specified, you can turn right on a red light, after stopping, if the street is clear. U-turns are not only legal (unless specified) but often a positive necessity given the length of the blocks. In case of a car accident, call 911; do not move the cars involved in the accident until the police ask you to do so.
In Nevada, you can be arrested for driving under the influence if your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or higher (or 0.02 for under-21s). If you’re pulled over, the police can give you a drunk-driving test on the spot. If you refuse, you’ll be taken to jail for a blood test, which will be taken by force if necessary.
Here are some tips on which roads to avoid and take throughout the day:
North-south roads to know:
- Las Vegas Boulevard South — the Strip: Connects the Strip to Downtown Las Vegas. Avoid between Tropicana Avenue and Sands Avenue/Spring Mountain Road.
- I-15: Avoid between the I-15/I-215 interchange and Downtown.
- Swenson Street (Joe W. Brown Drive): Best north-south alternative on the east side of the Strip. Runs from the airport to East Sahara Avenue.
- Paradise Road: Tends to clog between the Las Vegas Convention Center and Twain Avenue. Good north–south alternative south of Twain. Leads directly to the airport.
- Koval Lane: Avoid between Twain and Tropicana from 3 p.m.–8:30 p.m.
- Dean Martin Drive/South Industrial Road: Best north–south alternative on the west side of the Strip.
- Frank Sinatra Drive: Parallels I-15 and the Strip and offers easy access to some hotels on the west side of the Strip.
- South Main Street: Low-traffic alternative for commuting Downtown from the Strip. Intersects Las Vegas Boulevard South at East St. Louis Avenue near the Stratosphere.
East-west roads to know:
- Sahara Avenue: Usually congested at the intersection with the Strip. Otherwise fine.
- Desert Inn Road: Tunnels under the Strip. Best road for commuting to the west side from the east side and vice versa.
- Sands Avenue (Spring Mountain Road): Crosses the Strip at one of the more efficient intersections.
- Harmon Avenue: Currently T-intersects the Strip and doglegs into CityCenter and then crosses over I-15 to the west side.
- Flamingo Road: Extreme congestion westbound at the intersection with the Strip. Avoid.
- Tropicana Avenue: Flows well except westbound at the intersection with the Strip.
- I-215 Westbound, avoid the I-15 North exit.