The Las Vegas Strip (also known as The Strip) is an approximately 4 mile (6.4 km) section of Las Vegas Boulevard South in Paradise and Winchester, Nevada, south of the Las Vegas city limits. Most of “The Strip” has been designated an All-American Road. Many of the largest hotel, casino and resort properties in the world are located on The Strip. Eighteen of the world’s twenty five largest hotels by room count are on the Strip, with a total of over 67,000 rooms. Over the years, Las Vegas Boulevard South has been called Arrowhead Highway, “Salt Lake Highway”, U.S. Route 91, and Los Angeles Highway.
The Strip was reportedly named by Los Angeles police officer Guy McAfee, after his hometown’s Sunset Strip. One of the most visible aspects of Las Vegas’ cityscape is its use of dramatic themes. The theming of hotels, casinos, and restaurants on the Strip has established the city as one of the most popular destinations for tourists.
In the strictest sense, “the Strip” refers only to Las Vegas Boulevard, roughly between Sahara Avenue and Russell Road, a distance of 4.1 miles (6.6 km). However, the term is often used to refer not only to the road but also to the various casinos and resorts that line the road, and even to properties which are not on the road but in close proximity. Certain government agencies, such as the Nevada Gaming Commission, classify properties as “Las Vegas Strip” for reporting purposes, although these definitions can include properties which are 1 mile (1.6 km) or more away from Las Vegas Boulevard, such as the Hard Rock Hotel Casino. Phrases such as Strip Area, Resort Corridor or Resort District are sometimes used to indicate a larger geographical area. The Stratosphere, situated 0.25 miles (0.40 km) north of Sahara, is often included in the Resort Corridor. At one time, the southern end of the Corridor was considered to end at Tropicana Avenue, but continuing construction has extended this, first to Russell Road, then to Sunset Road and now all the way to I-215. Mandalay Bay is located just north of Russell Road, with the Bali Hai Golf Club located just south of Russell Road. Town Square, a substantial new shopping development, is situated in the last remaining space north of I-215. Because of the number and size of the resorts, the Resort Corridor can be quite wide. Interstate 15 runs roughly parallel and 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 km) to the west of Las Vegas Boulevard for the entire length of the Strip. Paradise Road runs to the east in a similar fashion, and ends at East St. Louis Avenue. The eastern side of the Strip is bounded by McCarran Airport south of Tropicana Avenue. North of this point, the Resort Corridor can be considered to extend as far east as Paradise Road, although some consider Koval Lane as a less inclusive boundary. Interstate 15 is sometimes considered the western edge of the Resort Corridor from Interstate 215 to Spring Mountain Road. North of this point, Industrial Road serves as the western edge. Some resorts such as The Rio and the The Palms are actually west of Interstate 15, so a more inclusive definition might extend west to Valley View Boulevard or Arville Street.
The famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is located in the median just south of Russell Road; another similar sign is in the median at the north end of the Strip near the intersection of east St. Louis and south Main Streets. The first casino to be built on Highway 91 was the Pair-o-Dice Club in 1931; the first on what is today’s Strip was the El Rancho Vegas, opening on April 3, 1941 with 63 rooms and standing for almost 20 years before being destroyed by fire in 1960. Its success spawned a second hotel on what would become The Strip, the Hotel Last Frontier, in 1942.
The Flamingo opened a few years later, on December 26, 1946. In 1968, Kirk Kerkorian purchased the Flamingo and hired Sahara Hotels Vice President Alex Shoofey as President. Alex Shoofey brought along 33 of Sahara’s top executives. The Flamingo was used to train future employees of the International Hotel, which was under construction. Opening in 1969, the International Hotel, with 1,512 rooms, became the largest hotel in the world, and began the era of mega-resorts. The International is known as the Las Vegas Hilton today.
The first MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, also a Kerkorian property, opened in 1973 with 2,084 rooms. At the time, this was the largest hotel in the world by number of rooms. On November 21, 1980, the MGM Grand suffered the worst resort fire in the history of Las Vegas, killing 87 people as a result of electrical problems. It reopened eight months later. In 1986, Kerkorian sold the MGM Grand to Bally Manufacturing, and it was renamed Bally’s.
The Wet ‘n Wild water park opened in 1985 and was located on the south side of the Sahara hotel. The park closed at the end of the 2004 season and was later demolished. The opening of The Mirage in 1989 set a new level to the Las Vegas experience, as smaller hotels and casinos made way for the larger mega-resorts. These huge facilities offer entertainment and dining options, as well as gambling and lodging. This change impacted the smaller, well-known and now historic hotels and casinos, like The Dunes, The Sands and the Stardust. In 1995, following the death of Dean Martin, the lights along the strip were dimmed in a sign of respect to him. In 2005, Clark County renamed a section of Industrial Road (south of Twain Avenue) as Dean Martin Drive, also as a tribute to the famous Rat Pack singer, actor, and frequent Las Vegas entertainer. In an effort to attract families, resorts offered more attractions geared toward youth, but had limited success.
The (current) MGM Grand opened in 1993 with Grand Adventures amusement park, but the park closed in 2000 due to lack of interest. Similarly, in 2003 Treasure Island closed its own video arcade and abandoned the previous pirate theme, adopting the new ti name. Downtown Las Vegas hotels and casinos suffered heavily from the Strip’s boom. They have funneled money into remodeling the facades of casinos, adding additional security and new attractions, like the Fremont Street Experience and Neonopolis (complete with movie theaters).
In addition to the large hotels, casinos and resorts, The Strip is home to a few smaller casinos, motels and other attractions, such as M&M World, Adventuredome and the Fashion Show Mall. Starting in the mid-1990s, The Strip became a popular New Year’s Eve celebration destination. In 2004, MGM Mirage announced plans for Project CityCenter, a 66-acre (600,000 m²), $7 billion multi-use project on the site of the Boardwalk hotel and adjoining land. It will consist of hotel, casino, condo, retail and other uses on the site. When completed, City Center will be the largest such complex in the world. Construction began in April 2006, and the first elements of this project are expected to be available in 2009.
In 2006, the Las Vegas Strip lost its longtime status as the world’s highest-grossing gambling center, falling to second place behind Macau. While not on The Strip itself, the Las Vegas Monorail runs on the east side of The Strip from Tropicana Avenue to Sahara Road. CAT Bus provides service on the strip with double decker buses known as The Deuce. The Deuce stops at most major resorts and continues north to downtown and the Fremont Street Experience. A current list of fares is available.
A tourist trolley service travels up and down The Strip and stops at various, but not all, Strip hotels, along with a stop at the Fashion Show Mall. The fare is $2.00 for a one way ride, regardless how far you travel down the strip. Alternatively, a 24-hour pass is $5, and exact change is required. Trolleys are scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes. Two small, free cable-pulled trams operate on the Strip. One runs between Treasure Island and The Mirage, while the other provides service to Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur.
Taxis can only stop at hotel entrances or designated spots, so when planning to get somewhere ask which is the closest hotel.
Before CAT Bus came on in 1992, mass transit on the Strip was provided by a private transit company, Las Vegas Transit. The Strip route was their only profitable route and supported the whole bus system. Some of the shuttles have a policy requiring a room key from an affiliated casino. Enforcement of these policies may vary.
Between Harrah’s Las Vegas and the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. Approximately every 30 minutes.
Between Sam’s Town and Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall and Saloon, Harrah’s Las Vegas, Riviera Hotel, and Tropicana Resort & Casino. Approximately every hour and a half.
Between Caesars Palace and the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. Approximately every 30 minutes.
Between Paris/Bally’s and the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino. Approximately every 30 minutes.
Between Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas) and the MGM Grand and the Harley-Davidson Cafe (next to Planet Hollywood). Leaves the Hard Rock on the hour.
Between Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Fashion Show Mall and the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Leaves the Hard Rock on the hour.
Between Wynn Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention Center Monorail Stop.
Several Strip hotels have undertaken efforts to make the street more pedestrian-friendly. New casinos design their façades to attract walk-up customers, and many of these entrances have become attractions themselves – the Fountains at Bellagio, the volcano at The Mirage, and the Treasure Island (TI) Sirens of TI are the most well-known. People gather on the sidewalks in front of the casinos to watch these shows. To alleviate traffic issues at popular intersections, several footbridges have been installed to help pedestrians safely traverse the roads.
The Tropicana – Las Vegas Boulevard footbridges were the first to be installed, and based on the success of this project additional footbridges have been built on Las Vegas Boulevard at the Flamingo Road intersection; between The Mirage/Treasure Island and The Venetian; and the latest ones at the Las Vegas Boulevard-Spring Mountain and Sands Avenue intersection connecting the Wynn with the Fashion Show Mall.
In recent years, all but one of the on-Strip golf courses (the Desert Inn Golf Course) have fallen prey to the mega-resorts’ need for land and have closed. Developer Steve Wynn, founder of previously owned Mirage Resorts, purchased the Desert Inn and golf course for his new company Wynn Resorts. In 2005, he opened Wynn Las Vegas, complete with remodeled golf course providing tee times to hotel guests only. In 2000, Bali Hai Golf Club opened just south of Mandalay Bay and the Strip. Catering to a high-end golf enthusiast, the Bali Hai Golf Course can easily be seen by drivers on Interstate 15.