Las Vegas Airport Layover Sightseeing

las vegas layover sightseeing

McCarran International Airport (LAS) is situated right in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada, the bright and extravagant tourist spot known for spectacular shows, all-night gambling, endless partying, and wild adventure. Though the airport itself can give you a touch of Vegas charm, you may want to plan an extended layover to explore some of “Sin City” that is nearby. While The Strip provides the famous lights and sights of this desert city, it’s definitely not the only great place in Las Vegas. Look through this airport guide to see what to do on your Vegas layover and how to do it.

Airport Overview

McCarran International Airport will never let you forget that you are in Las Vegas, so even somebody stuck inside the airport on a short layover can enjoy. In case you’re feeling lucky, row after row of slot machines fill the hallways of the terminals. Huge screens grace the walls of the airport’s entrance showcasing all the incredible shows Vegas offers. If you want a more relaxing experience, McCarran does offer a few lounges, food stops, and wi-fi everywhere. For more information on the airport itself, check out our Las Vegas Airport guide.

Sightseeing Options

Here are a few essential sights if you have the time:

The Las Vegas Sign

If you want a quintessential taste of Las Vegas, there may be no better place to go than the world famous Las Vegas Sign. Located on the edge of The Strip, you can easily snap a few pictures (be prepared to wait in a short line), and take a walk down to see some of the hotels. Mandalay Bay, Tropicana, Luxor, and MGM are not too far away.

Time Required: Seeing the Las Vegas sign can easily be a quick thirty minute trip, or it can be stretched out into an eight-hour excursion depending on how much time you have and how many hotels you want to see.

How to Get There: The Las Vegas sign is only a few minutes away from the airport. Check out this Google Map for details on the public and private transport options available for reaching The Las Vegas Sign, and the associated time required.

The Linq’s High Roller

A great spot on The Strip that provides multiple activities is The Linq Hotel & Casino. One of the coolest experiences is taking a ride on the High Roller, the 550-foot-tall observation wheel that happens to be the tallest in the world. Step in one of the enclosed cabins and get a breathtaking view of the Las Vegas Strip. After your ride, enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants or try your hand at gambling in the casino.

Time Required: The Linq suggests planning for an hour when experiencing the High Roller, though the ride itself takes around thirty minutes. If you want to see the other things The Linq has to offer, add another two or three hours.

How to Get There: Check out this Google Map for details on the public and private transport options available for reaching The Linq Hotel & Casino, and the associated time required. Remember to consider high traffic if it is nighttime.

Fremont Street

Fremont Street is old school Vegas, where the lights sparkled in the early 1900s and still sparkle today. The Fremont Street Experience is a great place to see older hotels like the Golden Nugget or the recently renovated Plaza. Across Las Vegas Boulevard is Fremont East, a hip hangout filled with interesting bars, unique eateries, and Container Park, a shopping/dining/entertainment experience built entirely out of shipping containers.

Time Required: While you can see Fremont Street in an hour, it is definitely a great place to linger. You can easily spend five or six hours at this Vegas hub.

How to Get There: Fremont Street is easily accessed through public and private transportation. Check out this Google Map for details on the public and private transport options available for reaching Fremont Street, and the associated time required.

Red Rock Canyon

red rock canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful conservation area with stunning red and orange rock formations and great photo opportunities. Nearly 200,000 acres of land, Red Rock Canyon is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of The Strip. The 13-mile scenic loop is a lovely way to drive through Red Rock and see its majesty. This conservation area also offers hiking, camping, and horseback riding.

Time Required: Plan at least four or five hours. The 13-mile scenic loop can easily be stretched out into three or four hours. However, adding in activities like horseback riding could turn it into an all-day excursion.

How to Get There: Renting a car or limo would be ideal. Check out this Google Map for details on the public and private transport options available for reaching Red Rock Canyon, and the associated time required.

The Mob Museum

the mob museum

Las Vegas’s history with the mob is an interesting one, and it happens to be on display at The Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Mob Museum building was once a post office and courthouse that actually tried organized crime cases. Now it is an interactive display of true mob stories.

Time Required: Plan one to three hours to explore the museum, depending on how much you will want to linger at each exhibit.

How to Get There: The Mob Museum is easily accessed through public and private transportation. Check out this Google Map for details on the public and private transport options available for reaching The Mob Museum, and the associated time required.

Transportation

Public

Shuttle – The airport offers shuttle services that will take you to The Strip or Downtown Fremont Street. If you choose to take a shuttle, add extra time to each of your sightseeing excursions.

Bus – Vegas has a variety of buses that go to most of the popular tourist spots. Once you’re on The Strip, a bus may be the best way to go. Like a shuttle, plan for extra travel time to and from your destination.

Private

Taxis – Taxis can be your best bet to getting to your destination quickly. Though you will spend more money than you would when using public transportation, you will not be wasting time on other people’s stops.

Car Rental – The airport has plenty of rental companies on site. This would be another great option to decrease wasted time on your layover.

Limo – Using a limo service is a stylish and beloved way of travelling through Vegas, and it doesn’t always have to break the bank. Make your reservation ahead of time.

Before You Go: Layover Tips

Now that you are motivated and excited for your mini layover vacation, just make sure to check a few final logistical concerns off your list before you fully commit.

  • Do you need to organize a visa to leave the airport? Requirements change frequently and for each nationality, so be sure to seek out current details on the availability, cost and procedures of obtaining a transit visa.
  • When is your next flight’s check-in time? Make sure you double check with your airline exactly when you need to be at the airport – and plan your layover accordingly.
  • What are security wait times like at the airport? Some airports are notorious for long security wait-times, so be sure to do a bit of research in advance and factor that into your overall time-budget.
  • What’s happening with your luggage? When you check in to your first flight, be sure to confirm whether your luggage is checked through or needs to be picked up between your connecting flights.
2017 airport survey