Nevada : Safety by City
- Battle Mountain
- Blue Diamond
- Boulder City
- Burning Man in Black Rock City
- Carson City
- Incline Village
- Las Vegas
- Moapa Valley
- Mount Charleston
- North Las Vegas
- Virginia City
- West Wendover
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas! Las Vegas, Nevada, is the ” Entertainment Capital of the World.”
The neon skyline beckons tourists worldwide, but if you don’t look at the bigger picture, you’ll miss some amazing outdoor adventures.
Las Vegas is an unlikely city to be so successful.
It’s at the corner of three deserts, oppressively hot in the summer, and always in a fight to get its fair share of water.
However, Mormon settlers found an oasis in this region, near what is now downtown.
They called it “The Meadows,” which is “Las Vegas” in Spanish.
To make Las Vegas even more intriguing, you might be surprised to find out that Las Vegas, as you think of it, isn’t even really IN Las Vegas.
The area known as “The Strip” is technically called Paradise.
It’s governed by the Clark County Commission.
The city of Las Vegas oversees Downtown Las Vegas, which is on the far north end of Las Vegas Boulevard.
To be clear, the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas are two separate places.
There’s one police department for the bulk of the region called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
They are referred to as “Metro.”
Neighboring cities that fill out the metro area are Henderson and North Las Vegas.
Each of those cities has its own police force.
I lived in Las Vegas for a decade, so I’m going to take you on the Strip, but more importantly, off the Strip.
This is so you can see all that Las Vegas has to offer, not just neon corridors.
Warnings & Dangers in Las Vegas
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in PARTS of Las Vegas. The crime rates from raw data are very high. Violent crime is three times the national average, and theft is 66% higher. As with any city, there are pockets of crime, and then you've got the inherent crime risks of a busy tourist area.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) provides public transportation for the city. The Las Vegas Monorail runs along the east side of the Strip, taking you to major hotels and convention locations. Taxis and rideshares are everywhere, plus rental cars are easy to find. Not too many tourists opt for the RTC. There's low risk with the monorail or paid rides. Even driving is safe, as long as you know some tricks to get around.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
I was surprised to see the 2021 crime data only showed 374 pickpockets. I would think that number would be much higher. You should treat this as a medium risk. There are a lot of distractions as you walk around the Strip and the resorts. It's easy to get immersed in different sights and sounds.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Extreme heat is one of the biggest risks for tourists from May through October. Temperatures can easily get into the triple digits, even at night. It's a "dry heat," you'll hear people say. The way I explained it to people is that in humidity, you feel like you are melting. In a "dry heat," you feel like you are baking in an oven. Flash flooding happens often during summer monsoons but can quickly disperse. Wildfires are another big concern.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The robbery rate here is almost three times the national average, but those are mainly in certain areas we'll talk about in a little bit. You should never fight back against a robber here. There's a good chance a security camera is nearby, catching the crook in action. Comply with demands so you can be a good witness.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, and Homeland Security officials are vigilant and relentless in keeping the city from being a terror target. An act of domestic terrorism in 2017 made global headlines when a madman opened fire from the 34th floor of Mandalay Bay into a large concert crowd below. 60 people died, and more than 400 were hurt.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Around every corner in Las Vegas, there is someone waiting to get money from you. It might be someone dressed as Superman asking for a tip, or it could be an escort service rep trying to hand you a card with a mostly naked woman on it. You'll have people beg you for money on the street or corner you in the casino, saying they ran out of gas. Peddlers will try to get your attention in some of the most annoying ways. The best advice I can give is to say "I'm a local" to anyone who approaches you. This is a sign that you aren't a "gullible tourist," that you live in Las Vegas and want to be left alone.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Las Vegas' sexual assault rate is almost four times the national average. It's a party town where people come to let loose and have fun. Within those crowds, there will be criminals trying to drug drinks or encouraging you to try illicit drugs. Always order your own drinks and watch them being opened or poured. If you drink too much, ask for a security guard to help get you back to your hotel safely.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows no violations and full compliance, which is a blessing since the city is perpetually dealing with water issues due to the drought. You might have to work around water restrictions, but it shouldn't impact the quality of the water you drink.
Safest Places to Visit in Las Vegas
There are hundreds of Las Vegas travel websites, but the only one commissioned by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is VisitLasVegas.com.
Of course, you’ll want to visit the Strip and see the many attractions.
It’s overwhelming, especially for a first-time visitor.
In the decade I lived there, I still didn’t see everything.
You can start with the free attractions, like the Bellagio Fountains, Bellagio Conservatory, Mirage Aquarium, or the Volcano at The Mirage.
Even walking through the many shopping malls here is an adventure because the covered ceilings are made to replicate a real sky.
Inside the Miracle Mile Shops, “thunderstorms” move through, and it rains over the fountains inside.
Downtown Las Vegas is the “older” section of town and has a more retro feel.
There are parts of it that might even seem seedy, but revitalization efforts over the past 20 or so years have really made it a great place to visit and much safer than it used to be.
Make sure to go into the Golden Nugget downtown and see the shark tank swimming pool.
There’s a water slide through the shark tank.
Downtown also has the Fremont Street Canopy with nightly light shows.
You’ll be looking straight up, so keep a hand on your wallet or purse while watching.
There’s also a zipline you can ride over Fremont Street.
Live music usually plays on several stages as you walk through this area.
It’s not a great place to have a quiet conversation at all.
The Fremont East District is full of bars and restaurants too.
Town Square Las Vegas is an open-air shopping center just south of the Strip.
This was one of my favorite places to spend time when I lived there.
The restaurants range from food trucks to fine dining.
There are so many stores it’s hard to keep track of them all, and you will love the Las Vegas night air.
Green Valley Ranch is another shopping and dining destination connected to Green Valley Resort.
When I visit Las Vegas, this is where I stay.
It has great views of the Strip, a wonderful spa, great restaurants, and shopping nearby, but none of the massive crowds you find on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Summerlin is on the west side of Las Vegas, and it’s a more upscale area.
A little farther west is what I consider to be the most “MUST SEE” off-Strip attraction – Red Rock Canyon.
There’s a 22-mile look around one of the most stunning rock formations in the desert.
With more than a dozen places to park and hike, you can climb a mountain or go deep into Icebox Canyon to cool off.
Station Casinos is known as a “locals” place, and there are several resort destinations around town.
Of course, tourists are welcome, but the resorts are strategically placed in suburban communities.
Green Valley Ranch is one of those.
Places to Avoid in Las Vegas
The average tourist might not even see the tough parts of town if they are staying on the Strip.
For hotel reservations, I’d recommend not staying on the Strip north of Desert Inn Road (D-I as they call it).
You are getting into a more dangerous part of the city and the older casinos and hotels.
TLas Vegas Boulevard between D.I. and Charleston can be a bit rough, but stick on the main road, and you’ll be just fine.
From there, you’ll run into downtown Las Vegas.
North Las Vegas, the city, is a more dangerous part of town.
You’ll really have no reason to go there.
The east side of the city can be rough, too, as it’s a poorer community.
It’s also very diverse.
I once talked to a classroom there about how local news works, and the teacher explained to me how to talk to the children and said, “Some of these kids haven’t been to the strip or outside of this neighborhood.”
It’s just a different world on that side of town.
On one of the routes to Lake Mead, Metro has issued a warning to tourists and locals.
Just outside of the city limits off Lake Mead Boulevard, there’s a section of roadway where you can pull off to see the skyline.
It’s near Lake Mead Boulevard and Arnona Road.
In a statement, Metro warned, “‘We have had reports of illegal shootings, robberies, and other crimes.
The area behind the Great Unconformity, a geologic feature just off Lake Mead Boulevard, has a full view of the Las Vegas Strip.”
If you want to see a great view of the Strip, head to the south side of the area off of Horizon Ridge.
Great views in a safe community, and it’s the best place to see fireworks.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Las Vegas
- Nothing on the Las Vegas Strip is as close as it appears. Even resorts that are right next to each other can take 30 minutes to walk between. Hop a tram or moving sidewalk whenever you can. Skip “cute” shoes and wear tennis shoes that are comfortable enough to walk miles in.
- If you use a taxi or rideshare to get from the airport to your hotel, be sure to tell the driver you want the fastest route to the hotel. “Long hauling” has long been a problem, but with the ability to give reviews and file complaints now, it’s not as common as it used to be.
- Drink water and then drink more and when you’re full, drink more. You can quickly get very dehydrated here. People make fun of me now for how much water I drink in a day, but I developed a great habit while living in the desert. You don’t realize you’re sweating here because it evaporates right away. Before you know it, you’re dehydrated and at risk of passing out. Be sure to drink electrolytes too.
- Las Vegas resorts and casinos LOVE people who are there to celebrate a special day. If you are there for an anniversary, birthday, pet’s birthday, or favorite day of the year (ok, maybe a bit extreme), let every official person you meet know about it. You might get free tickets, comped meals, or free entry into slot tournaments.
- Set a gambling limit and stick with it. Repeat after me, “These multi-billion dollar resorts were built off the back of gambling losses.” Casinos have so many ways to get your money. If you hit an ATM limit, you can use a credit card to get cash at a very hefty fee. If you’re a big gambler, they might extend you a line of credit. There are payday loan companies everywhere trying to charge up to 1500% interest. Some people don’t even realize they have a problem until they visit a gambling place like this. You can sign up at each casino to not be paid if you win to help deter you from playing.
- When you go into the wilderness areas, be on the lookout for snakes and scorpions. It’s a real, raw, dangerous desert. At Red Rock Canyon, the deeper you go into the mountains, the less likely you’ll have phone service. Make sure you always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back so they can call for help if you don’t return.
- Drivers, Interstate 15 (aka “The 15”) is like a racetrack. Going 90 to 100 mph is quite common. Driving the speed limit will get you honked at and flipped off. Stay to the right if you drive slowly and keep your eyes on the road. Drivers are very aggressive here.
- For men, it feels really special when a woman gives you a lot of attention here. You’ll think you have hit the romance jackpot. There’s a really good chance that the woman is a prostitute, especially if she’s stunning, dressed in fancy clothing, and knows you have a lot of money.
- Summer brings monsoons, which are rapidly-developing thunderstorms that drop an immense amount of rain. This can lead to flash flooding on major streets and impassible roads. I promise, if you wait about two hours, those roads will be clear again, and by nighttime, you won’t even know it rained. Never cross a flooded roadway in a car or on foot.
- The Strip is designed to make it very hard to cross in the middle of the street, but people still jump the barriers and run through traffic. If you do this, there’s a good chance any driver who hits you won’t face so much as a driving violation. Use the crosswalks. Use the pedestrian walkways over the roads. Too many people get hit by cars here because of careless pedestrians.
So... How Safe Is Las Vegas Really?
Las Vegas lives up to its seedy nickname “Sin City,” and it’s putting tourists at risk.
One of the benefits of having a large tourist area is that law enforcement cracks down and heightens alerts because losing tourists means losing much-needed tax dollars.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said this about the 2021 crime rates, “We had a single-digit increase in crime in totality across the board, and we need to be very proud of that because what we’re doing and all the history and how we’re addressing and keeping everything at the forefront and priority and what we need to do as a law enforcement agency bared fruit.”
New safety steps have been implemented, like the courts being able to ban criminals from going to the Strip as part of their sentence.
Curfews have been implemented downtown in the evening for people under 21 without adult supervision.
Metal detectors are much more common.
The 2021 data shows that 45% of violent crimes happened against strangers.
36% of thefts were car break-ins.
Park yourself and your car in well-lit areas and in sight of a security camera.
Stay on the Strip when walking.
Don’t try to take the backroads or alleys.
If you go to the Stratosphere, avoid walking in the area behind it.
There’s a seedy underbelly of crime, drugs, prostitution, and gangs in Las Vegas.
Sometimes you can’t see it beneath all the neon and glitter.
Normally I’d say, “Don’t go looking for trouble, and you won’t find it,” but Las Vegas presents troublesome options at every corner.
Here I’d say, “Avoid the trouble that you see and when in doubt – run the other way.”
You can have a completely family-friendly, safe trip here.
You just can’t give in to any of your vices or tout, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”
How Does Las Vegas Compare?
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- Visas - You'll need a Visa to get through Customs at the airport. The U.S. State Department issues Visas or Visa Waivers, but there's a lot to know about the regimented process. Start researching about six months ahead, and apply about four months out.
- Currency - The good old U.S. Dollar is the only cash that is spent here. You will need to have cash for the slot machines, but everything else can be charged on a credit card. If you win money here, they will hand pay you in front of a whole casino of people. Be sure to take that money immediately to your hotel room safely. You can also go to the cashier and ask for a host to help you store the money safely behind the cage.
- Weather - Winters can get cold, but it's more shocking that it could be in the 70s during the day and drop below freezing at night. You'll need plenty of layers. Spring starts to warm up, and it quickly gets into the 90s and 100s. The 110s are not uncommon in July and August. Some restaurants here have dress codes, so bring fancy outfits. During the day, please don't forget the sunscreen. The intense rays here are no joke.
- Airports - The airport is at the south end of the Strip. It was called McCarran International Airport for many years but is now Harry Reid International Airport. It still has the LAS airport code.
- Travel Insurance - You should get travel insurance to protect your flight booking because flights to Las Vegas are often overbooked, and you could get bounced from your flight. Make sure you have rental car insurance and protection against fender benders or accidents. That might come from your current auto insurance or you might need to purchase additional options.
Las Vegas Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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