So you’re visiting Las Vegas, but you’re on a budget and can’t afford a rental car. Is this going to be a problem? Heck no! One of the reasons I can get away with not renting a car when I visit Las Vegas is that most of what I want to see and do is in a compact, easily walkable area. If it’s not, I will take the occasional cab, or public bus. But I also try to take advantage of free hotel shuttles whenever I can. There are several in Las Vegas.
The most obvious benefits of using these free shuttles are: To save money on transportation and possibly hotel costs (if you stay at one of these off-Strip hotels), and so that you can feel free to drink as you please because you don’t need to drive anywhere afterwards. There are drawbacks as well: If you plan to use the shuttles exclusively, you’re on their timetable, not yours. Some of these shuttles run infrequently, and many fill up fast, so you might have to wait even longer for another shuttle. How patient are you?
Notes on the free shuttles
- Though the ride is free, it is customary to tip the driver; $1 per person is sufficient.
- The free shuttles don’t generally allow luggage on board (except the ones going to and from the airport), so don’t think this is a way you can save money on cab fare when you transfer hotels.
- Please try to behave like a human being and not an animal on the bus. I know I shouldn’t have to say that, but I’ve been on some shuttles with people who were so drunk they had thrown all manners out the window.
- Because they’re free, these shuttles often fill up fast. So even though they are advertised as arriving every half hour, you might have to wait for a 2nd bus to arrive because the 1st one fills up before you can get on. And yes, that is a drag.
- Use of the shuttles is on a first come, first served basis. Do not push to the front of the line in front of people who have been waiting longer than you just because you don’t want to wait for the 2nd shuttle. Nobody likes a line-cutter.
- These shuttles are primarily for the guests of the hotels they serve. That said, I’ve often used the Harrahs to Rio shuttle and the Bill’s to Orleans shuttle without staying at either property. Nobody checked room keys. I don’t think they mind if you’re visiting their property, since you’ll probably be spending money there.
Here is a sampling of free shuttles I’m aware of in Las Vegas. There are probably more that I’m not aware of.
Bill’s, the Orleans, and the Gold Coast
There is a free shuttle that runs between Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, the Orleans, and the Gold Coast. Coast Casinos hotel guests receive priority seating on these shuttles, but I’ve taken them often with no problems. (Note that Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall is not a Coast Casino, it is owned by Caesars Entertainment.) The shuttle runs daily from 9:00 am – 12:30am, every 30-45 minutes. I’ve mostly used it to get from the Strip to the Orleans in order to eat at the Orleans’ buffet and see movies in their theater. If you were to take the shuttle to the Gold Coast, you’d be within walking distance of the Rio and Palms hotels as well. At Bill’s, the shuttle picks up along the side of the building facing Bally’s across the street.
Palace offers shuttle service to and from the Strip for their hotel guests and Boarding Pass members only. (Boarding Pass is the Station Casinos’ players club card, which includes Palace, Texas, Boulder, Aliante and Santa Fe Stations, Red Rock Resort, Green Valley Ranch, and others.) It runs every hour and a half from 10am to 11pm and picks up and drops off at the Fashion Show Mall. The hotel also offers free shuttle service to and from the airport from 6am to midnight.
Rio has a free shuttle between Harrah’s and Bally’s on the Strip that runs every half hour from 10:00am to 1:00am. Stop locations are the Harrahs shuttle bus stop, Rio’s Carnival World Buffet entrance, and the Ballys/Paris limousine entrance. I’ve taken this shuttle regularly to get from the Strip to the Rio to go to the Voodoo Lounge, see the Show in the Sky, and just have dinner.
Sam’s Town has the most extensive shuttle system I know of (probably because it is so far off-Strip). One shuttle runs to and from the California, Fremont and Main Street Station hotels in the Downtown area. Another runs to and from Harrahs on the Strip. Sam’s Town also offers free airport shuttle service–but it only runs 2 times per day each way, so you’d have to time your flights just right. Shuttle service to the Strip runs fairly infrequently, so again, plan your time carefully.
They have a free shuttle to and from both the airport and the Strip for hotel guests only. The Strip shuttle drops off and picks up at the Fashion Show Mall (north of Treasure Island). It runs 4 times a day (each way) to and from the Strip; every hour on the hour from 6am to 9pm to the airport, and every hour on the half hour from 6:30am to 9:30pm from the airport to the M.
Green Valley Ranch
For hotel guests only. A shuttle runs to and from the airport every few hours from 7am to 9:30pm, so you would need to time your flights carefully. Transportation to and from the Strip picks up and drops off at Mandalay Bay, but only runs 4 times per day. Not the most convenient schedule ever, but what can you say? It’s free.
Red Rock Resort
(Thanks to Nathan for the heads up on this one.) This resort offers shuttle service to and from the airport and the Strip (dropping off at the Fashion Show Mall). Obviously, it’s intended for hotel guests, but, since the site also says hotel guests “will be given the highest priority in boarding”, my guess is they expect non-guests will sometimes use it. It takes 20-30 minutes to shuttle between the Strip and the resort, and 30-40 minutes to get to and from the airport.
(Thanks to jackincols for the heads up on this one!) The Silverton is located near the Strip and McCarran and offers a free shuttle to and from the airport as well as one to and from Caesars Forum Shops. These shuttles are for hotel guests only. See their website for the shuttle schedules. The big draws at the Silverton are that it’s home to the Bass Pro Shops and it has a 117,000 gallon aquarium with over 4,000 tropical fish and mermaid shows.
South Point offers a free airport shuttle with multiple departures daily. It also has a Strip shuttle for hotel guests, but that one is not free. It costs $8 round trip. You can buy a ticket from the driver. Drop-off points on the Strip are at Treasure Island, CityCenter/Aria, and Excalibur.
Are you aware of other free shuttles not listed here? Please share in the comments below!