Excerpt: Ready to get away and plan a trip to Sin City? Las Vegas can be busy year-round, but these are the things to consider when choosing the best time to visit Las Vegas for your next vacation.
There’s no shortage of fun or things to do in Las Vegas, but the time of year you choose to visit can make or break your experience. Busy times bring crowds, but slow times come with the unfortunate tradeoff of some things being closed for the season. When and how should you plan your trip? We’ve got you covered.
Avoiding Crowds in Vegas
Las Vegas is one of those destinations that seems to be turned on and turned up almost any time of year. If you’re looking for an off-season to visit Las Vegas, you’re not going to find one. Sin City never closes, and there’s always something happening year round. Still, if you plan your trip right, you can manage to avoid the worst of the crowds.
A couple of times of year, tourism and traffic slow down enough that you can enjoy the city without being elbow to elbow with others, even at the most popular destinations. September is a good time for this, as the summer season tourism winds down, but holiday, convention, and event traffic hasn’t quite amped up yet. January (after New Year’s) and into February are also typically more low-key for Sin City.
But avoiding crowds is about more than just the time of the year you choose to visit Las Vegas. It’s also about knowing how to avoid the crowds when you’re there so that you can enjoy your favorite activities and events without crowds or hassle.
Tickets to Shows
Part of the Las Vegas experience is attending at least one show while you’re there. Not only is Las Vegas home to world-famous productions like Cirque du Soleil, the Blue Man Group, and Criss Angel Mindfreak, it’s also where you’ll find an endless list of resident acts and hot entertainment acts and performers that visit Vegas as part of their world tours.
The type of show you want to see determines the best time to visit Las Vegas. If you’re looking to snag tickets to an exclusive, one-off performance, then you have to plan your visit around that event specifically. Just make sure to purchase your tickets and reserve accommodations ASAP because Las Vegas fills up fast for the big shows.
If you’re more interested in including at least one resident show in your Vegas itinerary, the timing of your trip is everything. During the busy season, these shows fill up fast, and if you wait until the last minute to grab your tickets, you could end up paying more than you have to. The slower seasons, including early fall and right after the winter holiday season, are great times to take in a show.
Most shows in Las Vegas have one to three showtimes for each day of the performance. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, check with the individual location or hotel for advice on which showtimes sell out first. Also, if you’re planning on spending any time at the casino, ask if, and under what circumstances, you can get tickets to a show comped. You might have better luck with this during slower casino times when hotels are eager to get people to their tables.
Reservations at Restaurants in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a food lover’s paradise, with just about every type of cuisine and a long list of bucket-list-worthy restaurants. A big mistake that Vegas first-timers make is thinking they can make reservations for some of the most popular restaurants once they actually land in the city. Some of the most sought-after dining experiences book out a month or more in advance, especially during peak seasons or when something is going on at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Many of the most difficult restaurants to get into are located in the hotels along the Las Vegas Strip. Any time of year or event that brings more traffic to the Strip will make these restaurants even more difficult to snag a reservation to. If exploring the food scene is your priority, step one to determine the best time to visit Las Vegas is doing a little research on when top shows or popular conventions are coming to town.
Early fall is a good time for reservations, and if you don’t mind the heat, late July to early August can be a little slower because of the sweltering temperatures. If you’re thinking of a spring break getaway, your main concern would be convention traffic since many of the spring break tourists are more into the partying and action scenes rather than fine dining.
If you’re planning a mid-week trip to Las Vegas, check the individual restaurants for days of operations. Many fine dining restaurants are open for evening or weekend service only, regardless of the time of year. On average, you want to make your restaurant reservations at least a week ahead of time. For the most popular restaurants, like Mizumi at the Wynn, Carbone at Aria, and Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, you’ll want to make reservations as early as possible.
Weather and Temperatures by Month
It’s rare to see a picture of Las Vegas that isn’t sunny with clear skies. This is because the city is blessed with mostly beautiful weather year-round. The climate in Las Vegas is subtropical desert, meaning there’s little rain, clear skies, and that days can be quite warm while things cool off significantly at night. Still, for many, weather plays a significant role in planning their trip to Sin City.
There are plenty of opinions about what time of year is the best time to visit Las Vegas. Some absolutely love the heat of the summer months, but for others, waiting until the weather in Las Vegas is a little less extreme usually makes for a more comfortable trip.
Generally speaking, the time of year that the average person finds the most hospitable is spring and fall, when the temperatures are more on the moderate side.
During March and April, the average high temperature ranges between the low-70s to the low-80s. By the time May rolls around, the temperature is already starting to hike up toward an average daily high of 90-degrees.
The summer weather in Las Vegas is nothing short of sweltering. During June, July, and August, the average high temperature during the day exceeds 100-degrees, with temps at night in the low to mid-60s. If you’re the type to seek out air conditioning or a shady cabana at the pool and then take to the scene at night, you might find some great deals on accommodations and entertainment as many others are saying “no thank-you” to the Vegas summer heat.
Still, even with the heat, summer is a popular time for Las Vegas tourism. Kids being out of school means families can plan vacations as a group, or parents can sneak off and enjoy a little adults-only time away without worrying about who will get the kids back and forth to school. Plus, summer is just a popular vacationing time in general, no matter what the weather is doing.
By the time September rolls around, things are starting to cool off moderately, leading into October and November, where the weather is much more accommodating for daytime exploration and sightseeing. The average high temperature during the fall ranges from 70-83-degrees during the day.
Las Vegas doesn’t get a ton of rain. On average, the city sees about 21 rainy days each year and accumulates just over 4-inches of rainfall. The chances are good that you won’t have to pack your umbrella for Las Vegas unless you’re visiting during the winter months when the chance of cloudy skies rises marginally.
December, January, and February bring cooler weather to Las Vegas, with temperatures averaging around 60-degrees during the day and in the upper 20s at night. You’ll definitely want to bring something a little warmer to wear if you’re planning on walking around at night during the winter months. Because of the weather, some events and outdoor amenities that hotels offer might be closed.
Holidays and Events
Holidays are a time of the year when we all love to relax a little and maybe sneak away to visit someplace like Las Vegas. Whether or not Sin City is busy during your visit depends on which holiday you’re planning your trip around.
The busiest holidays in Las Vegas are New Year’s Eve, the 4th of July, and Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends. If you love being around crowds and all the fun that can come with them, these are great times to visit. Keep in mind that the extra traffic means some things will be more difficult, if not impossible, to do, and prices will typically be higher.
The end of October, when Halloween ghosts and goblins come out to play, is also an interesting time of year to visit Las Vegas. The city is fairly busy, and many bars and clubs have costume contests that draw large crowds. If you don’t mind the extra traffic, you’re practically guaranteed to see some spectacular and creative costumes.
Thanksgiving weekend in November has traditionally been a slow time in Las Vegas, but recently the trend has begun to change, with more people choosing to get away for the long weekend rather than gathering around the family table. Still, it’s not a terribly busy weekend, and you might be able to find some holiday deals and packages from the hotels.
Conventions and Events
If you’re looking for convention central in the United States, it’s Vegas. Las Vegas is where you will find some of the largest and most attended conventions, along with other popular events. A major convention or event can fill up hotels on and off the Strip and create enough traffic that it becomes more difficult to navigate the city or do your favorite things.
Conventions and events happen year-round, but some times are busier than others. Here’s a quick rundown of when Las Vegas fills up for special events:
- CES – Consumer Electronics Show: Typically held in early January, CES is one of the largest annual conventions to hit Las Vegas. This convention has been known to bring in more than 100K visitors, so it’s definitely not the best time to visit if you’re looking for fewer crowds or to not stress about finding a room.
- SEMA – Specialty Equipment Market Association: Nearly as large as CES, SEMA draws in more than 100k attendees from the automotive, truck, SUV, and RV-related industries. This annual convention is typically held in November, which is otherwise a quieter season for Las Vegas.
- ConExpo/Con-Agg: This construction industry convention is another that brings in more than 100k attendees. Typically held in the spring, the next ConExpo is scheduled for March of 2023.
- NAB – National Association of Broadcasters: This convention comes in fourth for the number of attendees and is typically held in the spring season, usually in April at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
- AVN – Adult Entertainment Expo: Of course, Las Vegas will be the location of the largest adult entertainment expo. This event is typically held in late January and can draw tens of thousands of convention-goers to the city.
- Super Bowl Weekend – Las Vegas is an epicenter of sports betting action. Almost all hotels with a casino also have a sportsbook that draws in crowds for major sporting events, like the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl makes early February a busy time, especially if you want to hang out at the casino or sports bars.
- March Madness – Another sporting event that draws huge numbers to Las Vegas is the March Madness Tournament. Expect things to be a bit busier than normal, especially at bars and nightclubs that host March Madness events and at the LINQ promenade, where you can catch the games on larger-than-life screens.
- World Series of Poker – The annual World Series of Poker is held every year in Las Vegas. Typically, this event is held in the fall from September – November. It does bring a bit of a crowd, but as a trade-off, you can watch the action for free.
In addition to these annual events, Las Vegas is home to an endless stream of music concerts, conventions, and festival madness throughout the year. A good rule of thumb is to check out what events are happening during the week and weekend when planning your trip.
Cheapest Time to Visit Vegas
Finding a great hotel rate is all about timing. Generally, hotel rates are cheaper in the hot months of July and August when temperatures are skyrocketing. Despite the heat, there is decent summer traffic, but hotels will often lower their prices to even draw more people in.
You can also find good rates during the winter months of January and February, as the city slows down to a quieter pace, except for the major conventions that take place during that time of year.
Should you reserve your room as far in advance as possible or hold out to the end? This depends if you’re visiting during a busy time and have a strong preference for your hotel or location, the earlier, the better – although you might not get the best rates.
Hotels tend to drop their rates as the date approaches. If you’ve chosen a less busy time to visit and are more flexible about your accommodations, booking only a week in advance will provide you with the best deals.
To score cheap airfare to Las Vegas, you want to do two things. First, choose a time when airfare rates are the lowest, and second, reserve your flight about a month ahead of time.
September is one time of year when airfare rates are typically a little lower. Things have slowed down from the summer, meaning fewer crowds, but also it’s not as hot, meaning you’ll have a more comfortable trip. Just don’t wait too long into the fall because some major events and conventions are often scheduled for October and November to keep a steady flow of traffic into the city year-round.
If you’re looking for other times to book a cheap flight to Vegas, January, February, and April are historically good times to catch a deal.
Bottom Line on the Best Time to Visit Las Vegas
Whether you love crowds or prefer a lower-key experience, there’s always a perfect time to visit Las Vegas. Even a spur-of-the-moment trip with zero planning is going to end in an unforgettable experience. If you have the luxury of planning ahead, choose the time of year on factors like your ideal temperatures, events, pricing, and accessibility to premium accommodations and attractions. Then, make the most of every moment and enjoy your time in Las Vegas!
What is the cheapest time to go to Vegas?
July and August can be cheap times to visit Las Vegas because the hot temperatures scare some people away. September, January, and February are also budget-friendly months as long as you avoid times when special events or conventions are scheduled.
What is the slowest month in Las Vegas?
The absolute slowest time in Las Vegas is typically the first part of December, when people are gearing up for the holidays rather than traveling for pleasure.
What are the coldest months in Las Vegas?
Temperatures plummet in December, although the weather is still what most would consider “autumn-like” during the day. January and February are also among the coolest weather months.
How many days do you need in Las Vegas?
This depends on what you want to do and see. You can certainly pack a lot of fun into a weekend, but if you want time to explore and play, a week is best.