Every time I travel to Las Vegas, NV, numerous people share their opinions with me regarding renting a car. It seems that each person who has been to Las Vegas has either a strong opinion that you absolutely need to rent a car when you visit the city, or a strong opinion that renting a car is a waste of time in Las Vegas. The decision should ultimately be made in regards to what you plan on doing while on vacation.
The first question is, how will you get from the airport to your hotel? If you are staying in a hotel on the famous Las Vegas strip, there will be a shuttle available at the airport to take you to your destination for a few dollars. Some hotels might have free shuttles. Hotel shuttle tickets can also sometimes be purchased in advance or might be included in a vacation package deal. Ask your travel agent or call your hotel in advance to see what kind of airport travel is available. The same shuttles are available to take you back to the airport at the end of your trip.
If you are staying in a hotel on the Las Vegas strip, and you plan to spend the majority of your vacation time gambling and site seeing on the strip, you probably will not need to rent a car. However, be prepare to walk a lot. The strip might seem small on a map or by description, but it a couple miles long. If you do not rent a car, be prepared to be content with not seeing everything. Remember that if you find yourself wishing you rented a car in the middle of your trip, you can simply call a car rental company. They are usually very accommodating.
If you are staying in a hotel at one of the extreme ends of the strip and want to see every hotel on the strip, you might want to rent a car. A car also allows you to tour the strip from the street and see the strip from a distance, which is an awesome site at night. If you cannot walk long distances, or cannot stay on your feet for long periods of time, a rental car will help you get around. The best use of a car in Las Vegas is leaving the strip. There are many other things to see in Las Vegas, including Fremont Street, the desert, and Red Rock Canyon. Hoover Dam is also a short drive away. The natural wonder of Red Rock Canyon is worth the drive, and makes a great afternoon trip away from the loud and sometimes harsh casinos.
If you do rent a car in Las Vegas, make sure you are still prepared to walk. Hotel parking lots are often a block behind the hotel, which makes for a good walk. This also makes it not worth it to drive from casino to casino. You end up walking just as much from parking lots to buildings as you would from casino to casino. It is best to park in an area near the middle of where you want to visit and then walking around to the various attractions, returning to your car only to drive to another larger area.
If you are looking for an extreme experience, there are several companies in Las Vegas that rent luxury and exotic cars by the hour or day. You can cruise up and down the famous Las Vegas strip in a cherry red exotic sports car with all eyes on you!
Also note that Las Vegas does have public transportation. They have a bus system, standardized cab rates, and a new trolley system on the strip. Investigate these options before your vacation to plan what kind of transportation will work best for you. Cabs can be quite pricey, but they are everywhere. Cab rates are standardized to prevent cabbies from taking advantage of tourists. Buses can be inconvenient to wait for, depending on your schedule. The trolley system on the strip is fairly new and had a lot of bugs to work out. I vacationed in Las Vegas shortly after it was introduced, and it was closed indefinitely. If it is successfully running today, it could be a good option. It runs the length of the strip, making it easier to get to and from the hotels. Tickets could be purchased for one ride, or you could purchase a day pass, weekend pass, or week long pass. Some hotels also have trolleys that run between two or three nearby hotels.