Places To Go and Things To Do
(Last updated September 1, 2010)
This information is hearsay. It contains pointers to places people have been, things people have done, and shops people have used and reported good things. It is not a guarantee of attitude, quality, or service.
Nothing is without risk! Although Las Vegas is considered by many to be safe for those who are transgender, there are no guarantees.
Use care and common sense, remain street-wise, and consider time, place, and circumstance when doing anything.
Don't push things, remember, you're in Las Vegas to have a good time, not to change the world.
The people for whom this guide is intended are either those who wish to blend well in mainstream venues, or those who wish to go to places that are known to be accepting of those who are transgender.
Some of the emphasis is toward people who are new to public exposure in general, and those who are new to going out in Las Vegas.
The topic of where to go to meet potential partners, casual, long-term, or professional, of any gender or any persuasion, is not covered.
Las Vegas is a very mixed bag. While the areas frequented by visitors and tourists are very open and accepting, many of the outlying areas are very conservative, with heavy Mormon influence.
Las Vegas, like any major urban area, has its good areas, its bad areas, its affluent areas, its poor areas, its safe areas, and its high-crime areas. Las Vegas has people from all walks of life, all lifestyles, and all attitudes.
The two major gaming areas, those being the main part of the Las Vegas Strip, and the downtown Fremont Street areas, are for the most part safe for those who are transgender, day or night.
The major shopping areas on or near the Strip are, for the most part, safe as well.
There are several clubs and bars which welcome transgender individuals. Most of these are near the Strip. A few are a couple miles from the Strip. These are generally considered safe, again, day or night.
You want to blend in, not stand out!
Casual is the norm for Las Vegas dress in the daytime. Casual to dressy is seen in the evenings, but casual still seems to predominate.
During the daytime, if you're not comfortable doing the casual-femme thing, consider boymode. Anybody overdressed during the day will attract attention.
If you're new to Las Vegas, first observe the dress and behavior of the gg's who are of your approximate age, height, body type, and fitness level. Use them as a model for your mode of dress and comportment.
If you're just dying to wear something more exotic in public, yes, there are places where it's appropriate, just not on the Strip nor in broad daylight. See clubs and other activities below.
Where to stay and play:
Most of the larger Strip and downtown casinos are safe. With rare exception, you are a valued customer of these places, just like anybody else.
If this is your first time, or if you don't think you pass well, stick to the places that cater to grownups, and avoid the family-oriented "theme" properties.
Our people have stayed and played at the following with no reported difficulty at many places on the Strip, downtown, and in the outlying areas. See the big list (link at the bottom) for places to stay and play.
Within the community, the Mandalay (Circus) properties, particularly the Circus-Circus casino, have a reputation of being not totally TG-friendly. These include Circus-Circus, Monte Carlo (joint management), Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and a few other smaller places. I have yet to hear first hand from anybody who was asked to leave any of these places, or even anybody who got bad service or even a dirty look. I've personally been to Circus-Circus and Luxor without any trouble at all, and we've had people stay at Circus-Circus, Excalibur, and Luxor with no trouble at all.
This is the first time where a major Las Vegas Strip casino-hotel has actively pursued the GLBT market.
Paris Las Vegas is now openly and actively marketing to the GLBT community.
Please notice that they HAVE included the "T" in GLBT.
If you visit the Paris, please help to set a good example of those who make up the TG community.
As of this writing, the general consensus is that the Great Disneyland Experiment of the 1990's is over, and that the pendulum of Las Vegas is swinging toward grown-up orientation again.
Where to eat:
Most every buffet/coffee shop/restaurant in the major Strip and downtown hotels will welcome your business. Our people have dined at many places both in the big casino/hotels and away from them. See the big list (link below) for suggestions on where to eat.
Although Las Vegas has two shops intended for the TG community (Glamour Boutique and Studio Lites, see list), 99.9% of the shops that cater to the general public will welcome your business.
One thing to keep in mind is that Las Vegas is a show town, and it's not at all unusual for men to be seen buying such things as lingerie, cosmetics, etc. You will be nothing new to the staff of almost any shop in Las Vegas, either in girlmode, or shopping for stuff in boymode.
There are three large mainline malls in the Las Vegas area, the Boulevard Mall, the Meadows Mall, and the Galleria Mall. In recent years, the Boulevard Mall has been declining in number of shops and in popularity. All three are known to be hangouts for teenagers in the afternoons and evenings, although all three are well patroled and I'm unaware of any incidents.
Do not take photographs in the Meadows Mall or Boulevard Mall or on their property. They (management and security) are very touchy about this.
There are two large discount/outlet malls in the Las Vegas area.
Las Vegas Outlet Center (nee Belz), located a couple miles south of the main Strip area, is the larger of the two and just goes on and on and on. LVOC (nee Belz) is very popular with the TG community.
Las Vegas Premium Outlets is a large open-air mall at the intersection of Bonneville and Grand Central, just southwest of dowtown. Reports are positive.
There is a another very large outlet mall about 40 miles south of Las Vegas in Primm, at the California state line. No problems have been reported there, and we've had both individuals and groups shop there.
The Strip has the Fashion Show Mall, an upscale mall that caters primarily to visitors and tourists. As you might suspect, this is somewhat pricey. This has been recently expanded.
Many Strip casino-hotels have shopping mall areas, the largest of which is the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.
Planet Hollywood has a large and varied shopping mall in which a number of our people have shopped without any trouble.
There are two kinds of people who hang out in groups at malls, those being teenyboppers and t-girls.
No, you and your friends are not gonna pass for 16! No, the Pope is not Jewish.
If you observe women shopping in malls, you will find that they frequently shop alone, occasionally in pairs, often with kids, sometimes with spouse or SO, but almost never in groups.
With rare exception, casual to very casual dress is what women wear to the mall. Heels are seldom worn to the mall. A recent visual survey in a mainline mall and a Target store showed that about 50% of women shoppers were wearing athletic shoes of some type, and less than 5% of all women of all ages and sizes were wearing heels of any significant height. Of those who were over 30, over 130, or over 5'8 or so, the number wearing heels was so small as to be essentially zero.
No, the "office girl on her lunch break" look is not gonna work for most people. No, the "bridesmaid on the way to the reception" look probably won't work either. :)
Yes, I know, this is not what many of you want to hear. :)
For a different but interesting shopping experience, try the Fastastic Indoor Swap Meet on Decatur Blvd. north of Sahara.
The FISM is a large indoor flea market with booth vendors selling almost anything imaginable. Two wig vendors specifically invite t-business. No problems have been reported. FISM is open Thursday-Sunday. Dress casual for FISM. DO NOT OVERDRESS!
I recommend that those who are transgender, especially those who have limited public experience, use private vehicles, rental vehicles, taxis, or travel on foot when in Las Vegas.
There are no laws that I know of (IANAL, this is not legal advice) that dictate the style and manner of dress when operating a motor vehicle. Likewise (again, IANAL) I'm unaware of any rental agency restrictions or insurance restriction regarding dress while driving.
For those who are uneasy driving, not familiar with the Las Vegas area, or not familiar with driving in congested city traffic, I might suggest to have somebody else drive or take a taxi.
Taxis are quite safe, usually available, very convenient, but not cheap. Drivers are not supposed to respond to a "hail" on the street, but are supposed to pick up only via radio call or at established taxi stands, such as those in front of almost any hotel.
Public transit is available, very reasonable in cost, and frequent along the Strip corridor, but I would not recommend this except for those with considerable public experience and a very high confidence level.
A late addition to transportation options is the Deuce Bus, a double-decker bus that serves the Strip and downtown areas. This is reported to be much nicer than the regular CAT busses. Unfortunately, it can't fly above Strip traffic.
Casino shuttles are probably not as questionable as public busses, but I'm not suggesting these for those who are new to public exposure.
The Las Vegas Monorail has now been running for some time and appears to be reliable. Several DLV 2005-2007 attendees used this with no reported incidents. Unfortunately this only covers 7 stops, all on the east side of the Strip, from the Sahara Hotel at the north end to the MGM Grand at the south end.
All Strip hotels and casinos will have free and (somewhat) convenient parking.
Strip hotel surface lots and parking structures are well-lit and well-patroled both day and night.
Downtown is a different (and varied) story. Some places have convenient no-hassle parking, but most have some restrictions, such as a time limit or validation (which can be as simple as a self-service time stamp or the hassle of a wait in a long line at the slot club booth). There are also public pay lots downtown. People use these, so at least some people must consider these a better option than the casino lots.
Off-Strip places (Boulder, Rancho, Henderson, etc.) will have similar parking facilities as the Strip hotels.
All casino-hotels of any significant size, as well as other businesses such as nightclubs, shopping malls, etc., offer complimentary valet parking. This is convenient and free, except for the tip to the attendant. A tip of $1-2 is expected when you pick up your vehicle. No tip is expected when you drop off your vehicle, however.
The distance between the self-park lots and the casino or hotel lobby can be quite a hike (especially in heels) at many of the newer and larger hotels.
A few hints about valet parking:
In general, most any bar that caters to the GLBT community will welcome your business. Our people have frequented the following with good reports:
(This is my opinion based on my observations. I'm not accusing anybody of engaging in illegal business, I'm just reporting my conclusions on what I've observed and what I've heard from others, as well as my speculation on what may happen if things change.)
The Las Vegas Lounge, under current management, has been in business since late 1999. In 2000 it was a nice neighborhood bar with a TG twist. In early 2001 or so, its focus appeared to change.
I'm under the distinct impression that the majority of the "business" that goes on in association with the Las Vegas Lounge is not the sale of alcohol. Ask around. This is no secret. It's very well known in the community.
It continues to go on because, for one reason or another, somebody is looking the other way ... for now!
As was the case with a recently-demolished property on Las Vegas Boulevard, that "looking the other way" will eventually come to an end.
When it falls, it will probably fall very hard, and I surely don't want to be in there when it does fall. When it falls, there's a good chance that anybody present will be at least briefly detained, ID'd, and entered into some public record.
If this kind of place appeals to you, that's fine, as long as you understand the risks and rewards.
However, if all you want is a nice discreet bar in which you can relax, have a few drinks, and be yourself, there are countless better choices for you, several in the immediate area. See the big list.
I would really hate to see somebody's evening be spoiled, or worse, because of a mistaken impression that this property is the only, or the best option for a "safe" and TG-friendly bar.
An occasionally recurring topic among the DLV organizers is whether it is wise for transgender people, individually or in groups, to go to the trendy "straight" singles clubs such as Studio 54, RA, Voodoo Lounge, Ghostbar, etc.
No conclusion or even a consensus has been reached regarding whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for TGs to go to these clubs, however, several facts and observations have been made:
My suggestion is that you venture to these clubs only if you have a significant amount of mainstream public experience, a very high confidence level, and are of the approximate age, size, etc. of the other women who go to the clubs you intend to visit.
Most of the events and activities intended for grownups are quite safe. Our people have reported no problems attending trade shows at the Convention Center, concerts at Thomas and Mack, various art shows, museums, swap meets, computer shows, bridal shows, even a gun show!
What may be of particular interest:
(Several items have been dropped from this section recently due to lack of feedback and lack of verification that they are still going on.)
If you are tempted to use one of the "Outcall Services", those adult "entertainers" who come to your hotel room, and advertise heavily, be aware that these often operate outside of the law or just within it, and incidents of assault and attempted robbery have been reported.
This is not just my opinion, this has happened! Not to me, but to somebody I know well. Stay away from these people!
It's best, of course, to stick to the places you know others have been without trouble. There are, however, certain areas and certain classes of places that should be avoided, period, mostly due to such things as uncertainty, high crime, etc.
As with many urban areas, the neighborhood can change from perfectly safe to downright scary within a few blocks.
The downtown Fremont Street area and the Strip between the Stratosphere and Mandalay Bay will be safe and well-patroled, both day and night.
These areas should be avoided, expecially at night:
Likewise, avoid the areas north of Ogden (one block north of Fremont) and south of Carson (one block south of Fremont).
A number of reader comments and questions have to do with North Las Vegas.
While many areas of North Las Vegas are quite safe, and lots of very good people live and work there, North Las Vegas (a separate jurisdiction) does have the reputation of being somewhat gritty and unsalubrious.
Although North Las Vegas is ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, the proximity to a large military facility and a plethora of such businesses as adult bookstores, pawnbrokers, buy-here-pay-here lots, cheap liquor stores, etc., add to an atmosphere that is not accepting of those who deviate from the stereotypical norms.
The larger casinos in North Las Vegas, such as Jerry's Nugget, Speedway, and the new Cannery, should be perfectly safe for those who blend well and are comfortable with most mainstream situations. However, such things as the adult businesses (the "adult industry" is outside the scope of this document) and neighborhood bars should be avoided.
As I would suggest for any unfamiliar area, I suggest you avoid North Las Vegas unless you are familiar with the particular area you intend to visit and have reason to believe you will be safe.
One particularly questionable area is on the boundary between Las Vegas and North Las Vegas and is roughly bounded by Owens Ave., Foremaster Lane, Las Vegas Boulevard, and Main Street, north of Cashman Center. This has been the scene of homeless encampments¸ people residing in storm drains and ditches, and does appear to have a concentration of hookers, drug dealers, and the like. This area is traversed when passing between downtown Las Vegas and North Las Vegas on the local streets. I suggest you avoid this vicinity, day or night.
Click HERE for a second opinion on North Las Vegas and
rebuttal to these comments.
And, now a Third Opinion on North Las Vegas.
Yes, I know, this is one of the hardest suggestions to follow, but can easily make the difference between having a good and uneventful time and attracting a lot of unwanted attention.
Obvious exceptions to this rule would be attending an organized event, or going to a club where TG people are welcomed.
If there are more than two of you (TGs), split up when in the general public.
If you have to get a group of several TG people from point a to point b thru some crowded areas, walk individually, keeping about 20 paces between people. This will be enough to break the attention span of all but the most attentive people-watchers. Yes, this may seem like a pain, but it works and attracts little if any attention.