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August 20, 2017

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Parking 101: An insider’s advice on how to navigate Las Vegas garages


John Locher / AP

Cars enter MGM Grand on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Las Vegas.

Parking in Las Vegas can be a crapshoot. And like playing a game of craps, it helps to have a system.

I often am asked about how to park at major resorts. Not the finer techniques of navigating a vehicle into a parking spot, though I can help with that, too (turn your high beams on in any Strip parking garage, for starters). But rather, how best to access some of the more challenging resorts in town.

Keep in mind that my system works for me and is the result of extensive trial and error. You may have a different system that works for you. But it helps to have options, and additional data might help someone save time, confusion and angst.

A list of the resorts about which I most frequently am asked:

• MGM Grand: I’m not kidding: I spent more than 10 years between stops in this hotel’s parking garage. Since, I have used the self-parking structure on the east side of the hotel to access the Underground, Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, New York Pretzel and the magnet shop. I also use the Tropicana-Hooters surface lot and walk across Tropicana Avenue into the MGM’s main entrance, or use the pedestrian bridge from the Trop valet; catch the Monorail either at SLS Las Vegas or the Westgate (using the $1-per-ride locals’ discount at the SLS station); or test the MGM’s valet — but only on weekdays. Always use the Monorail for major events, an effective way to avoid the huge crowds wading out of the Grand Garden Arena.

• Venetian/Palazzo: This has taken a lot of vehicular research, but the underground self-parking garage just off Sands Avenue works best for both hotels. I have not used the Venetian garage in several years. The second level is best — shaded in orange — for this reason: The sign directing cars into that level reads “Employment Center,” and drivers unfamiliar with the structure often read that to mean employee parking. Not so. Even at peak times, there typically is parking to be found in that tangerine-colored oasis.

• Linq/Flamingo: You’ll see a pattern here, in that parking on the east side of the Strip is particularly challenging. The Linq parking garage has been notoriously difficult since the days of the Imperial Palace. I use the surface lot at the Linq Promenade or that area’s valet. The Linq Hotel valet is pretty efficient, too. The lot to the east of the High Roller is somewhat of a walk, but it’s a relatively stress-free stroll.

• Planet Hollywood/Miracle Mile Shops: I’ve thrown in the towel on the massive PH parking garage, which is a tough out after a show at Axis theater. Instead, try the valet at the Miracle Mile entrance (the main hotel valet consistently is limited to hotel guests, in my experience), but know that the company contracted to handle that valet often closes at 1 a.m., at which point hotel security needs to fetch your keys. On the upside, this entrance leads to the middle of the Miracle Mile Shops with Saxe Theater and V Theater on either side, and the walk through the mall to the hotel is a chance to practice some commerce.

• Cosmopolitan: If possible, enter by driving east on Harmon Avenue and cutting left into the hotel entrance and underground garage. Find a spot near the elevators, even if you have to drive down a few floors.

• SLS: There’s great access off the Paradise Road entrance, either into the parking garage facing that street or to the valet. One of the selling points of SLS, especially for locals, is its access.

• Palms: There’s a lot of debate about this one, but I use the surface lot on the west side of the property abutting the sports book entrance. A lot of my friends use the east garage. Valet hardly ever is an option; impressively and even magically, it is full every time I visit.

• Westgate: Valet. I used to exclusively use the Superbook lot to the east of the property, but now there is a random fee enactment there during peak convention time. If I’m paying, I’ll use the valet service.

• Wynn/Encore: Use the top level (the fourth) of the garage facing the Strip and take the elevator down to the Wynn casino level. Or take the stairs on the northeast corner of that lot, walk to the third floor and cut into Encore. Very handy.

• Caesars Palace: I recommend the Colosseum valet for all-hours access or the valet entering the Forum Shops off Twain Avenue. (That valet is designed for mall access and closes at 10 p.m.) At least until construction is finished atop the parking garage, which is where I usually park, except when construction has taken over.

• Downtown: The Fremont Street Experience garage is my go-to. There is a fee, but it’s a relatively quick in and out for all of the casinos under the canopy. It’s a walk, but let’s face it: There is no more entertaining walk than from the Fremont Street Experience garage to, say, the Plaza. Worth the $6 fee, no question.

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