Las Vegas, Nevada is consistently ranked as one of the most fun cities in America. The city is infamous for its bright lights and nonstop entertainment.
It is also well known for its many luxurious hotels ...
... famed restaurants ...
... and, of course, its casinos.
But if you were expecting to waltz right into any of Vegas' iconic hotels, bars, or restaurants, brace yourself.
From extensive check-in lines at the city's many hotels ...
... to people waiting to place bets, there are lines everywhere.
Looking to get the perfect picture with the "Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas" sign?
You'll likely have to wait in line first ...
... as throngs of people can frequently be seen lined up with the same exact intention.
In fact, you'll likely have a whole crowd of people watching you as you pose for that perfect photo.
The same can be said of most of Vegas' iconic sites, which are photogenic when empty and when photographed at night.
Consider Vegas' famous Statue of Liberty. From the right angle, it's definitely imposing ...
... but another shot reveals that it's actually right next to a major highway.
In some photos, Vegas' answer to Piazza San Marco looks pretty awe-inspiring.
While it's an undeniably impressive construction and a site worth seeing in its own right ...
... other angles show that it's not quite as expansive as visitors may be expecting ...
... and the shops surrounding it can be teeming with people.
Similarly, the Fountains of Bellagio put on a dazzling show. Water from the fountain sprays as high as 460 feet into the air.
But if you're expecting an unobstructed view of the spectacle ...
... you might want to prepare yourself to watch it from behind several rows of people.
And visitors who expect the fountains to be running at all times will be in for a surprise: The show has a set schedule that should be researched in advance.
According to many tourists, Las Vegas Boulevard (otherwise known as "The Strip") is not as walkable as it’s made out to be ...
... and you'll sometimes end up trekking upwards of 45 minutes to reach your next destination ...
... or milling through large crowds as you go about sightseeing.
It's also easy to get frustrated by the limited number of pedestrian bridges.
Barriers have been installed to stop jaywalking, so pedestrians are often forced to log extra miles just to zig-zag across the street.
If you opt to take a car instead, the traffic near the Strip has been known to rival Los Angeles at rush hour.
Even if you take the monorail, you’re still likely to find yourself having to cover extra distance on foot.
The train, which opened in 1995, is advertised as an "alternative to shuttles, taxis and trams." While quick and efficient, it doesn't run along Las Vegas Boulevard — it's a few streets over, behind crowded hotels and parking garages.
In addition, it only operates until 2 a.m. on most weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, which leaves all-night partiers without a ride home, leaving people to walk or to pay extra for a cab.
To ride one of Las Vegas' buses, you will need exact change to avoid severely overpaying. In addition, keep in mind the express route stops after midnight.
Vegas is, of course, in the middle of the desert — and that means some seriously scorching temperatures.
According to the National Weather Service, the city has recorded temperatures of up to 117 degrees.
Unfortunately, one of the best times to visit Las Vegas to beat the crowds is in the summer months, when the city is at its hottest.
Even then, the city may still be crowded with families visiting while their kids are off from school.
On the flip side, while highly unusual, Vegas has also been known to experience snowstorms, which has the potential to derail your vacation plans.
These sometimes unbearable conditions make the Southwest home to beautiful deserts and national sites.
This includes the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area ...
... and the incredible Zion National Park.
Unfortunately, these national parks aren't exactly easily accessible from the city: They're located 20 to 160 miles outside Las Vegas ...
... and unless you drove in, you’ll need to rent a car to get there.
Rental cars can be expensive, just like everything else, including overpriced food at "tourist trap" restaurants. Dinner at the popular celebrity restaurants can especially expensive.
Otherwise, plan on eating at your hotel buffet, which usually has a wait line (just like everything else), and can still come at an extra cost on top of your stay.
Given its reputation as a party city, there's a good chance people will be drinking at just about any time of day, which can lead to loud environments with rowdy groups.
Just like photo-op locations, resort pools can be highly crowded.
While some lucky visitors might get to experience a leisurely pool day with plenty of space to swim ...
... most can expect to be sharing that coveted pool space ...
... with many, many strangers.
And the same goes for clubs, which can get packed. For some visitors, being part of the crowd is part of the coveted experience ...
... but to an unprepared visitor, it could easily be overwhelming. In addition, some may come with unexpected cover charges.
And, of course, it's hard to talk about Las Vegas without mentioning gambling.
According to a study by Forbes, depending on the game, the casino’s “house edge” makes your odds of winning big fairly slim. If you do decide to play for hours, consider blackjack, where the odds are at least 50-50.
Though modern designs have changed, casinos are notorious for not having clocks, making gambling a disorientating experience for most visitors.
Finally, if you choose to visit Vegas for a holiday, get ready. Venues are even more crowded during prime vacation dates, such as New Years Eve.
That being said, if you are looking for a lively weekend and are willing to brave the crowds, then Las Vegas may be the right place for you after all.