Updated: Jul 20
Note: we're not talking about the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, not the Bellagio Conservatory or the gondolas at the Venetian, this is about where to get the best pictures of the Las Vegas Strip itself on Las Vegas Boulevard.
While Sin City is famous (or infamous) for luring people into a web of vices, there’s an important silver lining that isn’t always obvious: Vegas gives you permission to be the person you cannot be at home. Think of how many times you’ve felt crushed by the weight of expectations. Juggling schedules, to do lists, paying bills, navigating the global catastrophe du jour, mindlessly scrolling to numb whatever is eating away at you. It’s maddening.
So how does Las Vegas factor into all of this? It’s liberating. It allows you to shed the responsibilities and pressures you, your family, society, or whomever projects onto you each and every day. You become fully present, you let your hair down, you see things through a fresh lens, you try new things, you give yourself permission to indulge, you dance until dawn and then sleep into the afternoon…do you see where I’m going with this? At a fundamental level, you return to your basic human impulses and just honor that feeling of being truly alive. Everybody comes to Vegas at some point, so if you’re going to be here anyway, we might as well tell you where to get the best photos of the Strip. After all, you’ll be looking at these pictures for years, they may as well be drool-worthy.
First location to take the best photos of the Las Vegas strip:
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
This is one of the best (if not the best) hotel to capture photos of the Strip. From the rooftop pool decks, you’ve got a 180-degree view of Las Vegas Boulevard, which means you’ll see all the way to Treasure Island on one end and all the way to Mandalay Bay on the other. If you’re a Vegas newbie, that basically means you can see nearly the entire Strip. While all the resorts (casinos, for the folks who don’t live here like we do) have Strip-facing rooms, they don’t all have outdoor access like The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas does, even in the common areas, especially at this elevation. Your photos will get the full spectrum of Vegas’ best features like the Bellagio fountain show, the Paris Las Vegas and its shimmering Eiffel Tower and hot air balloon, Planet Hollywood’s digital marquee, and much more.
So we’ve covered that you can mosey on down to the pool deck for great pictures, but if you are a guest, you can request a balcony room with a view of the Bellagio Fountains. And that means you’ve pretty much hit the Vegas photography jackpot. It’s pretty uncommon to have your own private outdoor space in Las Vegas, and this one comes with its own incredible fountain show and a view that’s to-die-for. Lots of people come to Vegas with the mentality that they won’t be in their room much; and that may be true, but you might as well be looking at a view like this, even if it’s just long enough to brush your teeth in the fresh morning air.
There are only so many shots you can take of the same view and have them actually look different from each other. If composition is important to you, you’ll honestly be taking the same shot over and over again. It’s incredible, but there’s not much variety to be had. It’s a picture of the Strip and fountains during the day, one at night, one with you, one with your travel buddies, one from a “neat” angle…you get the picture (pun definitely intended).
Second location to take the best photos of the strip:
The Eiffel Tower Experience
It’s safe to say the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas is easily one of the most iconic attractions along Las Vegas Boulevard, and with its location in the dead center of the Strip, it’s often front and center of the most eye-catching photos people take. And while it’s only about half the size of the one in France, it’s hard to beat the 360-degree city views from the top of it. At nearly 500 feet tall (152 m), you can pretty much capture all the pretty casino facades your heart desires.
Insanely good views of the Strip both to the north and the south, just like the Cosmopolitan, but this is on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard. The tip top of the Eiffel Tower is caged in, just like the one in Paris, so you don’t have to worry about the pesky glare you’d get if you were behind glass. If you’re a teensy bit claustrophobic or scared of heights, the caging gives you the right amount of air on your face to keep you calm. You may still be a little on edge, but in a “Holy cow, I can't believe we did it” kind of way, not a raving lunatic kind of way. If you’re a mean camera-phone-ographer, they’ve got little square cut outs for unobstructed photos of the Strip. Just hold on tight– one good gust and you can kiss your phone goodbye.
Remember the old Road Runner cartoons with tumbleweeds blowing around? Well that’s real life for us. Vegas wind is no joke and because the top of the Eiffel Tower doesn’t have an enclosure at the top, you’re pretty much at the mercy of the weather. If it’s cold and windy on the sidewalk, you’ll be shivering like crazy at the top. If you’re a serious photographer, that fancy schmancy DSLR lens you spent a few months’ rent on probably won’t fit in the little squares provided. Plus, with all the other folks vying for the same shots, there’s not really enough room for a tripod, even though those long exposure shots would be no less than perfection.
Advice from a Vegas local
Go right before sundown so you can capture that glorious apricot sunset first, and then all the glittering lights of the Strip as well. And make sure you’re at the top of the Eiffel Tower on the half hours to catch a Bellagio fountain show because let’s be honest, nearly all the classic shots of Vegas include that gorgeous water spray. There’s no time limit once you’re up there so if you didn’t get the shots you wanted during the first fountain show, just wait for the next one. If you don’t care about the sunset (which would be asinine) the Fountains of Bellagio go off every 15 minutes after 8 p.m. (20:00).
Third location to take the best photos of the strip:
The High Roller
Vegas’ answer to the London Eye, the High Roller at the LINQ is a 550-feet-tall (168 m) and one of the biggest observation wheels in the world. But it’s a little more like an experience than a ride because you’ll have a virtual tour guide and DJ who pipes in dance music, and then tells you about what you’re seeing along the Strip corridor. He’ll include a couple of fun facts while you’re oohing and awing, and you’ll even see some of the neighborhoods where the locals live. Can you believe we don’t actually live in the casinos?
It takes about 30 minutes for a complete rotation, and you can sip, stand, sit, or whatever tickles your fancy in this temperature-controlled pod all year long. But one ticket stands out from the rest, and it’s the Happy Half Hour ticket which includes an open bar. These cabins are usually less crowded because it’s a 21+ pod and a little more expensive than the standard ticket…plus cocktails. Because of the age restrictions, you won’t have as many people to contend with on getting that money shot.
Technically, your photos would be better if the pods were actually on the Strip instead of behind it. There are some not-so-sexy buildings and parking garages in the way at times. Plus there’s really only one side of the pod that’s photo worthy (you’re not hanging pictures of the neighborhoods behind the High Roller after all). The glass glare is absolutely brutal, so whatever you do, don’t use your flash. If you’re claustrophobic, it’s best to admire this attraction from the street.
Advice from a Vegas local
When you walk into the pod, make an immediate right. This is the most photogenic side of the Strip when you get around to the top, which will take about 15 minutes. If you time it just right, you’ll be up there in time to get the beautiful Bellagio fountain show in the background.
The one popular location you can skip:
The STRAT Tower
The original granddaddy of the bunch, the Observation Deck at The STRAT is a whopping 855 feet (261 m) above Las Vegas Boulevard, the tallest in town. While most people logically think they can get the best photos of the Las Vegas Strip from here, it’s actually very tough to get a good shot from that high up. There's scaffolding from the SkyJump freefall attraction that blocks the view so unless you have a telephoto lens, you’re not really going to be able to get great shots without majorly zooming in (P.S. there’s no tripods or commercial camera equipment allowed, so there goes that idea too).
While you can probably get away with taking a Sony, Nikon or maybe even a Canon with smaller lenses, you’ll have to get special permission from the hotel to bring in any equipment that will actually capture those killer photos from this elevation. It is worth noting however, that this is the only observation attraction in town with a bird’s-eye-view of downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street. So while it's still a cool place to visit, especially if you're a daredevil and want to jump from the top or ride the rollercoasters, it's not the best place for photos of the Strip, especially if you're only armed with a camera phone.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years and is a regular contributor for Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.