CES Commuting Tips, Leveraging the Monorail (A Shortcut to/from LVCC and Sands Expo)

Update: Dec. 31, 2018: The shortcut I gave originally gave in this article with the PDF file is typically the fastest way to between the LVCC and the Sands Expo when there is traffic. I wanted to make you aware of a couple of alternatives. First of all, the walk from the LVCC to the Sands Expo via Paradise Blvd. and Sands Ave. is about 1.2 to 1.6 miles or about 30 to 40 minutes depending on where you start (leveraging the Monorail can save about 10 to 15 minutes). Secondly, there is a slight alternative to my directions that goes the other way around Harrah’s parking garage (show in yellow versus my red dots below). The yellow path is a little longer but has an elevator versus requiring a long flight of stairs. There is YouTube video that shows the yellow route starting at the Valet/Self-Parking elevators in the Venetian (the path inside the Venetian would be the same).

CES Gridlock

Getting around Las Vegas during CES can be difficult. It is not uncommon for people to be an hour late for a scheduled meeting when they change venues. Often traffic gridlocks which means that whether you take a shuttle bus, Taxi/Lyft/Uber, or drive you are stuck in traffic and it literally can be faster to walk. A rental car is worse than useless with the combination of traffic and parking problems. I tend to avoid the free shuttle buses because if you do get stuck in traffic you can’t get out and walk. A generally good strategy is to get the Taxi/Lyft/Uber driver to get you as close as they can and then walk (note, they have restrictions, that are enforced, on where they can drop people).

Leveraging the Monorail

I have found getting a monorail pass which is discounted for the show to be a time saver. A three or more day pass is less than $10/day. You can then use it to get you over traffic. I have also found it useful to shuttle between The Westgate (formerly Las Vegas Hilton) and LVCC South Hall.

But note, going Northbound from The Strip hotel stops to the LVCC) on the first day, can have over an hour long line more than one hour before the show floor opens. There is simply not enough capacity on the Monorail and they limit the number of people that can get on at each stop. Going Southbound at the end of the day can also involve a very long wait, particularly the first two days of the show. If you are in a hurry the first two days of the show and coming from The Strip area, Taxi/Lyft/Uber, plus walking is probably going to be faster. By the 3rd and 4th day, everything is more relaxed.

One trick that should work (I have not tried it in a few years) is that the far north SLS Monorail stop is usually never very busy, so if you can get there in the morning, you may be able to fly over the gridlocks streets to the LVCC.  

Going between the LVCC and Sands Expo/Venetian/Palazzo Via Monorail Shortcut (PDF File Link)

I generally end up going between the main Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo/Palazzo/Venetian area multiple times. Particularly the first two days of CES, using street level transportation is risky due to gridlock.

A few years back I was shown this trick for quickly getting between the Harrah’s monorail station and the Sands Expo. When I was at CES 2018, I decided to take some pictures to document the shortcut. There are some variations on this path, but I think this is the shortest and most direct route.

You may note that the closest monorail stop to the Sands Expo is the Harrah’s Hotel, but it drops you way behind Harrah’s. The obvious route would be to walk through Harrah’s to The Strip and then back through the Venetian to get to the Sands Expo but this is about twice as long as necessary. There is a much shorter route that is under half mile (about 10 minutes walking). I have written a guide with photos of some key things to look for so you don’t get lost.

Meeting Karl Guttag at CES 2019

My calendar is almost full on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of CES in January 2019 with just an hour to two here and there available. I still have time available Friday, the 4th day of the show.

Karl Guttag
Karl Guttag
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    • Good plan, particularly about the shoes. The monorail can help, but even it has a lot of up and down and walking at the stations. It is always a good idea to check Google Maps or the like for the walking time. I rarely use the shuttle buses because A) you have to get to the bus stop, B) wait for the bus to leave, and C) it can get stuck in traffic. The monorails are about ever 8 minutes and don’t get stuck in traffic, BUT they can have a long line if you are going to the LVCC in the morning or toward The Strip in the evening.

      • I used to go to Las Vegas frequently due to its proximity (five hour drive from Phoenix) and even got married there, so I have gained survival skills to make the trip more enjoyable each time I go. I’m not going to CES because my company is prepping for Photonics West. However, I hope to go next year and I probably will do the following tips (I hope these will be useful for others):

        1. If you do drive, consider arriving a day or two earlier because the New Year’s revelers are checking out and rooms are cheap. Intend on parking your car at their garage and leave it there until you check out.

        2. If you can, get a case of bottle water. Tap water in the rooms are terrible and bottle water at the hotel is overcharged. Stay hydrated because you are going to be walking and if you are going out in the evening.

        3. Ditto on the monorail. Be patient if there is a long wait and better yet, take the opportunity to network while you wait 🙂

        4. If you have a rewards card that has perks, like MLife card for example for the MGM resorts, use them! Perks may be in the form of discounted rooms, shows, or even a fast pass to the buffets.

        5. Finally, the adage “What happens in Vegas, stay in Vegas”…reserve that for non-professional trips. Enjoy at CES, reconnect with old colleagues, gain new ones, and stay safe!

      • I’m planning on going to Photonics West too.

        Good point on the water bottles.

        Las Vegas is not my kind of town. I have been there about 35 times, sometimes 2, and once 3 times, in a year due to conventions. At Comdex (huge computer show many years ago) I heard the hotel and casino managers didn’t like having the engineers filling up the hotels because they understood probability and statistics and therefore didn’t gamble much. It is easy for me to keep my mind on business.

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