I am a huge fan of the Strip. The ease of movement, the liveliness, the energy....ahh (although I lost my favorite property Imperial Palace ). I am a lover of downtown. I am a fan of classic and old-fashioned things (although I am not as excited about staying downtown). Each property on Boulder Highway, taken separately, I adore (although the space in between the properties and the seediness of that area keeps me away). But there is something very special about the West-circuit-that-has-no-name. This illustrious territory has several redeeming qualities, making it my favorite area altogether in Vegas (although I prefer to stay on strip). Though Rio and Palms enjoyed some popularity years ago, they are not viewed the same way anymore. I find this fact extremely beneficial to those who are willing to take advantage of it. These are still top-notch brands. Unlike Rio, however, Palms continues to refresh itself with fresh, new carpets, clubs, rooms, etc. Nevertheless, despite some deteriorating upkeep over the years particularly in the way of rooms, it is important to remember that Rio was still built with class, style and flair...and that remains. The entrance alone will tell you that this is a property in a class of its own. Worn carpets, shut-down restaurants, closing clubs, outdated rooms, tight slots and other miscellaneous things may tell you different about Rio, but you can still appreciate this gem for what it is, and I will tell you why in a minute. Gold Coast is the stepcousin of the bunch, but the little-casino-that-could, basking in its own humility, may be making more waves than Palms and Rio. It is basically a real locals joint closest to the strip. So right next to larger-than-life, has-been casinos is Gold Coast, buzzing and brimming with life even though skewing more towards an elderly population. Gold Coast has the most beautiful casino carpeting I have ever seen--one reason being that it is not a disorienting, psychedelic collage of splatterings like most carpeting but a clean, smooth, beautiful pattern of crimson and gold. A quite cozy property--the carpet takes it up a notch. Palms, Rio and Gold Coast, on the western side of the strip, deserve far more attention than they are currently being given. Though Palms is definitely less of a tourist trap now and more of a locals joint, it is still a gorgeous and worthy property that is easily competitive with the likes of many on the strip. Boasting multiple clubs and pools with good music and a good scene, it still has a "youthful" feel to it even though it has now been taken over by older locals. Each club has its own character, and few properties on the strip can compare or compete with Palms on the uniqueness and sheer volume of clubs. It is too bad that they are no longer enjoying the same patronage of years past. The pools are great and lively yet accommodating of all. The added benefit is that since there aren't a crazy number of people like places on the strip, you can enjoy a calmer experience...with the good music and good-looking. The slots in this joint are still hot, having been voted several years as the best slots in town. The layout of the casino is nice and classy, with recent refreshes. A food court off to the side includes Mcds, Nathans, Sbarros, TastiDlite, etc. There is also a huge movie theater with IMAX and there are special days with promotions on the ticket prices. The buffet is solid and are often low-range comparable to Gold Coast buffet prices with a card. I have not eaten at some of their restaurants yet because I would be more inclined to try them if I stayed there. I have yet to stay at Palms or Palms Place (the sister all-suite property next door) but the new tower rooms look excellent and Palms place rooms look great on tripadvisor.com. The property is missing life though. It is quiet, and if you like that plus the added advantage of a luxurious feel, it's great! To have so many great points, Palms is in need of an energy resurgence. Rio, on the other hand, is closing up shop left and right. And with every reason to leave Rio alone, apart from the poker world series, it remains an important piece of the Western semi-circle strip...for me. I used to go to their wonderful Carnival World buffet for breakfast, and every year the price would go up and yet the quality would not improve. Last year, they shut down breakfast at the buffet and now only start at lunch. At this point, I have given up on the buffet at Rio. You have to wonder...all that I have said about Rio so far is negative. Why do I still visit? Well, they have my favorite pool in town. For most pools in town, ladies are complimentary and I am so glad they are! There are multiple spa tubs and they are all secluded with excellent landscaping. They have a sand beach, a hot and a cold pool, as well the dayclub next door that has great music. Similar to Palms, it is a quieter experience though because there are fewer crowds than the strip. Even though the rooms are outdated, for the price the Ipanema tower standard "suite" (large room) is cute, cozy and well-appointed. And certainly a great value. I am not as much a fan of the Masquerade rooms because I do not like the color scheme. But all rooms come very large and spacious with a fridge. Even though there is not so many people around, there are certainly more people here in Rio than at the Palms it seems. The vibe of the place is still edgy. And if you are into heights, the VooDoo restaurant/club elevator boasts great views. The sky show at Rio is sadly gone and probably hurts them. I know that my first time coming to see Rio was actually for that show. Though Rio continually shifts out entertainment acts and newer clubs, it has kept the MJLive, Michael Jackson tribute show (which is $35 bucks on Groupon) which is solid (and I hope it moves to the strip), and after 7pm or so reps on the floor have given out free club and comedy show passes for the evening. For what it's worth, I do enjoy Rio. In between them both lies Gold Coast. With new carpeting, great playable table games, popular dining choices, refreshed rooms, plenty of daily promotions, and great rates, she is not taking anything for granted. The new rooms are sleek and chic. And for $35 or so bucks, it can not be beat. The resort fee has risen up dramatically but it is still lower than most properties at $12.99 (compared to Palms and Rio in the $25+ range). Gold Coast offers a frequent shuttle to the strip (and also to their sister property The Orleans, which also rocks your socks) and stops on the side of Ballys. So, staying at Gold Coast is not so far away from the strip. Nevertheless, the 24 hour Deuce that you can pick up from the side of Caesars or dropped off near Ballys can get to Rio, Gold Coast and Palms in a couple minutes. (Palms and Rio also have a shuttle that are less frequent). The popular chain TGIFs is in Gold Coast with excellent late night specials, as is the infamous Ping Pang Pong restaurat. The buffet is cheap and solid for breakfast, starting at $7.99. I consider their table sections my hands down favorite tables in the town because the energy is great, odds are good, rules are fair, and minimums are reasonable. It also happens to be very pretty to me. But for the life of me, I can never get a pit boss to rate me correctly. I play here only when I am playing just to play. The slots are horrendous but you can find a few playable ones. What I like about their machines are the low-roller 5cents/10cents VP and penny keno. I can play on penny keno for hours (I know, strange)! Another great point about Gold Coast is that their pool (and gym) is small, basic, solid and even more calmer than the others...the way a hotel should be if you want to relax as opposed to party. GC also has lounge singers, other cool restaurants and a bowling alley, which I have not had the pleasure of seeing. Gold Coast is just a solid property. So all in all this is my favorite section for several reasons. Everything I love most is just a skip away. For a long time, Carnival World buffet was my favorite buffet. Gold Coast Ports o Call buffet was a solid, cheap, just-need-breakfast buffet. Palms had my food court goodies if I needed a late night. I could club it up at Palms in some of the most epic clubs. Watch an IMAX movie at Palms or see a good show at Rio. I could pick between my favorite beautiful pool at Rio, a club-like-see-and-be-seen pool at Palms, or a can't-be-bothered pool at Gold Coast. I could stay in a glorious room at Gold Coast or a sensible "suite" at Rio for a great price. I could hit the slots at Palms or play a penny at a time across the street or shoot an awesome, lively game of $5 great-odds craps at Gold Coast (my favorite pit)! And my lovely Strip is not too far away, with this section closest to the legendary Bellagio and the grand Caesars hotels. As you may know, I like moving around in Vegas and I have not had a "home" casino in a while. But I would call this section of Vegas the place that feels most like "home".