There has been so much written about Las Vegas already, and whether you think it’s gaudy, garish or glamorous, it’s a city you should see at least once for yourself, even if for the sheer spectacle of it all. You can do Vegas high end staying at the best hotels on the strip (try Caesar’s or Bellagio to be in the heart of it all), eating at luxurious buffets, seeing fantastic shows (Cirque du Soleil’s O has been a favourite for years), and going to outrageous night and day clubs. I did this with two girlfriends a few years ago and it was an absolute blast. On the flip side, you can also do Vegas on a budget staying in an apartment or hotel off the strip, doing plenty of walking, eating at local restaurants, and taking advantage of some amazing happy hours. This is how we did Vegas this time. While it helped that we had a car at our disposal, lots of these tips can be used regardless of how you are making your way around Vegas.
-> The Pinball Hall of Fame at 1610 East Tropicana houses hundreds of pinball and arcade games in 10,000 square feet, it’s completely free to enter, most games are 25 to 50 cents to play (all the money goes to charity anyway), popcorn is 25 cents and they have America’s only remaining 1 cent gum ball machine.
-> The Freemont Experience is an hourly light show in Old Vegas which is kind of cool, but only lasts for a few minutes. However, Old Vegas at night time is a spectacle in itself and there are usually a couple of bands playing outside, so this is a great way to spend an evening.
-> As the city of lights chock full of celebrity history, Vegas is an ideal walking destination. We walked from the strip to Old Vegas one night and sure it took a couple of hours, but we got to check out all the famous wedding chapels, the pawn shops, really cool street art, and a bunch of off strip casinos.
-> Don’t forget that each of the casinos offers plenty of ostentatious decor to grab your attention, both outside and in. Visit the Bellagio fountain show, the amazing water wall at Aria and chandelier bar at Cosmopolitan (thanks Hospitality Shero for these tips!), the canals of the Venetian, the stunning flowers at Wynn and Bellagio (thanks to Vannilla for this tip!), or Caesar’s Trevi Fountain aquarium all for free.
Food & Drinks
-> The best places to get discounted food and drinks seem to be the off strip casinos that cater to locals like Ellis Island and the Station Group, which includes 10 casinos around town (imagine 99 cent margaritas all day). Old Vegas casinos have some good deals as well (e.g. $5 burger, chips and beer combo at El Cortez).
-> Avoiding touristy restaurants is usually a good way to ensure quality at reasonable prices. Not an easy feat in a place crawling with tourists! We tried Naked City Pizza for dinner (a little bit touristy since being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives) and Mr. Mamas for breakfast, both great! On the strip, the Outback Steakhouse didn’t seem to inflate prices like some other spots.
-> There are some fantastic deals on the strip during happy hour, particularly on week nights. One of the best deals I saw was 50 cent drafts at Aria’s Five50 Pizza Bar from 5:00-5:50PM! For more deals, check out this list or browse through this website entirely devoted to LV’s Happy Hours (my liver isn’t strong enough to have verified all of these deals so I can’t promise they all still exist).
-> Since Vegas has very liberal open container laws, you can drink on the street to your heart’s content. Make your drink “to go” at your hotel, buy a $1.99 PBR tall boy at Walgreen’s on Las Vegas Blvd & Harmon next to Planet Hollywood (we didn’t find this deal at any other Walgreen’s in Vegas), get 2 tall boys for $5 at ABC Stores on Freemont, or grab a $3 draft beer at Sin City Brewery (it’s actually quite good) and hit the road.
There are plenty of other deals in Vegas if you do some research or wander off the beaten path. Do you have any hot leads on deals?