Most people are surprised to learn that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to really enjoy a fun holiday getaway in Las Vegas. Sure, there are lots of ways to spend (or lose) your money here, but there are also endless ways to entertain yourself without spending a dime. The trick to a memorable, low-cost Las Vegas holiday is to pick one or two things a day to splash out on and spend the rest of the time just soaking in the amazing spectacle of the Strip.
With hotel room rates averaging at US$125 a night for most of the mid-range resorts along the Las Vegas Strip, accommodation here is actually pretty good value considering the wealth of amenities you get with your hotel. But to save even more on lodging, simply stay off-Strip at chain hotels like the Travelodge or Downtown hotels around Fremont Street. The Strip is just five minutes away by bus or taxi. If you have a thing for clowns, the family-friendly Circus Circus resort has the cheapest rooms on the Strip, although it’s located at the very northern end of the boulevard, far from any real action.
Most visitors are more than willing to pay a few bucks more to stay right in the heart of the glittering action of the Strip. Some of the best mid-range resorts like Rio, Bally’s and the Flamingo have very affordable room rates and are located just minutes from the really flash resorts like the Bellagio, the Venetian and Caesar’s. Unless you plan on spending time in your room, there’s little reason to pay a lot for it. Mid-range resorts all have excellent rooms and facilities like pools and game rooms.
The Strip is where virtually all of Sin City’s attractions are found. Every resort has a theme and at least one attraction worth checking out. Anyone can wander around any of the resorts, even the posh ones like Wynn Las Vegas. The dancing musical water fountains of the Bellagio and the erupting volcano at the Mirage are free for anyone willing to stop and take a look. There are even a couple of free shows, like the Mardi-Gras themed Show in the Sky at Rio and Treasure Island’s rather cheesy sexy pirate regale (main image).
For many visitors, just witnessing the over-the-top opulence of resorts like City Center, Wynn Encore and the Palazzo is good fun. Put aside a little cash to enjoy one of the star-studded restaurants or bars inside to make the experience more complete. There are gondolas cruising canals at the Venetian and a stunning indoor botanical garden in the Bellagio’s Conservatory to enjoy.
If you’re on a budget, you probably won’t want to splash out at any of the luxury retailers, but window shopping is free. The shopping arcades at Caesar’s Palace, the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian and the classy boutiques of the Palazzo are absolutely stunning. Every big name in the world is here, from Tiffany’s to Prada.
A staple of the cheap Las Vegas experience is the all-you-can-eat hotel buffet. Resorts at the lower end of the price scale have reasonably-priced buffets, enabling guests to fill up once a day then supplement their hunger with cheap steak and eggs or a dash to McDonalds. Naturally, food quality and selection are reflected in the buffet fee. The buffet at Wynn Las Vegas is as fine dining as any restaurant, but you pay for the quality.
You can even catch a top-flight Vegas show at half price if you’re flexible with the selection and willing to wait until the last minute. There are agents that sells off unsold seats at half the face value on the day of the show. Listings are posted at 09:30 every morning and there are eight kiosks selling such tickets around the Strip. There are even similar discounts on dining and attractions as well.
Happy hour is easy to find in all but the most exclusive bars, ranging from two-for-one drinks and free snacks to all-you-can-drink deals like the one of the Stratosphere’s C Bar. Keep in mind that Vegas doesn’t have open container laws, so it’s okay to wander around the Strip with your beverage in hand.
Everyone wants to try their luck in the casinos while in Vegas but few, if any, games on the Strip are cheap. Budget punters will have to forego the card tables and stick to the penny slots, which have made a welcome return to most casinos in recent years. Sports betting is also readily available, with low minimum bets.