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We are planning a family vacation (with 2 teenagers) to Vegas at Christmas. I was hoping to hear from either locals or people who have gone: on where to stay, on or off the strip or downtown? Where would you eat? What would you do while there? What is the best buffet for the money? Things we should NOT miss? Thanks for your help!
We had a great trip to Las Vegas a couple of years ago. It was for my father in law's 60th birthday and he took all his grown up kids and their spouses for a Vegas weekend. He found the cheapest price at the Sahara, which is certainly showing it's age but has a cool roller coaster and is on the tram (which links all the strip casinos together). We used the tram all the time and I would certainly recommend buying the three day ticket instead of just individual or daily fares.
One thing to keep in mind is that Las Vegas is HOT! We went in September but I don't think the temperature fluctuates too much from month to month. It is also so flat that distances are deceptive. One day we decided to skip the tram fee and walk down the strip. It looked so close to the next casino. After walking for about a half an hour and seeing 2 buses pass us and still not getting anywhere close to where we were heading, we jumped on the bus. Seriously, take the tram!
We didn't have any kids with us and gambling and drinking are everywhere. We saw people drinking right on the tram. There is lots of cool free night life options but also lots of people trying you to go somewhere or spend money. Be aware of the time share people, they will make it sound like something other than a time share presentations. Our hotel people said that we would get taken in a limo to a new resort and made it sound like it was a party that needed more people to make it look good. Not quite. It was your classic hard sell "Don't you care about your family enough to get them a quality vacation . . . ", complete with slow charter bus, coffee and packaged muffins. It took 3 hours out of our vacation for a free dinner. If you have the time and the will power, it is a good way to get tickets to a show or ride but I didn't think it was worth it.
Fremont Street is a must for one of the nights. The light show is fabulous but the casinos and such are so much more seedy. I loved the strip casinos just for their glamour. Our favorites were the Bellagio (the fountains are beautiful), the Venetian, the Wynn and Caesar's Palace. I didn't get to the end of the strip with MGM Grand, the Luxor and Excalibur but they also looked like they had a lot to offer. The best, in my opinion, was Paris! It sounds hokey but it really made you feel, well, like you were in Paris. We had the best food at their regular bistro there and the buffet is something that I plan to try the next time we are there.
Other free things that might be fun for the teenagers would be the show at Treasure Island, the TI sirens. It is sooo silly but pretty cool, for free. Plan to wait because it is usually packed. Depending on how old your teens are, you will want to be aware that there are lots of sketchy handouts for "sex" stuff and improbably dressed women running around. I was 35 and a bit shocked from time to time. I certainly saw "escorts" around.
One other tip would be to sign up for whatever "card" your hotel has for tracking the gambling you do. At the Sahara, they would give away money and prizes daily and also have freebies every day and for signing up. We got free credit for the slots and an ace to use in Blackjack. I won $20.00 for nothing, as I recall. Of course, I walked away, right away! My husband, who has no luck but "a system" lost about $50 in a few minutes more. Stick to the nickle, you can play a long time for almost nothing.
Have a great time. I didn't expect to really like it but I did. It sort of feels like home, a strange, greedy, lusty home, but still! I might even plan a trip with my kids, who are not close to teens yet.
When going to buffets, try going to the one's that do not shut down between breakfast and lunch. Then go right before lunch starts. You'll get the cheaper breakfast price and more selection!
It's been slightly mentioned several times, but Sam's Town is one of THE places to stay when in Vegas for the frugal minded.
It is extremely far away from the Strip but don't let that deter you. They have a shuttle service which is very reliable and the bus drivers are usually friendly (they're wanting tips). Go here for the shuttle schedule:
The hotel itself is small (not for the young party goer) but has the basics and then some.
The first thing worth noting is what they call "Mystic Falls." It is a light show that goes on several times every evening. However, it is also a really neat park during the day...sort of like the thing at Bellagio which makes you feel like you're outside. Go here to see it:
They also have a movie theater and bowling alley for entertainment. The bowling is pretty cheap if you go in the off hours (like early morning and late late night). The bowling alley is open 24 hours (like everything in Vegas).
The have a really yummy Mexican restaurant too. You get a huge plate of chips with several salsas and beans. The portions are large too and could easily feed two people.
I'd also suggest signing up for their emails because you can stay there some nights for as low as 20-30 bucks.
I hope this doesn't sound like a plug, but my husband & I both really enjoy this hotel!
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Interesting view as the plane appears to be heading right for the flag. This photo was taken in Las Vegas.
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