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!
When you arrive to your hotel, you should find a Las Vegas magazine. Inside there is a map of all of the hotels and listing for most of their attractions including prices.
You can do an incredible amount of things for very little or no money. Many of the attractions were free.
Before we went, I went on the internet and printed out quite a few coupons; buy one get one free show tickets, dinners, etc. Just check the websites for a couple of the hotels in the area or for your favorite shows.
The biggest thing to worry about is gambling. We set aside a very small amount of money for this and when it was gone we stopped playing.
You will run into a little trouble in the hotels if you aren't gambling. We played nickel slots while waiting for the free shuttles and other things. Unfortunately there are no places to sit inside of most of the Hotels without sitting in front of a slot machine. While you can just sit there and not play when the casino is quiet, you must be playing as it gets busy or give way to players when they want the machines.
My husband and I had such a great time. We would do it again in a heart beat. Have fun!
Look for cheap buffets.
We use to live in Las Vegas. Some neat places to see in the area are the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Mt. Charleson, and Red Rock Canyon. We were under 21 when my husband was stationed out there in the Air Force, so we did a lot of things that did not include the usual Vegas stuff. You can go bowling at the casinos pretty cheap also.
By Stacy from El Paso
If you can't afford to see Wayne Newton, try to find a Wayne Newton impersonator. Might be even better than the real thing.
This is a very good website to check out for planning your trip to Las Vegas. Have fun!!
Cheap buffets are at the older hotels and less glitzy areas trying to compete with the new hotels. You can eat for hardly any money. We take money to buy jewelry at the pawn shops, which have great bargains left from the gambling losers.
Fremont St. is worth the $2.00 public transit fare. The area is "The Old Las Vegas" and quite interesting with original casinos & shops. Be sure to have the correct change to board the bus, also for your return. The buses run approx. every 20 minutes.
By Pat M
Both my hub and were born cheap. We love LV. We take public transportation from the airport to our hotel. Only a problem if you take too much luggage. There is a free shuttle between the Strip and Sam's Town and a free shuttle between downtown Vegas and Sam's town (So you can go from the Strip to downtown, vice versa for free) and this even gives you a chance to see the Sam's Town show, which is cute. Stop at as many casinos as possible and sign up for their player's book as many offer freebies, 1x1s, and good deals. We love Lady Luck downtown. We get coupons for a beer and foot long hot dog (50 cents). We usually end up with free T-shirts, at least (Just for gambling, which we would have done anyhow). The Fremont Street Experience, downtown is not to be missed. It is every evening (3 or 4 times a night) - light show - A must. If you don't mind strange hours, you can get interesting food, like steak and eggs for under $4.
Downtown food is quite good and quite less expensive than the Strip. You can get 99 cent margaritas and 99 cent shrimp cocktails. Last trip, we found a restaurant that was so cheap, the food was good (needed a little more seasoning), and the portions so big, we wished we had only ordered one entree. Sorry don't remember the name. Unless you are big eaters, we avoid buffets unless we get 2 for the price of one. Do not avoid "no name casinos". There is one on the strip (next door to McDonald's) that always offers something good. They have wonderfully inexpensive drinks which are to die for. There is a little "no name" downtown that gives you a Hawaiian lei (for around your neck), offers free samples of boozed sherbets, and keeps the drinks flowing. Each of the casinos offers some free show to draw you in, so just figure out which interests you (In the strip area).
Also follow Virginia's tips. they are all good ones.
By Marietta (guest)
When planning a trip to Las Vegas, if you make your hotel reservations online, you'll save much more money than doing it by phone. The hotels mention this on their TV commercials.
Las Vegas Freebie:
If you're in Las Vegas, go to 7440 S. Industrial Rd., Suite #210 (corner of Warm Springs & Industrial Rds.), Las Vegas, NV (702) 269-9600, for a FREE Tour of (NVC) National Vitamin Co., they give out FREE Samples. The equipment runs most days from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours Open: Mon.- Sat. 6 a.m.- 5 p.m., Sunday 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Their website is www.nationalvitamin.com .
Free Las Vegas Kids Meals:
when at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino's "Regale Italian Eatery" Restaurant (open nightly), "Ask about our 'Kids Eat Free' Specials".
"FREE Training, FREE Tshirt, FREE Shuttle from The LV Strip, Free Fall from 15,000 Ft. MSL (from the largest & only turbine aircraft in NV, HIGHEST jump for the lowest cost). Las Vegas Sky Diving Center 1-800-964-JUMP (We will match any competitor's price). Ask about our indoor & outdoor skydiving pkgs."
Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden" (Ethel M Chocolates Botanical Garden, 1 Sunset Way, Las Vegas, NV (702) 458-8664 or 1-800-438-4356 desert landscaping in the Ethel M Botanical Garden, a stop for tourists and locals for the past 10 years, be sure to stop by there, they give FREE tours of their fabulous chocolate making company & give FREE samples of your choice of Ethel M Chocolates!! (if in Las Vegas in the wintertime, they have a wonderful Christmas light display during late Nov-early Jan.) Be sure to make this one of your stops!!
Las Vegas: There are many free, fun things to do in Las Vegas, here's some that the others didn't mention: There are the white tigers at the Mirage, the lions at MGM, the masquerade in the sky show at the Rio, the laser light show at Sam's Town (excellent show-there are free shuttles from a number of hotels.), the outdoor fountains at the Bellagio, the pirate battle outside of Treasure Island, the auto collection at the Imperial Palace (look for free coupons in the throw away magazines), the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo Hilton. There is an excellent steak house at Sam's Town "Billy Bob's" that's not budget but very good value for the money. Have a great trip!
Just walk up and down the strip with your friends. Each vote on favorite hotel exterior (my winner was Treasure Island) and favorite hotel interior (my favorite was the Venetian--they have canals. Indoors. With boats in them. And gondaliers. Singing opera.) Watch a fountain show at the Bellagio (you don't have to be close).
Speaking of the Bellagio, have a buffet there. Last year, we didn't find any cheap but yummy buffets, but we did find affordable and amazing buffets. Bellagio was the best. Arrive near the end of breakfast, pay the breakfast price, and have an amazing breakfast. Save some room, though, and when they bring out the lunch things, have a lovely lunch.
If you've never been on a motion-simulator ride, I highly recommend the ones here. I heard the best one was the Star Trek one, but for the price of that one, you can visit every other one in the city, which is what we did. Well, we didn't quite get to all of them. The one with the funnest and best plot is in Luxor. Race to Atlantis (I forget where) has the coolest 3-D one. And even the cheap ones ($2) are fun.