Las Vegas on a Budget

Las Vegas strip attracts budget travelers from around the world.
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In 2018 alone, 42.2 million people visited Las Vegas, and not surprisingly, 45 percent of visitors say vacation is the main draw to Sin City, with about 7 percent visiting just to gamble. The average tourist spends about $527.05 on their trip to Las Vegas, so a lot of visitors travel on a limited budget. Here, a look at some of the budget-friendly ways to visit Las Vegas without spending a lot of money. 

When to Visit

While Las Vegas rarely has a slow season, some holidays, particularly those that create long weekends such as Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day get busy in the city. Stay mid-week to avoid higher rates on the weekends and during holidays. Rates go up when big conventions such as CES and MAGIC are in town, as well. Do consider 

Hotel Tips 

Las Vegas features 150,000 hotel rooms spread across the city with an average 91.3 percent occupancy rate. Best bets for lower rates come at resorts off the Strip or Downtown. No matter where you stay, asking for a free upgrade can result in a room with a better view, on a high floor, or even with more space. Using hotel reward points when booking your room or a credit card that accumulates hotel points can help lower the cost as well. 

Dining Tips

Despite the dearth of celebrity chefs in Las Vegas, the city does have its share of deals when it comes to restaurants. Many hotels have a 24-hour restaurant that serves from breakfast to dinner, offering some of the lowest prices in the resort. 

Another option? Buffets, those cornucopias of all-you-can-eat food. For example, Caesars Entertainment has the Buffet of Buffets pass good all day at five different buffets starting at $59.99 for Caesars Rewards members and $69.99 regularly. Meals here span from breakfast to dinner, with lunch and a weekend brunch in the mix. Multiple stations serve everything from prime rib and crab legs to Asian fare and Italian dishes, sometimes made to order. 

Entertainment Tips

Las Vegas hosts entertainers from comedians and magicians to big-name acts such as Rod Stewart, Shania Twain, and Jerry Seinfeld, with concerts going almost daily. Book show and attraction tickets at discount outlets. Tix4Tonight and Tickets on Demand are just two outlets that offer discounted tickets. Arrive early, like at opening time, for the best shows. Lines generally queue up early to snag Cirque du Soleil tickets.

The city also has a host of free entertainment, such as the Fountains at Bellagio with dancing fountains set to music, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens with its seasonally changing floral displays, a self-guided walking tour of artwork at Aria (ask a concierge for a map), the volcano at the Mirage, and Fiori di Como, the glass sculpture from Dale Chihuly at the Bellagio. 

Ground Transportation Tips

Many resorts on the Strip now charge visitors for parking, adding to the cost of staying in Las Vegas. Instead, rely on different modes of transportation to get around the city. From McCarran International Airport, ride share services such as Uber and Lyft offer the fastest and easiest ways to get to your hotel. Both offer shared rides to lower the cost. Super Shuttle also transports visitors to resorts in a shared ride, but visitors need to decide whether the low cost is worth the long wait to travel from the airport to their hotel. 

Once you’re on the Strip, keep in mind that casinos are further apart than they appear. While walking can be an option (wear comfortable shoes and bring water), Vegas does have transportation options for getting around on the Strip. 

The Deuce, the RTC bus, stops every 15 to 20 minutes along the Strip, and also has the SDX that runs from the Strip to Downtown Las Vegas. A two-hour Strip pass goes for $6, while a 24-hour Strip pass includes unlimited rides for $8. A free tram connects Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur at the south end of the Strip, while another free tram connects Treasure Island and Mirage.

The Monorail runs from the Sahara Las Vegas to the MGM Grand, stopping at the Las Vegas Convention Center along the way, on the east side of the Strip. The four-mile route makes seven stops at six Strip hotels that have Monorail stations. Single ride tickets cost $5, while an unlimited 24-hour pass is $13, and an unlimited three-day pass goes for $29.

Casino Strategies

In 2018, Nevada made $11.9 billion in gaming revenue, making it the biggest source of income for resorts. For the newbie, some table games can seem daunting. Many resorts offer lessons for games ranging from blackjack to craps, usually in the morning. On slower tables, staff will help out newcomers to the game as well, but keep in mind, that the house, meaning the casino, usually wins. The average gambler spent about $130 gambling while in Las Vegas, and Downtown has seen an uptick in the number of gamblers with its lower table limits and penny slots. 

Sign up for player's cards, especially if you plan to gamble. Every resort has one, and signing up is free. Some offer rewards after a certain dollar amount of play while others can be used at restaurants and while shopping for a discount. 

Budget-Friendly Attractions Beyond Las Vegas

Las Vegas is the perfect jumping off point for a visit to the Grand Canyon. Budget travelers can avoid the cost of taking a flight down to the gorge by flying into Las Vegas and renting a car for the 280-mile drive to the South Rim via U.S. Airways Express into Flagstaff, about 90 miles from the South Rim. Rail and bus connections get visitors the rest of the way to the National Park.

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