Las Vegas. Desert nights, casino lights, and visions of dollar signs dance through your head when you think of Las Vegas. This city in the desert of Nevada will titillate your senses like no other destination in the world. Coming into Las Vegas during the day there is an air of almost sleepy waiting, like a slumbering dragon you should tiptoe carefully past. Then dusk comes and it is like the thrum of a million drums start pounding until you feel an overwhelming excitement that makes you dizzy with an adrenalin rush that lasts until the day you leave. Coming into Las Vegas at night one almost feels an overload to their senses as they are hit without warning by a montage of glittering sights and sounds.
Blatant decadence, stunning architecture, world wide culture, and innocuous fun all jumble together to create a surreal vacation for even those who have been to Las Vegas multiple times. I drive to Las Vegas at least once a year and even I still feel the beat of those drums as I crest the hill at night and the lights spread out in front of me like a giant lit up Christmas tree stuck in the middle of the desert. Edged with a whisper of danger and illicit irresponsibility, Las Vegas pulls you into a fantasy world where you almost forget reality lays waiting in the outskirts.
Can you visit Las Vegas on a budget? Yes! Las Vegas has more deals than you could imagine. For a city built all around money, Las Vegas can be very wallet friendly if you follow a few simple tips or very wallet draining if you are careless. Las Vegas wants to bring in people to gamble so fantastic deals are always available on the necessities like food and lodging. But realizing Las Vegas is more than just the “Strip”, a viable, real town where people live and shop – is the real secret to having a budget friendly “vacation”. There are parks, and a wide variety of museums, shopping outlets, art galleries, restaurants, and entertainment spread out in the area’s surrounding the famous Las Vegas Strip.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum located at 900 N. Las Vegas Blvd. is a private, non-profit museum and the cost is very economical especially for those with children – at only $7.00 for adults, and $3.00 for children 3-11. The Lied Discovery Children’s Museum is also another good choice for families. Offering 100 hands on exhibits, a fiber optic science tower, and a weather station the museum is located at 833 N. Las Vegas Blvd., costing $6.00 for adults and $5.00 for children and seniors. Off on 450 Fremont St. if art is your thing, you can find the Southern Nevada Las Vegas Art Museum with a collection of art from all over the world. Next door you will find the Southern Nevada Center of the Arts featuring local artists in all forms where you can watch the artists create in their personal studio spaces.
Shopaholics can head south on Las Vegas Blvd. to the Las Vegas Outlet Center at 7400 S. Las Vegas Blvd., or Las Vegas Premium Outlets at 875 S. Grand Central Parkway or the Fashion Outlets at 32100 S. Las Vegas Blvd. in Primm, Nevada.
Free entertainment is literally everywhere in Las Vegas. From street and doorway performers and those wandering through Sunset Park near the airport, the Fremont Street Concerts and Experience Light Show, to free shows in many of the casino’s – there is a never ending feast for your eyes.
Vegas4locals.com gives an extensive list for those who want things at the best price…. $0!
Even crazy eyed, sleepless gamblers need to eat. While Las Vegas seems to have a buffet in absolutely every business imaginable, sometimes you simply need something other than buffet food. One way to cut down expenses for sustenance are the food courts located at places like the Riviera, the Monte Carlo, The New Yorker, and the Fashion Show Mall near Treasure Island…just a few of many. Vegas.com offers a list with prices of “cheap” and even “free” food in Las Vegas. For those more willing to travel away from the strip, Las Vegas is filled with fast food and chain restaurants. Borrow a phone book from your hotel for maps and locations. One word of advice, don’t travel into “downtown” Las Vegas unless you want to lose the illusion Las Vegas has so ably cultivated.
If you need a day away from the overwhelming saturation of Las Vegas, a trip to Boulder City to see the Hoover Dam is one everyone should make at least once. The scenery, the magnificence of the dam, and the history at the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum make the trip unforgettable, even though the heat in the middle of day is almost unbearable. For a truly beautiful experience the Valley of Fire State Park is located only 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas. With petrified wood and 3,000 year old petroglyph the park is a stunning experience.
Visiting Las Vegas this summer could be a budget friendly alternative to those wanting to vacation closer to home, but be prepared for the temperatures; it is after all the middle of a desert. While the temperature can soar to well over 100 degrees during the day, nights get very cool, often a shock of cold after the earlier heat. Swimming pools are a wonderful way for those who want a tan to spend a day in Vegas, but arm yourself with sunscreen and water, so you don’t spend your night looking like a lobster in steaming misery.
Choosing a hotel with a pool is always a wise choice especially if you have children. Casino hotels offer so many specials on rooms your best bet is to research them on the internet prior to your trip and book in advance (although I have never failed to find a room last minute, it stinks to be looking when tired from travel). If you are traveling with your family, you may have to whisk the children through a casino to get to your rooms. The Excalibur is one of my children’s favorite hotels even though I find the rooms a bit unimaginative myself (it could be the arcade in the Excalibur they find so appealing!), and their prices are always within my non-budget.
Las Vegas is easy and economical to fly to, with millions of arrivals and departures each month through McCarran International Airport, and flights as low as $49 from many U.S. cities. Even though Las Vegas is busy year round, with “high season” being usually from January through November, summer deals abound, and this summer, Las Vegas is vying for your business after lower than normal returns in the present economical slump. Driving to Las Vegas is also a wonderful, scenic filled trip and gives you the option to take the 4.5 hour detour to the Grand Canyon (there are also day tours available from Las Vegas) – to wrap up a memorable summer vacation.
There are little bits of wisdom for visiting Las Vegas on a budget. Never depend on “winning” money to get home, keep money hidden for travel expenses, wait until your last day to do most of your shopping, if you gamble and win, always put away the amount you started with to give yourself the chance to “come out even”, don’t let yourself fall for the get rich dream – Las Vegas is in itself one big business and business’ do not give away money! Don’t try to see all the shows – pick one or two (if you can afford it) special shows and purchase your tickets ahead of time, and then take advantage of all the free entertainment!
Think of Las Vegas as a wonderful vacation – not a place to miraculously get wealthy and you will come away tired, satisfied, a little bit jaded (sorry but you can’t avoid that with all the decadence you have been enmeshed in!), and planning your next visit. So, if you find yourself with Summer Vacation budget blues….choosing Las Vegas as your destination could be your answer for a fun filled, economic, and glamorous vacation! And remember, “what happens in Las Vegas……..” yep, you know the rest.
Gould, Lark, When to Visit Las Vegas; SmartTravel