Whether you’re visiting for the first time, or have been there before, San Diego, California has a lot to offer. So how do you find the best places to visit in San Diego?
Start right here with our handy guide. We’ll give you all of our best recommendations, whether you’re wanting to visit San Diego on a budget, splurge on a romantic weekend getaway, or see the sights with the family.
Before You Go
So you’ve decided you’d like to visit San Diego. The first thing to consider is timing. But when is the best time to visit San Diego?
According to US News and World Report, the best times are in the spring or fall. This way you can take advantage of the beautiful San Diego weather, which stays at a warm 60 or 70 degrees year round, but miss the crowded summer tourist season.
The next thing to consider is how to get to San Diego.
If you live close enough to Southern California, you might decide to take a road trip. If so, we recommend renting a vehicle with unlimited miles in order to avoid added wear and tear on your car. Check out our CarRentals.com coupons and promo codes to save on a car rental whether you’re driving to SD or just picking up a car once you’ve arrived.
For those who would rather not spend too much time in the car, there are plenty of flights to be had into and out of San Diego International Airport (SAN). As always, do your research before booking tickets, as airfares rise and fall regularly. In addition to your favorite travel sites, be sure to check out our coupon codes for airfares, and especially our Virgin America coupons and promo codes, which often offers deals into San Diego, and Southwest Vacations coupons and promo codes, since they have a hub at SAN.
Next is where to stay once you’re in San Diego.
There are a great variety in rates and ratings for San Diego hotels, so plan wisely. You’ll want to stay close to whatever has drawn you to the city, so consider different properties downtown, near the beaches, in old town, or in any of the other beautiful San Diego neighborhoods. In addition to hotels, you might consider other options like vacation rentals, resorts, or even hostels for an inexpensive, but no-frills experience.
To help you save on your room, we have compiled lists of Marriott coupons, Hilton coupons Groupon Getaways coupons and promo codes, and lots of other hotel deals and coupons, so be sure to check them out!
What about getting around San Diego?
Of course, you could rent a car. There are lots of options in and around the airport, as well as in other parts of the city. Check out our car rental deals and coupons page to save if you choose to go this route. Remember to budget for parking, as you’ll have to pay to park in a lot of areas. Here’s a handy downtown San Diego parking map to help navigate the city’s parking options.
There are other fun ways to get around in and near San Diego though. Many of the most popular tourist spots can be reached through the San Diego Trolley, an economical and convenient way to get around town. The usual ride sharing opportunities are available too, so don’t forget Uber or Lyft.
San Diego Attractions
There are so many things to see and do in San Diego, but a few big attractions stand out.
- San Diego Zoo: Home to more than 3,000 animals from over 650 species and subspecies, the San Diego Zoo is considered one of the world’s finest. They’re one of the very few zoos in the world with a successful breeding program for giant pandas, and the zoo is always adding to and improving their exhibits. No trip to San Diego would be complete without visiting the San Diego Zoo.
- San Diego Safari Park (sometimes called the San Diego Wild Animal Park)
- Point Loma tourist attractions
If you’re looking for tickets to the hottest attractions in the region, make sure to stop by our Viator coupons page and Undercover Tourist promo codes page and save some green. Also, you might consider investing in a San Diego Go Card if you plan on seeing several attractions that are included in the program.
San Diego Events & Festivals
San Diego has a wide variety of annual events that draw people to the city from all over the world. SanDiego.org has a full events calendar, but we’ve curated a few of our favorites for your consideration:
- The San Diego County Fair runs for about a month in the early summer. As the largest county fair in the country, it’s a huge event with attendance over a million visitors per year! San Diego Fair tickets ran $18 per adult in 2017, but be sure to check their website before you go, to see what discounts are available.
- Since 1970, San Diego Comic-Con International (once called Golden State Comic Book Convention) has been drawing super hero fans the world over to southern California. These days it’s held at the San Diego Convention Center, and has an attendance of around 167,000. In addition, the audience has grown to encompass many pop culture genres including anime and manga fans, fans of cult television series and films, video game fans, and toy collectors.
- If open air concerts and delicious seafood sound like a fun pairing, you should probably check out San Diego Oysterfest. This adults only event (you have to be 21 to enter) features a variety of live bands and djs, plenty of oysters and other foods to enjoy, live art, and an annual “Shuck & Suck” contest.
Sports & Outdoors in San Diego
With weather this welcoming, you’re sure to want to spend some time outside. Luckily, San Diego has plenty of options for fun in the sun!
- For sports fans, the San Diego Padres at Petco Park are now the only pro team in town, since the Chargers relocated this year. Though they’ve never won a World Series, the Padres manage to maintain a small but loyal fan base. If you go, we recommend dressing in layers as night games can get chilly that close to the water.
- One of the main attractions to the region is the beautiful coastline. A handy tool for knowing which beach to visit is the Beach & Bay Water Quality Program website, which tracks closures and advisories at San Diego beaches from the San Luis Rey River Outlet down to the Border Field State Park. If you brought along the family pet, be sure to also check out the San Diego dog beach finder from BringFido.
- If you love water fun, but the beach is not your scene, there are several major San Diego water parks to choose from, including Mission Bay Aquatic Park, the largest man-made water park in the US.
- Perhaps a San Diego fishing trip is more your speed than a champagne brunch? There are plenty of opportunities for anglers of all skill levels. Choose from freshwater fishing in the area lakes, surf fishing along the coast, or charter a boat and fish the San Diego Bay. No matter which type you prefer, SD Fish has all of the details you’ll need to plan your fishing excursions.
- History buffs and military admirers will appreciate a tour of the USS Midway Museum, the longest serving Navy aircraft carrier of the last century. Aboard you’ll find over 60 exhibits as well as nearly 30 restored aircraft to explore.
- For those who’d rather spend time on the greens than on the water, there are nearly 90 area golf courses to choose from. Golf Advisor gives the destination 3.8 stars out of 5, and has an excellent ratings system to help you choose from among the San Diego golf courses.
- San Diego Balboa Park is 1,200 acres of gardens, museums, theaters, and of course, home to the San Diego Zoo. The outdoor recreational areas include playgrounds, sports complexes, running and biking trails, and plenty of vegetation and wildlife. Check out their calendar for upcoming events before you go.
- No matter the season, San Diego whale watching is a major draw for the area. In the winter and spring, the gray whale migration brings more than 20,000 whales past the area to their nurseries in Baja California. And in the summer and fall, you’ll find some 2,000-3,000 blue whales feeding off the coast. Check out San Diego Whale Watch or one of the other exceptional guides for more details.
- If shopping is your thing, Seaport Village is an excellent location for it. You’ll find over 50 shops, as well as plenty of restaurants, entertainment options and more here along the waterfront. In the Spring the village plays host to a busker festival with some of the country’s best and most unusual street performers entertaining anyone who cares to stop and watch.
Museums, Shows, & Indoor Fun
Even San Diego gets some rainy days. And there are certainly times you’ll want to get out of the sun and spend some time indoors. Here are some fantastic options for it!
- If you’d like to get up close and personal with sea life, but still have a wall of glass separating you, check out one of the many San Diego aquariums. Our pick is the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
- For those with a passion for craft beers, or those who just want to sample some with your buddies, you’ll be pleased to know that there are well over 100 San Diego breweries to choose from. SanDiego.org hosts a complete list of breweries in San Diego County.
- Perhaps you’d rather take in some culture while you’re in town? The San Diego Museum of Art features a permanent collection of over 18,000 objects, as well as temporary exhibitions on loan from all parts of the globe. Highlights include works from Renoir, Matisse, and Reubens to name just a few.
- After the sun goes down, the city comes out to play. San Diego nightlife is vibrant and varied, and you can find rock clubs, jazz halls, karaoke bars, and hookah lounges in nearly every part of the city. We recommend the Gaslamp Quarter downtown, with its more than 100 venues, bars, and lounges.
- If your musical tastes run more toward Mozart and Debussy than Pitbull and Pennywise, be sure to check out the San Diego Opera and the, San Diego Symphony. Here you’ll find classical and jazz works as well as cultural offerings and more.
No matter how you choose to spend your time once you get there, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the welcoming warmth, youthful energy, and natural beauty of this SoCal destination!
So you want to enjoy Orlando, but don’t want to take out a second mortgage to finance the trip. No problem! There are plenty of ways to save some green and enjoy your Orlando vacation.
The Best Time to Visit Orlando
Generally, you’ll get the best prices in Orlando (and the fewest crowds) in the winter months. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to shiver as you explore your favorite Orlando theme parks. Even in the coldest months, Orlando weather stays pretty warm, with an average daily high in the 70s. You’ll also avoid the rainy season in mid-summer by travelling in the winter. When planning your vacation, be sure to check out the Crowd Calendar provided by Undercover Tourist to help you avoid the most crowded days.
Most people elect to fly into Orlando International Airport (MCO), but you can often find better deals elsewhere. When researching flights, also check options flying into Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB), or Orlando Melbourne International Airport (MLB). If you don’t mind a bit of a drive after landing, you may be able to get better air fares by flying into Daytona Beach (DAB), just 50 miles to the northeast, or Tampa (TPA), which is about 90 miles west.
With the majority of travellers flying to and from their Orlando vacations over the weekend, you’ll often find the highest fares on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you can give yourself a little wiggle room on flight dates, you’ll likely find lower prices on mid-week flights.
As always, we recommend shopping around for your flights, since prices can vary from site to site. Some of our favorite places to search are Priceline, Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity. No matter which sites you choose, be sure to also check Southwest Vacations, since Southwest’s fares aren’t available anywhere else.
Where to Stay
The next big decision is of course, where to stay while you’re in Orlando. If you’re only planning to visit Disney or Universal, you might choose to stay on site at one of the Orlando Disney Resorts or Orlando Universal on-site resort hotels, but this can be a fairly pricey experience. Even here though, deals can be found, and if you don’t plan on venturing off the property you might skip the cost of a rental car, so be sure to factor that in too when deciding if you can afford to stay on-site.
Of course, Orlando is a tourism hub with plenty of great hotels and other properties to choose from. Check out sites like Booking.com, Groupon Getaways, Orlando Hilton, and Holiday Inn Express to find discounts on hotel rooms. And be sure to search out Orlando vacation rentals through sites like travelmob and FlipKey if you’d prefer more of a homey experience.
Here are a few of our top picks for Orlando area hotels on a budget:
- Comfort Suites on Major Blvd: While this property doesn’t offer fancy extras and special amenities, it’s easily the least expensive on our list. Stay here if you’re looking for a no-frills experience, with clean and comfortable rooms, helpful staff, and included perks like free WiFi, breakfasts, and parking. As a bonus, it’s just down the road from Universal Studios, and offers a free shuttle service to the park.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Orlando at SeaWorld: If Seaworld is your park of choice, you’ll want to check this one out. You’ll find all of the usual freebies like WiFi and breakfast, but also the Splash Zone water play area for family fun, and free shuttle service to SeaWorld that comes with a bonus SeaWorld Quick Queue pass.
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Orlando East: This property boasts a 5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, so you know they have to be doing something right. Most visitors report that the friendly and helpful staff is the key factor to this gem of a property. While it’s a short drive to the major theme parks and attractions, the quieter neighborhood gives you access to plenty of restaurants and shops without the noise and crowds you might encounter elsewhere.
- Fantasy World Club Villas in Kissimmee: This is an excellent resort near Walt Disney World, boasting plenty of space to stretch out. With a lazy river, two water slides, 18 hole mini-golf, and plenty of kid-friendly activities to choose from, these townhouses and condos are designed for family fun. You’ll also get access to scheduled shuttle rides to and from Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and Seaworld.
Things to Do in Orlando
So you’re visiting Orlando, but you want to check out more than just Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld Parks? There are plenty of other options available. To start, we recommend you check out sites like 365Tickets USA, Best of Orlando, and Viator. There you’ll find discounted tickets for all kinds of Orlando events and shows, as well as attractions, theme parks, and much more. If you plan to visit a variety of attractions, you might also find the Orlando Go Card to be a good value.
The first thing to know is that there are other amazing theme parks available. Orlando has more than their fair share of parks, with all kinds of activities for family fun. Here are some you might not be aware of:
- Legoland Florida: Orlando is home to the largest Legoland, with its own Beach Retreat water park, the new Ninjago World, and plenty of rides, shows, and attractions.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: About 90 miles west of Orlando (but easily within driving distance), Busch Gardens Tampa Bay offers thrilling rides, a Serengeti Safari, and a variety of family-friendly entertainment options. And with 8 different roller coasters to choose from, it’s no wonder they boast “Florida’s best thrill rides”.
- Adventure Island: Also in Tampa, Adventure Island is a fun water park with water slides, a splash zone, the Rambling Bayou lazy river, and a beach area for sand volleyball and other family activities.
Other Attractions and Things to Do
Maybe theme parks aren’t your thing, or you’d like to mix it up a bit and check out some other fun attractions.
- NASA: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is a great place to visit while you’re in Orlando. Whether you’re just in time to attend an actual launch, or you just want to check out the visitor’s center, there is plenty of space-themed fun to be had.
- Sports Teams: In addition to the NBA’s Orlando Magic, there are several other teams for sports fans to check out. If you’re into soccer, you can catch a game featuring the Orlando City SC (MLS) or Orlando Pride (NWSL) at Orlando City Stadium. The Orlando Solar Bears ECHL hockey team play at the Amway Center, and if you happen to be in town during the MLB’s spring training, you can catch the Atlanta Braves at the ESPN Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.
- Golf courses: For those whose idea of a good time involves 18 holes of golf, there are a multitude of options in the Orlando area. TravelGolf highlights some budget-friendly options like Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club, Southern Dunes Golf & Country Club, and Eagle Creek Golf Club. For something a little different, check out footgolf, a mixture of soccer and golf, available at the Diamondback Golf Club in Haines City.
- Chocolate Kingdom: If you’d like to indulge your sweet tooth, a Factory Adventure Tour at Chocolate Kingdom might just fit the bill. You can even make your own custom chocolate bar if you choose!
- Orlando Kart Center: For those with a need for speed, the Orlando Kart Center is a great place to visit. Their Arrive & Drive races provide you with everything you need to experience a race on their huge, technical track.
- Coca-Cola Orlando Eye: Soaring 400 feet above the city, the Orlando Eye offers some of the best views around. In addition to the standard package, they also offer a champagne experience, combo tickets with other attractions, private capsules, and more. Pro tip: book through their website to save 10% off your tickets!
- Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens: Roughly half an hour south of Orlando, you’ll find the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The park is home to over 400 animals from nearly 150 species, including the largest collection of venomous snakes and non-venomous reptiles in the southeast. They’ve also got a children’s barnyard zoo, a tropical splash ground and the ZOOm Air Adventures course with ziplines, rope bridges, and other ways to explore the tree tops!
- Orlando nightlife: As you might expect, the city heats up after the sun goes down, with plenty of nightlife options to choose from. We suggest touring the Universal CityWalk just outside the gates to Universal Studios, laughing it up at the Orlando Improv comedy club, or checking out ICEBAR Orlando for a uniquely frosty experience.
- Orlando Science Center: If you’ve got something a little more educational in nature, the Orlando Science Center offers hands-on fun for kids of all ages. This indoor gem is also a great option if you encounter a rainy day on your vacation.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium: For a bit of quirky fun, check out the Odditorium. They have 600 exhibits and artifacts featuring 16 themed galleries. And don’t forget to check out our Ripley’s coupons and promo codes page to save some green.
- Shopping: Orlando has a wealth of great malls and shopping centers available. Specifically, many enjoy the premium outlets where you can find bargains on your favorite brand names. Check out the Orlando International Premium Outlet Mall and the Orlando Premium Outlets on Vineland Avenue to see what great deals you might find.
Dining on a Budget
While you’re in Orlando, you’re going to need to eat, right? Meals tend to be one of those items some vacationers forget to budget for, so make sure you include a reasonable per diem for food. Of course, meals at theme parks tend to come at a premium, but there are always ways to find bargains.
One great option is to make sure you book a suite or vacation rental that includes a full kitchen. While we’re sure you won’t want to cook every day, preparing just a few meals yourself can really make an impact on your budget. You can also stock snacks and drinks at your “home base” for in between activities.
If you’re spending time in Walt Disney World, there are some great tips you should know to save on food. First, be sure to check out the 10 Best Cheap Eats at Walt Disney World from Disney Fanatic for a guide to some of the best budget bites in the park. Also, make note of these 5 Clever Ways to Save on Meals from WDW Info.
Likewise, there are tips and tricks for saving some green at Universal Studios. If you’re spending a lot of time there, you’ll want to check out the Universal Dining Plan, which allows you to prepay for your meals and save. Also, be sure to check out TripSavvy’s lineup of Universal Orlando’s Top 10 Best Quick Service Restaurants to see where the best bargains can be found.
And outside of the big parks, there are plenty of local eateries to satisfy every taste and budget. The Orlando Sentinel has a nice roundup of cheap eats in the area, so be sure to check it out if you are in need of ideas. And of course, we always recommend sites like restaurant.com or Groupon for deals on dining out.
So, you want to visit New York City without breaking the bank? Never fear! There are plenty of ways to see the Big Apple and save some green while you’re at it. There are plenty of places where you can still see the sites and have great, postcard-worthy experiences, without spending a fortune. Here are a few of our favorite tricks. Don’t forget to check out all of our travel deals and special offers!
When to Go
As with any destination, there are good times and bad times to visit New York. If your concern for timing is purely economic, you’ll want to visit in January and February. These colder months are the low season and hotel occupancy rates drop off dramatically after the holiday season concludes. This is also the time when Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows have more discounted tickets available, museums will be less crowded, and restaurants have more reservation slots available. Remember to bundle up though as the weather will likely be cold and wet.
If you’re the type who likes to participate in a lot of outdoor activities when you travel, you might do better in late spring or early autumn. Avoid the summer months as the city will be hot and humid, not to mention crawling with other tourists, during July and August. Likewise, sightseeing is often best during these months when the weather has warmed up a bit, but the crowds have not yet arrived (or have already gone home).
How to Get There
If you’re flying into New York, there are a few things you should know before you book those tickets.
First, remember that there is more than one airport servicing New York City. Most people are familiar with John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) but you should also be sure to check out flights arriving at LaGuardia (LGA) and even Newark (EWR) as they may be cheaper for your particular dates or from your home area. Likewise, it might make sense to depart from a neighboring city’s airport, rather than the closest one to your home.
Next, shop around. If you’ve only looked at one website, you probably haven’t found the best fares yet. Some of our favorites are Expedia, Groupon Getaways, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Southwest Vacations, but we have a whole page full of deals and promo codes for flights, so be sure to shop around until you’re reasonably confident you’ve found the deal that works best for you.
The Golden Hour: According to the New York Times, the best time to book a ticket on those sites is Tuesdays at 3pm (EST). This is because fares are typically published on Monday morning, then adjusted to beat the competition on Tuesday, with the final “sale” pricing showing up online Tuesday afternoon. While you might find it more convenient to book on the weekend or late at night, you’ll get the best selection of discounted tickets then, so it’s probably worth checking out.
Where to Stay
New York is famous for its landmark hotels. Iconic properties like the Waldorf-Astoria, the Four Seasons, the St. Regis, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Plaza Hotel have been featured in countless movies and television shows. But along with their famous names, they often feature higher than average rates. While these lovely properties are great places to splurge, there are plenty of less expensive options to be found in and around the city.
Some of our favorite inexpensive picks are:
- Pod 51 in Midtown East, with it’s compact but functional rooms, rooftop deck with stunning views, backyard garden terrace, and fun and funky on-site cafe is a great budget property right in the heart of the action.
- The Bowery House in Nolita began life as a flophouse in the 1920’s, but today is a stylish and centrally-located hostel, catering to history buffs and those seeking inexpensive accommodations alike. Yes, you’ll need to share a bathroom, but we think you’ll agree that the price is worth it.
- Sohotel in Little Italy lays claim to the title “the oldest hotel in New York”, dating all the way back to 1805. This beautifully appointed boutique hotel offers access to a craft beer restaurant and bar, fresh organic Italian restaurant, and E&C Lounge Studio, all on its first floor. Above you’ll find 100 beautifully appointed guest rooms with comfy beds, and a touch of that New York character found nowhere else on earth.
- The Hotel Pennsylvania is a true gem just across from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan. Choose from their classic rooms or newly renovated Penn 5000 roms for an impressive value right in the heart of Midtown.
In truth, New York is one of the priciest cities to stay in the country, so do remember that “affordable” is relative here. This is because square footage is at a premium in the city. If you’re planning to spend some time at your hotel and want more than just a place to lay your head at the end of the day, it might be worth looking at options outside of the city and commuting in.
What to See
Of course, New York is packed with lots of expensive attractions and shows, but there are plenty of free or cheap things to see and do as well. This is where you can really save a lot, and still have a great collection of photos to show off when you get home. Here are a few of the most iconic picks.
- Brooklyn Bridge: New York City is home to over 30 bridges, but possibly none so famous as the Brooklyn Bridge. The pedestrian and bike pathway above the vehicle lanes is a great way to get up close and personal with this landmark, and you’ll get some great views of the East River and the city skyline too. Start in Manhattan near City Hall, or on the Brooklyn side at the intersection of Tillary St. and Adams St. Both are easily accessible from the subway.
- Bryant Park: Every year, this park hosts over 1,000 free activities, classes and events, plus you’ll find a games area, Pétanque courts, and other fun community activities. You’ll also find a host of arts and cultural programs with everything from Shakespeare’s most famous works, to open air musicals, dance parties, and even operatic performances! There’s always something going on, so be sure to check out their calendar before your trip.
- Central Park: What could be more “New York” than Central Park? This free public park has been an important part of city life since 1858. There’s always something to see and do in the park, from street performers to playgrounds, statues to arches and bridges. For family friendly fun, check out Victorian Gardens amusement park ($8.50/$9.50 admission plus ride tickets) or the Central Park Zoo (admission runs $13-$18).
- Grand Central Terminal: So much more than just a hub of transportation, New York’s Grand Central features a wealth of options for dining, shopping, entertainment, and more. There is always something going on, something to see, and something to do. For a bit of added interest, you can rent an audio tour device in the terminal for $9, or download the app for $4.99 and find out about the history, architecture, and other features of the terminal.
- The High Line: Formerly a freight line travelling above the city, The High Line has been converted into a beautiful and scenic park. Floating above the streets of Manhattan’s west side, this public park is home to water features, wildflowers, and wide open lawn space perfect for picnics. If you’d like to know more about the park’s history and design, join in a free walking tour on Tuesday evenings or Saturday mornings.
- The Statue of Liberty: Since 1886, Lady Liberty has stood in New York Harbor, greeting visitors and immigrants alike. She’s a symbol of freedom, and of New York, so it would be a shame to miss her. Fortunately, you can get a selfie with the statue for no cost at all! For the most frugal way to see the statue, take a free ride on the Staten Island Ferry starting from Whitehall Terminal. You’ll get close enough for some great photo ops. If you prefer a more hands-on visit, there are three types of tickets. One will take you all the way to her crown, one will only allow you access to the pedestal of the statue, and finally, one only gives you access to the grounds on Liberty Island, and they range from $18.50-$21.50. All ticket levels also give you access to Ellis Island. During busy times, Crown Reserve tickets can sell out six months in advance, so be sure to book early. You’ll also need to pay for ferry tickets to the island, so don’t forget to budget those too.
Skip the Rental Car
For native New Yorkers, this almost seems like it should go without saying. If you’re not planning on leaving the city, there is no reason to rent a car. New York is one of the easiest cities in the US to get around without one. Walk, take the subway, hop on a bus, train, or ferry, or hail a cab, Uber or Lyft driver, to get from place to place without having to deal with constant traffic and sky high parking fees.
If you are planning on venturing outside of the city and would like a rental to experience autumn foliage, or visit neighboring states and other nearby cities, we have some excellent rental car deals and promo codes from Alamo, Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, and more.
New Orleans, LA, or N’awlins for locals, has a unique flavor all its own, and plenty of budget-friendly options. Once dubbed “The City that Care Forgot”, it’s certainly a perfect destination to let all your worries fade away. According to their tourism board, it’s also the “Festival Capital of the World”, with dozens of festivals taking advantage of the welcoming New Orleans weather throughout the year.
Whether you’re taking in the wild party atmosphere of Mardi Gras, enjoying the smooth sounds of Jazz Fest, sampling the bold flavors of Cajun and Creole cooking, touring the beautiful and historic mansions of the Garden District, or seeking out the spooky and macabre, the Big Easy will not disappoint.
Here are some tips to keep your visit on-budget and enjoyable, no matter if you’re in town for business or pleasure, staying for a road-trip stopover, a weekend getaway, or a longer vacation.
Mardi Gras Season
Mardi Gras is known as “the biggest free party on Earth”. This massive festival originally began as a last hurrah before the more austere season leading up to Good Friday. Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday”, for French Catholics it was the last day to enjoy decadent foods before the ritual fasting of Lent. In NOLA, the festivities start 12 days after Christmas (the “Twelfth Night”) and culminate the day before Ash Wednesday, 47 days before Easter.
Because the crowds descend on the French Quarter for Mardi Gras, you’ll need to book ahead of time. The best deals on flights can be had months in advance, so you’ll want to make your reservations the summer before. (Yes, we do mean six months early.) Check your favorite deal sites early and often. And don’t forget to check in with our Travel Deals for sites like Priceline, Expedia, Groupon Getaways, Orbitz, Southwest Vacations, and Travelocity.
You’ll also need somewhere to stay. With about 38,000 hotel rooms in the city, and 1 million visitors for Mardi Gras, it’s easy to see that rooms will sell out fast. Even six months out, you’ll pay $200+ per night for the absolute cheapest rooms in the French Quarter, where the heart of the party is found.
You can often find less expensive accommodations on sites like Airbnb, but do your research before booking. Some of these are pretty far from the action, and you don’t want to find yourself paying more than you counted on (in both time and money) to commute to and from the party.
If you are planning to commute, consider a room in one of the suburbs of the city. Prices there will still be high during Mardi Gras, but not nearly as much as those near the parade routes.
Next, you can have plenty of fun for free in the streets, but you’ll need to show up early and be prepared for crowds all day. Also, you’ll need to eat and drink. If bar hopping is your idea of a good time, you might want to stay away from Bourbon Street. Food will be cheaper away from the main drag too. And restroom availability in the heart of the party can be a big problem. Our suggestion is to spend some time in the thick of it, but plan to also venture away from time to time.
Pro Tip: According to Angela Colley of DealNews, your best bet may just be to skip the big day altogether. You can enjoy plenty of Mardi Gras revelry in the days and weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday, but the prices go through the roof on the day itself. Check the official schedules, and book your trip to coincide with one of the earlier parade days. Your wallet will thank you!
The French Quarter
The rest of the year, the French Quarter of New Orleans is still a great place to visit. It’s packed full of history, culture, and plenty of NOLA fun. Largely undisturbed by the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina, the Quarter remains a tourist magnet for those visiting New Orleans.
If your plan is to spend most or all of your time in the Quarter, you won’t need to worry about a rental car. Almost everything is within walking distance of everything else. And if you can’t walk there, you can always hop on one of the iconic and historic streetcars.
If the nightlife and party scene is your thing, be sure to check out Bourbon Street. It features about eight blocks of bars and restaurants, and almost every night there’s a party to be had somewhere.
For a somewhat less bawdy experience, check out Royal Street. Just a block from the bars and the parties, you’ll find a variety of art galleries, antique stores, and more. It’s a fun destination for window shopping, since the wares offered tend to be on the pricey side. Every afternoon, three blocks of Royal Street are closed off to traffic, and you’ll often find a variety of street performers there, including up and coming jazz musicians.
From Royal, travel one more block closer to the mighty Mississippi River, and you’ll encounter Chartres Street. Because it’s less well-known than it’s neighboring promenades, Chartres features fewer crowds and less expensive prices. You’ll find the same preserved colonial architecture, along with a variety of local shops, cafes, and bars.
Jackson Square is one of the must-see stops in the city. It’s also a perfect place for free entertainment! Here you’ll see plenty of open-air performers of all flavors, from musicians to painters to palm readers. It’s also a great place to encounter street vendors, outside the park’s fences. Be sure to check out the stunning architecture of St. Louis Cathedral while you’re there.
Other interesting and inexpensive points of interest in the French Quarter include:
- French Market: Six blocks of shopping, including fresh food vendors, a flea market, cafes and bars, and much, much more.
- Decatur Street: Home of Café du Monde, The Palm Court Cafe, and House of Blues, Decatur Street is a great place to catch live music, with plenty of shops and cafes throughout.
- House Museums: Several of the old houses in the French Quarter have since been converted to museums. Ticket prices are typically less than $20/person, with some in the $3-$5 range.
- Canal Street Ferry: Starting in the Quarter and heading to Algiers, the ferry is a cheap way to ride across the river. Fares are only $2/adult, $1/senior, and kids ride free!
- The Presbytère: If you’d like to learn a bit about the city’s history and culture, The Presbytère museum just off Jackson Square is a great place to start.
The Garden District
Probably the most well-known neighborhood of uptown New Orleans, the Garden District houses one of the largest collections of historic mansions in the south. The district traces its history back to the 19th century, when wealthy Americans began moving to the city after the Louisiana Purchase. More recently, it’s been home to celebrities like Anne Rice, Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage, and Trent Reznor.
Be sure to check out the area around Prytania Street and Washington Avenue, where you’ll find the frequently-filmed Lafayette Cemetery No.1, along with a charming collection of shops and restaurants.
At the edge of the district lies a working class area called the Irish Channel, named for the first generation Irish immigrants who originally settled along this section of the river. You’ll find some fantastic Irish pubs there, where locals like to go to enjoy a pint or a po’boy.
Perhaps the best way to take in the sights and history of the Garden District is to enjoy one of the many tours available. Here are a few of our favorites:
- This Self-Guided Garden District Tour from Free Tours by Foot offers a great overview of the area. You’ll start at The Grocery on 6th Street, a perfect example of a NOLA deli (and a great place to grab some lunch!), and wind your way through the area, ending with the Commander’s Palace Restaurant. Price: Free
- If you prefer to see the district with a knowledgeable and friendly tour guide, you might want to check out the Garden District/Cemetery Tour from Historic New Orleans Tours. You’ll learn about the history of the area as well as see all of those familiar places from films and novels. Price: $25/person
- For a more focused option, Save Our Cemeteries offers a guided tour of Lafayette Cemetery No.1, highlighting the history and significance of the above-ground burial sites here. Better yet, the proceeds go toward restoration of the historic cemeteries throughout the city. Price: $15/person
New Orleans Food
New Orleans is a foodie’s paradise. It seems there’s a new flavor on every block and many familiar dishes were created or perfected in the Big Easy, then exported to the rest of the country.
You may not realize it, but New Orleans actually boasts two major types of cuisine. While the words may be used interchangeably by the uninitiated, Cajun and Creole food are not actually same.
Creole cuisine was developed by the settlers in French colonial New Orleans, and features flavors derived from a variety of cultures including Italy, Spain, Africa, Caribbean, and Native American.
Cajun cuisine, originating from those displaced to the region from their homes in French Canada, often starts with the French mirepoix basics of onion, celery, and bell pepper, then adds the variety of seasonings and spices for which it is famous.
But of course, the food culture of New Orleans is a lot richer than just these two cuisines might suggest. Here are some must-try dishes, along with our recommendation of where to sample them.
- Beignets: These sweet breakfast pastries are NOLA’s answer to the doughnut. Deep fried and covered in powdered sugar, the premiere place to get them is Cafe Du Monde at the French Market. Breakfast here will run you about $5, depending on your choice of beverage, but be prepared for crowds.
- Boiled Crawfish: During crawfish season (typically March-June), you can find crawfish boils at bars and taverns all over the city for surprisingly little money. Our pick is The Original Cajun Seafood Company, where they’ll run you about $5-6/lb. Once they’re out of season though, the price will spike, so be prepared.
- Boudin: Boudin is a delicious sausage with its roots in Cajun cooking. Traditionally made from pork, rice, onion, and seasonings, it’s a staple of Cajun boucherie (the practice of butchering the whole hog). Less traditional options include Boudin Balls, where the sausage filling is shaped into balls and then deep fried. Our pick for traditional boudin is Cochon Butcher on the corner of Tchoupitoulas St and Andrew Higgins, where a small plate of hot boudin will cost you just $6.
- Gumbo: Possibly NOLA’s most famous dish, gumbo is a must try for any food fanatic. Traditionally made from vegetables, seafood, meat, and filé (powdered ground sassafrass leaves), the remaining ingredients (and the specifics of the main ones) are left up to the chef’s choice. In fact, the inclusions of tomatoes in the gumbo is a good way to tell if a menu originates from Creole (with tomatoes) or Cajun (without) traditions. If you’d like to try the good stuff, check out Parasol’s Bar & Restaurant in the Irish Channel. It’ll set you back just $4.50/cup and is a staple stop for locals.
- Jambalaya: Traditional jambalaya is a rice dish with meat and/or seafood, veggies, and well-seasoned stock cooked right in. It’s one of those dishes that captures the rich and diverse flavor palette of the city, and every chef adds their own signature twist. Try some for lunch weekdays at Cafe Reconcile on Oretha C Haley Blvd. You can get a side of jambalaya by itself for just $4, or enjoy it paired with any of their delicious entrees. As a bonus, the cafe revolves around a program designed to provide job training and life skills to young people in at-risk neighborhoods.
- Muffuletta: A staple of lunch menus at bars and delis across the city, the muffuletta is a local favorite. This enormous sandwich is built to share, so don’t expect to down one by yourself. It’s a cravable combination of various Italian cheeses and meats, spread with a spicy olive salad that gives the sandwich its signature flavor. We recommend trying out a quarter for under $6 at Alberto’s Cheese & Wine Bistro in the French Quarter.
- Oysters Rockefeller: While the name might make you think of New York, this dish is pure New Orleans. This one is a bit a pricier, but it’s worth the extra money to try this dish done right. It was originally developed at Antoine’s Restaurant, and we recommend trying it out at their attached Hermes Bar, where 6 oysters will run you $15.
- Po’Boy: Fried shrimp and french bread are the staple ingredients of this Big Easy favorite, which may come “dressed” with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo. If you’re not into shrimp, try other variations like oyster, catfish, crawfish, sausage, chicken, or roast beef. Enjoy them at local favorite sandwich shop, Guy’s Po Boys on Magazine St., where you can get a 6” sandwich for about $10.
- Pralines: Creole pralines are a sweet treat made from pecans, sugar, butter, and milk. There are plenty of places to sample this confection, but we suggest Loretta’s Authentic Pralines where you’ll find additional flavors like peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, and rum. There the cookie-sized candies cost under $3 each.
- Red Beans and Rice: No discussion of food in New Orleans would be complete without the Creole staple of red beans and rice. You’ll find this dish paired with just about every type of meal in the city. A favorite hole in the wall is Cajun Mike’s on Baronne St. where they serve it up with smoked sausage for just $6/plate.
- Shrimp Rémoulade: Fresh gulf shrimp, covered in rémoulade sauce and served cold over a bed of greens makes for one tasty and unique dish. Try it at Mandina’s Restaurant on Canal St. for $12.50. You’ll also find a good selection of other NOLA seafood classics, as well as American staples like pork chops, fried chicken, and hamburgers.
New Orleans Music
The music of New Orleans has always been an important part of the city. NOLA’s rich musical heritage and wealth of street performers, clubs, music venues, and up-and-coming talent make it a great place for music lovers to visit. You’ll find bright and happy brass bands, smoky blues clubs, and of course, that Dixieland Jazz sound the city is famous for.
Probably the second biggest party of the year is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest), held each year on the last weekend of April through the first weekend of May. In addition to traditional jazz and blues sounds, you’ll find every other flavor of music Louisiana has to offer, from Cajun and zydeco bands to rock and hip hop musicians. There are always several notable names featured, from the first Jazz Fest headed up by Mahalia Jackson in 1970, to last year’s headliners, which included Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Snoop Dogg to name just a few.
If you’re wondering which bands are playing in the city, be sure to pick up a copy of OffBeat Magazine, or simply visit their website. They list live musical performances from all genres, in all areas of town, so it’s a great way to keep up with the local music scene.
Jazz & Blues
Known as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans is a must-visit destination for jazz lovers of all ages and tastes. If you’re in town for some NOLA jazz, the most iconic venue in town is undoubtedly Preservation Hall. The Hall is packed to the limit almost every night, so get there at least an hour early and be prepared to wait in line.
If the crowds at Preservation Hall are not your thing, there are plenty of other inexpensive jazz clubs and venues to be had. Here are a few of our favorite spots:
- Jazz in the Park: In Louis Armstrong Park, you can often find open-air performances, vendors, and more. Some performances are ticketed, but many are free and open to the public. Check out their site to get details on upcoming park music events.
- Frenchman Street: You’ll find several jazz clubs on Frenchman Street in Marigny. Favorites include The Spotted Cat Music Club, Blue Nile, or Snug Harbor.
- Candlelight Lounge: Tucked away in Treme, the Candlelight Lounge is a favorite venue for authentic jazz. This neighborhood dive bar plays host to live brass bands in a relaxed and friendly environment.
- Balcony Music Club: You’ll find some of the best nightly live music on Decatur Street at the Balcony Music Club (BMC for short). Even better, there’s no cover charge, and drinks are reasonably priced, so it’s a great place to experience the music scene without spending a fortune.
Originating in southwest Louisiana, zydeco is a brand of music with its roots in the French Creole bayous. This uptempo dance music features instruments like accordions, washboards, and fiddles. It’s the kind of joyful sound that can be quite infectuous!
If you happen to be in town at the end of June, be sure to spend some time at the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival at Louis Armstrong Park. Admission is free, and the festival is held rain or shine.
For some good Zydeco music the rest of the year, here are a few places to find live bands:
- Mid-City Lanes Rock’n’Bowl: One part bowling alley, one part live music venue, Mid-City Lanes hosts a variety of musical styles, but every Thursday night is Zydeco Night.
- Mulate’s: Hailed as “The Original Cajun Restaurant”, you can find live zydeco music here most evenings. Bring your dancing shoes!
- The Old Opera House: Located on the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse in the French Quarter, the Old Opera House features a zydeco band in the afternoons, followed by rock in the evenings.
New Orleans with Kids
If you’re visiting the city with younger members of the family, there are a lot of great things to do that won’t break the bank. Here are a few of our favorite kid-friendly attractions to check out:
- A fun outdoor playland that’s open seven days a week, Storyland at New Orleans City Park features life-sized versions of favorite storybook characters. Kids can play on and around Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, Captain Hook’s pirate ship, a fire-breathing dragon, and more! Cost: $4/person, kids 36” and under free
- The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a fun place to learn and play. Kids can experience a giant soap bubble from the inside, learn about and work simple machines like pulleys, learn problem solving skills with Ruff Ruffman from FETCH!, and so much more. Cost: $8.50/person
- Kids will love riding on the streetcars in New Orleans. These brightly-painted cars offer an inexpensive way to get around the city, and there are four lines to choose from. Cost: $1.25/ride or $3/day pass
- Minigolf is always a family favorite activity, and City Putt in City Park offers two courses with 36 holes in all. The greens were just replaced in the spring of 2017, so the whole place has had a recent facelift. Cost: $8/person, $6/kids age 4-12 (3 and under free)
- Rent a bike! You can rent bikes to cruise around the city. Each rental comes with a helmet, bike lock, cycling map, basket, and lights. Adult cruisers and 20” kids cruisers available. Cost: $10/1 hour, $25/4 hours, $30/8 hours, $40/day (Multi-day discounts also available.)
- The Presbytère museum on Chartres St. has a fun Mardi Gras exhibit that kids love. There’s also an exhibit documenting Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cost: $6/adult, $5/student
If you’re the type of person who enjoys tours, New Orleans is the perfect destination for you. There are so many options! Here are a few we recommend you check out, but be sure to also check our coupon pages for Viator and 365Tickets USA, as they often have special prices on touring options.
- For book lovers, a literary tour is a must in New Orleans. Travel + Leisure has an excellent (and free) self-guided literary tour to follow which includes notables like Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, and Truman Capote.
- Perhaps your leisure tastes run a little more active? The Big Easy offers some truly enjoyable bike tours. Check out bike tour companies like Confederacy of Cruisers, Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours, and Buzz Nola. There’s also a Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tour for those who would like to see the remarkable rebuilding still ongoing after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
- In a city with history as wifld and diverse as New Orleans, there are sure to be a few “hauntings” about. Ghost stories abound in this spooky city, and so do ghost tours. We recommend French Quarter Phantoms’ Ghost and Vampire Tour, for an inexpensive, spooky, and fun diversion. Of course, we couldn’t possibly mention the spooky history of New Orleans without including a voodoo tour. Check out the Cemetery/Voodoo Tour from Historic New Orleans Tours for a delightful experience in the City of the Dead.
- If you’d rather get out of the city and experience some of the surrounding flora and fauna, perhaps a swamp tour is right for you. Our pick is the Cajun Pride Swamp Tours by Boat, which highlights the wildlife of the Manchac Swamp, about a half an hour outside the city. They also have options that include transport from your hotel if needed.
- Back in town, a fun and free option for art lovers is the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans Museum of Art. Inquire at the entrance to the garden about the free audio tour, accessible through your cell phone.
- If you prefer to spend some time on the water, you might enjoy a river cruise on the mighty Mississippi. We recommend the Historical River Cruise aboard the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen. In addition to an hour and a half on the boat, you get to spend an hour at the historic Chalmette Battlefield, guided by National Park Rangers.
- Finally, a big hit with history and nature lovers alike, plantation tours are a great way to spend an afternoon in NOLA. One beautiful option is a tour of the Longue Vue House & Gardens, a lovely estate in Metairie, dating back to 1939.
So you’ve weighed your options and decided to take a trip to Sin City for a little “what happens here stays here” fun. Once upon a time, Vegas was considered one of the best destinations for super cheap vacationing, but times have changed. These days, since all of the big-brand resorts moved in, you’ll have to pay a bit of attention if you want to save on your Las Vegas trip, but there are still plenty of deals to be had! Here are our top travel tips to help you plan your visit.
To Drive or Not to Drive?
You might be tempted to drive to Vegas, and for some this may be the best option. If you compare the average airfare cost vs. the cost of gas, it certainly looks more frugal to drive there from most of the southwestern states. But gas prices are just the tip of this iceberg. You’ll need to factor in wear and tear on your car, or the cost of a rental car. You’ll need to stop, probably several times, for food/drinks/snacks. Unless you live close enough to drive straight through, you’ll have to spend a night on the road, so include the cost of a hotel along the way. And even if you do live close enough not to stop, you’re still eating away at your vacation time. If it takes you a day to get there and a day to get back, that’s two days that could be spent having fun or relaxing! Finally, remember that at the end of your trip, you’re going to have to drive all the way back, which will likely leave you exhausted rather than refreshed.
On the other hand, there are plenty of ways to save on airfare to get to and from your destination more efficiently and with minimal hassle. We recommend checking out our Virgin America deals, because they always seem to have great specials heading to Vegas. While you’re at it, be sure to check sites like Lookupfare, and SmartFares for discount airline tickets from all of the major airlines. If you plan ahead and can be a little bit flexible on your timing, you can often score amazingly low prices on airfare. And don’t forget to check smaller airports in your area. It might be worth it to drive an hour to a different airport in order to save big on tickets.
Travel Deal Sites
It seems like there are literally hundreds of travel deal sites out there, and for the frugal traveller, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices. Fortunately, we’ve curated the best deals from a few of our favorites to help you cut through the clutter and get to the good stuff. These sites offer deals on a variety of travel bookings, including hotels, flights, car rental, vacation packages, and more. And don’t be afraid to mix and match. You may find your best airfare from one site, but get a sweet deal on car rental on another.
- Booking Buddy’s motto is “travel search made simple”, and they really live up to that claim. You can book flights, hotels, vacation packages, vacation rentals, and car rentals all from the same site. And if you combine your flight and hotel bookings, you’ll save up to 30%!
- Booking.com lays claim to the title “the world’s largest travel site”. In addition to great rates on flights and accommodations, they can offer discounts on rental cars and restaurants too. And unlike many travel deal sites, they offer free cancellation on most rooms, so if you find a better option later you won’t be locked in.
- Groupon has always been a great resource for discounted dining, event tickets, and more, and now with their Groupon Getaways site, they’ve broken into the travel market with a bang. Check out Groupon-exclusive flash deals for hotel rooms on or off the strip, discounted air-inclusive packages, and more.
- OneTravel offers great prices on hotels, flights, cars, and vacation packages, all in one convenient site. You can book everything online, or for a more personalized service, call one of their agents and book by phone. They’re available 24/7 and always happy to help with advice on how to score the best prices for your trip.
- You may know TripAdvisor for their helpful forums and handy travel reviews, but you can actual book your travel reservations through their site too. They can help you find great deals on hotels, flights, and vacation rentals, but also restaurants, attractions, and other things to do. And with their reviews and travel tips at your service, you’ll be sure to have all the details you need to get the right bookings for a great Vegas experience.
Timing and Location
As with any travel plans, your timing can make a huge impact on the price of your trip. You’ll get far better rates on rooms on the strip mid-week as the premium prices are generally Friday and Saturday night. And avoid times when there’s a major boxing match or consumer electronics show in town. New Year’s Eve is also a poor choice for the frugal, as it’s Vegas’s priciest holiday. The sweet spot is just after the holidays in Mid-January, when everyone else is getting back to work.
When choosing a hotel, don’t make the mistake of simply booking the cheapest room you can find. You may find yourself needing to commute to where all the action is, and spending more on bus fare or parking. There are still a few locations in the heart of the fun that offer affordable rooms. Be sure to check out the following low-priced gems, each located mid-strip, and each with their own convenient monorail stop, for easy access.
- Bally’s Las Vegas: Stay at Bally’s and you get two casinos for the price of one. Because they’re connected to Paris Las Vegas, you won’t even have to brave the Vegas heat to get there. And as a bonus perk, you can use the Paris pool and other amenities. Book a room in the older, south tower, for even cheaper rates.
- Flamingo Las Vegas: If you’re staying at the Flamingo, don’t pass up the opportunity to visit their garden wildlife habitat. They’ve got a beautiful variety of birds, plants, and flowers, and it’s a great place to snap photos.
- Harrah’s Las Vegas: This gem is considered to be about the best for location, with prime real estate right in the middle of the strip. If you stay there, be sure to check out the Oyster Bar, which always gets rave reviews, and try to book one of their remodeled rooms, as the older ones seem to get a lot of negative comments on travel forums.
Other Hotel Options
If you’d rather splurge a bit on your hotel, we have some excellent ways to save on a room in one of the more expensive locations as well. Be sure to check these deals out:
- Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas: Caesar’s Palace is known as one of the best spots on the strip for gambling. This classic casino with an upscale feel is a great place to check out high limit table games like blackjack, craps and baccarat. They’ve also got the largest poker room in Vegas, with daily tournaments, and 24 hour games of all of your favorite poker variants. Be sure to check out their sports and race books, slots and video poker, and plenty of other gaming options too. And for entertainment, Caesar’s will not disappoint with A-List shows from performers like Elton John and Shania Twain, plenty of night life options, and more.
- Cromwell Hotel and Casino: A slightly lesser-known option, The Cromwell offers the strip’s first standalone boutique hotel. This one will give you a more luxurious and intimate feel than most properties on the strip, with a romantic, Parisian-inspired look and feel. You’ll also find a full casino with slots, table games, and an elegant, secluded gaming room called The Abbey for those looking for a more intimate gaming experience.
- Planet Hollywood Las Vegas: If you prefer more of a party atmosphere, Planet Hollywood may just be your favorite destination on the strip. Stay in the south tower for an amazing view of the Bellagio’s fountains, and you’re sure to enjoy the Italian/Mediterranean themed decor in the hotel. If you’re into pop music, Planet Hollywood is also home to some of the hottest entertainment in town, with resident headliners like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and the Backstreet Boys. If pop is not your thing, you may prefer to check out magic acts like Murray the Magician, or join the studio audience of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
- Holiday Inn Express: Maybe the strip is just not your thing, and you’d rather stay in a spot that’s not surrounded by the crowds, the noise, and the traffic. If that’s the case, be sure to check out one of four Holiday Inn Express locations in and around Sin City. You’ll enjoy quick and convenient check in and check out, comfortable rooms, helpful staff, and a more family-friendly atmosphere.
We also have to mention the Hotel Power Club because it really is one of the best deals around for frequent travellers. Members can save up to 70% off hotel stays in Las Vegas or any destination around the world. Membership is only $49 per year, and in addition to great rates on hotels, you’ll gain access to exclusive amenities, complimentary upgrades, cash back deals, and discounted flights, rental cars, attractions, cruises, and more.
Maybe you’d rather have everything rolled into one easy-to-book package when you travel. Rather than spending time booking your airfare, hotel, car, and activities separately, why not take advantage of one of these great package deals? You’ll save time and money, and get to enjoy some fun perks and activities too! We recommend Southwest Vacations for fun packages like Treasure Island Las Vegas, where you’ll find gourmet dining, a beautiful pool area, and tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère too. Plus, with Southwest Airfare, you know you’ll get a great deal on your flights.:
If you have a passion for cuisine, you’ll be glad to know that Las Vegas has a wealth of dining options available, with everything from their world-famous casino buffets to burger joints and delis, to restaurants brought to you from some of the most famous chefs in the world. Be sure to check out Restaurant.com for amazing deals on some of the lesser known dining options available.
If you’re looking for high end fare, the Zagat Guide suggests Raku for a lower-priced, but still quite upscale dining experience. This Japanese destination for Las Vegas foodies offers high-end small plates. And don’t miss their monthly Sake sampler to try out three new specially-chosen imported sakes each month.
If you’d rather sink your teeth into an amazing burger, USA Today’s 10Best list suggests you give Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay a try. They have an amazing line up of traditional and unique options, including a build-your-own menu featuring classics like certified angus beef, and more unique options like lamb burgers and atlantic salmon steaks, as well as a wide variety of toppings and sauces sure to please even the pickiest palate.
And if you’re looking to save a buck while enjoying great food on the strip, check out Huffpost’s guide to 12 of the Best Bites Under $12. They’ll tell you where to find the best inexpensive tacos, pizza, and ramen, plus spa cuisine, seafood, and bakery specialties that are too tasty to pass up!
Don’t forget to book your car rental if you plan on leaving the strip to head to nearby destinations like Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon, Lake Meade, Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park, and other beautiful southwestern features. Check out the best rental car coupons and deals from Sixt Car Rental, Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo, and more. If you’d rather have someone else do the driving, we’ve got you covered there too. Check out our promo codes for Uber or Lyft to help you get around town on the cheap.
Free Valet Parking
What if you’ve decided to stay off the strip and drive in? Parking can be a beast, so if you can get someone else to handle it, why wouldn’t you? According to Las Vegas Weekly, you can still get free valet parking “at the Shops at Crystals (the high-end mall in front of Aria) or the Shoppes at Mandalay Place (between Mandalay Bay and Luxor)”. Don’t forget to tip your valets!
Remember you’re not bound to play your favorite games at the same hotel where you’re staying. This is key because some casinos offer higher payouts than others. For example, Michael Shackleford, (the Wizard of Odds) has released reports on Video Keno and Video Poker, and which games will payout more often. If BlackJack is more your style, you’ll want to keep an eye out for tables with true 3:2 payout rates, as opposed to the reduced 6:5 rate seen at many casinos these days. GamblingSites.com has a handy guide to the best blackjack tables to play, with details on why they’re the top. Whatever game you’re fond of, there’s probably a guide online to help you find the best place to play it. Be sure to do your research before you go, so you’ll be able to stretch your gaming dollars further.
Free Things to See and Do in Vegas
It’s easy to spend in Vegas, and many a traveller has come home with far lighter pockets than they’d like. But of course, there’s more to Las Vegas than dropping huge amounts of cash in the casinos or expensive event tickets. Vegas.com has a whole list of free attractions to entice and entertain the frugal visitor. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Ethel M. Botanical Cactus Garden: The largest botanical cactus garden in the US is in Henderson, and it’s free to visit. Spend some time at Ethel M’s Cactus Garden, admiring over 300 species of cacti, succulents, and other arid-climate-loving greenery. Visit this desert oasis in the spring and you’ll be amazed at the beautiful and colorful blooms throughout the four-acre garden. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, it’s located just behind the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory!
- The Fremont Street Experience: Yes, the biggest stars and headliners play to packed audiences on the strip, but The Fremont Street Experience offers free light shows every night of the week, and free live music on three different stages, including big names like Fuel, Good Charlotte, and Rick Springfield. Be sure to check out their calendar to see who’s in town and you’ll see big shows without spending big money. And it’s only about a 10 minute car ride from the heart of the Strip.
- The Aquarium at the Silverton Hotel: For a relaxing and mesmerizing view, be sure to stop in at the Silverton and check out their aquarium. This 117,000 gallon enclosure is home to over 5,000 exotic fish. They’ve got over 150 species, from parrotfish and triggerfish to leopard sharks and stingrays. Stop in anytime to check it out and see how many you can spot!
- The CBS Television Research Center: Ever wanted to be part of the decision making process for a major television network? Found inside the MGM Grand, Television City allows visitors to weigh in on television shows, commercials, websites, and more. Stop by daily, starting at 10am, to claim free tickets to a showing of your choice. The whole process is fun and free!
But of course, there are plenty of things to see and do in Vegas that you can’t get for free. If you’ve got your heart set on any of these options, be sure to visit our coupon pages to find savings galore!
- Absinthe: This is one of those really unique shows that defies description. One part acrobatics, one part cabaret, and a whole lot of crazy, sexy fun, Absinthe is an experience you won’t forget!
- Donny & Marie: Playing at the Flamingo, these superstar siblings have been Vegas staples since 2008. They’ll take you through 5 decades of hit songs in 90 minutes, with an optional meet & greet following most shows.
- High Roller: Soaring high above the strip, the High Roller at The Linq Hotel & Casino is an enormous observation wheel, featuring enclosed pods that hold up to 40 people at a time. You can book a pod to get married in, take a yoga class, host a corporate get together, or book an open bar cabin with friends. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you’re sure to enjoy the view!
- Legends: At the Flamingo, Legends never die. This award winning, iconic production brings back some of your favorite stars, like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, or Michael Jackson. Plus, the cast of tribute artists changes regularly, so it’s a new show each time you visit.
- Mat Franco: Winner of America’s Got Talent, Mat Franco performs an innovative and fresh brand of magic for audiences at The Linq. His illusions are filled with humor and fun, and you’re sure to be spellbound and amazed!
When you visit Las Vegas, you likely want to splurge – great show tickets, beautiful hotel rooms, fantastic food, and perhaps a bit of gambling and some visits to the clubs.
But, whether you’re driving in for a night or two from somewhere nearby, or you’re planning on staying for several nights, there’s no need to pay full price when you plan your visit to the strip.
We’ve compiled a list of coupon pages to help you save on your trip to Vegas, as well as some other helpful links to make your trip to Las Vegas easy and fun.
Check weather, find your way around, and identify the shows you may want to see while you’re visiting Vegas.
- Las Vegas Weather – Pack correctly for your trip
- Las Vegas Strip Map – Find the closest hotels and casinos
- Las Vegas Show Calendar – See when your favorite act is in town
- Las Vegas Transportation Options – Details on airport transportation (shuttles, taxis & more) and the best ways to get around town
- iHeart Radio Music Festival – Concert lineup and details
- CES electronics tradeshow – Event details for January 2018
- Little White Chapel on the Strip – The chapel where Britney Spears, Demi Moore and Bruce Willis, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jordan, and Joan Collins got married.
Las Vegas Hotel Deals
Find deals and coupons from hotels located on or near the Vegas strip so that you can stay in the heart of the action. Visit the links below to see all deals offered by that particular hotel.
- Caesars Palace Las Vegas
- Bally’s Las Vegas
- Flamingo Las Vegas
- Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
- Paris Las Vegas
- Rio Las Vegas
- Harrah’s Las Vegas
- The Linq Hotel & Casino
- Cromwell Hotel And Casino
Hotel Chains and Booking Sites with Deals in Las Vegas
Check these hotel chain and booking site coupon pages for general hotel coupons and deals, as well as some that may be specific to Las Vegas.
Las Vegas Show Ticket Deals
Save on tickets to some of the top shows in Las Vegas and enjoy a night of music, magic or other entertainment. Visit the pages below to see deals offered for those shows.
- Caesars Entertainment – Tickets for Jersey Boys, Righteous Brothers, Menopause the Musical, High Roller & More
- Mat Franco – Magician winner of America’s Got Talent Season 9
- Rock of Ages – 80’s rock musical
- Million Dollar Quartet – Based on the impromptu recording session by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins
- Legends – Tribute show featuring celebrity impersonators
- Best of Vegas – Features tickets to select shows including Cirque du Soleil, the Beatles “Love”, Showstoppers at the Wynn, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Legends, Criss Angel and others.
- Viator.com – Browse the Viator page to find additional tour deals for the waterpark, car racing and other activities.
Las Vegas Flight Deals
These booking sites frequently offer deals to Vegas or general flight sales. You may have to dig a little, but it’s worth the effort.
Sites Offering Las Vegas Package Deals
Often times the best way to save when you travel is to book a package deal that includes flights and a hotel. In general, you can save even more when you include a car. Check these sites for Vegas specific offers.
Car Rental Companies
If you’re planning on venturing off of the Vegas strip, you may want to rent a car. Here are some deals from the major car rental companies.
Everything Las Vegas
Looking for a one stop shop that includes all of the deals you need for your visit to Vegas? Check our Vegas.com coupon page to save on hotels, tickets and more.