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!