Everyone thinks about trips to Las Vegas as a splurge, especially if you’re a high roller at the casinos. But that doesn’t mean it has to be! Las Vegas is actually very affordable if you know where to look, especially in terms of hotels, dining, and activities. I’ve been twice, once with my family and once for work, so the different experiences have taught me how to visit the city for free and cheap.
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The Free Things to Do in Las Vegas
Museums and Attractions
You don’t have to be staying at the luxurious casino hotels to enjoy their amenities. Some of the best attractions are free and open to the public. For example, the Fountains of the Bellagio and the light show at the Fremont Street Experience are available to anyone.
Over at Flamingo Las Vegas, visit the habitat for its namesake bird. Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden offer free chocolate samples. You can also snap a photo of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign without spending a penny. For more free Las Vegas attractions, check out this post.
Other Sights and Activities
The clown shows at Circus Circus are free. Nomad Tours offers free walking tours of Las Vegas that dives into the city’s history. Check out First Friday art walks and the Las Vegas Farmer’s Market for something different. The street art scene around Fremont Street is another fun way to see the city for free.
For a traditional art experience, the Marjorie Barrick Museum at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas is free, but donations are encouraged. See even more free experiences on this post from Local Adventurer.
Eating and Drinking
Gone are the days of free drinks for those gambling. “Incentive drinks” are still offered to those who spend a certain amount on games within a certain amount of time, but this isn’t a cheap way to go.
If you’re staying on the Strip, get around by foot or by one of the free trams that connect the casinos. They’re especially useful if you’re staying at the Bellagio or the neighboring hotels.
Free accommodations are hard to come by, but there is a Couchsurfing community in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that it’s more than a “free place to crash.” Show your hosts respect and use it as an opportunity to learn about their homes.
The Cheap Things to Do in Las Vegas
Sights and Activities
Las Vegas also has some affordable attractions. The Neon Museum has general admission tickets starting at $20 with additional discounts for Nevada residents, students, seniors, and military with ID. Guided tours and the light show cost more. The LINQ High Roller offers complimentary tickets with hotel packages with Harrah’s and The LINQ Hotel. Going to the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas is cheaper during the day, only $16. The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art costs $15.
The Mob Museum is $23, the New York New York Big Apple roller coaster is $15, the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium is $25, and Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden is $17 if you have some extra cash. Passes like the Las Vegas Pass allow entry into multiple attractions for one price.
Las Vegas is also a great place to catch a show. If you’re on a budget, the Cirque de Soleil shows may be out of reach, but you might be able to see a comedian or magician. Tix4Tonight has the best last-minute deals on performances. They also have deals on tours and attractions, which you can purchase online or at one of their booths around town.
Las Vegas does have transportation systems so that you don’t have to drive. In fact, I don’t recommend driving unless you absolutely have to or if you’re taking day trips nearby. The Las Vegas Monorail connects the majority of the casinos from the MGM Grand to the SLS. I also used Lyft extensively to get around, including from the airport and to dinner.
Eating and Drinking
It’s easy to splurge on food and drink, especially because of all the line dining restaurants, but you don’t have to. Buffets are the best way to get plenty of food for a reasonable price, so make this your biggest meal of the day, likely for lunch. Get off The Strip for better deals and look to Fremont Street for cheap meals.
Eater Las Vegas recommends 34 restaurants around town for high value eats from $2 Salvadorean pupusas to $6 Venezuelan arepas to $7 bowls of ramen. Drinking doesn’t have to be expensive either. Take advantage of happy hours for discounted food and drink. These bars also have great deals on drinks.
Believe it or not, Las Vegas is one of the cheapest cities to find great accommodation because of the abundance of it. You’ll find the best deals for mid-week stays and cheaper options off the Strip, especially around Fremont Street.
The trendy LINQ Resort & Casino has rooms as cheap as $39 per night, including bunk rooms with views of the High Roller. Oasis at Gold Spike has throwback rooms around $50 per night next to their popular bar. There are also hostels around Las Vegas if you don’t mind staying further out. Most offer pub crawls, free WiFi and discounted tours.
If you’re seeing the country by RV or campervan, book a stay at one of the nearby campgrounds. Circus Circus has its own RV park (not to mention $20 hotel rooms!) and so does the KOA at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall. If you want to stay in someone’s home, there are also Airbnb properties.
Have you been to Las Vegas? Do you have any tips for saving money?
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