Times sure have changed! Many of the things that originally drew us to Vegas (cheap hotels, cheap buffets, no resort fees) are long gone. Vegas is now an entertainment destination rather than solely a place to gamble, meaning hotels, restaurants, and attractions are now pricier than ever. Just do any simple search for hotel rates or buffet prices and you will quickly find that Vegas is no longer a cheap vacation choice.
However, despite the new pricier accommodations and restaurants, there are still numerous ways to make your trip more affordable. Below, I have highlighted a few of my best tips for saving money on your Vegas trip! Keep a few of these idea in mind for your next trip and you will probably save enough for your next Vegas trip!
1. Don’t gamble! The simplest way to save the most amount of money on a Vegas trip is by choosing not to participate in any gambling activities. With the diverse variety of shows, fantastic restaurants, and the range of interesting casino attractions, avoiding gambling is much easier nowadays than it was in the past! Today, Vegas is one of the top entertainment destinations with numerous activities and attractions to suit every budget and personal preference.
2.Take advantage of all the free entertainment/shows/attractions. Vegas is the king of free entertainment. You could easily plan a vacation and not spend any money at all on entertainment. Every resort on the Strip offers its’ own unique, free attractions, from the spectacular Bellagio fountains show to The Mirage volcano eruption show.
Walk around each casino and check out all the freebies – it will save you tons of money over paying for pricey shows and spas, plus, it’s great exercise! Other must-see freebies, besides the famous fountains and volcano show, include the beautiful Mirage Aquarium and Atrium, the Bellagio Conservatory (featuring a new interesting theme each season), the Fall of Atlantis show at the Caesars Forum Shops, the gorgeous painted ceilings at the Venetian, and the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo.
3. Avoid weekends. Obviously, booking your Vegas hotel during the week is going to be much cheaper, sometimes hundreds of dollars cheaper. Hotels fill up quicker on weekends due to the easy access for residents of Southern California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. If you can get the time off, a weekday visit will offer reduced savings on almost everything (hotels, buffet, bars, etc.), along with fewer crowds. For example, rates for The Venetian rates can top $300 on the weekends, however, I was able to book a room for a mere $130 on a weekday! Visiting mid-week is a great opportunity to visit that resort you have been lusting over, only minus the massive splurge.
4. Avoid holidays. Not only will the pricing be higher, the crowds will also be unbearable. As another downside, buffets and attractions are really over-packed on holiday weekends, meaning longer lines. Who wants to spend their vacation waiting in line?! Save some money, save yourself some hassle by booking your trip outside of holiday periods.
5. Visit the half price ticket booth. Tix4Tonight is a popular discount booth offering valuable discounts off everything from shows, buffets, and even popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower Experience. The Planet Hollywood location particularly stands out as it is right in the center of The Strip. If you are planning on a show/dinner anyways, you might as well check to see what is available (you can also view daily deals on the website before making the trek over). Some of the deals I’ve come across recently: David Copperfield 40% off, Jersey Boys 50% off, and 63% off the Eiffel Tower Experience. Another great site for finding show discount tickets is Best of Vegas.
6. Check sites like Living Social and Groupon for great deals. Vegas hotels, attractions, and restaurants can sometimes be found dramatically cheaper on promotional sites like Living Social and Groupon. The Linq High Roller, Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood, casino resorts, spas, and various local restaurants frequently advertise deals.
7. Sign up for a player’s card. Earning points on your player’s card can earn you special rewards, which can be used throughout the casino. In addition, some casinos will mail you specialty promotions (discounted hotel rates, discounts off restaurants, etc.) after signing up. Some even give out freebies when you initially sign up (free play, buffet discounts, etc.). It doesn’t hurt to sign up and see what freebies are available!
8. Visit a buffet for a late breakfast/early lunch combo. A buffet will fill you up for almost an entire day, unlike a regular restaurant. Unfortunately, gone are the days of the $1.99 buffet. Many Vegas buffets actually offer the food, service, and setting you would expect at a nice restaurant. The buffets in Vegas are quite good, although seem to keep getting pricier by the year. Breakfast tends to be about $15-20 cheaper than dinner, yet still offering a decent selection of food, and definitely more than enough to satisfy your cravings.
Planning your meal at the end of breakfast/brunch enables you to enjoy a sampling from both menus, while still paying the much cheaper breakfast price. Also keep in mind that the later you plan the buffet, the longer until you have to pay for another meal – it’s a great savings strategy for those watching their budget! Cravings at The Mirage offers one of the best bang for your buck buffets, while the Bellagio and the Wynn are a bit pricier, but absolutely worth the splurge!
9. Choose a hotel with low resort fees. Nowadays, Vegas resort fees have really gotten out of hand. Just a few years ago, there were still a few resorts without any fees, but fast forward a few years and even most of the Fremont Street hotels have hefty fees. Some of the fancier resorts charge more than $30 bucks a night! This can really add up on longer stays, so be prepared to budget for this extra cost (typically a hidden fee not included in the hotel price when booking).
The South Point Hotel, a great hotel located off The Strip, offers one of the more modest fees. For your $14 a night fee, you get a valuable coupon booklet with a 2 for 1 buffet, free drinks, discounts on coffee, bowling, bingo, and much more! At least you actually get something for your money as opposed to the minor “perks” offered by most resorts like free access to the fitness center (not the spa), sometimes water bottles, and free wi-fi.
10. Be aware of new parking fees. One of the biggest perks for those driving to Vegas used to be the huge, free parking garages. Sadly, this is all about to change. All MGM casinos, starting in April, will be charging for self parking. So if you are driving and want to avoid these added fees, be sure to book at a non MGM property. This could be a bit difficult as MGM Resorts comprise most of the Strip. Take a look at the list of MGM properties in Vegas.
11. Avoid pricey cabs. Walk around The Strip and explore the many casino attractions, while also getting in some healthy exercise – a necessity after all that over indulgence at the buffets! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes(no heels!) and carry a water bottle as the casinos are much farther than they appear; you could easily rack up several miles in a single day. On the plus side, for all that walking, you will get to take in all the unique sights of The Strip like the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty replicas, the gorgeous architecture of the casinos, and the dazzling lights at night. Don’t feel like walking? Consider an all day pass to the Monorail as a less costly alternative to multiple cab rides.
12. Check Yelp for special deals. Oftentimes, you can find a fantastic 2 for 1 deal on various shows. We found a 2 for 1 for the highly entertaining magic show, the Mac King Comedy Show, which is, in my opinion, one of the best shows in Vegas! To easily sort results, just type shows into Find and Las Vegas into the location. From here you can sort by highest rated, price, and many other factors. A little green tag will indicate a special Yelp deal. From here, you can purchase your discounted tickets.
13. Look for coupon booklets. Many hotels will give out coupons when you check in. You can also find free booklets all over the Strip, usually in the newspaper racks. Check these booklets carefully as you will typically find small coupons on the bottom of the page for all sorts of restaurants and attractions. Every little bit helps – if it’s there, why not use it?!
14. Visit fancy restaurants at breakfast/lunch, not dinner. The easy way to try out a nice restaurant without overspending is by visiting during breakfast or lunch hours. You’ll save loads of money, while still getting to experience the food and setting. One prime example is the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, a romantic French restaurant located on the 11th floor of the Paris Hotel, known for its outstanding views of The Strip. A brunch visit will easily save the average couple at least 50 bucks. The views are still great and, in my opinion, the atmosphere much nicer as it is not as crowded!
15. Book a hotel with an airport shuttle. Many hotels offer a low cost shuttle (Red Rock is one of the few where it is included with your reservation with no extra charge) to and from McCarran Airport. While not luxurious by any means, a shuttle is a low cost alternative to a taxi or renting a car.
16. Use your resort amenities. That extra resort fee which we all dread includes access to the fitness center. While one doesn’t necessarily want to work out on vacation, oftentimes there is a steam room or sauna that you can lounge around in. Also, be sure to take advantage of the gorgeous landscaped pool areas. Vegas is known for having some of the fanciest hotel pools in the country, so take advantage of this extra perk available only to hotel guests (be aware that many pools close seasonally). Nothing beats a relaxing afternoon hanging out by the pool, especially during the 100+ degree summer afternoons! A great way to save some money too!
17. Skip the alcohol. Not only does drinking alcohol rack up you restaurant bill, it also dehydrates you, which is definitely not good in the hot, dry desert climate of Nevada! Stick to water (and lots of it) to save some money, prevent your sinuses from drying out, and prevent fatigue. As an alternative, try out a pot of healthy tea at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge, located on the 23rd floor of the classy Mandarin Oriental, and featuring amazing views of The Strip from the floor to ceiling windows. A bit pricey for a pot of tea ($14 or so – but serves 2-3), however, this doubles as a relaxing fun day activity, one that is much cheaper than gambling, shows, or spas (and probably more relaxing too!).
18. Plan meals out in advance. With this strategy, you will save yourself some money (and the hassle of walking around searching for a restaurant/scanning menus on your phone). There are so many great restaurants, some pricey, some very affordable, however, you can easily research these at home in advance and free up some extra time to actually enjoy your Vegas trip.
19. Drive versus flying, if possible. If you live out West, save yourself some money and frustration by driving. Driving is always cheaper than flying. Plus, you can save on cab fees, bring as much luggage as you like, and stock a case of water bottles in your car so you do not have to waste any unnecessary money. Plus, you will have room to pack a few snacks for the hotel room.
20. Skip fancy hotel adds on. Skip the room service, in room massage, Strip view suites, etc. Who wants to go to Vegas and sit in the room all day? Get out there and explore! If you want dinner, go to a nice restaurant – room service is so overpriced and lacking in any setting. If you want a massage, skip the overprice in room massages and book one at a nice spa so you can use all the extra amenities (hot tub, steam room, relaxation rooms, etc.). And if you want a great view of The Strip, simply leave the hotel room and walk around a bit! There is an excellent view right by Planet Hollywood, and it’s free! Just take the escalator up and enjoy the spectacular scenery!
21. Avoid the endless shops. If shopping is your temptation, then you will want to avoid the massive complexes found in resorts such as Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood. These areas seriously go on forever (Planet Hollywood is home a mile long string of shops known as the Miracle Mile Shops). Out of sight, out of mind! You are better off using your time in Vegas to do something new and interesting, so leave the typical shopping for home!
22. Make coffee in your room (if available). Coffee prices in Vegas are astronomically high, especially in the higher end resorts like the Bellagio and the Venetian. Save yourself a bit of money and endlessly long lines by brewing your own in your room to take on the go. No coffeemaker? Skip the Starbucks and at least try something new. The Mirage is home to a cute little coffee shop (with an attractive seating area) known as The Roasted Bean, and prices are not too outrageous for Vegas.
23. Look for free live music/shows. If you would rather not dish out the money for a pricey show, you can always enjoy the live music/entertainment at the casinos. For example, Circus Circus has a daily Circus acts show starting at 11am. The nightly free light show on Fremont Street is worth a look too. In addition, many other resorts like Bellagio and the Wynn offer free shows in various lounges. Check the entertainment section on the website of your favorite casino for upcoming shows.
24. Check hotel websites for special promotions and packages. Many hotels offer package deals that may include air + hotel, spa/show packages, discounted rates the longer you stay, and more. Compare various hotels to find your preferred deal! Also check the hotel’s rate calendar to compare how prices vary throughout the month/year. Also check specialty discount sites like Best of Vegas for exclusive deals and email alerts when prices drop.
25. Consider purchasing a Las Vegas Power Pass. This sightseeing pass includes admission to over 30 attractions including the roller coaster at New York, New York, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, the Stratosphere observation deck, and many more. 1,2,3, or 5 day passes can be purchased, with prices starting at $85 and continuing on to $169.
26. Plan one nice restaurant a day. Plan a fancy dinner for each night of your trip, and then go cheap with breakfast and lunch. Some affordable options include PF Changs, Subway, Chipolte, Chilis. You will also find typical fast food chains like McDonalds, White Castle, Del Taco, Wendy’s, etc. If you have car, Sweet Tomatoes is a wonderful affordable unlimited salad bar/soup restaurant with several locations throughout Vegas and the suburbs.
27. Book everything well in advance. The earlier you book hotels and airline tickets, the better the deals. Be flexible and compare prices on different dates to score the top deals. You can also sign up for a casino email list to be alerted of special/last minute deals.
28. Get a massage off The Strip. A spa package at any Vegas resort could easily cost hundreds of dollars. A more affordable option is to visit a basic chain offering like Massage Envy or look on Groupon for special deals to local spas.
29. Purchase a case of water bottles. If you are driving this will be easier as you can just stock a case (or 2) in your car. If flying, purchase a case at a Walgreens/CVS to keep in your hotel room (an easy walk from any hotel). This will help you reduce the temptation to spend $1-2 for a single water bottle (plenty of vendors on The Strip will tempt you with overpriced ice cold bottles). You will need lots of water in this dry desert climate, so stock up and avoid silly extra fees!
Another frugal tip is to purchase a few cheap breakfast items like fruit, yogurt, granola bars, or muffins to enjoy a budget friendly breakfast in your room as opposed to a pricey buffet or cafe. The same goes for forgotten basic necessities like a toothbrush, toothpaste, sunblock where you are better off purchasing at a chain convenience store instead of the hotel’s overpriced gift shop!
30. Skip nightclubs (or at least only visit no cover bars). Paying a cover charge when you are already paying for drinks is the biggest waste of money. There are plenty of fun, affordable things to do in Vegas besides clubs. If you must, research clubs without cover charges, and preferably those that offer some unique theme that you cannot see at home.
Seahorse Lounge inside Caesars Palace is one nice free option (this unique lounge features a relaxed setting centered around a 1700 gallon seahorse fish tank). Revolution is a cool Beatles themed lounge inside the Mirage, and the Petrossian Lounge inside the Bellagio features a classy setting with piano music and afternoon tea service. These are just a few options – most lounges and piano bars have free entry.
More ways to save…
Instead of paying for the new pricey Linq High Roller, purchase a 2 for 1 deal to the Eiffel Tower Experience at s Tix 4 Tonight Booth. Even if there are no deals available, this attraction will only cost you $15-20 (day vs. night) compared to $27-37 a person for the Ferris Wheel. The views are spectacular either way.
Skip the Stratosphere rides and visit the observation deck instead for the same great views. The rides are too pricey in my opinion. It’s just $18 to view the amazing scenery from the deck, while the rides range from $25-35 (1-3 rides).
If you want to play games…Skip the pricey arcades at the casinos and head off the Strip to the Pinball Museum Hall of Fame. This unique museum features more pinball machines than you can imagine, dating back to the 50’s. Games are just 25-50 cents so you can keep playing til your heart’s desire.
Skip touristy restaurants like Serendipity 3, which tend to be majorly overpriced and overcrowded.
Skip typical attractions like Madame Tussaud’s wax museum which you can do elsewhere in the country. Focus your Vegas energy (and money) on things you cannot do elsewhere!
Spend a day away from the action for a relaxing trek into nature. You are within a half day’s drive from many outstanding natural parks and attractions like the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Horseshoe Bend, Zion National park, and the Grand Canyon. You might as well take advantage of a national park or 2 while you are in the area! If you want to keep it closer, there are many parks and preserves in the immediate Las Vegas area – check out Red Rock Canyon!
Limit souvenirs to just one or 2 unique items. Consider how likely you are going to be to display multiple Vegas themed knick knacks or will they just end up in the trash?
Take out cash before your trip so you do not have to waste unnecessary ATM fees.
Set up a budget plan before you leave. Make up an itinerary and stick to it.
Skip soft drinks. Your restaurant bills will be lower. You should be drinking more water anyways due to the dry climate.
Book a hotel in the center of the Strip. Most of these offer cheaper rates, plus you have more convenient walkable access to the top attractions. More affordable options include the Flamingo, Bally’s, Paris, Harrah’s, and Planet Hollywood.