I’m a fairly devoted customer when I find something I like. Exploring new bars, restaurants, stores and attractions are what help make Las Vegas so much fun. After trying everything in a certain area it’s easy to run into a routine of visiting the same places because you know they’re good. This was the case with coffee shops in downtown Las Vegas.
Since I’m a gambler I’m usually under or near the Fremont Street Experience. The coffee options in the casino district are minimal and limited. However, if you leave the canopy you can find a nice variety of places to grab a good cup of coffee within a few blocks. Next time you’re in the downtown casino area, take a few steps out to Fremont East to try a cup of coffee at one of these coffee shops.
This is my go to coffee shop on Fremont Street. The coffee is good and the environment is fantastic. Located in the Emergency Arts building across the street from the El Cortez this coffee shop is also a record store, home to the burlesque hall of fame and has delicious food and beer. The coffee shop plays selections from their vintage vinyl collection available to purchase. This is one of the few coffee shops where the music is so good that headphones aren’t needed to block out the sound.
We’re officially knee deep into the iced coffee season. While the majority of their customers are focused on the unique and large donuts, the coffee is what stands out the most to a coffee drinker. Cold brew and nitro Stumptown coffee go a long way to making a hot summer day tolerable. Grab a donut if you need it but the coffee alone should send you zoomin’ around downtown Las Vegas. Donut Bar is located 124 Carson, a block off Fremont Street.
Inspire News Cafe
Most people seem to think about Inspire Theater first but they shouldn’t forget about the cafe. Inspire News Cafe is a Euro-style cafe and gathering place where it’s not uncommon to see small meetings taking place. Wifi speed is great making this one of the better locations to work in downtown Las Vegas. They serve Illy coffee, which isn’t unique but it’s my favorite mass produced and distributed coffee. The iced espresso beans are perfect for a hot summer afternoon.
The Black Cup
This small coffee stand hits you as soon as you enter Downtown Container Park. Coffee might not be the first thing on your mind when visiting a park and mall but The Black Cup serves delicious locally roasted organic coffee. This is just a stand so you can grab your cup and take it on the go. The wifi at Downtown Container Park might be the fastest in the area and The Black Cup and outdoor environment help to make it a great place to work for a little while. Head to the grassy area in the summer since the metal tables can get a little hot.
July 4th is less than a month away and Las Vegas is almost ready to celebrate. This is a strange year for July 4th in Las Vegas because Independence Day isn’t exactly being celebrated. Most of this year’s July 4th fireworks shows in Las Vegas aren’t even on July 4th. This year you’ll actually see more fireworks on and near the Vegas Strip from July 1 through July 3 than you will on July 4th.
Here is information on when and where you’ll be able to see fireworks in Las Vegas during July 4th weekend.
Friday, July 1
Station Casinos will be hosting fireworks on Friday, July 1 at Palace Station at 9 p.m. This will serve as the kick-off to a month-long celebration of their 40th birthday. This is a change for Station Casinos as they’ve recently held their July 4 fireworks shows at Red Rock Casino and Green Valley Ranch.
If you’re looking for a place to watch, but don’t want to leave the Vegas Strip you can head to the Stratosphere or Umami Beer Garden and SLS Las Vegas.
Saturday, July 2
311 will be performing as part of the Mandalay Bay Summer Concert Series during the fourth of July weekend. This has become an annual tradition since they’ve performed on these dates at Mandalay Bay for a few years. On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3, guests to the show will enjoy 311 as well as a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets to the fireworks and performance are priced between $57 – $64. Doors to the show open at 8 p.m.
Plaza will celebrate the Grand Opening of their new pool with a fireworks show from the roofs of the Plaza’s two towers at 9:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 3
Caesars Palace – They’ll be celebrating their 50th anniversary on July 3rd. The 13.5-minute fireworks show will take place at 9p.m. above the newly reimagined Julius Tower. The Linq will have a block party all day and will probably be a good place to watch the show.
Stratosphere – Their “Independence Pool Party” will be launching fireworks at 9 p.m. The fireworks display by Grucci will launch from various locations including the top of the tower. You should be able to see this from most points on the north end of the Vegas Strip. Again, Umami Beer Garden at SLS Las Vegas should make a great place to watch
Again, 311 will be performing as part of the Mandalay Bay Summer Concert Series during the fourth of July weekend. This has become an annual tradition since they’ve performed on these dates at Mandalay Bay for a few years. On Saturday, July 2 and Sunday, July 3, guests to the show will enjoy 311 as well as a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets to the fireworks and performance are priced between $57 – $64. Doors to the show open at 8 p.m.
If you want to get away from the chaos of the Vegas Strip, Lake Las Vegas 4th of July Celebration will take place on July 3 with a fireworks show over the lake at 9 p.m.
There are plenty of reasons to sign up for a casino players club but the savings you can incur might be the best of them all. You can accumulate points by gambling and spending cash to use for future expenses but that’s not the most immediate savings available to you. You never have to spend a penny to find some kind of savings from some casino players clubs.
When you visit a casino-owned restaurant you may be entitled to a discount regardless of your status in their players club. Certain restaurants at Caesars Entertainment hotels will offer $1 off per item just for showing your Total Rewards players club card. That might not sound like much of a savings that that can be greater than a 10% discount if you’re just ordering a sandwich that costs less than $10.
Some players clubs will offer a percentage off your bill just for paying with your players club. If you’ve earned a some points with Boyd Gaming’s B-Connected players club you be entitled to a major discount when you pay for your meal at one of their restaurants using players club points. Every level of player receives a 40% discount on meals. Many of these restaurants offer lower prices than you’ll see on the Vegas Strip so the discount feels even bigger than you might imagine.
Entry level players club members with Station Casinos Boarding Pass players club get a 10% discount at the gift shop at each property. That discount grows as high as 30% when you reach the highest tier, Chairman, at Boarding Pass. If you earn Boarding Pass points from the casino you can use them to pay for your discounted prices at the gift shop.
M Life, MGM Resorts’ players club, is one of the biggest in Las Vegas. They offer discounts just for signing up to become a member of their players club. M Life offers their entry level (and all levels) discounts on hotel rooms, shows and at participating retail shops when by showing their players club card. Like other players clubs the discounts are better the higher tier you reach. It’s somewhat easy to earn points since M Life offers them for spending in all departments.
Every players club has a different way to reward their members. You don’t need to be a high roller or big spender to start saving money at different hotels, restaurants, etc. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for a players club in person at the casino. Some players clubs even allow you to start the process at home. Becoming a loyal member of certain casino players clubs allows you to reach higher tiers quicker and earn greater benefits.
Players club benefits used to apply only to gamblers and high rollers but that’s no longer the case. Unless you want to remain off the grid in Las Vegas, you should be taking advantage of these players club discounts.
The Neon Museum is one of the best places to learn about or relive the history of Las Vegas. The museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs. Yes, signs. These signs tell more interesting tales of history than most books you’ll read.
Sure, there are other museums that are dedicated to history in Las Vegas but there’s a different kind of history in these original signs in Las Vegas. Many of the signs are geared towards the kind history that you either lived or may have seen in the movies or on TV. This isn’t like learning from a 4th-grade History book and this isn’t your typical museum and these aren’t the typical artifacts that you’d find in a museum.
The most popular part of the Neon Museum is the Neon Boneyard, which includes Neon Boneyard Park and Neon Boneyard North Gallery. All together you’ll see over 250 signs from different eras Las Vegas including infamous signs from the Stardust, Caesars Palace and Binion’s Horseshoe.
Guided tours of the Neon Boneyard not only give you the chance to see the signs up close but you’ll also learn about the history behind and around each sign. Each tour takes about an hour and they run fairly often. These tours are great for history buffs and anyone who really loves Vegas.
Anyone can take pictures while taking the Neon Boneyard tours but there’s a special tour if you’re a photography buff. This tour is great if you want better quality photos than a the kind that you’re just going to run through a filter on Instagram. Twice a month (you’ll have to schedule in advance) the Neon Museum offers a special one-hour-long photo tour.
Photo tours allow avid photographers to have access to the Neon Boneyard for one hour without the distraction of multiple guests who may get in the way of perfect photos of these artifacts. These tours are intended for personal, not commercial, use. You may use the photos for social media, personal (not commercial) websites and personal items like holiday cards. If you’re looking for professional photo sessions, like a wedding or for a print magazine, you can contact the museum to set up a photoshoot.
Regular and photography tours can be booked at neonmuseum.org. Costs vary depending on the day, time and type of tour. Prices range anywhere from free for children under 6 to $75 for a photo tour. Taking a tour around dusk is the perfect time to take a variety of pictures that may not even have to be filtered to look good. This gives different kinds of lighting which will give the pictures different looks.
The Plaza in downtown Las Vegas has been building a new rooftop pool for the past couple of months. The wait is almost over for its grand opening which will be celebrated on July 2. The rooftop pool deck will offer more than just a pool. The new pool area will offer private cabanas, several lily pad daybeds, a 12-person hot tub, performance stage, a bar, gaming, tennis, basketball and pickleball courts, a food truck and more.
This multimillion dollar renovation to the pool area is a major step up for the Plaza. The entire renovated pool deck encompasses approximately 70,000 square feet, making it one of the largest in downtown Las Vegas. The Pool at the Plaza will be a “retro Palm Springs meets classic downtown Las Vegas” inspired outdoor space.
There will be six cabana suites available for rental that will offer a private poolside retreat. Each cabana suite will have a television, fan, refrigerator and safe along with a complimentary fruit plate and cheese and cracker tray. The cheese might be a bit much when it’s 115 in the shade but a nice cold fruit plate on a hot afternoon sounds like a nice snack.
The renovations also refurbished adjacent tennis and basketball courts and added dedicated pickleball courts. The Plaza is the only hotel-casino in Las Vegas with dedicated courts for this fast growing sport. If you’re under 50 you might have never heard of pickleball. You can learn about the sport here and from the video below (this is fascinating!).
Pickleball won’t be a game changer but it seems like something that might be in demand with older customers at the Plaza. Pickleball could be a difference maker for an older customer deciding where to stay when looking at the different downtown Las Vegas hotels.
The Plaza plans to offer a diverse lineup of live entertainment at the performance stage including DJs (weekends only), concerts and special events. The only other downtown Las Vegas pool with a similar entertainment space is Citrus at Downtown Grand.
The food truck will offer its own menu alongside dishes from restaurants inside of the casino like Pop Up Pizza and Zaba’s Mexican Grill. The food truck’s own unique menu will feature seaside street food inspired by classic California dishes, such as ahi tuna poke lettuce wraps, crispy rice paper tacos and lobster rolls.
The new pool at Plaza is part of a growing pool scene in downtown Las Vegas. The pool at the Golden Nugget was the only desirable pool option in the area for the longest time but that’s changing. Citrus at Downtown Grand and the Pool at Plaza both offer new alternative destinations for anyone that stays in downtown Las Vegas looking for a pool. When Las Vegas Club is re-opened as a new hotel in a couple of years it will likely also offer an upgraded pool experience.
Caesars Palace kicked off their 50th-anniversary celebration at the beginning of the year when they unveiled the new Julius Tower. The renovation of the oldest tower at Caesars Palace was just the beginning of the celebration. The 50th-anniversary festivities for Caesars Palace kick into high gear this summer.
The celebration begins Friday, June 17 and continues throughout the year. The festivities will be highlighted with a weekend of celebration Caesars Palace on August 5 (the property opened August 5, 1966). The anniversary celebration will feature sweepstakes, giveaways, a self-guided historical walking tour and photo exhibit, an interactive social photo experience, special room packages, 50th birthday offers, marquee events and more.
Caesars Palace has continuously evolved through the past five decades. That’s good and bad depending on who you speak with. The most recognizable name in the casino business has brought big name performers to entertain and world-famous chefs and restaurant brands for dining. Meanwhile, the property has grown to have almost 4,000 hotel rooms spread over 5 hotel towers with multiple casinos that occupy 166,000 of space. Caesars Palace is massive and popular and laid out as though it’s been piecemealed over the years.
Caesars Palace marks its 50-year milestone with special anniversary events and promotions including:
- Walking Tour and Photo Exhibit – Beginning June 17 and throughout the summer, take a self-guided, historical walking tour and photo exhibit and discover then-and-now images and displays, iconic moments in entertainment and sports, popular movie locations, key photo-worthy landmarks and the “Five Lucky Spots.” The walking tour is free and open to the public.
- Interactive Photo Experience – Take a nostalgic picture with a Roman chariot that has been refurbished from Caesars Palace historical archive.
- #IAmCaesar Sweepstakes – Launching in conjunction with the Summer of Caesars, enter for a chance to win a number of extravagant prizes and experiential packages. Go to caesars.com/CP50 beginning June 10 for complete details and official rules. No purchase necessary. Must be 21+ to enter.
- Surprises and Delights – Special surprises including spontaneous room upgrades, free show tickets, complimentary meals and drinks, gift baskets, spa and salon services, Forum Shops gift cards and more will delight visitors.
- Marquee Events – A roster of anniversary events will soon be announced, including a special fireworks display and celebration with live music on Sunday, July 3.
- Anniversary Weekend Celebrations – During the course of the anniversary weekend from Aug. 5-6, a number of celebratory events including a commemorative cake and champagne toast, as well as a gala for invited guests and VIPs, will take place.
- Turning 50? Celebrate with Caesars – If you are celebrating your 50th birthday in 2016, celebrate at Caesars Palace and receive a $50 food and beverage credit with your stay during the Summer of Caesars. Must be a Total Rewards loyalty program member and additional terms and conditions apply.
Caesars Palace is one of the many iconic landmarks in Las Vegas. If you haven’t been to Caesars Palace lately this is a great excuse to visit the property and see what’s new.
Check out this Total Rewards blog post to learn more about Caesars Palace: 15 Fun Facts and Historical Notes You Never Knew About Caesars Palace.
One of the best attractions to come to Las Vegas in the past few years just opened. The flagship location for Topgolf just opened its doors, bars and golf bays at MGM Grand. Don’t assume this Topgolf only for golfers and sports fans just because it has “golf” is in the name. This is more than just a place to visit to hit golf balls.
Describing Topgolf has to begin with the golf games, which are a combination of golf, darts and bowling. Topgolf Las Vegas is so much more than a place just to play these games. The new flagship location for Topgolf is the largest in their chain. This location is four levels and 105,000 square feet with 108 climate-controlled hitting bays for the games, two pools, cabanas, a concert venue, VIP suites, five bars, a living room-type area with bar games, a sports book window, 300 televisions, additional massive viewing screens, a comfort food-inspired menu with signature cocktails, a Callaway Fitting Studio, a Topgolf retail shop, and more.
Speaking about the unique game and location Topgolf CEO Ken May said “Topgolf is thrilled to bring a whole new kind of entertainment to the Las Vegas Strip. There truly is no other place like Topgolf in Las Vegas — or anywhere else for that matter. Our flagship venue is the product of nearly four years of hard work and reimagining what the Topgolf experience could be like. We can’t wait to welcome our fans and new guests from all over the world to play at Topgolf.”
At its heart, Topgolf is about the golf games but you can visit this location and never play the golf games and never be bored. Entry to the facility is free and you can just enjoy the non-golf amenities. One of the more fun options is to slide up to bars on the 2nd and 3rd level if you want to play video poker in an indoor/outdoor environment. In addition to video poker, the Birdie Bar on the 2nd level has a small stage perfect for acoustic performances, stand-up comedy and more.
The Yard, also on the 2nd level, serves as the main hub of Topgolf Las Vegas. You can place a bet while watching the game on one of the venue’s numerous oversized screens here. The Yard also will also be Topgolf’s main entertainment venue showcasing both national and local acts.
Each level at Topgolf offers a different experience. The first two levels are open to all ages but you’ll have to be 21 and above to play the games or just hang out on the 3rd or 4th level. There really is something for everyone at Topgolf. You’ll likely never see a kid after you check in for your game if you don’t want to.
While prices to do anything on the Vegas Strip seem to be exploding, Topgolf is relatively affordable. Food and drink are the average prices for being located on the Vegas Strip but prices to play the game are much more affordable than you’d think.
Bay pricing starts at $30 per hour for up to six players and varies depending on bay location and time of day. The highest price per bay for 6 people should be around $90 per hour. When you break it down by 6, each person in the group will pay $5-$15 per hour. Translating this into Vegas dollars, that’s somewhere between an inexpensive beer and a hand of blackjack to play the game each hour. The base prices aren’t out of line but it’s easy to lose track of time and rack up a hefty bill when you’re having this much fun.
There’s nothing like Topgolf anywhere Las Vegas. Early reviews from sports fans (like me) and non-sports fans (like Scott from Vital Vegas) make Topgolf Las Vegas at MGM Grand a “must see” the next time you visit Las Vegas. You can check out Scott’s video of the facility here: Topgolf Las Vegas Fly-Through
One of the easiest ways to save money in Las Vegas is to stay at a casino-hotel that’s not on the Vegas Strip. Don’t get me wrong, the Vegas Strip is one of the greatest places on earth. However, you can save a few bucks and be minutes away from the action. The Vegas Strip generally has higher room rates, restaurants and bar prices than the competition that could be just a half block away.
Gold Coast was home base for one of my first trips to Las Vegas. The hotel rooms were dirt cheap and the casino was nice enough for a bunch of 20-something guys. Actually, everything was (and still is) cheaper than the Vegas Strip. The casino-hotel is just a few minute drive from the Vegas Strip and it can even be walked if you have time.
Gold Coast is neighbored by Rio All Suites Hotel and Palms so you can actually visit other properties nearby if you’d like to stay away from the traffic. You can often find a less expensive hotel room at all three of these properties than you can on the Vegas Strip. Rio even has a shuttle to the strip if you don’t feel like walking of paying for a taxi or rideshare.
There are other casino-hotels within walking distance of the Vegas Strip that offer a scaled back version of the Las Vegas you might desire with quick access to all of the great experiences you’ll find on the Vegas Strip.
Hooters casino-hotel is next door to the Tropicana and across the street from MGM Grand. You won’t get the same mid-high end hotel experience that you’ll find just a half a block away but you’ll be able to save money and be a 3-minute walk away from the action. This is a great option if you’re a group of people that are more concerned with saving money than having a fancy hotel.
The Westin is another hotel about a half block away from the Vegas Strip and it has a no-frills low roller casino attached. Be advised that this hotel may not be much less expensive than some lower end Vegas Strip properties. The real win with the Westin is its affiliation with Starwood. This makes it a great option if you have free SPG hotel room nights available from travel you’ve done elsewhere in the world. Starwood is a great option for business travelers and the Las Vegas connection is fantastic. Late update: Most of the casino is closing. You can read details here.
Another half block east and away from the Vegas Strip is Ellis Island casino, hotel and brewery. This is one of the best low roller options anywhere in Las Vegas. The casino often has lower limits than the Vegas Strip, craft beer prices are a fraction of what you’ll pay just 3 minutes away, the restaurant has some of the lowest priced specials in town and the Super 8 hotel is as inexpensive as you’d expect. Ellis Island is essentially half a block walk behind Bally’s and has quick access to this center-south portion of the Vegas Strip.
There are a few other less expensive hotel-casino options just off the Vegas Strip. The Hard Rock, Orleans, Palace Station, Silver Sevens, Westgate and Wild Wild West are all within a 5-minute car ride to the Vegas Strip.
Nightlife in Las Vegas is constantly evolving. The most recent era of nightlife in Las Vegas brought huge nightclubs like Marquee at the Cosmopolitan, Hakkasan at MGM Grand and Omnia at Caesars Palace. They really changed the face of what a nightclub could be. These “mega-clubs” are as much performance venues for DJ’s as they are places to party. These clubs remain incredibly popular but nightlife may be ready to take a step in a new direction.
Intrigue recently opened at Wynn (actually at Encore) in the space formerly occupied by Tryst nightclub. Wynn has two other successful nightclubs with XS and Surrender so they decided to try something new with Intrigue. The new nightclub promises to offer a different experience than you’ll find at the mega-clubs.
When discussing plans for Intrigue Sean Christie, VP of operations at Wynn Las Vegas said “The current market is dominated by the DJ phenomenon. While the current nightlife options at Wynn continue to enjoy the success of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), there is an audience who wants an alternative nightlife experience. Wynn was the first in Las Vegas to embrace the DJ phenomenon at Encore Beach Club, XS and Surrender and will again usher in a unique concept with Intrigue while providing the highest level of luxury and service that customers expect from the resort.”
Intrigue will not be a total shift away from the traditional nightclub but it will be an evolution. The club is much smaller than the large nightclubs that occupy almost 100,000 square feet and multiple levels. Intrigue is only 14,000 square feet and has an occupancy of only 1,200 people. Compare that to XS at Wynn, which can hold 10,000 people on a busy night. Intrigue actually feels more intimate than that as there’s a VIP club within the club that occupies 1,200 square feet.
Entertainment at Intrigue promises to be different as well. The focus on entertainment will be so that thousands of people won’t just be staring at a DJ on a stage. There will be DJ’s and other musical entertainment but that won’t be the only entertainment you’ll find at Intrigue. Mark Shunock, who previously narrated “Rock of Ages” is the creative director of Intrigue. He’s been tasked with creating a unique nightlife experience.
There will be aerialists, actors, singers and dancers throughout the night. The goal is to add a unique nightlife experience inside of a less than traditional nightclub. The “acts” will begin around 11:30 p.m. and end around 3 a.m.
Opening night at Intrigue drew popular stars like Kate Hudson, Charlotte McKinney, Vanessa Hudgens and more. Leonardo DiCaprio and Rihanna were also spotted at the club during opening weekend. If you’re looking for a change of pace with nightlife in Las Vegas this might be the place to visit.
If nightlife if your thing, keep your eyes peeled for details on Jewel at Aria. The nightclub replaces Haze and will be operated by Hakkasan Group (Hakkasan, Omnia, etc.). Expect a more traditional nightlife experience when Jewel opens May 19th.
One of the best annual rites of summer in Las Vegas is when the Fremont Street Experience announces its lineup of free summer concerts. The theme of the concerts this year is Rock of Vegas. Earlier this year the Fremont Street Experience announced that the 8th year of the annual concert series would kick-off the summer on Memorial Day weekend with a free concert featuring Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
Last week the Fremont Street Experience announced the rest of the free concert series’ lineup for the summer and which stage you’ll find the bands performing.
May 28 – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – 3rd Street Stage
June 11 – 3 Doors Down – 3rd Street Stage
July 2 – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – 1st Street Stage
July 23 – Robby Krieger of The Doors – 1st Street Stage
August 6 – Vertical Horizon – 1st Street Stage
August 20 – Melissa Etheridge – 1st Street Stage
September 3 – Smash Mouth – 3rd Street Stage
Each of these concerts begins at (or shortly after) 9:00 p.m. Some of these artists should be familiar if you’ve followed or attended the Rock of Ages series at the Fremont Street Experience in the past. The standout concert this year might be Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Their concerts usually sell well in Las Vegas regardless of price. The price of $0 might have an extra large crowd at the Fremont Street Experience.
These concerts are free and admission to the stage area is first come first served. Plan to arrive early if you want to be close to the stage for a particular artist. Entry to the stage area is general admission and your place won’t be guaranteed unless you’re standing in it. If you leave to use the restroom or buy a drink you might lose your spot in front of the stage.
Every one of these free concerts will be packed. The Fremont Street Experience and all of its casinos will be full of revelers all night. Everyone loves free entertainment and these free concerts featuring national touring musicians bring people out of the woodwork. It’s one of the few occasions during the year where you’ll see a large mix of tourists and locals in the same location.
This is one of the most fun times to visit downtown Las Vegas. That said, consider the large crowds if you don’t enjoy cramped spaces. The stage areas can be especially tight during the concerts. Regardless of your taste in music, the large crowds of people can provide a different level of fun than you might normally find on Fremont Street.
Visit Vegas Experience for more information on the Rock of Ages concert series and all entertainment at the Fremont Street Experience.
I’m a fairly devoted customer
July 4th is less than
There are plenty of reasons
The Neon Museum is one
The Plaza in downtown Las