It’s that time of year again. Spring has sprung and temperatures in Las Vegas a teetering at the 90 degree mark. We’re entering the most beautiful time of the year in Las Vegas. The weather is warm during the day but not hot. There’s a slight chill in the air when the sun goes down but it’s not cold. Ahhhhh…breathe in.
This beautiful weather only lasts about 6 weeks before temperatures reach the 100 degree mark. Some people prefer the desert heat during the middle of the summer and some prefer the warm winters. There’s no arguing that the weather, despite occasional winds, is perfect right now in Las Vegas.
It’s time to get outside of the casino for a little while and relax. There’s no better way to do that than dining al fresco. You can grab a meal outside at any time of the day from breakfast to late night dessert. Restaurants with outdoor dining range from the uber fancy fine dining restaurants at Wynn Las Vegas to the simple cup of coffee at Sambalatte outside of Monte Carlo. If you’re looking for something in the middle you can head to Planet Hollywood for some middle of the road restaurants and bars.
There are a lot of restaurants that offer al fresco dining in Las Vegas today and more will be coming as the Vegas Strip continues to reinvent itself. Here’s a rundown of restaurants where you can grab a bite or strap on a feedbag outside on the Vegas Strip.
Bellagio – Prime, Picasso, Jasmine
Caesars Palace – Serendipity 3
Cosmopolitan – Estiatorio Milos, Overlook Grill
Flamingo – Carlos and Charlies
The Linq – Guy Fieri’s Kitchen, Chayo, Yard House, Flour and Barley
Mandarin Oriental – Pool Cafe
Monte Carlo – Diablo’s Cantina, Double Barrel Roadhouse, Sambalatte, 800 Degrees Pizza
New York New York – Shake Shack, Tom’s Urban, Nine Fine Irishmen
Mandalay Bay – Border Grill
Palazzo – Lavo, Morels French Steakhouse, Lagasse’s Stadium
Paris – Mon Ami Gabi, Hexx
Planet Hollywood – Cabo Wabo, PBR Rock Bar
SLS Las Vegas – Umami Burger
Tropicana – Beach Cafe
Venetian – Bouchon, B & B Burger and Beer
Wynn Las Vegas – Country Club, SW, Lakeside Seafood, La Cave, Terrace Point Cafe, Botero, Mizumi, Tableau
You’ll need a reservation for some of the restaurants listed above – specifically the restaurants at Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas along with Border Grill at Mandalay Bay (especially for brunch). If you want to ensure outdoor seating I advise calling the individual restaurants. OpenTable and other reservation apps don’t guarantee where you sit.
One of the things we love most about Las Vegas is that it’s constantly changing. Restaurants, shows, bars, hotel rooms are all refreshed regularly to meet current customer preferences. Recently we’ve seen a drastic shift in casinos and hotels in Las Vegas to do a major shift in customer demand. Visitors to Las Vegas are very different than the visitors just 5 years ago.
Every year around this time the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) releases a survey on the visitors to Las Vegas from the previous year. There are rarely any major surprises but this survey does a good job at summarizing who’s visiting Las Vegas. In turn the information helps explain why Las Vegas is changing the way it is.
The largest trend continues to be that the average age of Las Vegas visitors continues to decrease. 21 to 29 year olds accounted for 17% of tourists in 2014 compared to 10% in 2010. Overall, 44% of visitors to Las Vegas last year were under 40 years old. Altogether the average age of the visitor to Las Vegas was 45, down from 49 in 2010.
This is a difference you’ll see when you’re out and about on the Vegas Strip. As we get older it’s easier to see when younger people are around. This change can also be seen in the layout of the casino which includes more amenities geared towards these younger visitors.
54% of visitors in 2014 planned their trip to Las Vegas more than one month in advance up significantly from 50% in 2011 and 46% in 2012. One of the best ways to save money on vacation in Las Vegas is to plan early. You’ll save money even if you’re just booking hotel rooms while they’re cheap. If prices decrease you can always cancel and book elsewhere or re-book at the same hotel.
The number of visitors to Las Vegas that took taxis has skyrocketed over the past 5 years. In 2010 only 23% of visitors took taxis. Last year 32% of all visitors took taxis. Las Vegas taxis are infamous for long hauling customers. Being long hauled makes for higher taxi fees which doesn’t make any visitor to Las Vegas happy. Here are some tips to save money on taxi fares.
The biggest change in visitors to Las Vegas is their lack of desire to gamble. Only about 12%, say that they’re coming to Las Vegas primarily to gamble. Those that did gamble increased their budget slightly to $530.11. While that’s a slight increase (less than $1) from last year it’s a huge increase from 2010 when $466.20 was budgeted for gambling.
People are still gambling then they visit Las Vegas but it’s no longer the main reason they visit. The shows, nightclubs, restaurants, pool parties and bars are all a larger part of the Vegas experience for visitors today. It’s not the Vegas I grew up with but it’s still a place to do things that I love. If you’d like to see the full report you can find it at the LVCVA website.
Las Vegas is a special place for many of us in many different ways. While I may never forget the memory playing blackjack at 11am and hearing that Dido song on my second trip someone else may have a different favorite memory from a Las Vegas vacation. My parents were so in awe of the volcano outside of The Mirage they probably watched it ten times on their first visit to Las Vegas.
MGM Grand has undergone many changes since first opening in Las Vegas. Those changes never seem to end as new restaurants open and hotel rooms are renovated. That’s Las Vegas in a nutshell – constant change. A few years ago MGM Grand closed and removed one of its most popular free attractions when the Lion Habitat was closed to make room for Tap Sports Bar.
It’s sad to see something so beloved leave the casinos in Las Vegas. In the case of the Lion Habitat it’s gone but not really. The Lion Habitat still exists – sort of. The offspring of lions previously housed at MGM Grand have moved to the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson, NV. The Lion Habitat Ranch is about 15-20 minutes from the Vegas Strip.
Unlike the original Lion Habitat the ranch isn’t open to the public 24/7 and they charge to see the animals. Admission to the non-profit Lion Habitat Ranch is $25 for adults and $60 for a family. Discounts on admission are available to locals, students and military.
The Lion Habitat Ranch is more than just a conservatory for lions. The 6.2-acre ranch is home to 46 lions and various other animals including emus, ostriches and a giraffe. The Lion Habitat Ranch welcomed a record breaking, six baby lion cubs, born to mom, Pebbles, on April 1, 2015.
You can see the lion cubs and the rest of the animals at Lion Habitat Ranch which is located at 382 Bruner Ave. in Henderson, Nevada (Near M Resort). Visit lionhabitatranch.org for more information.
(Photo credit: Lion Habitat Ranch, Inc.)
Since the social casino game was released on Facebook, there have been a lot of changes to MyVegas. For starters MyVegas is no longer only a Facebook game. There are now two mobile apps for MyVegas – one for slot games and one for blackjack games. New games are added regularly to Facebook and both apps in order to keep gameplay fresh. New games add fun and variety to keep people interested in playing MyVegas. The games aren’t the only reason MyVegas has become one of the most popular social games online and on mobile.
What makes MyVegas different than other casino games is that they offer tangible rewards that are mostly located in Las Vegas. MyVegas began with free and discounted hotel, dining and show rewards from MGM Resorts. Since the initial release rewards have expanded to include an airline, cruise line, dinner outside of Las Vegas and a new hotel-casino company inside Las Vegas. Even with all the changes MyVegas has kept the majority of rewards Vegas-centric. Allegiant Air is a Las Vegas based airline and Station Casinos is considered a Las Vegas locals chain of casino-hotels.
Over time earning rewards has changed. Some rewards have become more difficult to attain. Some of the better rewards no longer exist. This month MyVegas is announcing a fairly drastic room reward change that will change how players use their MyVegas rewards. Here’s their statement:
“Effective April 1st, all comp room rewards from all MGM properties will be limited to one redemption per trip. This change was necessary to ensure an appropriate balance of value between our players and our partners. Rewards offered through myVEGAS are provided by our rewards partners who may at their discretion attach certain restrictions based on their business needs.
For players who purchased a comp room reward from MGM prior to the change of terms: you will be allowed to redeem under the previous terms on the reward. Just read your confirmation email for the exact terms and conditions of your reward.
Special Rate and Percentage Off Room Rewards can still be combined with our room comp rewards for multi-night stays.
Please know that we value you as a player and hope that you agree that even with restrictions, our program provides benefits of a substantial value. We truly regret if the limitations are problematic and you have been unable to take advantage of some rewards that you had planned to purchase. As always, we appreciate your feedback and always take it into account when planning our future rewards offerings.”
A couple can’t combine rewards for a week long vacation with free hotel rooms any longer. Rewards can now be used for a free day in Las Vegas – free room, free meal, free show but not a free vacation. If you’re planning on staying longer MyVegas has some MGM discount rewards available too. You can also switch to one of the Station Casinos hotels if you’re looking for another free room.
At the end a free day in Las Vegas is great. Sure it’s not the same as it was before but these are still good offers. Discount websites like Travel Vegas are a great way to save money in Las Vegas if you’re looking for a way to replace the freebies that MyVegas used to provide. If you’re reading this you probably know that already. I just want to make sure you were aware of the new MyVegas changes since so many of you already use the sweet MyVegas-Travel Vegas combo to maximize savings in Las Vegas.
You’ve never really experienced Happy Hour until you visit Las Vegas. Why? The answer is quite simple. There are so many bars and restaurants competing for the same business and Happy Hour discounts are a great way to get people in the door. Hopefully the food, drink and environment is good enough to cause discounted customers to return for dinner and drinks at full price. Whatever the case, Happy Hour deals are a great way to eat and/or drink for lower than normal prices. In no particular order here are 10 Happy Hour deals that we think are great. That’s a lie, the best deal is the last deal.
Country Club at Wynn – Happy Hour is every Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. Small bites are priced from $3.50 to $8. Drink specials include select beers from $4 and select cocktails from $7. This is a chance to wine and dine at a beautiful restaurant that may normally be beyond your budget.
The Pub at Monte Carlo – Happy Hour is every Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. This is one of the best beer bars on the Vegas Strip. You get $3 off all draft beers (normally $6 and up) and food between $3-$6. This is a great discount for any beer drinker looking to get the party started early.
Downtown Cocktail Room – Happy Hour is every Monday through Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. DCR has some of the best cocktails you’ll find anywhere in Las Vegas. Drink specials range anywhere from $3 to $7. If you’re serious about drinking something special then you may want to opt for a handcrafted cocktail for $7. Many of these drinks are on the menu for $10+. There are discounted small bites but you’re going here for the cocktails, not necessarily the food.
Peppermill Lounge – Happy Hour is daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and again 9 to 11 p.m. The Peppermill Lounge is legendary and discounts for Happy Hour are a great excuse to stop by a non-casino property. Now you have extra motivation for a visit if it’s not already a part of your itinerary. Happy Hour includes 50% off well drinks, wine and beer, $4.50 martinis, $5.50 mozzarella sticks.
Andre’s at Monte Carlo – Happy Hour is Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. Drink specials are $5 for beer, $6 for cocktails and $7 for small plates. This is a great excuse to snack on some French dishes you may normally not eat, like roquefort sliders. If you’re looking to really step out of your comfort zone, head to their Cigar Lounge for an early evening smoke, drink and snack.
Yard House at The Linq – Yes, we’re recommending a chain restaurant that has Happy Hour. The location of this Yard House is fantastic, right in the middle of the Vegas Strip. $1 off their wide selection of beer is a great deal for this area on the Vegas Strip. The food is all good with discounts between $5 and $8. Happy Hour is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. If you’re a fan of Yard House and want to travel you can find multiple Happy Hour deals off the Strip at Red Rock Resort and Town Square.
Triple 7 Brewery at Main Street Station – If you’re looking for some serious discounted quality, head downtown to Main Street Station where prices are already low. Happy Hour at Triple Seven Brewery is Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. Already low priced microbrews are only $2.50 during Happy Hour. If you’re the kind of person that goes to a microbrewery for wine or well drinks those are also $2.50. Select food on the menu is discounted.
Hussong’s Cantina at Mandalay Bay – Happy Hour is Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. You get 50% off appetizers, margaritas, cocktails, draft beers and $3 tacos. Need we go on? There’s something here for everyone.
Herbs & Rye – Sometimes you’re rewarded by reaching the end. Today you’re gifted with one of the best Happy Hour deals in Las Vegas. You can save so much money that it’s worth a cab ride off the Vegas Strip. Happy Hour is Monday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m and again 11:59 p.m. to 3 a.m. Herbs & Rye is one of the best cocktail bars in Las Vegas but you can get discounted well drinks for $5 and draft beers for $3 if you want. Certain items on their food menu, including steak (cost around $50) are discounted by 50%. Take your savings and invest in one of the best cocktails you’ve ever had.
It’s funny, we’re only a couple of weeks into spring but we’re already planning for summer in Las Vegas. Why not? Spring really only lasts a month or so before the temperatures begin to creep into triple digits. Even though temperatures reach upwards of 100 degrees during the day the summer evenings in Las Vegas are beautiful.
When the sun goes down and the temperatures drop there’s often a nice gentle breeze that brings a calm feeling to the evening. Spending summer evenings in the cooling dry air without mosquito’s is a wonderful thing for this east coast native.
One of the best free outdoor family activities in Las Vegas during the summer are the free movies you can watch in different parts of town. You’ll find different movies shown in different locations all the way from the Henderson area to the Vegas Strip to Downtown Vegas. Best of all is that many of these movies are on different days so you can enjoy a different atmosphere on different nights.
Huntridge Circle Park in Downtown Vegas was the first location showing free outdoor movies in Las Vegas to announce their movie schedule for the year. Huntridge Circle Park shows one movie per month from April through June. There’s quite a variety in these movies from animation to classics that were refreshed by other actors.
- April 10th: “Hook” (from 1991 starring Robin Williams)
- June 12th: “The Great Outdoors”
- July 10th: “An American Tail”
- August 14th: “Rock ‘N Roll High School”
- September 11th: “Freaky Friday” (from 1976 starring Jodie Foster. Not the remake with Lindsay Lohan)
- October 9th: “Walk the Line”
More and more places are offering free outdoor movies. While Huntridge Circle Park only shows movies once a month the following offered free movies weekly last year. Here’s a look at free movie options available in Las Vegas last summer:
Monday – Cosmopolitan – Weekly “Dive in Movies” at the Boulevard Pool. (free for hotel guests, $3 for everyone else)
Thursday – Downtown Container Park – Weekly free movies during June and July.
Saturday – The District (Henderson, NV near Green Valley Ranch) – Free movies weekly from June through October.
None of these locations that showed free movies last year are affiliated with one another so keep an eye out for separate announcements over the next month or so. The best thing about these free outdoor movie locations is that they’re spread out all over Las Vegas. You don’t have to be in one specific area to enjoy them. The variety of locations make these accessible for both tourists and locals.
Watching these free outdoor movies has become more popular every year with both tourists and locals, so don’t be surprised if you see another location or two pop up showing free movies.
The Vegas Strip says goodbye to a classic in the beginning of May just as it welcomes a humongous new project. A few weeks ago we let you know that the Vegas Strip was about to undergo another major transformation. In February it was announced that the Riviera would be sold and demolished by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).
Now we know that the Riviera will be officially closing its doors to customers on May 4 at noon. The plan remains for the LVCVA demolish the Riviera this summer but there hasn’t been an announcement on how or when demolition will begin. Fans of famous Las Vegas implosions have their fingers crossed for another spectacle.
Last week Genting Group announced that they will be breaking ground on their new $4 billion hotel-casino, Resorts World Las Vegas, the day after the Riviera closes. Resorts World Las Vegas will break ground on May 5. The property will be built on the land where the Boyd Gaming began construction on another ambitious project called Echelon. Veterans of Las Vegas may remember this plot of land on the north end of the Vegas Strip as the former home to the Stardust.
Plans for Resorts World Las Vegas are as ambitious as the previous owners plans for Echelon. Resorts World Las Vegas will be built on 87 acres of land in multiple phases. The $4 billion price tag is only for the first phase of the project which will include 3,000 hotel rooms, 175,000 square foot casino, over 30 bars & restaurants, 4,000 seat theater, 50,000 square foot aquarium and shopping area.
Resorts World Las Vegas will be the first themed hotel to open in Las Vegas in a while. The last hotel to open with a true theme was The Venetian way back in 1999. Resorts World Las Vegas will have Asian theme that extends to the shopping area on the Vegas Strip. The shopping area will have Asian style pagodas similar to a Chinese village. There have been rumors that Resorts World Las Vegas will even have panda’s on display similar to how MGM Grand used to have Lion’s.
The closing of the Riviera, the oldest casino on the Vegas Strip, will bring a moment of sadness on May 4th. That sadness will quickly turn around with hopes and visions of the future on May 5th when construction begins on Resorts World Las Vegas.
Casino players clubs are a great way to earn discounts and freebies when you visit Las Vegas. Players clubs were introduced as a way to entice gamblers to return to a casino to gamble. They used to only reward those gamblers. That’s no longer the case as many larger players clubs act more like traditional loyalty clubs for any kind of business.
The larger and more forward thinking casino players clubs are offering points and rewards for all money spent on property. Cash spending rewards often offering points for spending on dining, hotel rooms, spa treatments and shopping. Here’s an overview of which casino players club offer points for money spent outside of the casino.
Total Rewards (Bally’s, Caesar Palace, The Cromwell, Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Linq Hotel, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Rio) – Earn 1 Reward Credit for each dollar spent on dining, shopping, hotel rooms and amenities (i.e. pools, golf). Note that some off-property and leased businesses may not participate offering points. Check with each business when making a reservation or when making a purchase.
M Life (Aria, Bellagio, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, The Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York-New York) – Earn 25 M Life Tier Credits for every dollar you spend on hotel, dining, entertainment, or spa in Las Vegas per dollar spent. MGM/M Life hotels in other locations offer different ratios.
Grazie (Palazzo and Venetian) – Grazie offers different amounts of point rewards for cash spending based on your status in the club. Grazie level receives 5 Status Points per dollar spent. Gold and Platinum earn 20 Status points $1 dollar spent. All spending must be charged to your hotel room. You may want to charge everything to your room at Palazzo and Venetian.
Red Card (Encore and Wynn) – Spending is rewarded differently at Encore and Wynn than other Las Vegas hotels. You should charge everything you spend to your hotel room. At the end of your visit a host will let you know if you’ve spent enough to receive any complimentary items or discounts. The ambiguity isn’t meant to be sketchy, it’s a way for the hotel staff to create a better one on one relationship with their customers.
Identity (Cosmopolitan) – The Cosmo probably has the most aggressive players club regarding cash spending. You earn 5 Identity points for every dollar spent on hotel, dining, spa and shopping. Additionally you earn $5 in resort credit for every $100 spent.
The idea of rewarding casino customers for spending outside of the casino and in the rest of the hotel is only a few years old and still growing. Like the original players club rewards in the casino these new rewards are aimed at keeping you loyal to the particular brands.
Not every casino operator has moved to this model yet but some of these companies are already looking ahead at ways to extend their brand to you beyond Las Vegas. Total Rewards and M Life have started to offer players club rewards outside of Las Vegas and even in your house. Casino operators are always looking for new ways to attract customers today so expect more outreach.
Las Vegas doesn’t have the same kind of low temperatures during the winter like other parts of the country but it is still relatively cold. When you’re used to 115+ degrees in the summer the 20 degree temperatures can feel more chilly than you’d ever imagine. Las Vegas is finally beginning to warm up with temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s. Add a little direct sunlight and the temperature feels more like 90 degrees.
You can see the change in weather just about everywhere you look outside. People are wearing shorts and flip flops, more people are dining and drinking outside and it seems as though people are generally happier as the weather gets warmer. Pools have been opening slowly but they’ll all be open before you know it. This is a great time to revisit the great outdoors in Vegas. Here are some of the best free or cheap things to do outside in Las Vegas.
Visit The Welcome To Las Vegas Sign – There’s almost always a wait to take a picture (or 10) at this iconic sign. The higher temperatures make the wait feel much shorter than it did in December.
Check Out The Bellagio Fountains – Ever since Bellagio opened in 1998 the fountain show has been one of the most recommended free attractions in Las Vegas. The show never gets old whether you’re watching, taking pics/video or just walking by.
Stroll Through The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat – This is one of the most serene parts of the Vegas Strip. Take a leisurely stroll through the grounds, make a wish in the pond beneath the waterfall or just grab a seat on a bench and enjoy the lush grounds and beautiful weather.
Go Shopping Outside – The Linq, Grand Bazaar Shops and Downtown Container Park are all outdoor malls that offer very different retail outlets, restaurants and bars. If you have a car you can take a drive to Town Square, Tivoli Village or the new Downtown Summerlin for even more variety. Wow, there’s a lot of outdoor shopping in Las Vegas.
Take A Walk Down Fremont Street – The afternoon is the best time to stroll down the Fremont Street Experience. Most people are still waking up so the crowds are small and you can actually see everything that’s going on. It’s amazing how different the Fremont Street Experience is before the sun goes down. It’s like day and night!
Grab A Bite With A View – Mon Ami Gabi, Diablo’s Cantina, Serendipity 3 are just a few restaurants with al fresco dining on the Vegas Strip. Here’s a tip if you have to work while in Las Vegas but still want to enjoy the weather outside. Grab your laptop and head to the Downtown Container Park. The crowds are small and the wifi is free. Also drinks and food are close.
Get Yur Freak On at Wynn – The Lake of Dreams at Wynn is one of the strangest, but free, shows you’ll see in Las Vegas. You can observe the show from the restaurants or the downstairs patio. You may want to buy a drink at the Parasol Down bar and hang out for a while. Customers get priority for seats on the patio.
The Vegas Strip is about to undergo another major transformation. This transformation will bring the end of some of the cheapest gambling on the Strip. If you haven’t heard by now it looks as though the Riviera will be sold and demolished by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Demolition of the Riviera is unofficially scheduled for this summer.
Besides the end of another casino from the 1950’s this will mark the end of the only $1 blackjack game on the Vegas Strip. You can still find $1 blackjack at Binion’s every Thursday as part of their “Throwback Thursday Blackjack” promotion. The game pays 3:2 when you’re dealt blackjack making it a better game than the $1 blackjack at Riviera which pays 6:5 when you’re dealt blackjack. Too bad it’s not available every day.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is making this plan in order to make room for a major expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The expanded Las Vegas Convention Center will essentially extend to the Vegas Strip. It’s said that the new space will include new and upgraded facilities, a trade center and a transportation hub. Depending on the final design this expansion might make for a separation of the Vegas Strip where Main Strip hotels stop at Wynn then a new section of the Vegas Strip begins with Circus Circus, Rock in Rio grounds and SLS Las Vegas.
Part of the Riviera sale rumors over the past couple of weeks has been that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority would also be buying Peppermill coffee shop and Fireside Lounge. Thankfully that’s not the case. For the time being the Peppermill will remain open for everyone to enjoy. It seems as though the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority wants to purchase all the businesses in the area but the owner of the Peppermill has no plans to sell. That might change in time if the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority makes “an offer he can’t refuse”.
Together the Peppermill and Fireside Lounge are a great throwback to the days of neon on the Vegas Strip. More importantly, the Peppermill is one of the best dining bargains on the Vegas Strip. You can usually enjoy a fresh meal at the Peppermill for under $20. If you just want to drink some wine and enjoy the scene at the Peppermill you and your friends can share a bottle of wine for under $40.
The Fireside Lounge still remains a hotspot for those looking for a retro or vintage Vegas place to hang out and grab a late night drink.
If plans hold true you might want to stop by Riviera in the next few months for one last look at a casino that hosted such movies like “The Hangover” and “Vegas Vacation”. While you’re at in the area you may also want to stop by the Peppermill and Fireside Lounge. The constant facelift happening on the Vegas Strip may take our sweet Peppermill sooner than later.
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You’ve never really experienced Happy