Experiencing the holidays in Las Vegas are unlike being anywhere else in the world. There’s nothing traditional about the holidays in Las Vegas and there’s always something a little off beat happening. The temperature might have something to do with it but beyond that Las Vegas is never really like any other city in America. There’s just always something different in the desert air. Here are some of the most popular ways to celebrate winter and the holiday season on and off the Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas is in the desert and it rarely snows here. On the rare occasion it does snow the temperatures usually warm up enough above freezing to that the snow disappears quickly. Even though the temperatures are relatively warm Las Vegas offers some cold weather charm. From November 21 through January 4 The Cosmopolitan will offer ice skating – on real ice. Real ice is a big deal as The Venetian used to ice skating on synthetic ice. The synthetic ice rink won’t be opening this year. This year the Cosmo appears as though it will be the only hotel on the Vegas Strip to offer ice skating. There is a charge to skate at the Cosmo. You can find prices, hours and more information on the Cosmo website.
The Ethel M Chocolate Factory is located about 15 minutes off the Vegas Strip in Henderson. From November 13 through January 1 their botanical cactus garden is lit up for the holidays between 5pm and 10pm. Not only is this a unique holiday experience but there it’s free to explore. If you have children and visit on Thursday night you’ll have a chance to meet Santa from 8-9pm. For more information and directions to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory visit their website.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is traditionally where you’ll find the car races in Las Vegas. The races go quiet for the holiday season and you’ll find more than one million holiday lights along a 2.5-mile course. The speedway opens on November 14 and there is a $20 per card fee. Visit their website for more information, tickets and directions.
Winter Wonderland On The Vegas Strip
The Bellagio Conservatory changes to Winter Wonderland just in time for the holiday season. You’ll see one of the largest holiday trees on the Vegas Strip covered in thousands of lights and ornaments. Last year you were able to walk through a life-size snow globe and check out a chocolate-coated reindeer. Once Bellagio switches the conservatory from its autumn display to Winter Wonderland on December 6th you’ll be able to see all of this and even catch a live performance each night. As always Admission to the Bellagio Conservatory is free.
When you think about Las Vegas aquariums typically aren’t the first thing on your mind. That’s what makes visiting the Silverton a unique experience. During the holidays not only will you see thousands of sharks, stingrays and tropical fish swimming around the Silverton aquarium but you’ll find Santa Claus scuba diving. Santa is usually only hanging out on the weekend during December but the aquarium is always open and free. Visit the Silverton website as the holidays get closer for more information.
Tuesday, November 11 is Veterans Day. Over the past few years Las Vegas has come to embrace the day for than most people could imagine. Many casinos and restaurants will be offering discounts and freebies to current and former military men and women. It’s a great gesture by these businesses to thank the people who protect and serve(d) this country.
If you are a military person or military family in Las Vegas during Veterans Day you’re in luck. There are a lot of opportunities to save money in a variety of locations. If you’re not a military person these discounts give you a good excuse to pay it forward and take care of a military family’s drinks, meal or show ticket to thank them for their service. Here are a list of just some places located inside casinos in Las Vegas where you’ll find Veterans Day discounts.
BLT Burger at The Mirage
Any veteran or member of active military who visits BLT Burger Las Vegas on Veterans Day, November 11, will receive a 50% discount for parties of two or less or a 25% discount for parties of three or more off of the total check. That’s food and drink! This is one of the best deals you’ll find anywhere in Las Vegas.
Cabo Wabo at Planet Hollywood
Cabo Wabo is offering a buy-one, get-one-free drink special from a special Veterans Day menu. That’s essentially 50% off drinks. The patio at Cabo Wabo is one of the best people watching locations on the Vegas Strip.
Legends in Concert at the Flamingo
The tribute show will honor the military by offering a free ticket to anyone with a military ID on Veterans Day for the 9:30 pm. This is a favorite show of those looking for a taste of Vegas nostalgia. Hey, it’s a free ticket so you might as well check it out!
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat offers active and retired military personnel free admission to the Habitat with a valid ID from Nov. 7- 16. Family members may also receive a $5 discount. Check out the adorable lion cubs!
Trevi Italian Restaurant at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
Trevi will honor Veterans Day with a 20% discount off all food orders for veterans and active duty military personnel with a valid ID.
Las Vegas locals love a buffet. Many hotels are offering free buffets to military personnel and these offers aren’t limited to Nevada residents so enjoy!
Boyd Casinos – Off strip locations only (Gold Coast, The Orleans, Sam’s Town, Suncoast). Not available in Downtown Vegas locations.
Station Casinos – All locations (Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Red Rock Resort, etc.)
Silver Sevens – Just off the strip on Paradise.
Westgate Las Vegas – Additional guest of the vet will get 25% off the full price of their meal
If you’d like to show your respect to the Veterans in another way you can head to the largest Veterans Day parade west of the Mississippi River and the second largest in the country. The parade kicks off on 4th street and takes place in Downtown Vegas. There should be a viewing area located near the El Cortez. You can find more information on the parade here.
I’ve written about The Linq Hotel and its predecessor, The Quad, often this year (here and here) but that’s with good reason. Its inexpensive prices and center of the Vegas Strip location is great for anyone visiting Las Vegas. The property was previously called Imperial Palace and changed to The Quad a couple of years ago. Renovations of The Quad were done in a half mannered way. Much of the casino floor was renovated but the hotel rooms were still old and unappealing. Those $29 a day room rates could only keep people staying at The Quad for so long. Well, that changes as the property has reopened as The Linq Hotel this month.
The Linq Hotel has removed just about everything that you might remember from Imperial Palace. Some of the casino floor renovations from The Quad remain but just about everything on site has been renovated or rebranded as The Linq Hotel. The name coincides with the shopping promenade outside. This make The Linq a more simple destination. The Quad name wasn’t around long enough for many people to know that it existed. When you told people you were at The Quad, it was often followed by “The hotel at The Linq, ya know the place with the big ferris wheel.” Now the destination is a little more streamlined.
While The Linq Hotel, like all Las Vegas hotels, is meant to appeal to many but there is a growing core target of younger visitors to Las Vegas. The Linq Hotel is being positioned as a socially minded resort for the Las Vegas customer, who is seeking authentic and social entertainment experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. In less corporate speak the hotel is hitting all of the notes that millennial travelers seek in a hotel.
Something that appeals to millennial travelers and all travelers nowadays is free access to wi-fi. The Linq Hotel will offer high speed Wi-Fi available throughout the resort in all common areas, hotel rooms and gaming floor. This is the first Caesars Entertainment hotel to have such a broad wif-fi offering.
All hotel rooms contain an interactive system on the television which gives you access to different hotel amenities. With the click on the TV remote, you can order room service, housekeeping items, set up an alarm clock, as well as order one of the many popular board games available to be delivered to the room. Yes, board games.
One of the more cool features is that you can order room service from multiple dining outlets at both The Linq Hotel and Promenade such as Brooklyn Bowl and Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen. This is a great service that SLS Las Vegas offers as well. This feels like the beginning of synergy between hotels and restaurants that should have begun years ago.
Half of the hotel room renovations have been completed and the other half of the room renovations are being worked on now. The standard Deluxe King room is 350-square feet and features a fresh, modern design with floor to ceiling windows, boasting views of the Las Vegas Strip or the High Roller. The centerpiece of the room design are three distinct accent wall backdrops featuring stylized renderings of vintage Las Vegas signage, providing you with a unique experience each time they visit the hotel. Rooms also include:
- Beds with lush pillow top mattress, and oversized pillow
- 47” LCD flat screen TV
- Central charging and docking station located at the convenient in-room compact commuter workspace
- Bathrooms with marbled sink and overhead rain shower
The centerpiece of The Linq Hotel is a new bar called 3535, which is the address of the property. The bar has a vortex light display, unique cocktail menu, video poker at the bar and bottle service in the lounge area. Conceptually this is a great meeting place even though there are other bars located around The Linq Hotel.
Even with all of these upgrades hotel rooms at The Linq Hotel start at under $100 per night (plus $25 resort fee).
Before moving to Las Vegas I used to stick to the Vegas Strip and Downtown Vegas. That’s really what I wanted when I visited Las Vegas. I never rented a car until deciding to move here. I drove away from the touristy areas for the first time on my last visit as a tourist. It wasn’t as much of a great experience as much as it was an eye opening experience. I saw Las Vegas as a town for the first time. It became more than just hotels and casinos that I came to love so much.
I always heard about how inexpensive things were off the Vegas Strip but I didn’t care. I just wanted to drop my bags somewhere and hit the casino. Now that I’m older and more experienced I realize that I missed a great opportunity to save money.
The car rental process in Las Vegas is more streamlined than most other airports around the country. There’s one shuttle for all of the car rental companies and one building for all of those companies. You can get to the rental car desk as quickly for a smaller rental company as you can if you use the most popular companies. The shuttle times at most airports differ based on the size of the company. This streamlined process levels the playing field in a way for the discount rental companies.
You’ll find that a car rental in Las Vegas is much less expensive than most cities. The first time I rented a car the daily fee was $29 + taxes and fees. Not too shabby! When you look into discount companies you can find even better deals and quicker service since they’re less popular and have shorter lines.
Renting a car will sometimes cost as little as two cab rides per day (maybe less if you’re long hauled by a taxi). If you’re a casino hopper this is a great way to save money bouncing around different areas. Taxi costs quickly add up while the car rental fee is flat. For example if you go from Mandalay Bay to Bellagio to Wynn to Downtown Vegas and back to Mandalay Bay you’re going pay a lot in taxi fares. Meanwhile you’ll save a few bucks if you have a rented car at your disposal.
I like to have a few drinks when I casino hop but try not to overdo it during the day. I won’t drink and drive so renting a car would probably have curtailed some rough afternoons. I would recommend putting the car away at night regardless of drinking. Nighttime is when the masses are out. You’ve saved your money with numerous trips during the day. Let someone else deal with the traffic.
When you have a car it’s easy to leave the touristy areas and do some shopping for the hotel room. Prices are usually lower when you leave the touristy areas and you can find some excellent prices on snacks, drinks, adult beverages and anything else you’d need for your trip. You can also make a trip to some of the excellent less expensive restaurants that the locals enjoy.
There are financial benefits and flexibility when renting a car that you may have never thought about. It’s definitely something to consider on your next visit to Las Vegas.
Lastly, if you’re a Total Rewards member you can link your Fuel Rewards Network. This may offer you a discount on fuel when at Shell gas stations. You can find details here.
One of the largest pet peeves with visitors in Las Vegas are with taxi cabs. Las Vegas taxis are infamous for long hauling customers. Bring long hauled makes for larger taxi fees which doesn’t make any visitor to Las Vegas happy. Here are some tips to save money on taxi fares. Keep those tips handy because you’re going to want them on your next visit.
Las Vegas will soon have the 2nd highest fares for taxis among tourist based cities America. Last week the Nevada Taxicab Authority approved an increase in taxi fares of more than 8%. The board approved a measure that would make taxi rates increase as follows:
1. Rates increase from $3.30 for the initial drop to $3.45.
2. Rates increase 20 cents per 1/13th of a mile to 22 cents per 1/13th of a mile (That’s $2.60 to $2.86 a mile).
3. Wait-time charges of $30 an hour increase to $32.40 an hour.
In an act of kindness the Nevada Taxicab Authority will keep the McCarran International Airport pickup fee at $2. There is no date on when taxi rates will increase so it can happen any time. This is the first taxi rate increase since 2008.
Planning a vacation is one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to save money in Las Vegas. While it’s easy to make an early macro plan for your trip to Las Vegas (airfare, hotels) we shouldn’t forget the micro planning (meals, activities) of your days while on vacation. That’s what we’re going to do today.
Planning what you’re going to eat in Las Vegas is a great way to save money. Spontaneity is part of what makes visiting Las Vegas fun. Not every plan is rigid and set in stone. What I’m going to discuss doesn’t involve specific locations. What I’m going to discuss is more of a ideology based dining plan.
The later in the day you visit a buffet the more expensive they are. Breakfast is the least expensive and most cost effective buffet of the day. If you’re not big on breakfast you can head over to the buffet as it gets closer to lunch time. You’ll be able to eat a wider variety of food as the the assortment changes over.
If you’re a heavy coffee drinker like I am a breakfast buffet is great. You can get pots on pots on pots of coffee for your table. Compare this to $3-$5 per cup at a quick serve coffee stand in the casino and you’re probably saving money already.
Depending on which buffet you visit for breakfast you may have an omelet station to make a fresh dish as if you were at a traditional restaurant. Combine the coffee copious amounts of coffee with an inexpensive meal and you have a full stomach to power you through a day in Las Vegas.
If you’ve been to Las Vegas recently you should have noticed a lot of changes. These changes are meant to keep the city fresh to returning customers and to attract newer and younger customers. Well, the good news for the casino and hotel operators is that the refreshments they’ve made to Las Vegas are working for the younger and, hopefully, future customers.
In the past two years the median age of the average customer in Las Vegas has gone from 50 years old to 44 years old. Simple math would tell you that’s a difference of six years. While six years isn’t exactly a lifetime it is an entirely different life. Nobody is the same today as they were six years ago. Six years ago the people that are now legal age to gamble were just 15.
That 50 year old that may be hitting a midlife crisis today was a relatively spry young 44 years old just six years ago. The change is made more drastic when you realize that a median is the midpoint of a value and not the average. In this case it means that there are many more new young people visiting than older people who continue to visit Las Vegas.
Not everyone that visits Las Vegas is coming to this wonderful town for the same reason. We know this simply by looking around. This is why we touch on different topics with the blog each week. We’re just trying to make sure everyone knows everything happening in Las Vegas. This is no easy task but we’re up for it.
Every year the Las Vegas Visitor and Convention Authority releases a survey of who’s actually visiting Las Vegas. Every year their findings confirm what we see and offer even more information than we could imagine. 64% of first time visitors to Las Vegas are coming to Las Vegas for vacation. That’s almost 2/3rds of visitors surveyed by Las Vegas! They know that they want to visit America’s adult playground but they’re just coming to town to relax and take a load off.
Veterans of visiting Las Vegas don’t realize how many new visitors there are to this city every year. While we’re always trying to offer ideas of new things things to do it’s important not to forget that there are still people who have never seen the classics like the Bellagio Fountains or the “Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas” Sign. Pro-Tip: Veterans should head past the Stratosphere to grab a pic at the “Welcome To Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas” sign.
We’re always looking out for ways to save money in Las Vegas. There are so many ways to save but some of those discounts, deals and special offers can get confusing. Marketing and advertising people are in the business of deception. Most people over 21 understand that the sandwich on TV never looks the same when they see it in person. We know that what we see isn’t always what we get. This is true anywhere but especially in Las Vegas where all marketing, PR and advertising is embellished to some degree.
Marketing can get confusing when a hotel, restaurant or show is promoting “specials”, “deals” and “discounts”. There’s often fine print with the great offers that we find. Here are some things to consider when you see an offer that seems too good to be true.
There’s a Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for most items. Few businesses charge this much. They’ll often sell goods for a price that they think customers will pay, not what the manufacturer says. This discrepancy is what makes guessing prices on shows like The Price Is Right so difficult. When it comes to discounting things in Las Vegas like show tickets and hotel rooms make sure you can an eye on where the discount is coming from. Discounting a hotel room 20% from MSRP may not be as much of a discount than you’ll get from just searching for a hotel room on any travel website or entering your players club information in the casino website.
Las Vegas has a special for just about everything. You can visit a bar who sells a certain brand of beer for $5 a bottle. That same bar may also have a “special” where you can buy a bucket of 5 beers for $25. That’s not really a special. It’s just a commitment to buy 5 beers for the same price per beer as a single beer. The price isn’t the problem but the lack of truth in advertising is a problem. It’s a personal preference that I try to stay away from businesses that practice this kind of deception.
Halloween in Las Vegas is something else. Halloween may not be an official bank holiday but it feels like it could be in Las Vegas. Over the past few years the popularity of Halloween has exploded in Las Vegas unlike any other city. Let’s take a look at some of the bigger Halloween events besides what you’ll find in your favorite bar or club.
Fright Dome at Circus Circus: 7pm-midnight all month
Circus Circus’ Adventuredome is turned into Fright Dome for the month of October. Terror Dome is comprised of six (6!) haunted houses, four new “scare zones”, 25 rides and attractions, live performances and more. Fright Dome is a family friendly environment that is meant more for kids than their parents. Tickets begin at $39.95 with VIP passes available.
Fetish & Fantasy Ball at Hard Rock Hotel: October 31, 10pm-4am
The Fetish & Fantasy Ball has become a tradition in Las Vegas in the exact opposite way Fright Dome has. This is definitely not one for the kids and only 21 and over are allowed entry. The Ball expects around 7,500 guests at this year’s event. This is probably the most adult themed event that you will find for Halloween in Las Vegas. There are DJ’s, a variety of performers including fire breathers and more. The Fetish & Fantasy Ball is a huge freak fest unlike any other in the country. Words cannot do this justice so check out the NSFW teaser video for a better idea.
Experiencing the holidays in Las
Tuesday, November 11 is Veterans
I’ve written about The Linq
Before moving to Las Vegas
One of the largest pet