I recently visited downtown Las Vegas at night for the first time this year and was, once again, reminded how much fun it can be. Downtown Las Vegas offers a very different kind of fun than the Vegas Strip. I’ve come to enjoy both equally for their differences since my first trip downtown.
The Vegas Strip is the Las Vegas that everyone knows from TV, movies, and the majority of visitors. Downtown Las Vegas isn’t as famous and that suits the area fine. “Old Vegas” has always offered a different experience from the Vegas Strip and that’s what has always made it special.
While the Vegas Strip continues to offer the “latest and greatest” of everything, Downtown Las Vegas offers a less flashy experience. A visit to downtown Las Vegas is closer to what visitors may remember from the 1990’s on the Vegas Strip. The gambling is good, even the nicest hotel rooms are affordable, there are plenty of good restaurants and there’s free entertainment everywhere you look at the Fremont Street Experience.
Increasing resort fees, parking fees, etc. on the Vegas Strip don’t bother me. I can budget for that stuff so Las Vegas is always fun for me. However, if you’re tired of all that (I know many of you are!) and looking for a different Las Vegas experience you might want to look downtown. Here are 5 reasons to visit downtown Las Vegas.
Fremont Street Experience Is Kind Of Amazing
There’s nothing like this mall of casinos at night anywhere in the world. There are three stages with, often free, entertainment and a light show on the canopy above that covers the mall. You’re free to wander without concern for vehicular traffic. There are street performers that are equally as entertaining as they are annoying. Just about every casino has access to a bar from the street. The alcohol helps fuel the chaos in the area. You’ll hear people riding the giant Slotzilla zipline screaming above you all night. A night out at the Fremont Street Experience is sensory overload in the best way.
The Gambling Is Great
If you’re the kind of person that enjoys a fun atmosphere, low limits, and good odds when you gamble then you’ll have a great time in the downtown Las Vegas casinos. The atmosphere is loose and not stuffy at all. You’ll find $3 and $5 minimum wagers for craps and blackjack at just about every casino. El Cortez even has quarter roulette. The casinos in downtown Las Vegas tout that they offer looser slots than the Vegas Strip.
For what it’s worth, I probably gamble more frequently in downtown Las Vegas than any other part of town. There seems to be more bang for the buck.
Great Drinking Options
My friends and I never hung out to eat or drink when I first started visiting downtown Las Vegas. That’s changed and there’s a great variety of restaurants and bars. The Vue Bar at The D has good video poker games and the bartenders are quick with a drink. If you prefer a non-gaming bar you can head to Downtown Cocktail Room, The Griffin or The Commonwealth. Beer drinkers can enjoy local brewery Banger Brewing or visit Pizza Rock for a great beer selection at fair prices. Beer prices (and food) are even better during Happy Hour at Pizza Rock.
Surprisingly Good Variety Of Dining
Downtown Las Vegas has grown beyond the mall of casinos at the Fremont Street Experience. Just walking a block or two outside of the canopy can bring more restaurants that may not be on the radar of most people visiting downtown Las Vegas. While the casinos boast some good high-end, but affordable, steakhouses like Andiamo’s at The D and Oscar’s at the Plaza you’ll find some great food options just a few steps away. Therapy, Eat, Carson Kitchen, and Pizza Rock are just a few good non-casino restaurants.
The Vegas Strip is great but it can feel a bit fancy at times with the newest of everything. It’s the hotspot of Las Vegas. There’s a time to dress nicely, have a great meal, and see a hundred dollar per ticket show. There’s also a time where a t-shirt, shorts, and a football of beer feel more appropriate. Las Vegas is great because you can enjoy both of those feelings in the same day. There’s just a more relaxed vibe in downtown Las Vegas than the Vegas Strip.
Salute at Red Rock casino recently welcomed a new chef, Luke Palladino, to the restaurant. I was lucky enough to be invited to a tasting of the new menu. Since I’m in this casino almost every day (I’m actually typing this at Red Rock casino), I figured that I would check it out.
Media tastings come in different shapes and sizes so I wasn’t sure what to expect. This tasting was a fixed family-style menu. Each dish for the tasting was chosen by the restaurant. We were treated to 6 courses and 20 dishes. YOWZA! Now, this is a tasting!
We tried everything from a caciocavallo scaloppine to a delicious veal chop made with roasted sunchokes, wild mushroom-prosciutto and sage cream. The signature pasta was finished tableside on a wheel of cheese and was probably my favorite item on the menu.
My table at Salute was made up of mostly strangers who all got to know each other by sharing the family-style dishes. This tasting was a blast and reminded me how much I love to share meals with friends. It’s not only fun to share food but it’s often enjoyable to have a meal with a variety of different foods.
Not every restaurant offers this kind of a 20 dish tasting menu but in many restaurants in Las Vegas you can order so that you can sample and taste different foods during a meal. I’ve done this often throughout the year. Here are some examples of shared meals I’ve had with friends in Las Vegas over the years.
Cleo – SLS Las Vegas
The dishes here are perfect for sharing. There are many small dishes and shareable main courses. We ordered a couple different mezzes, meats, and flatbreads for the table. Not only was the food excellent but everyone was able to sample a few different flavors and dishes that might not have had the chance to if we ordered individually. The server was happy to help us order the correct portions to satisfy everyone who wanted to try certain dishes.
Rao’s – Caesars Palace
It helps to have a friend who speaks the language when visiting a true ethnic restaurant. My Italian-speaking friend ordered shareable portions for pasta, chicken and more for the table. Rao’s wasn’t offering a tasting menu when I visited. We all wanted to try different items on the menu. The restaurant was able to portion out dishes differently. They didn’t have to do much work and they made this table very happy.
Beauty & Essex – Cosmopolitan
The dishes here are intended to be shared so it was easy to try a lot of different food. A recent dinner with 5 here with friends bought seven or eight different dishes. Not only did we have a wide variety of flavors but we had a ton of food. This meal was much better and more fun than the traditional appetizer/main course meal I had on a previous visit.
Bazaar Meat – SLS Las Vegas
Bazaar Meat is billed as a steakhouse but it’s so much more. The menu is about 2 feet long and has way more dishes than you’ll find in most steakhouses. We stared and stared at the menu and couldn’t make a choice on what to eat. The server saw our lost eyes and offered to help. She asked for our budget and asked if there were any restrictions. We had a fantastic meal with about eight different dishes and included several different types of meat with a massive rib eye as the final main course.
Every meal included different people in each party trying dishes that they might not have ordered by themselves. I’m not adventuresome when ordering a single dish. However, I’ll almost always try something in a small portion.
Las Vegas restaurants often save their tasting menu for special nights. Recently Sushisamba at The Palazzo introduced their Japanese whiskey collection with a special pairing menu. Last year I visited Yardbird for their National Bourbon Month menu.
Everyone visits Las Vegas for a fun time. Sharing great meals with friends is just one way to start a great night out.
There are a lot of “Best Of” lists for Las Vegas, but few are as highly regarded as the Forbes Travel Guide. This is a list of the best of the best hotels and restaurants around the world. Many businesses use these awards as a milestone for service and quality.
Forbes Travel Guide’s scoring system uses a proprietary algorithm that weighs service at 75% and the quality of the facility at 25%. Forbes inspectors anonymously visits and evaluates properties using nears 800 objective standards in 162 destinations across 42 countries.
Forbes Travel Guide Hotel Award Winners In Las Vegas
This year just 175 hotels achieve the coveted Five-Star Award for the best of the best. Five of those winners are in Las Vegas.
- ARIA Sky Suites
- Encore Tower Suites
- Mandarin Oriental
- Skylofts at MGM Grand
- Wynn Tower Suites
Among the total 1,464 Star Award winners in 2017, there are 175 Five-Star, 478 Four-Star. Las Vegas has a host of Four-Star Award-winning hotels too. M Resort is the only off-strip hotel to receive this prestigious award. There’s a reason we listed M Resort as one of the five resorts to help you transition away from the Vegas Strip. The rest of the winners are below:
- ARIA (regular rooms)
- The Cosmopolitan
- Four Seasons (at Mandalay Bay)
- The Laurel Collection by Caesars Palace
- M Resort
- The Palazzo
- The Venetian
- Wynn Las Vegas
Forbes Travel Guide Restaurant Award Winners In Las Vegas
The number of hotels to receive a Star Award from the Forbes Travel Guide seems massive when compared to restaurants. There were only 62 Five-Star, 176 Four-Star restaurants around the world. Las Vegas is known for great fine dining and make up nearly 10% of the Five-Star restaurants.
- Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand)
- Le Cirque Las Vegas (Bellagio)
- Picasso (Bellagio)
- Restaurant Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace)
- Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (Mandarin Oriental)
- Wing Lei (Wynn Las Vegas)
Le Cirque, Picasso, and Wing Lei are new Forbes 5-Star Award winners. The 5-Star award winners are the finest of fine dining and will cost more than most meals you’ll ever eat. By comparison, the 4-Star Award winners are affordable. While still expensive and fine dining the prices are what you’d pay in most high-end restaurants.
- Andrea’s (Encore)
- AquaKnox (The Venetian)
- Aureole Las Vegas (Mandalay Bay)
- barMASA (Aria)
- Costa di Mare (Wynn)
- The Country Club (Wynn)
- CUT (The Palazzo)
- Julian Serrano (Aria)
- L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (MGM Grand)
- Lakeside (Wynn)
- Michael Mina (Bellagio)
- Mizumi (Wynn)
- Sage (Aria)
- Sinatra (Encore)
- SW Steakhouse (Wynn)
One of the many things that make Las Vegas so great is that there’s something for everyone. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can find plenty of fun low rolling around Las Vegas. Likewise, if you’re looking for the most luxurious vacation of your life you can visit these Forbes Travel Guide Award winners.
You can see the full list of Forbes Award winners around the world here.
Over the years Las Vegas has transformed from a city of cheap buffets to a city filled with the some of the best chefs and restaurants. Las Vegas is home to restaurants by just about every celebrity chef you can think of. Many of the people who do the cooking at the celebrity chef restaurants are famous and carry awards of their own. Las Vegas is now a destination for those seeking the best food in the country.
Las Vegas is home to many foodie festivals over the year, but there’s one that annually stands out because of the big name chefs and unique culinary experiences. Vegas Uncork’d returns to Las Vegas from April 27 – 30.
Chefs appearing at Vegas Uncork’d this year include Alain Ducasse, Bobby Flay, Buddy Valastro, Charlie Palmer, Giada De Laurentiis, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy, José Andrés, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Michael Chow, Nobu Matsuhisa and Wolfgang Puck to name a few.
Once again you’ll enjoy the one-of-a-kind experiences and a world-class lineup of renowned celebrity chefs, master sommeliers and cutting-edge mixologists from Caesars Palace, The Cromwell, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International, The Palazzo and The Venetian Las Vegas.
You’ll get to enjoy some of the most famous chefs preparing food in casinos and restaurants all over Las Vegas. Here are some of the new and notable experiences at Vegas Uncork’d this year:
- Quickfire Happy Hour with Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (Caesars Palace), Thursday, April 27: Ever wondered what it takes to win a quickfire challenge like you see on Top Chef? Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to feel like a contestant on a cooking competition show. Put your culinary chops to the test and become part of the action! Guests will divide into teams and compete in a series of quickfire challenges all while enjoying free-flowing cocktails, cool craft beers, and signature Border Grill bites. Celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger will be on hand to coach the teams and provide participants with top-notch advice before they face the panel of judges.
- Master Series: Rao’s 10th Anniversary Dinner (Caesars Palace), Thursday, April 27: (The original) Rao’s is widely regarded as the hardest reservation to land in the country, if not the world. Guests will have the opportunity to grab a seat at Rao’s in Las Vegas as the Rao’s family celebrates its 10th Anniversary on the Strip and their newest cookbook, “Rao’s Classics,” written by Rao’s owners Frank Pellegrino Sr. and Frank Pellegrino Jr. From time-honored Italian staples to classics that are uniquely Rao’s, like their famous lemon chicken, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate this milestone with a multi-course meal at an Italian-American dining institution.
- Lunch like a Spaniard with José Andrés at Jaleo (The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), Friday, April 28: Experience a taste of Spain with internationally acclaimed culinary pioneer and innovator, Chef José Andrés. Join José as he prepares lobster paella over their renowned live fire pit in a dish-and-tell session, and shares his favorite stories behind the unique restaurant’s menu items, like José’s Taco, a slice of jamón ibérico de bellota topped with osetra caviar and gold flakes; Coca con Erizas del Mar, crusty Spanish cristal bread topped with sea urchin, ibérico bacon and butter; their renowned Gin and Tonic program, and more.
- The Hog in the Hen House: Yardbird Presents A Pot Belly Brunch (The Venetian), Friday, April 28: From the fried green tomato BLT with house-smoked pork belly to maple-glazed bacon doughnuts, Yardbird’s exclusive Pot Belly Brunch will be hog heaven for lovers of all things bacon and pork belly. Enjoy a range of Yardbird’s inventive Southern comfort dishes while sipping on a bloody mary with bacon infused vodka.
Some other Vegas Uncork’d experiences include:
- Master Series: The Ultimate Throwback with MR CHOW (Caesars Palace)
- Master Series: Rich Tradition with a New Twist with Old Homestead’s Greg & Marc Sherry (Caesars Palace)
- Master Series: The World’s Best, An Epicurean Affair With Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace)
- Three-Kitchen Tasting at SUGARCANE raw bar grill with Chef Timon Balloo (The Venetian)
- Celebrate Spago: 25th Anniversary Lunch with Wolfgang Puck (Caesars Palace)
- Lunch like a Spaniard with José Andrés at Jaleo (Cosmopolitan)
- A Movers & Shakers Mixology Journey with Mariena Mercer (Cosmopolitan)
- Brunch with Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill (Caesars Palace)
- Montecristo Cigar Bar—Up in Smoke (Caesars Palace)
- Picnic in The Park with Alain Ducasse, Charlie Palmer, Michael Mina, Julian Serrano, Shawn McClain, Roy Ellamar, Akira Back, the Voltaggio Brothers & More (The Park, located between Monte Carlo and New York-New York)
- #FoodPorn Cooking Demo & Luncheon with the Too Hot Tamales (Caesars Palace)
- Sweet Escape: An Evening of Buddy, Beignets, Bon Bons & Booze (The Palazzo)
- The Ultimate Big Cake & Craft Cocktail After-Party (The Venetian)
There are even more experiences that seemingly take place all day and night. You can see a full list of Vegas Uncork’d events here. Ticket information and prices are available for individual events here. This isn’t an event if you’re traveling on a small budget. Prices start at $79.99 for an after party with Buddy V. and go as high as $595 for a Master’s experience with Nobu Matsuhisa. Visit vegasuncorked.com for more information.
I was immediately hooked when “Hotel Impossible” debuted on the Travel Channel in 2012. I’m a sucker for renovation shows. Between three rescue-style TV shows, “Bar Rescue,” “Restaurant Impossible,” and “Hotel Impossible,” we had the makings of an even better TV show.
Together these three TV shows could be the backbone of a mega show called “Casino Impossible” or “Casino Rescue.” I wrote about the idea for a website that is no longer around called Vegas Chatter (sad trombone). Well, it seems as though we might actually see this idea on television a few years after that original idea.
Casino veteran Gary Green is searching for troubled casinos for a new television series. In the series, Green’s team of casino experts will makeover troubled casinos. Like other makeover shows, the host will show off his marketing and casino knowledge. Gary Green is the former vice-president of marketing and player development for Donald Trump and is recognized as one of the most colorful marketing characters in the casino world.
“We have already struck deals with vendors, designers, regulatory experts, financial experts, and a whole array of casino experts who are eager to help turn around troubled properties. This is an operation that most casinos could never afford,” Green added.
What would a casino get in return? Green says they’ll receive “nationwide television exposure of their casino plus a state-of-the-art makeover and marketing; what more could a struggling casino ask for?”
Green started pitches for casinos last year but the show isn’t quite ready. According to IMDB the show is still in development.
Possible Casino Rescue In Las Vegas
The Rio All-Suites Casino And Hotel has been rumored to be on the market by Caesars Entertainment for at least 5 years. Despite many rumors, it’s still owned by Caesars Entertainment. The casino-hotel recently had a power outage that forced 900 people out of their room just before New Year’s Eve. To say the property, inside and out, is in need of some TLC is in understatement.
The exterior of the hotel looks as though it hasn’t been cleaned or maintained in years. Inside the casino there’s little connection to the Rio theme. The structure of the building is becoming dated and there could be more small accidents that become a big deal because of a lack of maintenance.
Caesars Entertainment has been in bankruptcy protection for over a year now. A “Casino Rescue” could come in handy. If the Rio is on the market and Caesars doesn’t want to put money into the building this could help them find a buyer. At minimum, cleaning it up and fixing some of the problems might be what’s best for the Rio, Caesars and those who stay at the property.
It was a sad day for many downtown Las Vegas visitors when DuPar’s abruptly closed at the Golden Gate Casino. The restaurant and bakery was one of the most popular breakfast joints under the Fremont Street Experience.
In my mind, there was only one dish worth eating at DuPar’s. Those fluffy pancakes covered with drawn butter were divine. A tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice was the perfect accompaniment. These pancakes were so good that they would satisfy for a meal at anytime of the day. While the DuPar’s restaurant at the Suncoast Casino is still open, it’s not very convenient for anyone staying in downtown Las Vegas.
Have no fear pancake lovers! There are still a handful of restaurants located in downtown Las Vegas where you can enjoy a stack. The restaurants range from a national chain with the cheap pancakes to one of the hottest restaurants in the area.
The Denny’s in downtown Las Vegas is different than the other locations of the chain. Not only does this Denny’s have a full bar, but you can get married here. More important is that this location still offers ALL YOU CAN EAT PANCAKES FOR $4. ‘Nuff said, right?
Eat has been a breakfast and lunch hot spot since the day it opened. This is the kind of local restaurant that creates dishes from scratch and from the heart. The Las Vegas tourists districts are often seen as soulless so you might not expect this kind of restaurant so close to the casinos. Eat was a great addition to downtown Las Vegas. If you’ve been here before, you know that there’s a reason that the pancakes are listed so high on the menu.
The pancakes were a favorite for visitors at the now closed El Cortez Cafe. Thankfully for pancake lovers, the tradition of tasty cakes has just moved to the new restaurant inside the casino. Seigel’s 1941 offers a wider variety of pancakes including a short stack for only $5.
Hash House A Go Go
This regional chain has multiple locations in Las Vegas, including the downtown restaurant at The Plaza. They’re known for having “twisted farm food” and massive portions. In fact, the pancakes are so large that there’s only one in a serving. This is the kind of restaurant and amount of food you’ll need if you’re waking up after a day and night of drinking too many footballs of beer or yard-long frozen drinks.
This quick-serve cafe is a quick walk from the Plaza on Main Street. This isn’t a fast food restaurant, but they dish out fresh food faster than most restaurants. Many of the dishes at MTO cafe are unique but the pancakes are a great place to start exploring. You can top pancakes with butter and syrup anywhere but where you can you have fat butter and tree sap? Bacon lovers might want to look at the Bacon Pancake Dippers with peppercorn maple syrup. These are not your parent’s pancakes.
In Memory of Dupar’s:
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, it’s still Winter. The first day of Spring is technically March 20th. The first day of Summer isn’t until June 20! However, Las Vegas doesn’t wait for farmers or almanacs to decide what season it is. According to a handful of casinos and clubs, Summer is here!
Sure, there are some pools that are open all year around but we’re about pool season is already here in Las Vegas. Some casinos are opening pools while nightclubs are opening their daytime parties on March 3rd!
Here’s a look at some of the pools that will be opening over the next couple of weeks.
- MGM Grand
- The Mirage
- The Venetian
- Treasure Island
These casinos have some of their pools open all year long with limited hours:
- Caesars Palace
- Casino Royale
- Circus Circus
- The D
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
- The Linq
- Mandalay Bay
- MGM Grand
- The Mirage
- Paris Las Vegas
- Planet Hollywood
- The Venetian
Not all casino pools are open for the new season yet. The pools that are open during the winter still have limited hours. The “winter” and closed casino pools will open full time over the next couple months. If you’re looking ahead you can plan for the opening of the Tropicana pool complex on May 25th.
While regular casino pools are slowly trickling open, some of the biggest and most popular dayclubs and pool parties are off to a flying start in the next couple of weeks.
- Encore Beach Club at Encore
- Marquee Dayclub at Cosmopolitan
- Tao Beach at Venetian
- GO Pool at Flamingo
- Rehab at Hard Rock Hotel
- Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay
- Liquid at Aria
The dayclubs and pool parties are just revving their engines for the real “pool season” in Las Vegas. The dayclubs will be open in time for spring break and March Madness but this is just the beginning. The pool party and dayclub seasons traditionally kick into high gear with premier talent closer to Memorial Day Weekend.
Who’s ready to take a dip?
There are plenty of bars and lounges in Las Vegas that will make a delicious cocktail or pour a fantastic beer…if you pay for it. This is Las Vegas and you can get just about anything you want if you’re willing to pay. Big deal. Let’s get some free drinks!
You can still earn delicious cocktails, top shelf liquor and amazing beers complimentary at a few bars in Las Vegas. I’m not talking about a middle-shelf vodka and club soda or another complimentary domestic beer. You can still get an amazing cocktail or beer for no additional charge while you’re gambling at a few casinos bars.
There was a time where you could just sit at a video poker bar in a casino and drink all day and night on just a few dollars. That changed last year and some casinos have installed drink monitoring systems to make sure you’re spending money and earning a complimentary drink (you can see a comparison here).
Additionally, more bars are limiting the kind of drinks you can have complimentary. Many bars in Las Vegas will only offer a complimentary bottom or middle shelf liquor or domestic beer. Call me a snob, but I want the good stuff.
This isn’t about the best video poker paytables. This is about the best complimentary drinks. There are a handful of video poker bars in Las Vegas casinos where you can still get great complimentary drinks.
Chandelier Bar – Cosmopolitan
The complimentary cocktails when playing video poker is one reason that the Chandelier Bar is my favorite bar in Las Vegas. Sure, the Cosmopolitan has instituted a drink monitoring system at all of their video poker bars but you’ll still receive better drinks and service than most casino bars in Las Vegas. Unlike other video poker bars, you can receive fantastic signature cocktails ($16) and top shelf liquor (up to $15) complimentary while playing one of the machines. While other casino bars only offer a limited selection of spirits, almost everything at the bar is available here. You can receive similar treatment at the other bars at the Cosmopolitan, Bond and sports book, but neither match the atmosphere of this beautiful bar.
Tag – The Linq
Tag is one of the best beer bars on the Vegas Strip with about 150 different beers to choose from. Many (many, many) of the craft and imported beer can be earned complimentary when playing video poker or one of the other games on the bartop machines. Caesars Entertainment owns The Linq and has a drink monitoring system so you’ll have to keep up your pace of play. Don’t worry if you slack off, the beers are affordably priced if you just want to pay.
The Linq is also home to the 5150 bar. This bar has a few machines and doesn’t offer complimentary signature cocktails. However, they deeply discount their delicious signature cocktails to $2. You can order regular cocktails without paying the $2. However, the signature cocktails are so good that you almost forget that you’re paying for a drink while playing video poker.
Pub 365 – Tuscany
This bar and restaurant at the Tuscany, just off the Vegas Strip, opened last year and quickly became one of my favorite beer bars in Las Vegas. The food is good and they have an immense beer selection. In addition to the 365 beers in their name, they have a unicorn list of very limited beer that you can purchase. The bar has video poker machines and offers complimentary beer while playing. Tuscany hasn’t installed a drink monitoring system. If you’re not familiar with the Tuscany, this small casino is about a 2-minute taxi, Uber or Lyft east of Bally’s or a 10-minute walk.
The first weekend of March Madness is more than just a weekend. It’s actually a loooooong weekend. The first weekend of the NCAA (college) basketball tournament will begin around 9 am on Thursday, March 16 and will end around 8 pm on Sunday, March 19. This weekend is so long because many serious college basketball fans will begin on Wednesday.
In recent years, the first weekend of March Madness has started rival Super Bowl weekend as the busiest time of the year for sports fans in Las Vegas. Even though the tournament lasts all month, the first weekend is the only weekend that’s a big deal in Las Vegas. The other games don’t draw nearly as many people.
There are nearly 100 games during the first four days of March Madness. The sports books are packed with people wagering on the action. The lines to place wagers in the sports books tend to be slower than normal. First of all, college sports fans tend to be younger than professional sports fans and that brings a lot of young and new bettors to Las Vegas. New bettors are usually slow to place their wagers. Similar to the Super Bowl, there are just a lot of people in Las Vegas for the weekend.
The action doesn’t slow down when the games are over. Even before the final buzzer of the last game goes off you’ll see sports fans heading out to enjoy all Las Vegas has to offer. Restaurants, bars, shows, clubs, casinos will be packed. These four days are magical for a sports fans and a fun time for anyone who loves the chaos in Las Vegas.
The first two days of March Madness have 16 games packed into 12 hours. There are often between two and four games happening on at the same time. This action is what makes the beginning of March Madness so popular all over the country.
Saturday and Sunday have a manageable eight games per day. Since there are so many games it can be difficult to get a seat in a sports book to watch the games. Much like the Super Bowl, you may want to look into other options to watch the games.
Outside of the sports book, the options to watch the games during March Madness are similar to the Super Bowl:
- Casino Bar
- Walk Into A Bar and/or Restaurant
- Free Parties
- Paid Viewing Parties
You can read more about these events from the post for watching the Super Bowl.
The last thing anyone wants to do in Las Vegas is to stand in line instead of enjoying the action. This is a time where you should seriously consider a sports wagering app to avoid most of the lines. You can see a list of apps here. While you can download an app from anywhere you can only use the mobile sports wagering apps in Nevada, you must sign up for an account in person.
If you’d like to avoid the lines in the sports book, you can look for a sports wagering kiosk. The majority of sports bettors like to place wagers with a person. This leaves the self-serve kiosks relatively quiet. Most William Hill sports book locations have a kiosk. Other properties, like Caesars Entertainment properties, will offer a kiosk just for this occasion.
The first weekend of March Madness is one of the most fun times for a sports fan in Las Vegas. Basketball isn’t the fun during this weekend. Don’t forget, this year the Madness happens at the same time as St. Patrick’s Day. Party.
In the best way, March in Las Vegas really brings the Madness. The long weekend of Thursday, March 16 through Sunday, March 19 is one of the most fun weekends of the year. Las Vegas is a national destination for a combustible combination of people visiting for Spring Break, St. Patrick’s Day and the first weekend of March Madness. It’s also a time where many locals mingle with tourists.
While activities in Las Vegas typically draw people of all ages, this weekend generally attracts a younger crowd. You’ll find spring breakers partying like there’s no tomorrow. Sports fans and sports bettors will be awake from the first tip of the college basketball tournament at 9 am each day and partying until the sun rises again. Saint Patrick’s Day attracts crowds of all ages, some looking for debauchery and others looking for a more familial celebration of the day.
The first weekend of March Madness is always one of the busiest sports weekends of the year. Spring break usually falls during this time and brings more than just sports fans to Las Vegas. The years when St. Patrick’s Day falls during this weekend can be explosive in a great way. This weekend brings three different groups of people all looking for fun.
March Madness, Spring Break & St. Patrick’s Day Fun
The first weekend of March Madness is the busiest of the college basketball tournament because of a) there are a lot of games played and b) you can legally wager on all of those games. Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17 each has 16 games beginning at 9 am and ending around 9 pm. The pace slows down on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19 when each day only has 8 games.
Sports books will be overflowing all day and night. Many casinos, bars, and restaurants will have parties that offer food and drink to go along with seats for you to watch the games. Some of these parties will have mobile betting stations so you can skip the sports book. It’s a great time for all sports fans but the fun doesn’t end there.
Spring break brings out the hardcore partiers. Most dayclubs won’t be popping off like the summer, but the nightclubs bring in A-List talent for those looking for entertainment. You’ll find that many of the big name Las Vegas residencies will have shows that sell out shows for this weekend. This group of mostly college students don’t need all that much more than just being in Las Vegas and enjoying everything Sin City has to offer.
St. Patrick’s Day brings out a few different groups of people in addition to those already in Las Vegas. Many people from nearby states like California and Arizona will visit just to celebrate some away from home. There are whiskey and beer specials at bars all over town. Local residents will often make an appearance on the Vegas Strip to partake in the parties.
One of the larger celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day takes place at New York-New York. The Celtic Feis festival takes place on March 17 and 18. Festivities kick off on Friday, March 17 with live entertainment beginning at 11 a.m. on the Brooklyn Bridge. The Las Vegas Pipe Band will lead a parade at 10 a.m., starting on the Mezzanine and continuing through New York-New York. The parade is complimentary and open to guests of all ages. Starting at noon on March 17, guests must be at least 21 years of age and admission starts at $10.
Between the Brooklyn Bridge and Nine Fine Irishmen, my favorite Irish Bar in Las Vegas, you’ll find Irish food, booze, music and more. It’s a true celebration or the holiday that you might not expect to find on the Vegas Strip.
Beyond all of this, the weather is just heating up and it’s a great time to be outside in Las Vegas. This is probably my favorite weekend to be on the Vegas Strip. You might want to get busy, if you want to visit for this weekend and haven’t already made plans.
You tend to not think about home and real life when you’re in Las Vegas. It’s understandable since that’s often the purpose of visiting Las Vegas. However, one of the best ways to find discounts in Las Vegas comes from your home life. Many of us have a membership with the American Automobile Association and rarely think about it in Las Vegas because we’re not driving. It still might not be front of mind even if we are driving.
Heck, I have AAA and live in Las Vegas and rarely think about the discounts it offers when I’m wanderings Las Vegas like a tourist. AAA is a great resource for discounts wherever you are. They currently have well over 150 discounts available in Las Vegas. There’s even a free “perks” book that members can order.
While all of the discounts are geared towards local residents, you’ll find many that you can use wherever you’re from. Here’s a quick look at the AAA discounts in Las Vegas that would appeal more to people visiting.
MGM Resorts (Aria, Bellagio and more) – Save 10%
Marriott (Cosmopolitan and more) – Save 5%
Best Western (Casino Royale and more) – Save 10%
Hilton and Double Tree Hotels (Tropicana, Elara at Planet Hollywood and more) – Save 5%
Embassy Suites (Elara at Planet Hollywood and more) – Save 5%
Four Points by Sheraton (Westin and more) – Save 15%
Blue Man Group – Save up to 30%
Cirque Du Soleil – Save up to 20%
Chart House – Save 10% on food and non-alcoholic drinks
Hard Rock Cafe – (All locations) Save 10% on food and non-alcoholic drinks
Dollar Rental Cars – Save 10%
Hertz Rental Cars- Save 20%
Thrifty Rental Cars – Save 8%
Exotics Racing – Save 10%
Miracle Mile Shops – Free Coupon Book
Super Shuttle (to and from airport) – Save $2 per person
UPS Store – Save 15%
Ticketmaster – Save up to 50% on tickets
TravelVegas.com has put together a list of AAA deals you can book online. Visit here.
There are plenty more AAA discounts available in Las Vegas, but most won’t be of interest to you unless you break your glasses, damage your car, and so forth. If you’re a AAA member looking to save a few bucks on your next visit to Las Vegas make sure you visit aaa.com to see if there are any deals available. You may be surprised with that you find.
When the temperatures hit 50 degrees for the first time of the year, you hear the Las Vegas locals yelling that “it’s FREEZING.” Having grown up in the northeast, my blood still hasn’t thinned to that level. Not yet. However, it is winter in Las Vegas and the temperatures are cooler than the rest of the year.
Pool season in Las Vegas technically begins on Memorial Day Weekend and ends on Labor Day Weekend. You might think that pools close after pool season. That’s not quite the case. There is a good of the pools in Las Vegas remain open during the winter and early spring.
Even though it’s cooler during the days, the Las Vegas sun always heats things up a little. It’s never really cold in Las Vegas and it’s always pool season for someone. Las Vegas is always considered to be a somewhat tropical paradise to vacation. That can be the case for locals too.
The temperatures were in the low 60’s yesterday so I hopped into the car to grab some iced coffee and go for a drive. As usual, my car ended up near a casino where I was driving on a long and winding street lined with palm trees. The fresh air, cool drink, and warmth from the sun was a good reminder of why I chose to live in Las Vegas.
While it may, technically, not be pool season the temperatures in Las Vegas are on the rise. The temperatures during spring are probably my favorite of the year in Las Vegas. Here are some pools where you can take a dip before the summer begins if you’re not daunted by temperatures that are cooler than the summer.
- Caesars Palace
- Casino Royale
- Circus Circus
- The D
- Golden Nugget
- Hard Rock
- The Linq
- Mandalay Bay
- MGM Grand
- The Mirage
- Paris Las Vegas
- Planet Hollywood
- The Venetian
The winter pool experience in Las Vegas is somewhat muted from what you’ll typically enjoy during the summer. The pools operate on limited hours during the off-season (winter and early spring). Hours of operation are usually limited to mid-late morning (9 or 10 am) until late afternoon-early evening (4 or 5 pm). Additionally, the hotels that have multiple pools may only have one open until it’s officially pool season.
If you’re serious about taking a dip before pool season, I recommend checking with the hotel right before you visit to make sure they’ll be open. Since fewer people are visiting the pools right there the property may decide to clean or renovate at any time.
There are a lot of things that happen in Las Vegas that don’t happen in many other cities in America. In this case, I’m not talking about “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” or anything related to the sin of Sin City.
I’m talking about the “$20 Trick.” This isn’t something exclusive to Las Vegas, but it’s something that has blossomed here. Over the years the $20 Trick has become sort of legendary and mythical. The goal of this “trick” is to get a free hotel room upgrade for the entirety of your stay. Free upgrades have been great while also being exaggerated at times.
Today, the $20 trick would be considered more of a travel hack than a trick. In fact, if the $20 Trick was created today it would be called something similar to “Vegas Room Upgrade Hack” or simply the “$20 Hack.” While it’s not always effective, the $20 Trick is real and sometimes can change your Las Vegas vacation in ways you never imagined. Here’s how it works:
- Take a $20 bill and place between your credit card and driver’s license when checking into a hotel.
- Ask for a complimentary upgrade.
- Mention if you’re in Las Vegas for a birthday, anniversary, or special event. That can only help.
The $20 Trick isn’t magic, but the results can be fantastic. There may be visions of upgrading a basic room into an opulent suite. That may happen but this is the exception and not the rule in Las Vegas today.
Since hotels on the Vegas Strip charge for every kind of upgrade imaginable today, the desk agent might not have much flexibility to bump you all the way up. Your $20 Trick upgrade may “only” be to the next level room or a better view. These are still upgrades but not to the best room in the hotel.
When the $20 Trick was first used in Las Vegas the hotels didn’t put much of a focus on selling upgrades. That’s changed in the past couple of years. Not only can you pay for an upgrade when reserving your hotel room, but you’ll be offered the upgrade again when you check-in.
Last year, MGM Resorts generated $9.3 million in upsell revenue for the fourth quarter alone. Thanks, in part to the $20 Trick, upgrades have become big business for Las Vegas hotels. Even though the free upgrades available may not be what they used to with the $20 Trick, you can still find them. After all, nontaxable income (your $20) is always welcome in Las Vegas.
Even if the $20 Trick doesn’t bring a suite that it might have 5 years ago, the Trick can still get you a better hotel room, nicer view, or save you money. If all else fails the desk agent might be able to remove those pesky resort fees for the tip. It’s not fancy but $20 may save you $50 for a weekend.
The $20 Trick works best when the hotel isn’t busy. You’ll have an easier time finding an upgrade on a slow weekday instead of a busy weekend. Likewise, you have a better chance of getting an upgrade when the hotel isn’t packed with people in Las Vegas for a convention. Room availability is your friend when you’re looking for a free hotel upgrade. This is something to keep in mind when booking a room.
Before trying the $20 Trick, you might want to do some research to see how others have done. TwentyDollarTrick.com and Front Desk Tip (Full disclosure, I also write for their blog) are excellent websites. You can also find information on the $20 Trick and other happenings in Las Vegas at Vegas Message Board forums.
If there’s one thing in Las Vegas that changes more than anything else, it’s the restaurants. Dining trends and customer preferences are evolve so quickly that the restaurant industry has a act quickly. When I first moved to Las Vegas, every casino was rushing to add two kinds of restaurant. It seemed as though every casino was looking to offer a high-end steakhouse and a fancy burger restaurant.
The trend of more beef on the strip has slowed in the past 5 years. Last year there was an influx of fine dining on the Vegas Strip with restaurants like Carbone at Aria and Harvest at Bellagio opening to rave reviews. The new year is off to a busy start with a slew of new restaurants already opening on the Vegas Strip.
Giordano’s (Bally’s Grand Bazaar)
This restaurant chain was born in Chicago and now has locations all over the country. This small chain of restaurants is famous for their deep dish pizza. Beyond “pizza,” (this New Yorker says deep dish isn’t pizza) they serve other traditional Italian dishes. Prices are moderate for the Vegas Strip.
In N Out Burger (The Linq Promenade)
Everyone’s favorite California-based fast food burger chain finally has a location on the Vegas Strip. The prices are a bit more than you’d pay if away from the Vegas Strip but the markup isn’t too bad. It’s almost as if they just added the taxi or rideshare prices into each item on the menu.
David Chang is one of the more popular young restaurateurs in America today. With Momofuku, he brings his unique take on Asian dining to Las Vegas. This is one of the few restaurants on the Vegas Strip where you can find ramen.
Milk Bar (Cosmopolitan)
This is another David Chang restaurant and it’s located next to Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan. Milk Bar is a dessert bar that features cakes, cookies, ice cream and boozy milkshakes. This is more of a walk up stand than an actual restaurant. If ice cream after ramen sounds tasty, you can order dessert while dining at Momofuku.
Stripside Cafe (Caesars Palace)
This restaurant take over the space of Serendipity 3 outside of Caesars Palace. The Stripside Cafe has traditional American cafe food with a view of the Vegas Strip. I just want to give a word of caution with this restaurant. There’s usually a price increase when dining on the Vegas Strip but this restaurant takes it to another level. Take a look at the menu before visiting.
Honorable Mention: Redneck Riviera (Bally’s Grand Bazaar)
Redneck Riviera is a new country music bar brought to you by John Rich of Big and Rich fame. In addition to playing country music all day, this bar features live band performances. It’s not a restaurant but they do serve food from another Grand Bazaar tenant, Wahlburger’s.
Coming soon: Zuma (Cosmopolitan)
This high end Japanese restaurant has three kitchens and will offer a unique level of Asian dining not found in most casinos in Las Vegas. Zuma opens on January 28
Low rolling shouldn’t be thought of something to do when they you’re running low on money in Las Vegas. Regardless of your financial situation you should really consider a night of low rolling in Las Vegas. Beyond the financial savings a long session of low rolling can be the most fun time you have in a Las Vegas casino. For some reason, the loudest people in the casino tend to be the people wagering the least. That can be you!
A day or night of low rolling in Las Vegas begins with your location. It’s easiest to go low rolling in downtown Las Vegas because there are a plethora of inexpensive restaurants and casinos in a walkable area. Options can always make an experience better. In addition to the Vegas Strip there is one other area where you can go visit multiple casinos if you want. The trio of casinos (Rio, Gold Coast, Palms) just off the Vegas Strip on Flamingo.
If you’re not in the mood to bounce around casinos, you can keep to the same location. Casinos like South Point, The Orleans, and the aforementioned Gold Coast each offer cheap gambling and a variety of inexpensive dining options.
I started low rolling days and nights in Las Vegas before I even realized it. There was a visit to Las Vegas that began with day drinking and gambling at the El Cortez. Between the $3 blackjack (now $5) and 25 cent roulette (still $0.25) we gambled for hours. I don’t remember much else after the El Cortez but there was probably a steak involved.
Another night of low rolling madness happened at the Gold Coast when I learned how to play Pai Gow. I knew I was onto something special. Here are some examples of where to enjoy a day or night of low rolling in Las Vegas.
Downtown Vegas Low Rolling
As I mentioned this is the best location for a day, night, weekend or week of low rolling in Las Vegas. There are so many options to choose from, but I’ll share my current favorite. The evening begins at Pizza Rock Happy Hour. You can enjoy personal pizza with a craft beer for about $10. You can add more drinks and still remain under $20. After you’re done eating and drinking you can head to The D for $5 blackjack. The rules are player friendly so your money should last awhile. If you want a break, just head back to Pizza Rock for their late night Happy Hour.
Off Strip Low Rolling
I’ve mentioned the Gold Coast is one of the birthplaces of low rolling in Las Vegas for me. Dining is only a part of the night. I typically eat before reaching the Gold Coast for low rolling. However, there are some good and inexpensive options. The $5 Pai Gow table is the game of choice here. The game is slow, there are a lot of hands that push (nobody wins or loses) and the cocktail service is super fast. After a few hours of gambling you may tip the cocktail waitress more money than you play in the game. That’s what I’m talking about!
Vegas Strip Low Rolling
You can find cheap gambling at a few locations on the Vegas Strip but there’s only one casino devoted to the low roller. Casino Royale has cheap gambling, drinks, and food. What more could a low roller want than a casino that’s like a dive bar? Call this a dive casino if you wish. You can play any table game for $5 here and enjoy a variety of inexpensive places to eat. This is a small casino and if you feel claustrophobic after a while you may be able to find some good low rolling games across the street at Treasure Island.
The Super Bowl game may never be played in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean all that much to the hotels, casinos, bars, and restaurants. Super Bowl weekend is one the busiest weekends of the year in Las Vegas. More than 300,000 people will be in Las Vegas for Super Bowl weekend. The city is packed for “The Big Game” already. The Super Bowl is usually the single most wagered on sporting event of the year.
Visiting Las Vegas for the Super Bowl should be on the bucket list of any sports fan. However, watching the Super Bowl isn’t quite as simple are you think. The demand to watch the game is greater than the capacity of every sports book in Las Vegas. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options to watch the Super Bowl in Las Vegas:
Sports Book – Seats in most sports books are free and general admission for the public. Seating is available on a first come-first served basis. Unlike most days of the year, any seats available will begin filling up hours before kickoff. Some sports books, like Cosmopolitan and The Venetian, will reserve seats for their best customers. Bottom line, the atmosphere is great and you may find a free seat in a sports book, but they are few and far between.
Casino Bar – Free seats to watch the game at a casino bar are usually gone well before kickoff but they’re not impossible to find. If you’re patient and have time to kill, you can slide up to one of the casino bars. You can purchase drinks or play video poker and possibly receive complimentary drinks. While the seats don’t come with a fee, you can’t just sit here. Expect to buy drinks and tip your bartender.
Walk Into A Bar and/or Restaurant – There are sports bars and restaurants all over Las Vegas that will be showing the game. Many will have parties but you might be able to walk in and find a free seat in the bar area. Chances are the bars/restaurant will be packed before kickoff. Again, the seats may be free but you’ll be expected to buy food and/or drink while you’re occupying space.
Free Parties – Most of the viewing parties for the Super Bowl will guarantee you a seat and provide food and drink. However, if you look at some of the hotels and casinos away from the Vegas Strip you might find a free general admission party. You won’t get the guaranteed seat, bells and whistles of the paid parties but you should have access to watch the game with cheap food and drinks. Just show up early enough to get a seat. This is a great option for large groups who will make any room into a party.
VIP Parties – If you’re a high roller or have an upper tier casino players club card, you might receive an invite to one of these exclusive parties. The VIP parties will all have be showing the game. Entry may be limited and the food and drink offered will be different. Some VIP parties will actually have former football players to sign autographs and take pictures.
$$$ Viewing Parties – The majority of Super Bowl parties you find on the Vegas Strip will cost between $100-$200 per person. These parties will guarantee you a seat to watch the game. Some parties will offer food, booze or both. The scope of parties includes ballrooms, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and more. Basically any room you can fit a TV you might find a party. These parties started selling out in early January and will continue to do so until kickoff.
It’s safe to say that I’m addicted to social media. If it’s not on my main screen it’s on a 2nd, 3rd or 4th screen. Most of my obsession with social media is to be on top of everything in Las Vegas (my job) and to keep up with friends (my personal life). There’s a small sliver of my social media spent on hobbies and things unrelated to work.
The other day I was checking out the snapchat of a very funny comedian, Iliza Shlesinger. She’s active on snapchat and typically brings her small dog just about everywhere. She and Blanche amuse me. I happened to be checking the snaps while she was on vacation in Asia. After shuffling through touristy pics and video, I came across the most amazing touristy restaurant I’ve ever seen.
She visited Robot Restaurant in Japan. My first thought was OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
My second thought was that Robot Restaurant needs to be in Las Vegas! Before I try to describe what the experience at Robot Restaurant is like, you should watch this video.
I’m not sure I can describe this dinner experience accurately but here it goes. This is dinner theater with robots. The concept is loosely similar to what Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan tried to do. The idea is to create a unique dining experience before taking in a wild and over-the-top show that you won’t find anywhere else.
The drum solo, dancing, music, battles, animal mascots all make me want to have a few too many drinks and scream. That’s just the show. There’s a whole other dinner and drinks part of the evening. There’s nothing that I don’t like about this. It’s unique and it’s the kind of kitchy spectacle that made Las Vegas famous.
I’ve never seen anything like Robot Restaurant but I sure would like to. However, I don’t want to travel halfway around the world to see it. I want to this in a Las Vegas casino! I’m not sure that there’s an appropriate location for Robot Restaurant in Las Vegas…yet. So, let’s brainstorm a little.
Sake Rok is probably the only truly unique dining experience in Las Vegas. There is no other restaurant experience like it in Las Vegas. In between your sushi dinner there’s a DJ spinning, MC walking the floor, every table drinking sake bombs, there are dance routines and a stage for having random fun with guests. This is a loud restaurant and not a place for a mellow dinner.
Sake Rok is in The Park just outside of New York-New York. The concept doesn’t quite fit the theme of any casino and this is perfect. That’s a consideration for Robot Restaurant. Some larger casinos in Las Vegas like MGM Grand or Caesars Palace might be large enough where the robot theme doesn’t overtake the existing casino environment.
Now that I think about it, MGM Grand might actually be the perfect location for Robot Restaurant in Las Vegas. The casino doesn’t have a distinct theme and is large enough to house just about any concept without changing whatever its core identity might be.
MGM Grand is a casino that caters to a wide variety of customers. The history and brand attracts many people who aren’t familiar with Las Vegas. Hakkasan Nightclub attracts a younger crowd. Maybe Robot Restaurant could be their version of what Tournament of Kings is at Excalibur. While Level Up is geared towards younger millennials Robot Restaurant could attract older millennials and Generation Xers like myself.
I’m a dreamer and I can’t get this restaurant out of my head. The snaps were intriguing enough send me into the great depths google and youtube. If you’re teased a little and want more you can see 20 minutes of the show below.
I heard a lot of chatter over the past year from people fed up with the changing Vegas Strip. There are still plenty of people who love the Vegas Strip, but we can discuss that another day. Today is about those who are looking for a new Las Vegas experience. It’s probably easiest to start by finding an experience similar to the Vegas Strip without the restrictive new policies and extra fees.
I want to be clear that there’s nothing compares to the Vegas Strip. Even the most mediocre room on the Vegas Strip is comparable or better than similar options in many other cities. Beyond the prices, all you have to do it walk outside and you’ll see 20 other casino-resorts nearby to visit. The Vegas Strip is remarkable.
Having said that, there are great casino-resorts located throughout the Las Vegas valley. Each of the properties provides a gateway to leaving the Vegas Strip. The experience won’t be quite the same, but they’re much nicer than others in the area.
Downtown Las Vegas
This area used to be known as “Old Vegas.” The buildings are older and that makes many of the hotels smaller than their counterparts on the Vegas Strip. Most of the properties on the Vegas Strip are casino-resorts. In downtown Las Vegas many are hotel-casinos. The difference between the two parts of Las Vegas is that many properties downtown don’t offer the amenities you’ll find in resorts on the Vegas Strip.
The Golden Nugget is the casino in Downtown Las Vegas that offers almost all of the amenities you’d find in a Vegas Strip resort. Looking beyond the large casino there are multiple hotel towers, a spa, wide variety of dining and more. There are many less expensive options in downtown Las Vegas, but few offer the amenities you’ll find on the Vegas Strip
West Las Vegas
Red Rock Casino & Resort is located about 20 minutes west of the Vegas Strip near the beautiful Red Rock Canyon. Some say that if this beautiful full-service casino-resort was on the Vegas Strip, that it would be one of the best. While the table area is smaller than many casinos on the Vegas Strip, you’ll find Strip-like pool complex, spa, dining options, and more. Since this is a locals casino you’ll also find a movie theater, bowling alley and children’s center. Red Rock has everything you’d want in a Las Vegas casino-resort without the neighboring casinos.
East Las Vegas
Green Valley Ranch Resort & Spa (GVR) is about a 15-20 minute drive from the Vegas Strip. There is a unique feeling at this resort that you won’t find anywhere else in Las Vegas. It almost feels as though you’re in an exclusive estate when you walk the grounds at GVR. The property offers more bars and restaurants than many other casinos away from the Vegas Strip. This is also the only in-casino home to Pizza Rock which has one of the best Happy Hours that you’ll find anywhere in Las Vegas
South Las Vegas
M Resort is located about 15 minutes south of Mandalay Bay and shares a players club with the Tropicana. This connection actually gives you a way to shuttle to and from the Vegas Strip. However, if you’re staying in Las Vegas for a weekend you may never want or need to leave M Resort. Similar to Red Rock Casino, this resort offers all of the amenities you’ll find in a Vegas Strip casino-resort. Best of all, M Resort is one of the few remaining hotels in Las Vegas that doesn’t charge a resort fee.
North Las Vegas
Technically, downtown Las Vegas is north of the Vegas Strip but I’ll look to the far north. Aliante, a new Boyd Gaming casino, is located about 20 minutes north of the center of the Vegas Strip. This was originally built as a Station Casino and looks very similar to Red Rock Casino. Aliante has a modern design, dining options, and great pool this is a great option off the Vegas Strip. It’s tied to the 7 other Boyd Gaming properties around Las Vegas. Using the B-Connected players club is a great way to explore some new casinos off the Vegas Strip.
Our eyes are always open for free entertainment. I’m happy to report that in the past year there has been an increase in venues offering free entertainment. Last year we had new free entertainment at El Cortez, Mandarin Oriental, and Topgolf while the Palms continued their free entertainment offerings.
Free Concerts at the Hard Rock Cafe On The Vegas Strip
Many times the free entertainment in Las Vegas is a reason to visit a bar or lounge during slower periods. That’s not the case with the Hard Rock Cafe on the Vegas Strip. The bar, restaurant and performance venue located down the street from MGM Grand and across from Aria and Monte Carlo is offering free concerts in prime time during the weekend.
The Hard Rock Cafe on the Vegas Strip (not the Hard Rock casino located off the Vegas Strip) hosts concerts from local and national bands throughout the year. During January the concert venue on the 3rd floor will sprinkle in a handful of free alternative rock concerts for anyone 21 and over.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 7
Headliner: Radio Active
Doors: 9 p.m.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 8
Headliner: Crown Avenue
Doors: 9 p.m.
Date: Friday, Jan. 13
Headliner: Royal Electric featuring Frank Sidoris of Slash & Robert Zarkanian of Adelita’s Way
Doors: 9 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Jan. 21
Headliner: Radio Active
Doors: 9 p.m.
Date: Sunday, Jan. 22
Headliner: Crown Avenue
Doors: 9 p.m.
The Hard Rock Cafe has two happy hours for you to enjoy before, during, and after the free concerts. Every day they offer Happy Hour from 2 -7 pm and from 9 pm to midnight. Drink specials are $5 for draft beer and house wine and $6 call drinks (think middle shelf vodka and tonic).
To purchase tickets, or for more information for shows at the Hard Rock Cafe, call 702-650-8590 or visit Hard Rock Live online. If you purchase tickets for other shows, there isn’t a service charge at the Hard Rock Live Box Office.
Free Entertainment In Downtown Las Vegas
Every day you’ll find free performances on the various stages at the Fremont Street Experience. When the sun goes down you’ll be treated to a 10-15 minute free “concert” on the canopy from a variety of rock bands at the top of every hour. The light shows are always memorable.
The free entertainment returns to one of my favorite casinos in downtown Las Vegas this year. The El Cortez offers free entertainment at the Parlour Bar on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You’ll also find some chill piano vibes at the Lobby Bar Friday & Saturday from 4 pm – 9 pm. Visit the El Cortez website for more information.