There are many ways to experience Las Vegas. Thankfully the city offers something for every budget. There may be a time when a low rolling trip is fine. Another visit to Las Vegas might need the special touches only the high rollers see.
Personally, I like a trip to Las Vegas that includes a bit of both worlds. Shifting between being a low roller and high roller exemplifies everything Las Vegas has to offer. Shifting gears offers enough intrigue to a visit that always keeps me on my toes.
My summer vacation is on the way and I’m sure there will be one night where we play $5 blackjack and have a happy hour dinner while rushing back to the tables. The next night might slow down and will probably have higher limits at the tables and a more mellow and fancy dinner.
Choosing a hotel often drives the Las Vegas experience. Sometimes a vacation in Las Vegas only needs a hotel room with a clean bed and shower. Other times we might want to splurge and have the nicest room we can afford.
The Palazzo became one of my favorite hotels in Las Vegas because, like sister hotel The Venetian, all of the hotel rooms are suites. The upgrade to a suite only cost a few bucks more than a typical luxury hotel room. If more space is similarly priced than why not try that?
At the time I found Palazzo I wasn’t loyal to a particular casino chain or players club. I would stay wherever I felt most comfortable regardless of affiliation. Not everyone is the same and may prefer to be loyal to one company.
The Total Rewards players club from Caesars Entertainment is one of the most popular in the country any many people are loyal to their hotels. That’s totally understandable as the discounts and complimentary rooms can be great. Today, this can lead to finding great rates on suites.
Caesars Entertainment recently revealed a slew of new hotel suites with prices that begin at $175 per night. Caesars Suites was once known as Anthology Suites. The new name now has more than 2,000 suites and villas and a new website, CaesarsSuites.com, with all of the information. This is a step up from your basic Caesars hotel room. However, Total Rewards member may be able to find these new suites discounted or complimentary.
Over the past year Caesars Entertainment has focused renovating many of their Las Vegas hotel rooms. Planet Hollywood has all newly updated rooms, while Caesars Palace has the new Julius Tower. Caesars Entertainment has announced that they’re already renovating more rooms at their flagship property. The next set of renovations at Caesars Palace will take place in the Palace Tower. From the beginning of 2016 to the end of 2017, Caesars Entertainment will have renovated more than 7,000 rooms. Of those renovations, 800 suites have been upgraded.
Caesars Suites offers a wide variety suites. There are renovated suites that can feel like a larger rom, multi-room suites, two-story duplexes and grand villas spanning more than 11,000 square feet. In addition to the rooms, Caesars Entertainment offers multiple perks if you’re looking to step up your vacation even further. Upgrades available include limo transportation to-and-from McCarran International Airport, access to a personal concierge in select suites, and around-the-clock butler service in villas.
At Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace, you can take in-suite dining to another level with spectacular creations prepared live by one of the Nobu’s master sushi chefs. The Nobu Villa and Nobu Penthouses are probably the nicest hotel rooms I’ve seen at Caesars Palace. The service at Nobu is second to none at this massive hotel complex.
Caesars Entertainment has focused on improving their hotel rooms over the past year. They’ve needed to and the new rooms all look like great improvements. Caesars Suites is a useful gateway for a Total Rewards customer looking to upgrade their Las Vegas experience without shopping outside of the preferred casino family.
Las Vegas isn’t just a place to visit just to gamble (even though there are plenty of unique places to gamble). Over the years Las Vegas has become a destination for just about every walk of life. Visitors come to Las Vegas for nightlife, shows, concerts, world-class dining, and so much more. There are plenty of one-off events throughout the year too.
There are plenty of resources that focus on concerts and shows for entertainment. I’m always looking for something different and recently came across the Las Vegas Film Festival. It’s understandable that not many who visit Las Vegas do so to sit in a movie theater. However, this is more than just watching a movie (or movies) that you can see anywhere. The movie selection at the festival is unique.
The 10th Annual Las Vegas Film Festival recently announced the initial lineup for the 2017 Festival. This year the festival will be held entirely at Brenden Theatres and the Palms Casino Resort from June 6 – June 11.
This year’s festival lineup includes a mix of feature films and documentaries that have been favorites on the international festival circuit, animated works, shorts, music videos, festival labs and local films that were produced in Southern Nevada or were directed by a local filmmaker.
Each of the feature and documentary films will be followed by a Question and Answer session with the cast and crew. This will provide guests with a unique movie watching experience. A festival pass is $75 per person and allows access to all screenings & festival HQ mixers. The VIP Festival pass is $175 per person and grants access to all screenings, parties, mixers, lounges, and includes early screening rsvp.
Below are some highlights of movies, documentaries, and animations that will be shown at the Las Vegas Film Festival. I attended many animation festivals in the past and that’s what I’m looking forward to the most. In fact, I’m so excited by this portion of the festival that I’m going on a deep YouTube dive to find some of the animations I saw back in the day. The descriptions below are from the festival organizers:
10 Days (Director: Nathaniel Katzman)
Estlin and Ellie reconnect on Christmas Eve after nine months of separation. However, they are both wary of jumping right back into a relationship and therefore propose a challenge: they must spend 10 days with each other before a decision can be made. The film is about relationships, the holidays and being young in New York. There’s plenty to laugh, cry, and pull your hair out about.
The 60 Yard Line (Director: Leif Gantvoort)
Based on a true story. Set during the 2009 football season. Ben “Zagger” Zagowski and Nick “Polano” Polano, best friends and co-workers, buy a house in the parking lot of Lambeau Field (home of the Packers), and are forced to pick between a football fan lifestyle and a girl. Lives change. There’s a cow.
Dave Made a Maze (Director: Bill Watterson)
Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a fort in his living room out of pure frustration, only to wind up trapped by the fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation. Ignoring his warnings, Dave’s girlfriend Annie leads a band of oddball explorers on a rescue mission. Once inside, they find themselves trapped in an ever-changing supernatural world, threatened by booby traps and pursued by a bloodthirsty Minotaur.
Gook (Director: Justin Chon)
Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, own a struggling shoe store and have an unlikely friendship with Kamilla, a street-wise 11-year-old African American girl. Kamilla ditches school, Eli stresses about the store, and Daniel tries to have a good time. It’s just another typical day at the store until the Rodney King verdict is read and riots break. With the chaos moving towards them, the trio is forced to defend the store while contemplating the future of their own personal dreams and the true meaning of family.
Still/Born (Director: Brandon Christensen)
Still/Born follows Mary, a new mother who lost one of her twins in childbirth. As she struggles with the loss of one of her children, she starts to suspect something sinister is after her surviving child – a supernatural entity that has chosen her child and will stop at nothing to take it from her.
California Dreams (Director: Mike Ott)
From acclaimed director, Mike Ott comes to the new documentary feature “California Dreams,” presenting five unique individuals in pursuit of a big life change. Through auditions set up in small towns across Southern California, the film shows genuine characters with big Hollywood aspirations who, for various reasons, have never had the opportunity to pursue it. No matter what the endgame is, whether it’s fame, love, or a fleeting shot at immortality, this bitingly funny film reveals the strange and entrancingly hypnotic grip that Hollywood has, in some way or form, on everyone.
The Rabbit Hunt (Short) (Director: Patrick Bresnan)
In the Florida Everglades rabbit hunting is considered a rite of passage for young men. The Rabbit Hunt follows seventeen year old Chris and his family as they hunt in the fields of the largest industrial sugar farms in the US. The film records a tradition by which migrant farm workers in the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee have been hunting and preparing rabbits since the early 1900s.
CINEVEGAS PRESENTS AT LVFF
This year’s Festival will once again include CINEVEGAS PRESENTS AT LVFF, featuring a selection of films curated by the CineVegas team of Trevor Groth and Mike Plante.
Rat Film (Director: Theo Anthony)
Across walls, fences, and alleys, rats not only expose our boundaries of separation but make homes in them. “Rat Film” is a feature-length documentary that uses the rat—as well as the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them–to explore the history of Baltimore. “There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem.”
Black Holes (Director: David Nicolas)
Dave is about to lead the first mission to Mars when he’s teamed up with a sentient melon, who claims to be the reincarnation of a fashion designer, upstaging his big moment and driving him to the brink of madness.
LOVE (Director: Réka Bucsi)
LOVE is a short film describing affection in 3 different chapters, through an impact on a distant solar system.
Luscious (Director: Xuecheng Xu)
A 2D motion graphics video looks at human nature, human instinct and the power of imagination. Minimally styled illustrations tell the story of a beautiful woman who achieves satisfaction by having a psychedelic, metaphoric, sensual journey during dinner in 1930s Shanghai.
Pearl (Director: Patrick Osborne)
Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, Pearl follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.
Pussy (Director: Renata Gasiorowska)
A young girl spends the evening alone at home. She decides to have some sweet solo pleasure session, but not everything goes according to plan.
More films should be announced as the Las Vegas Film festival approaches. Visit LVFF.com for tickets and more information.
The Flamingo first opened on December 26, 1946, and is currently the oldest casino on the Las Vegas Strip. This legendary casino-resort is 70 years young! The Flamingo has changed a lot over the years and currently has a 77,000 square foot casino and 3,626 hotel rooms spread out over in two towers. This is one of the most popular casinos on the Las Vegas Strip because of its history, location, room prices, and more.
Being owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment only adds to Flamingo’s popularity by being part of the Total Rewards players club. This inclusion makes it easy for visitors from all over the country to access discounts and complimentary rooms. The Flamingo has been renovated in 1967, 1975, 1977, 1982, 1990, 1993, 2004, and most recently in 2009. However, you’ll often find small tweaks to the casino floor that make the property feel younger. I remember walking into the casino last year and all of the tables were rotated. It made sense for pedestrian traffic but was stunning at first.
Like most Las Vegas casinos, the Flamingo continues to evolve by holding onto what’s popular and adding new amenities with hopes they will become popular. X Burlesque, one of the most popular shows on the Las Vegas Strip, is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary in Las Vegas. That’s 15 years as the as one of the most popular topless revues in Las Vegas. The Flamingo will be rebranding the X Bar and Bugsy’s Showroom and will add some new photos of the burlesque dancing X Girls.
Caesars Entertainment is calling 2017 the “Summer of the Dragon” at the Flamingo. Due to popular demand Piff the Magic Dragon will extend his residency and make the Flamingo his home with more than 40 days of consecutive performances beginning May 22. You may know Piff and his sidekick Mr. Piffles from “America’s Got Talent” on NBC or “Vegas Nocturne” at Rose.Rabbit.Lie inside the Cosmopolitan.
The Flamingo is also stepping up the action this summer at the Go Pool. The weekend pool parties started a few years ago but it appears they finally have a steady flow of action for the summer of 2017.
They’ve already had a handful of Day Beats Saturday afternoon celebrity performances from Aaron Carter, Sisqo and more. The Flamingo recently announced some more afternoon performers at the Flamingo Go pool:
- Friday, May 26 – Coolio(!)
- Saturday, June 3 – Live performance from Mya
- Saturday, June 24 – Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray) hosts
- Saturday, July 15 – Platinum-selling rap duo Ying Yang Twins
- Saturday, July 22 – DJ’s from Mars live set
- Saturday, July 29 – Yazz “The Greatest” (Hakeem Lyon on the Fox television drama, “Empire”)
- Saturday, August 5 – Singer/songwriter Montell Jordan performs
The price is right for these daytime performances. Tickets for Flashback Friday and Day Beats Saturday shows are $10 for Flamingo hotel guests and $20 for non-hotel guests. The Go Pool will also have a couple Night Jams concerts. The first two concerts announced are Sugar Ray on Sunday, June 25 and Everclear on Sunday, July 16. Tickets for both concerts are $33.25. Visit gopoolvegas.com for more information on tickets, performances, and cabanas.
This just in… As we were posting this, Caesars Entertainment announced that they would begin a $90 million renovation of 1,270 rooms.
Don’t forget, the best rates for Flamingo can be found by clicking here.
Not everyone who visits Las Vegas today comes for gambling. The lavish shows, massive nightclubs, five-star restaurants, different sights, golf courses, fantastic bars, shopping, spas and so much more can keep anyone occupied for a day and night.
Many still enjoy gambling in Las Vegas but it’s not the main reason why people visit Las Vegas today. This wasn’t always the case. Gambling used to be the main reason to visit Las Vegas. This was an activity special to Las Vegas and then it wasn’t. Not too long ago, casino gambling was only available to a few states in America. Now you can gamble in almost every state in the country. However, there’s still nothing like gambling in Las Vegas.
Just because you can do something everywhere, doesn’t mean you should do it everywhere. There will always be something special about the casinos in Las Vegas. The variety of casinos cannot be replicated. It’s not everywhere you can gamble with dancing girls and cross the street to gamble under a multi-million dollar chandelier.
Las Vegas isn’t the same kind of outlier it used to be. That doesn’t mean the casinos are square buildings that all look and feel the same. Here are some places to gamble in Las Vegas that are unlike gambling anywhere else in the United States.
Video Poker at The Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan
There may not be a more beautiful setting in the world for video poker players. You won’t find the best odds at these video poker machines. Regardless, this is among the most fun places to play video poker in Las Vegas. Just about everything at the bar is available complimentary while you’re playing video poker at a pace deemed fast enough for the casino. Even their $16 signature cocktails can be comped. The video poker bar is located on the first of three levels under the fabulous chandelier with over 2 million crystals.
Blackjack at The D Las Vegas
There are party pits with loud music and dancers all over Las Vegas. Many of those party pits offer worse rules than other parts of the casino. The house edge in some games may be worse and the minimum bet may be than you might want to play. Almost the entire table game area at The D is a party pit. The music is loud, the drinks come quickly, the minimum bets are low, the gambling rules are fair, and the dealers dance in-between dealing shifts. Blackjack games often start at $10 when the dealers are dancing and pay 3-2 when you’re dealt blackjack, which is better most other party pits. This is one of the most fun environments to gamble in Las Vegas.
Sports Betting at Cosmopolitan
Sports betting is unique to Nevada casinos. This unique environment goes to another level when you visit the sports book at The Cosmopolitan. Once hidden on the second floor, the sports book was moved to the first floor. The sports book has a center bar with a sports ticker and video poker. There are multiple large viewing areas on either side of the bar which also offers free games like shuffleboard, billiards, and foosball. A few steps away is a small pit of blackjack tables. Of course, you can just sit back and watch the games with a wager as low as $5.
Craps at the Golden Gate
This small old school casino-hotel is operated by the same people that operate The D. The casino floor is a similarly fun with dancing dealers. However, the close quarters create a unique energy that isn’t found in any other casino. Forget the dancing dealers and play the most fun craps game in Las Vegas. The minimum bet is $5 and you can place 10x free odds on your bet. The game is so much fun that even the dealers are in on the party.
Gambling At A Pool – All Over Las Vegas
Being inside of a casino all day can get old for some people. The summer is the perfect time of year to head outside to do a little gambling. There are casinos all over the Las Vegas valley that offer some form of gambling outside. You can play $5 blackjack in the shaded bar area at Red Rock Resort where drink service is super fast since there aren’t many tables. You can play poolside craps at the Flamingo and Plaza for a minimum bet as low as $5. If you prefer being inside of a pool and gambling there’s swim-up blackjack at one the many pools at Caesars Palace and Hard Rock.
There’s always something new around the corner in Las Vegas. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum was founded in 2002 and moved to Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas in 2008. I’d like to think I know everything, everywhere in Las Vegas but I had no idea about this gallery.
Neonopolis is located at 450 Fremont Street and next to the Slotzilla zip line and across the street from the Fremont Street Experience. This three level complex is now home to Denny’s (and the Denny’s Wedding Chapel), Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum, Fremont Arcade, Banger Brewing, Nerd Bar and much more.
If you’re a tourist you might not be aware that downtown Las Vegas is actually synonymous with art. The Arts District in Las Vegas is located in-between Fremont Street and the Stratosphere. There are plenty of art galleries and stores on the Vegas Strip. However, the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum is the only art gallery located in the touristy area of downtown Las Vegas.
The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum features over 20,000 square feet of exhibit area. The space includes the main gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, and a small works gallery. The non-profit gallery provides exhibit space for local, regional and International artists to display their current work. You can actually donate money to show your own art.
Beginning Thursday, June 1 Cirque du Soleil will have its annual art exhibition at the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum. The Collective is a collection of artworks created by the company’s performers, technicians, and staff in Las Vegas. This is the 12th year of the art exhibition. Serving as a creative outlet for employees, the exhibit will be on display for a limited time, June 1 – 30 from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 – 5 p.m.
“Residents will have the opportunity to ‘get to know their neighbors’ as we reveal another side of our employees through their artwork,” said Lou D’Angeli, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for Cirque du Soleil. “In hosting The Collective each year, we are able to shine the spotlight on their unique talents, creating an even greater connection between us and the community.”
This art show isn’t just for locals. Tourist will enjoy The Collective display that includes Cirque du Soleil-owned art pieces, props, and costumes from various productions along the Vegas Strip. Among the items featured will be a Jester-patterned aluminum chainmail shirt by Michael Rawlins of “O”, a 3/4 scale animatronics robot by Preston Altree of Michael Jackson ONE and memorabilia from the Cirque du Soleil shows on The Strip. The full list will be announced at a later date.
The full list of items will be announced at a later date. You can visit mglv.org for more information. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum entry fee for this show is only $5.
Art isn’t the only thing on display at Neonopolis. Banger Brewing offers free tours of their brewing facilities daily. These tours are limited to 8 people so reserving a space in advance is recommended. Thankfully, you can make reservations online at bangerbrewing.com.
It took less than a year for a Las Vegas casino to offer an all-inclusive(*) package after I recommended someone try it last year. On September 30, 2016, Travel Vegas posted a blog titled “Here’s An Idea: All Inclusive Packages To Las Vegas.” Low and behold, less than six months later the Rio is offering an Eat | Drink | Stay All For One Price deal called “Total Deal.”
In theory it’s an all inclusive deal. Upon further review, it’s not quite a deal but it’s close. Here’s how it works:
Upon arriving at Rio you will receive a punch card to verify beverage purchases and a wristband that will identify each you as being a Total Deal guest. You must charge all food purchases to your room account and provide your server with your Total Deal punch card to receive your beverages. Here’s the catch, you can only eat at select restaurants.
Carnival World and Seafood Buffet, All-American Bar & Grille, Hash House a Go Go, and Sports Deli are the only options open to you. You cannot eat at Voodoo Steakhouse, Royal India Bistro, KJ Dim Sum, Pho Da Nang Vietnamese, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Burracho, Smashburger, or Starbucks. You can’t get coffee at Starbucks. Your food spend at the three restaurants is capped at $250 per day (for two people).
For beverages you can only have well and domestic beverages at Rio’s bars and lounges with the exception of Purple Zebra and Showroom Bars. This is valid for 12 drinks per person each day. No premium cocktails, spirits or beer are offered.
All Total Deal guests will receive access for two for one night at Voodoo Lounge. Spa treatments, shows, attractions and other meals and drinks are extra.
Rio is not responsible if you lose a wristband. In other words, you’re SOL if you lose the wristband. This doesn’t seem outrageous but you should know about it. Finally, gratuity is not included so make sure you have money set aside to tip everyone that you’d normally tip even if your food or drink is part of the package.
Drink caps, dining limits, no transportation and other limitations don’t make this sound like much of an all-inclusive deal. That said, how often is anyone drinking 12 beverages and eating that much food in one casino every day in Las Vegas. According to Vegas Bright the packages start at $365 for two people staying just two nights. The prices will change depending on the dates chosen. My visit to the website today had no available packages.
The price noted above is $182.50 per day or $91.25 per person per day. This deal is a deal if you don’t leave the Rio. You’d have to eat all of your meals at the restaurants mentioned above, max out well drinks (or domestic beer) each a day, and visit Voodoo Lounge. It seems as though this deal is probably close to the appropriate value for what you’re getting. Remember, in Las Vegas, a “deal” isn’t necessarily a discount.
While this isn’t exactly what I had in mind last year, at least they’re trying. Let’s give Caesars Entertainment an A for effort but an E for limitations all over the place. The average of those grades is a C. The “Total Deal” seems like it deserves a C grade. It’s not great, but it’s not awful. If you’re a steak eating booze snob like me, you probably wouldn’t see any value here. However, if you like burgers, buffets, and Buds this might be fine.
You can book your all inclusive package HERE today.
You’re never more than a few minutes from a drink when you’re in Las Vegas. The time to find a drink can be reduced in downtown Las Vegas where just about everything is closer than the Vegas Strip. There’s a drink for everyone whether you’re grabbing a yard of red slushy booze or sitting down for a craft cocktail that has so many ingredients that takes five minutes to create.
There was a day when drinking in Old Vegas was limited to well drinks and draft beer. That’s not the case any longer in downtown Las Vegas. Not only are there some great standalone bars but the casino bars have gotten better. Here’s a look at some of the best places to grab a drink in downtown Las Vegas.
You can find a mixed drink at any casino bar. However, not every bar can craft a delicious cocktail where every ingredient is carefully measured and poured. You’ll have to leave the casino in downtown Las Vegas to find some of the best cocktails in town.
- Commonwealth – Watch the bartender carefully make a cocktail, sneak away to the semi-private Laundry Room or just grab a beer and head outside to the second-floor deck,
- Downtown Cocktail Room – Dark and viby lounge with a unique cocktail menu. The drinks are delicious and different than you’ll find in the casinos. Good luck finding the door on your first visit.
You can find mass distributed beer everywhere in downtown Las Vegas. Heck, you can get a football filled with Coors Light. While a football of beer is fun, there’s something to be said for a delicious craft beer.
- Banger Brewing – Fremont Street’s first craft brewery makes their beer on site. Sit and relax with a flight of beer or grab a strong beer on to go. They offer free tours if you’re curious about beer making.
- Pizza Rock – Fantastic craft beer selection at great prices. Visit during Happy Hour for discounts on already low prices. The food is a great addition but you really can’t beat these prices in downtown Las Vegas for craft beer.
Just about everything in downtown Las Vegas is less expensive than the Vegas Strip. Drinks are no different. Here are a couple of options for extremely inexpensive drinks. You won’t find the fanciest drinks in town but you’ll find some good low priced options to get the day rolling.
- El Cortez – They have cheap beer and drinks every day with even more special Happy Hour deals. You’ll even find top shelf drinks $5 (as of this writing a Patron margarita is $5).
- Fremont – This casino is located right by the 3rd Street stage at the Fremont Street Experience. This is the stage where many of the free concerts are held. Run into the casino for $3 Corona, Bud Light or Heineken in between songs.
Casino bars in downtown Las Vegas are great because they’re still serving up complimentary cocktails while you gamble. I’m partial to one casino because they offer two very different great casino bar experiences.
- The D – Longbar – Energy, excitement, loud music, flair bartenders, new TV’s and a good beer selection highlight this bar on the main casino floor. This is a great bar to get the party started or to watch the games in downtown Las Vegas.
- The D – Vue Bar – Great video poker, mellow vibe, and heavy pours are the highlights of this bar on the second floor of the casino. The video poker pay tables are better at Vue Bar than most in downtown Las Vegas casino bars – including Longbar. This is one of the best places to play video poker while drinking.
Grab n Go
Casinos are great but there’s so much more to the Fremont Street Experience. Walking the mall of the casinos, watching bands and the Viva Vision light shows can be nicely complimented with a drink. Grab a beer, frozen drink, or mixed drink in a souvenir cup and enjoy VEGAS BABY!
- The D – D Bar takes the Longbar outside with a good selection of beer, frozen drinks, souvenir containers, and dancers across the bar. The location next to the Third Street stage is great for concerts but you may end up hanging closer to the bar to make sure the dancers are safe.
- Golden Gate – Very similar to D Bar but next to the First Street stage. This is a great place to start your trip down the mall of casinos.
Las Vegas was made for drinking outdoors. The weather is beautiful most of the year so why not enjoy it? Between bars, casinos, restaurants, and malls there are more places to drink outside in downtown Las Vegas than ever.
- 4 Queens – The patio bar is right on Fremont Street. Watch a show on the 3rd Street stage or enjoy some of the best people watching in Las Vegas. Drinks are cheap and there are tacos nearby.
- Gold Spike – The backyard at Gold Spike is chock full of games from giant cornhole to massive beer pong. If it gets chilly at night, but snuggle up near one of the fire pits. The outdoor part of this bar is one of the unique adult playgrounds in Las Vegas.
This year the Life Is Beautiful festival takes place Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24 in downtown Las Vegas. Gorillaz, Muse, Lorde, Chance the Rapper, and Blink 182 will headline the music portion of the three-day festival. There are plenty more popular artists performing at the festival this year. Here’s the lineup announcement.
Since being introduced Life Is Beautiful has become a part of the evolving culture in downtown Las Vegas. Over the years musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, and the Foo Fighters have graced the main stages of the festival. Hundreds of more bands have performed at Life Is Beautiful over the years. You can see a list of performers here.
While music may be the calling card of the Life Is Beautiful festival there is so much more. The Life Is Beautiful festival is more than just another concert. This is a music, arts, culinary, and learning festival is spread out all over the Fremont East section of downtown Las Vegas. In addition to bands you’ll see, hear, and taste food, science, art, comedy, and more.
Life Is Beautiful will have an interactive art experience once again. The festival will bring back the popular Art Motel installation. It will be reimagined by Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf. The festival will bring back the popular “Crime on Canvas” art exhibit. Festival guests can view and purchase original artwork and rare prints by local, national, and international artists. The gallery will display work by Matt Skiba, Mark Ryden, Shag, Tara McPherson, Shepard Fairey, Brandon Boyd, and more.
The education portion of Life Is Beautiful will be highlighted by another appearance from Bill Nye (the science guy). Thousands saw Bill Nye’s 2015 appearance where when he talked about the changing world and being a speck in the universe. You can watch the 30-minute talk below.
The comedy showcase will return to the festival with performances by comedians that you may be familiar with if you watch Comedy Central. Matthew Broussard, Mike Lawrence, and Jo Firestone headline the lineup this year.
Food, Drink, And More
There will also be a culinary and cocktails section at Life Is Beautiful where you can enjoy food and beverages created by famous chefs and mixologists. Even more entertainment and art and entertainment will be announced leading up to the festival.
Downtown Las Vegas
The festival isn’t the only thing that makes Life Is Beautiful a unique experience. Life Is Beautiful isn’t contained to one giant space like other festivals. Everything is spread out throughout the urban areas of downtown Las Vegas. You’ll have to navigate a huge map and many street blocks to find everything. You should wear comfortable shoes for walking. The location is part of the fun for many people that have attended in the past.
You can find more information on tickets and performers at lifeisbeautiful.com.
It seems as though the spring in Las Vegas only lasts for a few weeks. It’s my favorite time of the year but it’s the beginning of a great time of year. The next few months will be the best time of the year to enjoy the sun and warmth of the desert. Let’s get ready to eat and drink outside starting with the most important meal of the day – breakfast!
There may not be a better start to the day that a delicious cup of coffee with a nice meal in the sun. Actually, there is something better – enjoying that cup of coffee outside in Las Vegas! The weather in the morning during the spring is beautiful. During the summer the weather in the morning often feels like the only time we should be eating outside. Those 100+ degree temperatures can be a bit much for dining sometimes.
Breakfast is an early meal for me. Brunch and lunch are often too late for the first meal of the day for an early riser. There are a good number of restaurants open during the day but not everyone is ready to deliver a really good cup of coffee and satisfying breakfast. A great breakfast is more than just the first meal of the day.
All of these restaurants are located at casinos on the Vegas Strip. For better or worse not every good restaurant to eat breakfast outside has a view of the Vegas Strip. I’ll note the strip views because that can make the Las Vegas experience much more Vegasy. Sometimes you want that kind of start to the day and other times you simply need to breath fresh air while drinking that first cup of coffee or Bloody Mary.
Mon Ami Gabi (Las Vegas Strip view at Paris Las Vegas)
This is one of the best breakfast restaurants on the Vegas Strip whether you’re indoors, outdoors or in the atrium in between the two. The coffee is spectacular and the glazed bacon will melt in your mouth. The view of the Vegas Strip and Bellagio are unmatched. There is usually a wait for patio seating but everything about breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi is worth the wait.
Tom’s Urban (Las Vegas Strip view at New York-New York)
Tom’s Urban isn’t known as being a breakfast restaurant but it should be. The entire restaurant isn’t always open for breakfast so you’ll typically end up sitting outside. You’re far away enough from the traffic so you don’t smell any fumes, yet you’re close enough where you can do a little people watching. Coffee drinkers will love that they serve Peet’s coffee.
Country Club & Tableau (Wynn Las Vegas)
Country Club is located just off the golf course at Wynn. This is one of the most serene settings for a beautiful breakfast outside. The food and service at Wynn are typically among the best in Las Vegas. The settings are so relaxing that you almost forget you’re in Las Vegas once you sit down at either restaurant. Sometimes we all need a break from the action.
Bouchon (The Venetian)
Bouchon is one of the most popular breakfast restaurants on the Vegas Strip. Their fresh baked goods are to die for. When you think of a fabulous French breakfast this is the experience you’re expecting. The restaurant is sort of hidden from the madness of the massive casino. Just walk over to the elevators for the Venezia Tower and head upstairs for a pool deck view and fresh air.
Veranda (Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay) – The quality and service you’d expect at Four Seasons
Stripside Cafe (Las Vegas Strip view at Caesars Palace) – It’s outside and on the Vegas Strip. Can be a bit pricey for some.
Sambalatte (Las Vegas Strip with a limited view at Monte Carlo) – Not a restaurant but great coffee with outdoor seating on the Vegas Strip.
A lot has changed in Las Vegas but there’s one constant. Visitors love seeing shows. Whether the shows are free or if the shows cost money more than half the people who visited Las Vegas in 2016 saw a show according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Visitor Profile.
The survey shows that 52% of all visitors to Las Vegas saw a show last year. While that’s a lot of people it’s down from recent years…down a lot. In 2013 the study shows that 72% of all visitors saw a show. That number has decreased every year since that study took place.
More visitors saw big-name headliner shows and impersonator or tribute shows in Las Vegas in 2016. That’s more than any year from 2012 to 2014. Approximately one of every six visitors (almost 17%) who saw a show in Las Vegas saw a comedy show. That’s a large increase from previous years and could increase this year with the inaugural Crapshoot Comedy Festival.
According to the Visitor Profile, fewer visitors than in the past saw lounge acts. This doesn’t just represent fewer people, it was a far fewer people. In 2016, only 43% of visitors who saw a show in Las Vegas went to see a lounge act. That is down drastically from 87% in 2013.
The average expenditure on shows and entertainment in 2016 was $67.55. That’s an increase from 2012– 2015. In a different study, the Las Vegas Advisor says that the average show ticket in Las Vegas was $92 in 2016.
The same report shows the average ticket for a show at the Axis Theater inside Planet Hollywood was $195.67. That was the highest ticket price in Las Vegas last year. Axis Theater is where you’ll see residencies from Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Backstreet Boys and others.
The times are changing. This survey was the first year that the Visitor Profile tracked how many people who visited Las Vegas saw a DJ perform. More people saw a celebrity DJ perform (8%), then saw a couple Las Vegas staples. Only 6% of show goers saw a celebrity impersonator or tribute show and even fewer, 4%, saw a magic show.
With many expenses in Las Vegas on the rise, something has to give. Of the 48% of respondents that didn’t see a show in Las Vegas last year, 10% said that seeing a show was too expensive. That’s an increase from 2012 and 2014. Those people should learn about Travel Vegas and other websites that offer discount show tickets.
I’m not asked to promote this website, but this is where I send friends and colleagues looking for discount show tickets. Even though I live in Las Vegas I’ve always fallen into the 79% of visitors who are busy, don’t have time or aren’t interested in shows.
That said, Absinthe, is the one show I’d make time to see. It’s unlike any other show in Las Vegas and I loved it. Part of what makes Las Vegas special is experiencing something new and different. That’s what Absinthe offers. As much as I love Britney Spears, I can play her jams on spotify (I’m listening to it now).
If you’re looking for something the pass the time, you might want to read the entire Las Vegas Visitors Profile. It’s fascinating to see how people spend their time and money.
Casinos in Las Vegas look different today than they used to. You may have noticed some changes on your last visit to Las Vegas. Frankly, the casino floors all around Las Vegas have evolved a lot in the past five years. Casinos are no longer exclusively gigantic rooms of slot machines and table games that they used to be.
You may notice that casinos are broken up into smaller areas. Many traditional gaming floors have specific gambling spaces dedicated to certain games. Some casinos like The Linq create “pods” that make this somewhat obvious to the naked eye.
A casinos like MGM Grand simply segments their main gaming floor by different table games and slot machines. This makes it a bit easier to navigate around the property. Some casino floors like Encore break things up by adding gaming lounges outside of the main gaming floor.
The casino floor at MGM Grand is so large (170,000 square feet according to their fact sheet) that the casino operator has taken the gaming space to another level. They’re combining all strategies in order to make a unique casino.
In addition to breaking up the gaming floor, they’ve added gaming lounges. Whiskey Down was one of the very first gaming lounges with a mix of bartop video poker and blackjack tables. Last year MGM Grand opened The Level Up gaming lounge. The new bar and gambling area offers traditional bar games with new and old casino gambling.
Planet Hollywood recently took a more loungy concept right to the middle of the gaming floor. They recently installed social and skill-based games from Gamblit Gaming in between the traditional table games and slot machines. This is currently a planned field trial for the new games. If successful, we can expect these games to appear in more casinos.
These skill-based games aren’t traditional casino table games or slot machines. The small area of three tables includes Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure. Here’s a description of each game:
Gamblit Poker tests skill and speed while allowing players to win up to 240x their bet in a single hand. Each player starts with two cards, followed by a single deck of cards shown in rapid succession in the middle of the table. Players have to quickly virtually grab the cards they need in order to complete the best possible poker hand.
Cannonbeard’s Treasure engages players in a fast-paced game of cards, skill and naval warfare. This game is similar to blackjack but on a whole new level. Cannonbeard’s Treasure challenges players to fill their hand without winning or busting, initiating a burndown. During the burndown, a set of additional cards will be dealt. The player who gets closest to the objective, without going over, wins a chest of gold.
Between two and four players can compete against each other for a head-to-head gaming experience at these tables. Each gaming terminal offers a unique, multi-player – multi-game machine with access to a shared 42” touch screen, plus a USB charging port, purse hook and two cup holders for each player. I’ve played slot machines and bartop video poker simply because they have an outlet to charge my phone. This is a modern amenity that every game should have.
MGM Resorts has interactive tables which include some skill-based but non-gambling games at some of their casino bars and sports books. Almost every visit to The Mirage sports book takes me to these tables. I’ve wished that I could wager a few dollars on some of the games while relaxing with a drink and sports on TV. Gamblit Poker and Cannonbeard’s Treasure seem more appropriate for this kind setting than the middle of the gaming floor.
While Caesars Entertainment touts the new games as the first skill-based games in Las Vegas, they’re actually second. Earlier this year MGM Grand introduced a skill-based gambling version of Frogger at their Level Up lounge. If the field trial is a success, these games will be placed at The Linq and Caesars Palace.
Casinos aren’t what they used to be. There are new places to gamble and new games to gamble on. These skill-based games are still new to casinos but could become a new way to gamble. Like most new technology, the games are targeted to a younger customer. That said, I know plenty of older casino visitors that enjoy a relax, have a drink and throw a few bucks on a game of skill.
The Vegas Strip is the first place that comes to mind when most people think of Las Vegas. It’s understandable and in 2016 approximately three-quarters of all visitors to Las Vegas stayed in a hotel within the Strip Corridor. Much like all major cities that are vacation destinations, there’s more to Las Vegas than just the Vegas Strip.
According to the Las Vegas Visitors Profile by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, more people decided to explore beyond the Vegas Strip in 2016 than previous years. In fact, 21% of those survey said they visited somewhere else near Las Vegas. That’s an increase from 14% in 2012 and 16% in 2014 who explored beyond the Vegas Strip.
As usual, the majority of exploration away from Las Vegas took people to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. The most common responses of places visited in the Visitor Profile were the Grand Canyon (65%), Hoover Dam (57%), Zion National Park (12%, down from 20% in 2014), and Lake Mead (11%, down from 21% in 2012). Eight percent each said Bryce Canyon (down from 15% in 2014), Mt. Charleston/ Lee Canyon (up from 2% in 2014), and Red Rock. Six percent (6%) said Death Valley (down from 13% in 2014), 5% each mentioned the Valley of Fire (down from 10% in 2014) and Laughlin (up from 3% in 2014), and 2% mentioned Primm, Nevada, (up from less than 1% in 2014).
Not nearly enough of the respondents visited the nearby National Parks. Even though Red Rock is a “National Conservation Area,” it’s not technically a park. There are more than 400 National Parks around the country and a handful of National Parks in and around the state of Nevada. Not only are these a great place to explore nature but for short periods throughout the year, entry to the National Parks will be free.
National Park Week takes place from April 15 to 23, 2017. This is this a celebration of National Parks and a great excuse to explore parts of Nevada away from the Vegas Strip. Death Valley, Great Basin, Lake Mead, and Tule Springs Fossil Beds are all a quick drive from Las Vegas. You can find information on each National Park here.
Each of these National Parks charges an entry fee that will be waived throughout the year. Here are the dates for free entry to National Parks around the state of Nevada.
- April 22-23 (Weekends of National Park Week)
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend
While prices on the Vegas Strip continue to rise, visitors are looking for other places to supplement the fun during vacation. If you’re looking for some low rolling in the casinos you can head to downtown Las Vegas or casinos all over town. If you’re looking for fresh air and nature, you can head out to the national parks all over the state.
Downtown Las Vegas hotels are getting better every year. There was a time where some of the properties were run down and beat up. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case for a few years now. Many of the hotels have been renovated in the past 5 years or so. If you visit the California, you may find room renovations that were finished in the past few weeks.
The rooms and casinos aren’t the only improvements you’ll find in downtown Las Vegas casino-hotels. Many restaurants have been updated and upgraded. Unfortunately, there’s one important renovation for the summer that you won’t find at every hotel. There’s nothing like the pool scene on the Vegas Strip. There’s something for everyone whether you just want to relax or you want to enjoy music.
Well, when Downtown Grand opened in 2013, the property brought a new and improved pool experience. The pool was one of the nicest pools at a downtown Las Vegas hotel. Much like the casino as a whole, the pool area at Downtown Grand has already been improved. There’s new decor, outdoor gaming, food, and drink.
The pool area at Downtown Grand, known as Citrus, is now more than 35,000 square feet large. This pool deck has an infinity pool, restaurant and full bar, very affordable semi-private cabanas, a fire pit, backyard games like cornhole, foosball, and table tennis. There’s even a grassy seating area with umbrellas and outdoor day beds.
This year, Downtown Grand is adding, even more, fun to their pool scene beginning May 4. Take a look:
Thursday – Old School by the Pool
Enjoy “back-in-the-day” R&B hits poolside every Thursday night, presented by the valley’s own KOAS Old School 105.7. For the launch on May 4 at 8 p.m. catch Next Movement. Upcoming bands and performers include Phil Flowers, NA Fect, Sons of Soul, and Rhythm Nation.
Friday – Dance Party Kicking Off with Shakira Tribute Band featuring Lorena Peril
Poolside dance party every Friday night? Yes, please. Kicking off on May 5 – Cinco de Mayo – with a Shakira Tribute Band featuring Lorena Peril, hangout poolside every Friday night with KLUC’s Morning Zoo personality, Kayla, and watch local favorite on-air talent Davey The ShowKiller serving as DJ.
Saturday – Rock Nation
Summer Saturdays will rock at Citrus with 92.3 KOMP and 97.1 The Point alternating throughout the weeks. A combination of live bands and DJ-driven nights including a monthly Albumpalooza show – a concert that highlights classic and timeless albums played live – will turn the pool deck into a classic rock concert every Saturday night. The fun kicks off on Saturday, May 6 with Albumpalooza: A Tribute to “Zeppelin IV.”
Sunday – Noche de Ritmo
La Buena 101.9 presents a tequila-friendly combination of live bands and a DJ. Noche De Ritmo or Rhythm Night begins Sunday, May 7 with Banda Corazon Sinaloense taking the stage.
This is the perfect use of a pool area in Las Vegas. You can relax at the pool during the day with a book while you work on your tan. At night you can party outside with a beautiful summer breeze. In-between time at the pool you can grab a drink and snack during Happy Hour at Pizza Rock, play some blackjack in the casino, or walk down the street to see the Fremont Street Experience.
There are many people looking for places to stay in Las Vegas that are less expensive than the Vegas Strip. The great pool scene at Downtown Grand will help separate it from the other options in the area.
One of the very best free activities in Las Vegas is the free entertainment in downtown Las Vegas at the Fremont Street Experience. During most of the year, you’ll find local bands, tribute bands, DJ’s and other forms of entertainment on the three stages under the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience.
The quality of the entertainment gets even better during the summer when the Fremont Street Experience hosts a variety of well-known national touring bands. That tradition will continue this summer as the Fremont Street Experience presents The Downtown Rocks summer concert series.
The big-name free entertainment gets a boost this summer from a different venue. The Downtown Grand casino, just a block away from the Fremont Street Experience, offers their free Rock The Street concert(s).
Downtown Rocks will host performances by the Rock’n Road Trip Tour with Fuel, Tonic, and more (June 10), Rick Springfield (August 12), Seether (August 26), Collective Soul (September 1) and Chevelle (September 30). Rock The Street with Vince Neil will take place on Sunday, May 27, and will be headlined Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. Todd Kerns & the Anti-Stars and open the show.
“This year we’re kicking things up a notch with our new summer concert series, Downtown Rocks,” says Patrick Hughes, CEO, and president of Fremont Street Experience. “The free concert series is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our tremendous, loyal fans. Their support and patronage allow us to show our appreciation in the best way we know how, by throwing parties and free concerts featuring top acts all summer long that deliver exciting, quality entertainment experiences for our fans.”
The Fremont Street Experience will be adding, even more, national touring bands as the summer gets closer. Keep an eye on this post as we’ll update the list of events. All concerts are free to enter but have different entry processes. The concerts at the Fremont Street Experience are ticket-free shows so just show and and have fun.
You should note that these free concerts are always crowded. Arrive early for the best spot. The best spot for these concerts will be different for everyone. Some people may want to stand close to the stage for the best view while others might want to stand near an exit for a quick run to the bar or restroom. It will take a few minutes to navigate from the front of the stage through the huge crowd if you don’t plan on watching the entire concert.
While “Rock The Street” is free, you need a ticket to enter. You can obtain tickets for the Vince Neil performance from the Downtown Grand website. Tickets are limited and available on a first come, first served basis. Downtown Grand will have other events during the summer so keep an eye on this page of their website.
Here’s a current list of free concerts in downtown Las Vegas this summer (all shows at the Fremont Street Experience unless noted):
May 26: Theory of a Dead Man
May 27: Rock The Street with Vince Neil (tickets here for Downtown Grand)
June 10: Rock’n Road Trip Tour with Fuel, Tonic, Marcy Playground, and Dishwalla
July 3: Ann Wilson of Heart
July 22: Good Charlotte
August 12: Rick Springfield
August 26: Seether
September 1: Collective Soul
September 30: Chevelle
The Linq promenade has come a long way from its days as an alley for Imperial Palace, O’Sheas, and Flamingo to leave their trash. Since opening in 2014 the reformed alley has become a destination on the Vegas Strip for indoor and outdoor drinking, dining, and shopping.
Many people seem to be familiar with The Linq as “the place with the big ferris wheel.” The High Roller, at the farthest point from the Vegas Strip at The Linq, is the world’s tallest observation wheel. This is an attraction in its own right. Even if you avoid heights, it’s still easy to see the awe of such a tall ride.
Over the years The Linq has changed tenants but some of these new restaurants seem destined to become a fixture on the Vegas Strip. In the past few months, The Linq has welcomed a nice variety of places to grab a bite including a new quick serve restaurant from Gordon Ramsay, the first Vegas Strip location of one of the most popular west coast burger joints, and an import from New York City.
Amorino is one of the most popular names in gelato in Europe. There are 24 regular gelato flavors as well as seasonal selections. In addition to desserts, the small restaurant also offers crepes, macaroons, and other breakfast pastries.
Gordon Ramsay Fish n Chips
This is chefGordon Ramsay’s fourth Las Vegas restaurant in Las Vegas. GRFC is a quick-serve restaurant intended with dishes intended to eat on the go. The reason you’re visiting this restaurant is for fresh fish and chips like you might find in England and that’s about all you’ll find on the menu. The small restaurant has seating for fewer than 20 people.
In N Out Burger
There is no longer a need to leave the Vegas Strip for one of the most popular fast food burgers in the country. This In N Out burger location serves up the same fresh food that many have come to love. As you’d expect the prices here are a little higher than they are away from the Vegas Strip. Don’t worry the prices aren’t insane, just enough to cover the higher rent and probably close to what you’d spend on a taxi to the nearby locations.
Jabburito brings one of the hottest trends in dining to the Vegas Strip. Sushi served in burrito form has been growing in popularity on the west coast for the past year. This is the only place on the Vegas Strip where you’ll find this unique combination.
Virgil’s Real BBQ
This import from New York City is the largest of the new restaurants at The Linq. The 14,000 square foot restaurant occupies two floors and has enough room for bands to perform every night with plenty of room for dining. The BBQ served at Virgil’s is from a variety of regions so you’ll have more than just one flavor profile.
Urban Turban Express
This quick-serve Indian food stand isn’t a restaurant but does offer food to eat on the go. Actually, you’ll probably want to grab a seat at the nearby fountains for most dishes. The Linq is probably the only place on the Vegas Strip where you’ll be able to find Indian favorites such as curry bowls.
It’s been less than a year since MGM Resorts International became the first Vegas Strip casino operator to charge parking fees at their various casinos. Well, those prices are old news. Effective April 12, both self-parking and valet fees at MGM Resorts International casinos will increase. Here are the new rates:
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Luxor, Monte Carlo – $10
Mandalay Bay & Delano, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York – $15
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – $20
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Luxor, Monte Carlo – $15
Mandalay Bay & Delano, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York – $20
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – $25
0-1 hour: Free
1-2 hours (Shorter):
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Luxor, Monte Carlo – $5
Mandalay Bay & Delano, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York – $8
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – $10
2-4 hours (New):
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Luxor, Monte Carlo – $7
Mandalay Bay & Delano, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York – $10
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – $12
Excalibur, Circus Circus, Luxor, Monte Carlo – $7
Mandalay Bay & Delano, MGM Grand, The Mirage, New York-New York – $12
Aria, Bellagio, Vdara – $15
The new parking fee increases may only be a few dollars for some parking segments but, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes, that could be as much as a 39% increase. You can see the initial parking fees at MGM Resorts properties here.
There’s still no charge to self-park at Circus Circus. It should be pointed out that if you’re visiting T-Mobile Arena, The Park or The Park Theater it’s less expensive to park at Monte Carlo than New York-New York. Expect that to change when Monte Carlo renovations are complete and Park MGM opens.
Since MGM Resorts International started charging parking Caesars Entertainment and the Cosmopolitan have announced self-parking and valet fees. Caesars Entertainment has just started charging for parking at some of their properties. The fees will roll out to all Vegas Strip casinos. Rio will be excluded as it’s not on the Vegas Strip. The Cosmopolitan fees should begin shortly. Wynn and Encore are now charging for valet, but not self-parking.
Avoid MGM Resorts International Parking Fees
Not everyone has to pay self-parking or valet fees at MGM Resorts International properties. M Life Rewards players club members that are Pearl, Gold, Platinum and Noir will receive free self-parking. M Life Rewards members that are Gold, Platinum and Noir receive free valet.
If you’re not a big spender you can upgrade to M Life Rewards Pearl and receive free self-parking just by signing up for the M Life Rewards credit card. You can find information on the M Life Rewards players club here and the M Life Rewards credit card here.
The M Life Rewards players club upgrade process takes 7-10 days after approval for the credit card. There is no annual fee for the credit card. Make sure you read the current terms and conditions before signing up for the credit card as those may have changed.
Last summer the news about renovation at Palace Station started to leak. Eater was first with the news and I was able to confirm that something was being planned with Station Casinos, owner of the Palace Station. At the time, Station Casinos wasn’t ready to reveal all details of the renovations.
Despite its proximity to the Vegas Strip, Palace Station goes mostly unnoticed by tourists. The casino is located on Sahara Avenue just west of the I-15. Lucky Dragon, SLS Las Vegas and the Stratosphere are the closest casinos. However, they’re towards the less busy north end of the Vegas Strip.
Palace Station has been undergoing subtle upgrades in the past couple of years with new carpeting, new restaurants (Charcoal Grill, Little Tony’s) and a recent sports book upgrade. However, renovations and upgrades are going into high gear now as Palace Station returns to its roots.
Shortly after the casino opened in 1976, it was renamed Bingo Palace. The first major part of the renovations at Palace Station is to add a new, larger bingo room to the casino. While Bingo isn’t the most popular game with tourists, this is still popular with Las Vegas locals. Besides the Gold Coast, Palace Station has the closest Bingo Hall to the Vegas Strip.
Coming in at more than 9,000 square feet, the new Bingo Hall will be an improvement for current Bingo players. Station Casinos will also reach out to potentially new Bingo players. A couple of years ago Red Rock Casino (another Station Casino) debuted a nighttime version of bingo. The room is dimly lit and players are given neon necklaces. There’s a DJ bumping the jams and winners are doing shots. This is not your granny’s Bingo.
The concept may sound a bit out there but it’s become a very popular way for younger people to kick off the night. Approximately $20 gives a player an hour of gambling fun and booze. The game brings potential for winning a few bucks and more booze. The older players just avoid these games if they’re not in the mood for loud music and good times.
Back to the renovations. The upgrades to Palace Station will be done in phases over a couple of years. This first phase of renovations should conclude by summer. Upgrades will include a new valet area at the casino entrance facing Sahara Ave., the exterior facade will receive a facelift, the parking lot will be repaved, and some fixtures on the casino floor will be changed out. (semi-related, Chick-Fil-A is opening nearby)
The next phase of renovations will move the Feast Buffet from the second floor to the casino level. Station casinos will add two new restaurants which remain unnamed. The renovations for Palace Station may or may not end here. Station Casinos didn’t confirm or deny that there would be a new hotel tower added while the courtyard rooms are removed. They also didn’t confirm that future renovations would include a movie theater, bowling alley, or rooftop pool.
Prices to eat, drink and sleep in a casino on the Vegas Strip continue to rise so there’s reason to look elsewhere to balance your travel budget. Before the upgrades, Palace Station is already a viable option for anyone looking to save some money while still being near the Vegas Strip. The renovations will only give more reason to consider the near-Strip property.
I’ve stayed at Palace Station during conventions. They offer a solid value for the price. Palace Station is a few minutes away from the Las Vegas Convention Center. Rideshare companies make the trip back and forth to Sands or the LVCC quick and inexpensive.
Going to a museum might not be the first thing that crosses your mind when planning a trip to Las Vegas. However, there are a couple of museums in Las Vegas receiving upgrades that might be worth your time.
The Neon Museum and Boneyard is a must see for anyone looking to see what Las Vegas used to look like. The Mob Museum gives a look into the mafia and their place in Las Vegas history. Coincidentally, both museums are located in downtown Las Vegas.
Neon Museum and Boneyard
This nearly two-acre campus is a bit more than a typical museum. The Neon Museum is where you go to physically see the history of what makes Las Vegas unique. This isn’t a museum for by the book education. There aren’t many museums that are popular because they have a bunch of signs. However, the vintage neon signs allow tour guides to educate guests on casinos and other businesses throughout Las Vegas history. These signs are why the majority of people visit the neon museum.
The majority of education and activity at the Neon Museum takes place outside in the Neon Boneyard and Boneyard Park. You’ll find more than 250 historic signs at the Neon Museum including signs from the Sahara, Stardust, New-New York, Lady Luck and O’Shea’s. The new expansion will bring about 30 to 40 new signs out to the Boneyard. Early additions include signs from the recently imploded Riviera, recently closed Las Vegas Club and world famous Spearmint Rhino gentlemen’s club.
All tours are guided and many sell out in advance. Visit neonmuseum.org to learn more and reserve a time to visit. The tours last about an hour and can be exhausting during the day in the summer when temperatures reach over 110 degrees in the shade. Keep that in mind when scheduling a tour.
This is a more traditional, but modern, museum. At the Mob Museum you will take an interactive tour throughout the history of the mob. You’ll learn about the mob’s impact on Las Vegas history and the mark it’s made in the world. The Mob Museum isn’t just a place to walk around and read plaques. The museum has high-tech theater presentations, one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive, themed environments.
You’ll learn about such historical mob figures like Al Capone, Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Ben Siegel, Sam Giancana, Frank Rosenthal, Whitey Bulger, John Gotti and much more. The Mob Museum also looks at law enforcement and the mob. There are items and artifacts like different guns that relate to law enforcement’s role in helping to defeat the mob.
New exhibits this year at the Mob Museum include “Organized Crime Today,” “The Crime Lab” and “Firearms Training Simulator.” The exhibits feature wall-sized touchscreens and hands-on learning. This unique museum offers a lot of education about Las Vegas and cities around the country.
The Mob Museum is a great summer activity as it brings you inside for at least two hours of air conditioning and education. Visit themobmuseum.org for more information.
You may have heard by now that the Oakland Raiders received permission from the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas. The football team won’t become the Las Vegas Raiders until construction a new stadium is completed. The stadium isn’t expected to open until 2020. Yay?
Las Vegas is stoked to become a major league city. The Raiders will not only change how Las Vegas feels about itself but how others feel about the city. The team will play at least eight home games per season in Las Vegas. Additionally, the new stadium is expected to draw 50-100 events per year.
Arena And Stadium Will Bring More Major Events Than Ever To Las Vegas
Many of these events like dirt bike racing and monster trucks will move from Boyd Stadium and won’t be considered major events. Even though people go to those events, they’re nothing like when Beyonce comes to town.
However, even smaller events near the Vegas Strip will have an effect on the Las Vegas experience. Hotel room prices will fluctuate more than ever. I spent most of my life in New York and New Jersey and could see hotel room prices fluctuate as events were near the various stadiums, arenas, and theaters. This new 65,000 seat football stadium, T-Mobile Arena and all of the increased convention space in Las Vegas will have a similar effect in Las Vegas.
Hotel room prices are always higher when there’s a big event in Las Vegas and this won’t be any different. In 2020 and beyond we should see more major events than ever in Las Vegas and especially on the Vegas Strip. Heck, we’ll see more big events starting later this year when the Vegas Golden Knights begin play. Every home game against a team from major cities will be an event that people plan vacations around.
Look for the other arenas and venues to take advantage of the eight Raiders home games and 41 Vegas Golden Knights hockey games. The other venues will be stacked with major talent beyond just the games. This is how to best maximize hotel room rates. We’re already seeing it on a smaller scale. Busy weekends in Las Vegas will be explosive by today’s standards.
Hotel Prices And Fees In Las Vegas May Explode
Hotel room prices won’t only increase on the Vegas Strip, but all around town. When prices are too expensive in the high demand hotels near the action many visitors will look elsewhere. Luxury hotel rooms during major events like Super Bowl weekend and the first weekend of March Madness can reach near the $1,000 mark. Lower end casino-hotel rooms may be double or triple their normal rate. Hotel rooms at the low-end Circus-Circus were near $300 the night of the Floyd Mayweather fight against Manny Pacquiao. Off strip hotel that might normally charge $100 for a room might be able to charge $150 for that room.
If resort fees are still around in 2020 we may see a sliding scale. For (extreme) example it wouldn’t be surprising to keep resort fees at $45 per night during weekdays and slide all the way to $100 per night during major event weekends. During normal busy weekends, the resort fee might be somewhere in the middle. We may see this sooner than later as regular resort fees can’t go much higher.
Since more people will be visiting Las Vegas we could see more hotel operators begin plans similar to MGM Resorts Profit Growth Plan (PGP). That’s the plan that seeks to maximize revenue while minimizing expenses. You may know this today as parking fees and drink monitoring. If there’s a fee that can be charged it will be charged by 2020. If there’s a perk that can be cut, it will be cut.
All of the price increases could lead to another construction boom. If Resorts World wants to cash in on the great stadium effect they might want to speed up construction. They could be the shiny new casino-resort in Las Vegas that opens just in time for the kickoff of the 2020 NFL season.
The Las Vegas Raiders and new stadium isn’t the end of days and we should continue to see record visitation to Las Vegas. Not that they need it, but this new stadium gives an excuse to casino operators to tighten up their business.
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.
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