In the 70’s, 80’s and even part of the 90’s it was very easy to have a great time in Las Vegas on $20 a day. It became a tradition and it still is even though Las Vegas on $20 a day isn’t as easy to achieve. Still, it’s possible. You may have to bend the rules a little now; you’ll need some travel time and you’ll need to be creative.

Planning a low budget trip to Las Vegas can be awesome in part because it takes a lot of planning. That planning allows for you to think about your next vacation in Las Vegas. Seriously, what’s better than thinking about Las Vegas?

First you’ll have to remember that the Vegas Strip is your friend and your enemy. The Vegas Strip offers the glitz and glamour that makes everyone think of Vegas. Unfortunately there’s a price for that beauty. Hotels and dining is more expensive on the Vegas Strip than off the Vegas Strip. We’ll let you budget where you stay separate from your $20 a day budget. However, you’ll need to know about shuttles. Who can be your best friend.

Many of the off-strip hotels offer free shuttles to and from the Vegas Strip. Visiting one of the off-strip casinos is a great way to explore some new places to stay and eat. Las Vegas is a very different experience once you leave the Vegas Strip. Many of the off-strip hotels offer free shuttles to and from the strip so you won’t have to pay for transportation. Grab a breakfast buffet at Rio or Palms for under $10. Coffee is the key money saver here because it will cost you $2-$4 on top of any cheap breakfast at a non-buffet. Don’t be fooled by a cheap breakfasts that doesn’t include coffee.

After you head back to the Vegas Strip you can enjoy a variety of free activities including the Fountain Show and beautiful conservatory at Bellagio. When you’re done at Bellagio you can cross the street to enjoy more natural beauty in the Wildlife Conservatory at the Flamingo. The Flamingo also has a beautiful grassy area with a waterfall where you can find your center. This is one of the most beautiful places to relax outside on the Vegas Strip. In fact, it’s one of the only places.

You can continue your free activities by continuing to head north on the Vegas Strip and enjoy the volcano at The Mirage and then The Sirens Show at Treasure Island (this show may be dark with construction at TI).

Here’s where we have to be a little flexible and creative with our budgeting. You can walk down Spring Mountain to enjoy some of the awesome off-strip Asian cuisine for lunch. Not only will you enjoy lunch for under $10 but you’ll get to see how the locals live. You may not want to walk but a cab ride will only cost a few bucks each way. When you head back to the Vegas Strip you can keep marching north and head towards Circus Circus.

Circus Circus has seen better days but it’s a throwback to Las Vegas in the 1980’s. You can take in the world largest permanent circus here. You can enjoy a variety of circus acts on the midway at no charge.

As the evening closes and it’s near dinner time you’ll want to continue the walk north on the Vegas Strip to The Riviera. When you sign up for The Riviera players club you’ll receive a free buffet. Using your complimentary buffet at dinner time is the best way to save money because dinner is the most expensive meal of the day.

If you’re not pooped after dinner you’ll want to grab a taxi and head to Downtown Vegas where just about everything is less expensive than the Vegas Strip. The Fremont Street Experience remains one of the best free shows in Las Vegas and something that you won’t see anywhere else in the world. If you’d like to enjoy a cocktail with the show above your head the Fremont Hotel has $2 beers and $1 margaritas.

This day in Las Vegas will cost right around $20 (give and take a few bucks for taxi rides) and allow you to see the Vegas Strip, Downtown Vegas, various places off the strip while enjoying what makes Las Vegas great.


Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.
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