So, you want to do Las Vegas on a budget but you’re okay spending some money – just not a lot of money. If it’s possible to experience Las Vegas in about $20 a day it’s more than possible to experience it with a little more money.

Start saving and exploring by staying off the Vegas Strip. One of the best deals available off the strip is Rio. Hotel room rates at Rio are in line with the other hotels in the area (Palms and Gold Coast). There are a few things that set Rio apart from the others but each room being a suite allows you to feel a little luxury while you’re travelling on a budget. One of the other things that sets Rio apart from the other off strip hotels is that it’s a Total Rewards hotel so you can earn and use comp points from Caesars Entertainment hotels all across the country. For the sake of this blog we’re concerned with the other 8 Total Rewards hotels in Las Vegas.

When you’re in Las Vegas chances are that you’ll want to visit the Las Vegas Strip. Rio has  shuttles that run to Bally’s and Harrahs on the strip. The shuttles are free but you’ll need a Total Rewards card (join here). Shuttles run every 30 minutes from 10am to 1am and you can find schedules at each casino. Your trip to Bally’s should be quicker from Rio with the current Vegas Strip construction.

Even though the trip to Bally’s may be quicker Harrah’s may be a better option for traveling on a budget. It’s proximity to a non-casino food court which houses McDonalds and Panda Express offers inexpensive, familiar dining. Additionally, it’s closer to Casino Royale where you can grab breakfast from Denny’s or dinner from Outback Steakhouse. Casino Royale is also home to $1 Michelob beers if you care for a drink.

Bellagio is famous for its beautiful conservatory and water show but they also have a fine art gallery where they currently have an Andy Warhol exhibit on display. Admission is $16 for adults to visit the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts. If you’re open to a less classic and more modern art experience and looking to save a few dollars you can head next door to the Cosmopolitan where admission to their P3 art studio is free. The shows and displays here change very often so keep an eye on their website for announcements.

Travel Vegas is actually a great resource for inexpensive activities. Besides having a bevvy of discounted show tickets they also have a page dedicated to Free Shows. While these aren’t complimentary $200 tickets they are shows that will be worth your time. If nothing else they’re free. As we say on the basketball court: Lock it up!

If you’re in Las Vegas for gaming and looking for cheap, but fair, gaming you may want to hop into a cab and head to El Cortez in Downtown Vegas. You’ll find some of the best $5-$10 3:2 blackjack games in town. You’ll also find at least one craps table with a $5 minimum and 10 times odds. The returns on these games are miniscule. For comparison if you play similarly priced games on the Vegas Strip you’ll end up with worse returns and smaller odds. Lesser odds and returns will limit how long you play. That’s no fun.

When all is said and done if you started your day at Rio, shuttled to the Vegas Strip and cabbed to Downtown Vegas and then cabbed back to Rio you’ve had a full day exploring all parts of Las Vegas. You’ve also been able to see art, shows and dine on a budget. There’s a lot to be said for seeing the big name shows and dining in the fanciest restaurants but Las Vegas has entertainment for all budgets. That’s part of what makes this town so 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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