Visiting the traditional and best known sites in Las Vegas is fun and exciting, but sometimes when you take a side trip off the beaten path, you can learn some interesting things about Las Vegas. Many people know all about the casinos, gambling, showgirls, high quality entertainment and nightclubs of Las Vegas. Few know about museums in Las Vegas that showcase some of the interesting and sometimes morbid history of the cosmopolitan city. These past events have helped to shape Las Vegas into the city it is today.
Some visitors may not realize that in the 1950s extensive nuclear bomb testing went on in Nevada’s deserts and that the testing was also visible from the hotels on the Las Vegas strip. Stories have been told of casino patrons who pulled up chairs to the windows of Las Vegas’ most famous casinos. From there, they were able to watch gigantic mushroom clouds fill the sky in the distance due to the testing of bombs about 60 miles away.
Another part of Las Vegas’ history that is not always well-known is the influence of organized crime. Mob members, who lived very colorful lives and often had questionable past histories, had a huge impact on Las Vegas’ development in the 1950s. Two intriguing museums help to teach visitors and residents some of this history that cannot be forgotten. The lessons are taught in entertaining and informative ways.
Las Vegas is undergoing a major facelift. I think it’s great because I love new things but other people may find it sad that places and things that they came to love are no longer available. While I’m looking forward to the completion of SLS Las Vegas some people will never step foot in the new hotel because it will sit on the land where the Sahara once stood. Some prefer to keep the past alive. Out with the old and in with the new, I say.
Downtown is a similar story. While many of the older restaurants, bars and hotels still offer cheap dining, drinking and sleeping options the newer places are coming in with price points on the high end of the price scale. You can still get a short stack of pancakes from DuPar’s at the Golden Gate for $5.99 but a fancy hot dog at American Coney Island at The D will cost you almost $5. That’s $5 for a hot dog!
Customer spending in Las Vegas used to be mostly done in the casino on gaming. That hasn’t been the case for a while. Over the past 20 years customers have been spending more and more money outside of the casino on dining, spas, shows and so on. The casino operators are finally catching up with this trend. The Linq and MGM Park area in between Monte Carlo and New York-New York are both focused on providing non-gaming entertainment.
There are a lot of ways to spend the day in Las Vegas with spending little to no money. One of the best ways to enjoy the Vegas Strip is to do some window shopping. I’m talking about the traditional way to go window shopping and non-traditional way to go window shopping. There is a lot to see in Las Vegas and it can take a full day to see it.
Traditional window shopping often takes us to retail outlets where we’ll look and possibly play with things we’d like to purchase but probably won’t. Well, there’s a lot of that to do in Las Vegas. Window shopping on the Vegas Strip will take you anywhere from the most exclusive shops to second hand goods. I’d normally start with the fancy things to do but in this case the more gritty places are unique and only found in Las Vegas.
Your day of window shopping begins in between where the hotels are on the Vegas Strip and Downtown Vegas at Gold and Silver Pawn. G & S Pawn is located at 713 Las Vegas Blvd. just north of the Stratosphere. This is the pawn shop that most people know as the place where the TV show “Pawn Stars” is recorded. There are a plethora of pawn shops in Las Vegas but this is easily the most popular. You’ll often see stars of the TV show here. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line to look at some pretty random second hand goods.
I don’t like to think about this in October but the year is coming to an end. The stores are skipping over Halloween decorations for Christmas and the Vegas nightclubs are heavily promoting their New Years Eve parties. With that in mind I figured that it’s a good time to look at where are the construction in Las Vegas stands and when we can expect some action. I’ll break it down by portion of the Vegas Strip moving south to north.
The main construction that you’ll see on the south end of the Vegas Strip is surrounding New York-New York and Monte Carlo. The casinos remain intact and have been operational while the frontage to the Vegas Strip is being worked on. When all is said and done, there will be a host of new shopping and dining options. Construction is still clogging up the streets but it seems to be on track for an early 2014 opening. Vegas Inc. has details on what shops and restaurants will be opening.
Across the Strip at MGM Grand you’ll still see a lot of construction happening even though their large nightclub construction project, Hakkasan, was completed earlier this year. The current construction at MGM Grand is focused on updating their huge marquee. There is a lot of traffic in the area because of this. Vegas Chatter has details on specific changes to the sign if you care about such things. If rumors are true there will be more construction at MGM Grand after the current work is done. We’ll have more on that as it’s released.
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.
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.
There are plenty of day trips you can take from Las Vegas if you want to experience natural wonders, but not everyone is up to a hike in the hot outdoors. And what if your plans keep you close to the city? When you’re overwhelmed with the concrete and neon, sometimes all you want is a little greenery and a breath of fresh air. Try one of these spots on or near the Strip to experience a little bit of oasis in the desert.
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Just past the Bellagio’s grand lobby lies a garden wonderland that just might make you think you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole. The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a paradise of plant and flower displays that are so stunning, you might not even believe they’re real. Designed and maintained by 140 expert horticulturists, the greenery is decidedly alive, and it’s whimsically arranged to suit every season. Take a leisurely walk during the Spring for beautiful blossoms, and listen for the birdsong from the aviary. Fall and Winter feature appropriate holiday displays, and there’s even one for Chinese New Year. Every time you visit, the plants, trees, ponds, and bridges will be entirely different. Tip: visit in the morning to avoid the crowds, and enjoy a brisk nature walk to start your day. The Conservatory is open 24 hours, though, so you can enjoy it any time.
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Lots of luxury Vegas hotels have magnificent lobbies, but as soon as you’re inside the grand foyer of the Mirage, you’ll feel like you’re back outside again –only you’ve been teleported to a cool, green rainforest. More than just a whimsical decorating theme, the Mirage has gone all-out, with meandering lagoons, hundreds of blooming exotic orchids and birds of paradise, real cascading waterfalls, and huge palm trees. The sky-high 100-foot dome lets in natural sunlight, but the temperature is kept cool, with light water misting throughout the day to maintain the rainforest vibe and keep the plants lush. You’ll easily forget that you’re in a desert hotel. The lobby is open to the public 24 hours a day, every day, so you can easily take a quick tropical break whenever you need it most.
Just because Las Vegas can be a cheap place for vacation doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sure, you can book a hotel on one end of the Vegas Strip because it’s $10 less than a property in the middle of the action. Last week we showed you some ways to save on your Vegas vacation using websites and mobile devices.
This week we’re going to look at some old fashion lo-fi ways to save a few bucks on your next trip to Las Vegas. Not all of us spend our day in front of a computer and can hunt down deals online in-between phone calls, proposals and meetings. There are a few simple ways to save cash when you visit Las Vegas. I’m not talking about watching the fountains at Bellagio (just an example, you should see the fountains) to pass the time. I’m talking about paying less for activities that cost money.
There is a lot you can do before you even book your trip to Las Vegas that can help you save money. You’ll save money (up to $100-$200 per ticket) by travelling on certain days. I just saved $150 flying east by flying on a Tuesday instead of Sunday or Monday. Airlines usually have sales on Wednesdays so you can find great rates on airlines by looking and booking midweek.
Trip Advisor rates Las Vegas as one of the most affordable cities for a vacation in America. While that’s true there is a lot of temptation to upgrade your Vegas vacation. It seems like everywhere you turn in Las Vegas there’s an opportunity to upgrade spend more money. “You can upgrade that beer for $2” “You can upgrade your room to get a view of the Vegas Strip for $15 a night”and you can upgrade show tickets to sit closer for just a few bucks more. Before you know it your affordable vacation just got a little less affordable.
On top of all of the upgrade options in Las Vegas there are a lot of luxury hotels and restaurants that are so beautiful and tempting to take your vacation to the next level. While Las Vegas can be a very affordable city to visit it can also be an expensive city to visit.
Long Hauling is one of the many special things you’ll find in Las Vegas. Unlike 99% of everything else special that you’ll find in Las Vegas long hauling is not fun. The practice of long hauling taxi rides in Las Vegas is when the taxi driver takes a longer route to get you from to and from your desired destination. Long hauling exists so that taxi drivers can charge you a few extra bucks on your ride so knowing about long hauling should save you a few bucks when you’re in Las Vegas. I’m being kind when I say that this is lame.
If you google “long hauling in Las Vegas” you’ll find a lot of entries but also that anywhere from 25%-50% of taxi drivers are long hauling (overcharging) customers. Each case is different but long hauling can cost anywhere from $3 more per cab ride to $20-$30 per cab ride. This may not be much for your one visit a year but it’s reported that long hauling totaled almost $15 million dollars in overcharging last year.
The $20 Trick sounds like a myth but in Las Vegas it’s real and it can be spectacular. The $20 trick is simple and has been used in Las Vegas for many years and in many forms. Slipping a $20 bill as a tip has been used in nightclubs, restaurants, hotels, etc. to get upgrades that included entry to a club, a better table in a restaurant or a nicer hotel room. Today, the $20 Trick is mainly kept to the hotel check in desk. Greasing the doorman with a bill at nightclubs doesn’t work the same way that they used to. In fact, it hardly ever works now that clubs can charge thousands of dollars for a table and bottle service. However, slipping the front desk attendant a tip while you’re checking in still works and that’s called the $20 Trick.
There’s actually a method to making the $20 trick work without getting anyone in trouble since desk agents aren’t supposed to accept tips. When you check into a hotel you simply slip the front desk agent a $20 bill with your credit card and ID when you’re prompted. When you hand over the “$20 sandwich” you ask if they have any complimentary upgrades available. That’s it. It’s that simple. Generally the front desk agent will check to see if there are any upgrades available and if they can’t find anything they will return the $20 tip. It’s almost risk free unless you feel like leaving the $20 with the agent.
You wouldn’t go to Athens, Greece without photographing the Acropolis, or to Agra, India without snapping a single photo of the Taj Mahal. When visiting Vegas, though, there’s so much to see that it can be overwhelming. In a city where almost everything is a photo opportunity, how do you zero in on the best shots? Whether your pictures will be for filling a photo album with memories, showing off your best camera skills, or just making your friends jealous on Facebook, these are the don’t-miss opportunities for the coolest photos in Las Vegas.
The Iconic Vegas Sign
The charmingly retro sign reading “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” is possibly the best-known visual representation of the city. It’s had a long time to imprint itself on the public conscience — it’s been around since 1959, when Elvis was still making movies and Frank Sinatra had hit records. Today, it’s on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and its place in Vegas history is undeniable. A recently-built parking lot makes access to the sign safer than it used to be, so there’s no excuse for missing this piece of Vegas history.
The Scenery at Red Rock Canyon
Just 19 miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area isn’t just a respite from the clanging sounds of the casinos and the bright lights of the city, it’s also a chance to see and photograph some of nature’s most stunning scenery. Zoom in and get some close-up shots of the natural vegetation, like the bright yellow Desert Marigold or the bizarre red-spotted Fishhook Nipple Cactus, or go big and shoot the view from one of the highest peaks. The red sandstone has been sculpted into natural arches, bridges and other fascinating formations over millions of years, as the canyons, which used to be under water, emerged from the sea. Keep an eye out for lizards and birds, too — the canyon is teeming with wildlife.
Landmarks From Around the World
There’s no other city that offers its tourists a chance to photograph the world’s greatest landmarks all in one area, but that’s the beauty of Las Vegas. At Paris Las Vegas you can photograph a replica of the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Opera House and the Arc De Triomphe, then tromp over to the Venetian to snap the gondolas on the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge. If that’s not enough world travel for you, you can also find the Great Sphinx of Giza at the Luxor, and the Statue of Liberty at New York New York Hotel & Casino. Keep an eye peeled, and you’ll spot more world landmarks all around town.
I know it has been a little while since I have written for TravelVegas.com but Las Vegas is never far from my mind! I have not been to my favorite Sin City in almost two months and can’t wait to return in a little over a week. I will be there for almost ten days and ready to rock it! I may even stay longer as there is never enough time to do what I want for the days and nights I am there.
For the first part of the trip I will be with mom but left to my own devices for the second part. I thought I would give you a peak into my itinerary, as I am very excited to go hit my favorites haunts and stop at some new places too.
As usual, I will be staying at The Signature and the MGM and recommend it highly for anyone who wants to go to Las Vegas but likes the option of being away from the craziness of the casinos. The only thing I should mention is that Wet Republic is open and sometimes you can get a little more than your bargained for as in terms of shows in the lobby (if you know what I mean). If you don’t know about Wet Republic then I suggest you visit this crazy pool party or decide to stay VERY far away. This all depends on what you are looking to accomplish. If you want to party then Wet Republic is a top pool party in Las Vegas. If you are looking for a more mellow experience, I suggest one of the three pools at Wet Republic or if you have children the lazy river at the MGM Grand Hotel is always a good time!
If you’ve been to Vegas in the past year you’ve probably noticed a ton of construction happening on the Vegas strip. The middle of the Vegas strip is undergoing a major metamorphosis with Caesars Entertainment closing O’Sheas and Bill’s Gambling Hall while renovating and turning the Imperial Palace into The Quad. Much of this is being done to create room for The Linq which will be a shopping, dining and entertainment district anchored by the largest observation wheel in North America. Construction on The Linq is scheduled to end by the end of the year but there might be some work that carries over to next year.
The Linq will be located directly in the middle of the Vegas strip across the street from Caesars Palace. Here’s a glimpse at the variety of shopping and dining options that will be available when The Linq is complete.
The US economy is getting better and MGM Resorts is planning that the economy will continue to grow. MGM Resorts has already begun major renovations to their hotels and casinos on the south end of the Vegas strip and they have more new projects happening now and in the future. Changes begin all the way to the south of the strip at Mandalay Bay and head as far north as Aria.
If you’ve been to Mandalay Bay this year you’ve probably seen some of the renovations that are already complete but there is still more to come. One of the new dining options at Mandalay Bay includes Citizens Kitchen which replaced Red, White and Blue. You’ll also see that Mandalay Bay has a new nightclub powered by Cirque Du Soleil called Light. It’s sister dayclub called Daylight opened Memorial Day weekend. TheHotel is being rebranded as Delano Hotel and will begin taking reservations next year.
Heading next door to Mandalay Bay you may remember that Luxor recently began work on a full fledged outdoor concert and festival area. This is taking place behind the hotel so you’ll never know it’s being worked on. Heading north on the Vegas strip you’ll be able to see the bulk of the MGM Resorts construction.
Las Vegas is great because you can have any experience you want. On one of my most memorable trips to Vegas my friends and I spent a morning drinking (too much) vodka and playing blackjack at Bellagio then hopping into a limo to the El Cortez for some .25 cent roulette. It was an epic day for the ages but what stands out was the ability to go from being a high roller to a low low roller within a few hours.
Even though I live in Las Vegas now and have access to learning about places I never would have found as a tourist I still enjoy going out and enjoying the finer things in life like I did as a tourist. For me that includes a great steak, a cigar and a really good drink. I shared my favorite steakhouses earlier this year and now I want to share great places where you can enjoy a great cigar and drink.
There are two great cigar lounges on the Vegas strip that offer different experiences. Casa Fuente is located in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and has a large selection of cigars in a massive humidor. While they offer fantastic sangria and mojitos they also have very limited edition Glenfiddich and other single malt whiskies which compliment a cigar very nicely. Every now and again Casa Fuente will hold tastings of limited edition high end spirits (like Glenfiddich) that go nicely with a cigar. Casa Fuente is so devoted to high end booze that they have a special spirits society that’s open for anyone to join. Casa Fuente really is the best of both worlds. Unfortunately due to complaints from visitors at the Forum Shops the smoking space has been cut in half. You now have to smoke by the bar. This isn’t such a bad deal because the cigars and drinks are great but it was nice to have the extra space to spread out.
I grew up in New York City and college sports was something I’d watch on TV but they weren’t real since none were from NYC. New York City is for the big dawgs. There are 2 NFL, 2 MLB, 2 NBA teams and 3 NHL teams. There is a lot of pro action happening all year around. Las Vegas is home to a lot of great things but sports isn’t one of them. Sure there’s the Las Vegas 51′s and UNLV Runnin’ Rebels but that’s not real, errr pro sports.
Thankfully I can satiate my cravings for professional and major college sports any time by heading to the sportsbook to watch and gamble on games. If I’m at a nicer sportsbook, like The Venetian or Red Rock, I can even drink for free while I play video poker and watch my sports bets unfold. Yes, I need stimulation from all angles. Seriously there’s nothing like it.
Millions of tourists travel to Las Vegas, Nevada every year as visitors, but for some the trip is one way. In fact, the population of the city has grown at a constant rate since its founding. Between 1990 and 2000 alone, the size of Las Vegas more than doubled (US Census). What makes so many newcomers want to make Las Vegas their home each year? With a city as diverse as Vegas, it’s natural that there are a multitude of answers.
In 2008, a year that spelled financial ruin for so many, Las Vegas was named the second best city for jobs in the US by Forbes magazine, with a 5-year annualized job growth rate of 5.1%. Many of those jobs are in the housing market, which stays strong in Vegas as a result of the continuous population growth. The city also makes its living in big money industries: gambling, conventions and tourism. For entrepreneurs in any of those fields, a move is almost guaranteed to bring in more income.
The job market is about much more than just tourism, though. The Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation says that other job areas have also seen growth in the last year. Transportation and utilities jobs make up 17 percent of the market, construction and professional services follow at 12 percent, and retail, education and health-related jobs also have shown steady growth. And again as a result of continued population and tourism growth, the construction industry remains a major employer in Las Vegas.
It’s always fun to stay at a unique hotel. Las Vegas might have dozens of hotels with a lot of lights and gimmicks, but since there are so many hotels taking the same approach, they are not unique. A unique hotel is one that is different from other hotels in the area. In this case, two unique Vegas hotels will be covered. They are unique for completely different reasons.
Most games played on Facebook incorporate some form of social activity. You may build a farm and share it or throw a virtual sheep at a friend. MyVegas is the first social game available by one of the major casino companies. MyVegas has slot machine and blackjack games developed and operated by PlayStudios for MGM Resorts International for use on Facebook. This sounds like press release mumbo jumbo but the basics are important to know for the uninitiated. Basically, MyVegas is a handful of slot machine games where you can earn points to be used at a variety of MGM hotels in Vegas. Most people play the game for free with tokens offered for every day in the game but some people opt to pay for extra tokens.
While MyVegas is a game for MGM Resorts properties in Vegas they do not run the day-to-day operation of the game and MyVegas isn’t affiliated with MLife, MGM Resorts players club. Everything earned on the game is separate from the comps and points you earn when you gamble or spend money in MGM casinos and hotels. That’s the technical stuff.
Journey is returning to a
Planning a Las Vegas vacation
Las Vegas is known for
The Venetian (and The Palazzo)
Technically, Resorts World Las Vegas