Las Vegas on a budget: 10 travel hacks to save on your trip
Las Vegas is about as legendary as vacation destinations get. The bright lights and gaming palaces of downtown Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Strip are a sight for sore eyes, but they are also designed to suck the money right out of your pockets. In fact, this whole city, built in the desert at enormous expense, can be seen as one big cash grab. And if that sounds negative, it shouldn't be. Go in with your eyes open, and you can have a lot of fun visiting Las Vegas.
Part of the point of Vegas is to splash the cash. That doesn't mean you can't save money on your Las Vegas trip. Beyond the free drinks some casinos still provide, it's possible to find some bargains in Sin City.
When you visit Las Vegas, the last thing you want to do is carry more than you need to. Luckily, it's easy to find luggage storage in downtown Las Vegas where you can leave your things behind. Travel light and enjoy saving money in this unforgettable vacation spot.
Cheap places to stay in Las Vegas
It's tempting to think you want to stay as close to the action as possible, and that means staying on the Las Vegas Strip. However, the strip isn't for everyone. If you want a quiet night's sleep, it's better to stay off the strip in a more residential neighborhood. Not only will this help you save money, but it means you'll get a more restful night too.
Las Vegas has so many hotels that, despite its popularity, there's plenty of competition for your tourist dollars. Along with the usual hotels and motels, Las Vegas has lots of short-term apartment rentals which can let you live like a local. One of the big advantages of renting an apartment or house is that you get access to a kitchen so you can cook for yourself, which is a good way to save money in Las Vegas. If you're wondering where the best areas to stay in the city are, take a look at our Las Vegas neighborhood guide.
However, few things beat the ease of a hotel. If you're looking to save money on your Vegas trip, try one of these budget-friendly options.
Westin Lake Las Vegas
This hotel may be way off the Las Vegas Strip, located to the east of the city itself. But it's a bargain well worth considering. $200 a night during the high season may not sound particularly cheap, but given the type of property we're talking about here, it's a great value. This is a four-star hotel with a beautiful setting on the man-made Las Vegas Lake. There's no casino on-site, but that can be a good thing. What you'll find instead is a beautiful pool with great access to activities like yoga classes and water sports, along with generously sized rooms and a great restaurant. More of a resort than a traditional hotel, it's the perfect place to get away from the chaos of downtown Las Vegas and recharge your batteries. And while it isn't exactly cheap, it's a good bargain for what it offers.
If you want to be more central, you could do a lot worse than choosing this unique hotel. Located just off the strip, it's recognizable by its iconic tower. The observation deck offers incredible views from over 1000 feet above the city, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can even take a bungee jump over the Las Vegas Strip.
This is Las Vegas, so the hotel has its own on-site casino. There's also an on-site wedding chapel, ideal if you feel the urge to tie the knot when you visit Vegas. Free Wi-Fi, free parking, and basic but comfortable rooms make this an attractive option to stay in Las Vegas on a budget. The basic room rates are affordable even in the height of summer, with a twin room costing only around $80, making this a great way to save money in Las Vegas.
This may not be the classiest hotel in Las Vegas, but it's an icon for a reason. Easily reached by a free monorail that runs from here to Mandalay Bay, this is easily one of the best hotels for families to stay in Sin City — especially if you're hoping to save money on free attractions. Excalibur's Fun Dungeon can keep kids entertained for hours, and there are also nightly shows designed both for families and for adult-only entertainment. The rooms are basic but comfortable, and they offer larger rooms designed for families to make a Las Vegas trip easier for those with kids. Best of all, the room rates help you save money, with a twin room costing around $80 in the summer season.
Cheap things to do in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is one of the entertainment capitals of the United States. When visiting Las Vegas, you'll have your pick of things to see and do, partly because the city's many casinos want to keep you entertained and happy so that you'll keep spending money at the gaming tables. Many casinos will provide you with free drinks and free access to some really great shows to keep you on their premises, so don't be ashamed to take advantage of these money-saving tips.
Additionally, some of the city's top attractions are either free or very cheap to visit. Here are a few ideas:
The Aquarium at the Silverton
Located in the Silverton Hotel, this 117,000-gallon aquarium is a great thing to see if you're trying to save money on a trip to Las Vegas with the kids. The saltwater tank contains fish and other creatures from around the world, and there's even a magical mermaid show that will keep you entertained and help you save money while enjoying a truly unique Las Vegas experience.
Fremont Street Experience
Before the Las Vegas strip became what it is today, Fremont Street was where the action was. And now, this slice of old Vegas has been preserved as one of the city's top attractions. Wander among the neon signs and enjoy the spectacular overhead light show. You'll also find tons of musicians and other street performers entertaining the crowds, along with lots of places to eat and drink. Just soaking up the atmosphere of Fremont Street is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas, and it doesn't need to cost you a penny.
About as iconic as Las Vegas attractions get, the water and light show of the Bellagio Fountain is something you simply have to see on any trip to Las Vegas. Although the show doesn't last long, it takes place every day at multiple times, so you'll never have to wait long for the next performance.
Plus, the fountain isn't the only free thing to do here. The Bellagio Conservatory is an indoor botanical garden just inside the hotel lobby that's free for anyone to visit - you don't need to be a guest. The display here is always changing according to the seasons, and the Christmas display is especially popular. However, this is one of the best free attractions in Las Vegas, no matter what time of year you visit.
Cheap places to eat in Las Vegas
There are absolutely tons of restaurants in Las Vegas, running the gamut from the cheap and sometimes grisly casino buffet all the way up to haute cuisine at fine dining restaurants. With so much competition, it's not hard to find great places to eat in the city without spending a lot of money. As well as enjoying the best street food in Las Vegas, you can find some real bargains at these restaurants.
Long a center of immigration, Las Vegas does fusion food as well as anywhere. Nowhere is that more in evidence than at this Korean-Mexican restaurant that provides filling and exciting food at very affordable prices. A delicious fusion taco costs around four dollars.
These delicious Venezuelan sandwiches will fill you up and keep you going as you explore. Prices range from $6-9, but given how much food you get here, it's an absolute bargain.
CrunCheese Korean Hot Dog
Another great example of the culinary creativity you'll find in Las Vegas, these delicious hot dogs are unlike anything you'll find anywhere else, but they are priced to sell. Try a Korean corndog for only a couple of dollars or a delicious sausage and mozzarella version for three dollars.
Cheap bars in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is also packed full of bars, from brightly lit and slightly cheesy tourist traps to genuine dives. Luckily, there are plenty of bars somewhere in the middle that allow you to save money while still having a great experience.
Blondie's Sports Bar
What it lacks in charm, this bar makes up for in affordability. Located at the Miracle Mile Shops, Blondie's offers an all-you-can-drink program on domestic draft beers. Visit between 3-5 PM on a weekday, and you can throw back as much domestic beer as you want for only $20. Irresponsible? Maybe. But it's a great option for those looking to party cheaply.
Eschewing the ubiquitous happy hour, this bar, often recognized as the best dive in the city, offers cheap drinks around-the-clock. In fact, this bar never closes and offers a glass of beer for little as one dollar.
Three cocktails for $10? Buy one get one free margaritas? Two dollar bottles of Corona? You can have a great time at this bar without spending very much. And it's not just the drinks; at lunchtime, any food on the menu cost just five dollars, making this a great place to eat and drink on a budget in Las Vegas.
Bonus budget tips for Las Vegas
As well as saving money on places to eat and places to stay, these money-saving tips can help you save money and explore Las Vegas on a budget.
- Travel during the off-season (November through February) when hotels and flights are generally cheaper.
- Book your accommodations in advance and look for deals or discounts on hotel booking websites. Many hotels offer student and military discounts, so keep an eye out for those.
- Look for happy hour specials or cheap eats at Las Vegas restaurants, many of which offer discounts during specific times of the day.
- Buy a 24-hour or multi-day bus pass to save money on transportation. The Deuce is a popular bus route that travels along the Strip and downtown, and it can help you save money in Vegas.
- A Las Vegas Explorer Pass can give you reduced admission to some of the top attractions in town. Additionally, take advantage of discount websites like Groupon for deals on activities, shows, and dining.
- Avoid renting a car if possible, as parking fees and gas can add up quickly. Instead, use ride-sharing services or public transportation.
Vegas may be designed to extract money from your pocket, but that doesn't mean you can't save money here. Take advantage of free things to do in Las Vegas, along with cheap places to stay and eat, and you may be surprised at just how affordable a trip to Sin City can be.
Hopefully, these money-saving tips have been helpful in planning your next Las Vegas trip. No matter where you choose to stay or what you decide to do, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Las Vegas luggage storage to make the trip easier. Traveling light means you can relax and enjoy your experience, knowing your belongings will be safely looked after until you return.