Tips for any Las Vegas Vacation

Travel tips for any Las Vegas vacation. A trip to Las Vegas can be overwhelming as there are lots of attractions and activities to do. The sheer size of the resorts can make your trip challenging. Follow these Las Vegas vacation trip tips to make your next stay a success. Get these tips for hotels stays, dining and restaurants, activities and attractions and Las Vegas shows. We will help you make the best of your trip to fabulous Las Vegas.

Vegas Hotel and Resort Tips

  • Weekends and holidays are expensive – Expect to pay more for weekend and holidays. You can most certainly save money by visiting Monday – Thursday in Vegas. Holidays will also see a spike in room rates because the demand for rooms rise. Surge pricing during conventions is also real. If you are seeing very high rates chances are there is a major convention in town. Also be aware of major sporting or music events such as fights or March Madness. Shop around for dates and book with what you are comfortable with.
  • You can change your reservation – Last year I booked a December stay at the Mirage in September. By December the Mirage was offering better prices with more freeplay and resort credit. I simply called and changed my reservation for the better deal. Keep  your eye on prices and deals if if you booked directly through the hotel and don’t be afraid to call and ask for the better deal.
  • Resort Fees on the rise – Resort fees are a fee that is paid directly to the hotel upon check out. They are not included in your pricing if you booked through a third party travel website. The fee can range anywhere from $20 – $40 a day. This fee gives you access to such things as wifi, self parking, printing boarding passes and fitness rooms. Most hotels have them in effect and you can see them in our Current Las Vegas Resort Fees post. Resort fees are one of the most controversial and despised aspects of Las Vegas.
  • Sign Up for Players Cards – Every hotel has a loyalty or Players Club program like Mlife or Total Rewards. Sign up and use your card whenever you can for bonuses and freebies. Show your card when shopping at hotel stores or eating in their restaurants. If you get enough points you may get part of your final bill comp’d. Hotels will also give bonus’ to new sign ups and the points you gain can be used for gambling or food purchases. If you are staying at an MGM property you can charge bills to your room at any other MGM property. It’s an easy way to make sure you get your points and credit for  your purchases. Another reason i shows the hotels how much you are spending and you can get offers for free rooms without spending a lot of money. Just use your card when playing and you will get offers to your Players Club account online or email if you signed up with one.
  • Parking will cost you – Hotels looking to maximize their profits have implemented daily parking charges. Beware this extra charge if you plan on driving into Vegas. Check with the hotel directly for their parking policy.

The Mirage Resort King
Taken from the 24th floor The Mirage in Dec. 2017

Getting Around in Vegas Tips

  • Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes – This is an important tip. Properties in Vegas are enormous in size and you will be walking more than you think. You might look fabulous walking the strip in high heels but your feet are not going to like you by the end of a sight seeing tour. My watch logged roughly 10 miles a day in just doing normal gawking around the strip. With properties like The Venetian, Caesars and The Bellagio it’s a hike just to get into the hotel proper from the sidewalk.
  • Utilize cheap transportation – We wrote about the use of The Free Tram System in Vegas which is a decent way to get around the strip. Vegas also has a great bus system. Called The Deuce (double decker) the bus is constantly running up and down the strip and stops at every hotel. The double elongated bus called the SDX stops less frequently and is perfect for taking downtown to Fremont St. You can buy bus passes from machines located at the stops. Remember, no open containers on the buses. Lyft and Uber are also great ride share choices and we will post about getting deals on those later on.
  • Ignore the Street Hustlers and Time Share Scammers – Walking any where near Bally’s, Planet Hollywood and across from NYNY you are going to be approached by hustlers. They will be giving out cards for escorts, vip club passes and trying to lure you to a time share presentations. Outside the MM Mall at Planet Hollywood they will pretend to be working for the mall and offer a coupon book which is a diversion to get you signed up for a time share presentation. Just ignore them as most of them won’t bother you past their initial hustle. If they persist we use the “just heading to the airport” response which is usually enough.

Las Vegas trips

Planet Hollywood taken Dec, 2015. Classic area for hustlers.

Food and Drink Tips for Las Vegas

  • Bring a collapsible cooler – Depending where you stay a fridge is not included with your room. MGM for example stock the in room fridge with snacks and drinks. A fridge is an extra charge. We purchased as small collapsible cooler from Amazon which fits in our suite case perfectly.
  • Shop for snacks and drinks off site – The mark up for snacks and drinks at Hotel stores is insane. The landscape of Vegas has changed and there are Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacies everywhere now. Stock up on your snacks, bottled water and beverages here. Even some of the smaller shops you see like outside of Harrah’s are offering pretty decent rates on beverages.
  • Red Solo Cups are your friend – The alcohol laws in Vegas are pretty relaxed. You can consume in public places but no glass bottles and if you purchase a closed container it can’t  consumed on the premises, or within 1,000 feet, of the store. Red Solo Cups are perfect for travelling from hotel to hotel. Most places on Fremont offer solo cups as you are leaving and heading out to the street.
  • Happy Hour is a thing – Vegas is famous for Happy Hour offering great food and drink deals. Generally before 6:00 pm you can get 1/2 price food and reduced drinks at most places. Some also have a Happy Hour later at night. There is no way we can tackle keeping a list on that so lets just say that google is your friend.
  • Sign up for Email Lists – Create a throw away email account and see if any of the restaurants you are planning to go to have rewards for joining. For example, Hash House a Go Go at the LINQ will send you a birthday 2-1 coupon every year and Holsteins at The Cosmo will send you a reward like a free booze milkshake.

Happy Hour Vegas tips

Happy Hour at Pizza Rock Downtown Vegas taken Dec. 2017

Las Vegas for the Frugal

  • Coupons – There used to be coupon magazines in cabs or in the lobby’s of hotels but those are in a bit of decline as of late. There are still two great coupon books out there. We have used both books in the past. It’s just a matter of what you think you would get better use of.
    • American Casino Guide – Available for under $15 on Amazon or Barnes and Noble this is packed with coupons for food, drink and games in Vegas. We find that it has lots of lower value coupons but that makes it worth the price. There are lots of food deals on the strip and downtown Fremont St.
    • Las Vegas Adviser – You join their membership website for $37 a year and get their coupon book and monthly magazine. When compared to the ACG but we found it had some higher end coupons. For example, the 2-1 Buffet at The Cosmo is a great value. We covered the costs and more after using only three coupons for food, drinks and play.
  • Groupon – Another great resource for getting deals in Vegas is Groupon. We start looking about three months our from our trip for deals. You will be sure to find a deal on dining and on may attractions and activities.
  • Travel Zoo – Sometimes forgotten is Travel Zoo. We like to look for dining and drinks deals but they have a good collection of Activities and Shows as well. For example, we used it for a great deal on Penn and Teller a few trips back.

These are just some basic tips to help out on your Vegas vacation. Most of them are common sense tips that could be applied anywhere you visit but Vegas can be expensive and exhausting if you don’t know what you are getting into. If you have a tip or suggestion please leave a comment.

Fun and Free Things to do on the Las Vegas Strip

Fun and Free Things to do on the Las Vegas Strip

If you have never been to Las Vegas and have a vacation coming up you may be overwhelmed with all of the activities and attractions the city offers.  We have read through dozens of fun and free things to do in Las Vegas lists but many of them are misleading in recommending things to do that are not on the main “Las Vegas strip”. This list is fun and free things to do on the Las Vegas strip. We will tackle Downtown and Fremont St later on. When we get things together we plan on adding a google map for the listings.

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign - Las Vegas Strip

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign has been standing since 1959 and is a great tourist stop for photos. The sign is completely free to visit and take photos of. The photo above is from our 2014 trip and you can see Mandalay Bay in the background. This is the far south end of the Las Vegas Strip.

Location: 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Hours: Always open.

Getting there: It is about as far south as it gets for visiting the Las Vegas Strip. It is not close to the middle of the strip and takes some travelling to get there. You can either take the Bus and get dropped off close to the sign or you can make your to Mandalay Bay and then walk which will take you about 10 minutes. The walk is considered safe as you actually walk past a police station but using common sense we would not be walking there at night.

Tips:  When we visited there was a person there offering to take your photo for a tip. They are not affiliated with the sign or the City of Las Vegas. They are just trying to make a buck. We did tip $5 to get a photo of my wife and I and the girl did take a good photo but don’t fee inclined to pay for a photo.

The Park

The Park Las Vegas

The Park is the name for the area between NYNY and The Monte Carlo and in front of the T Mobile Center. It is host to a few restaurants, art structures and a wall waterfall. There is lots of shade making it a nice place to visit, relax and take in the atmosphere.

Location: 3782 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109

Hours: Daily

Getting there: Located between NYNY and The Monte Carlo.

Tips: We have been there a number of times. When there is an event on like Vegas Knights hockey game the place is rocking and a lot of fun. We also stopped in when LVU was playing Duke and had a fantastic time. But we also ventured down there at night when there was nothing on and there wasn’t too many people around. It was great for taking photos like the one above but a little too quiet for Vegas.

Hershey’s Chocolate World

Hershey’s Chocolate World

Hershey’s Chocolate World is a little closer and located at the New York New York Hotel & Casino. The store is 13,000 sq ft and home to over 800 Hershey’s chocolates and candies. The Statue of Liberty pictured above is made out of 800 lbs. of HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate. If you have a sweet tooth you will be very satisfied with a visit to this chocolate store.

Location: 3790 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at the New York New York Hotel & Casino.

Hours:

Getting there: It is very easy to get to Hershey’s Chocolate World as it located right off the sidewalk in front of New York New York.

Tips:  No tips required. The store has it’s busy times but we have visited a few times and have never had any problems. If you have a tip feel free to share.

The Bellagio Fountains

The Bellagio Fountains - Las Vegas Strip

The Bellagio Fountains are probably the most recognized feature of the Las Vegas Strip. The lake itself is 8 acres in size and fed by a fresh water well. The fountains can be described as a symphony of lights, music and water. It is the one thing on the Strip you are not going to miss. The photo above was taken from the top of the Eiffel Tower across the street (which is not a free attraction but worth it).

Location: 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino

Hours:
Saturday and Holidays

Every 30 minutes from 12:00pm to 8:00pm
Every 15 minutes from 8:00pm to 12:00am

Sudays

Every 30 minutes from 11:00am to 7:00pm
Every 15 minutes from 7:00pm to 12:00am

Monday to Friday

Every 30 minutes from 3:00pm to 8:00pm
Every 15 minutes from 8:00pm to 12:00am

Getting there: Located in front of the Bellagio Hotel and is considered mid strip so it easy to get to.

Tips:  The Bellagio Fountains can be quite busy at night so you have to have some patience when trying to get a good spot. They are obviously less busy during the day. You can get a good show from the bridge/walkway which leads into the Bellagio but there is glass between you. We also like to watch them from atop the Eiffel Tower at The Paris across the road but it is not free.

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a real free hidden gem in Las Vegas. There are five seasonal themes that are celebrated with a floral display. The five themes are and dates are listed below. The display is 14,000 sq ft in size and is home to tens of thousands of flowers on display.

The photos above are from a December and May trip.

Location: 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino

Hours:  Open 24 hours

Chinese New Year – January – March

Spring Celebration: March – June

Summer: June – September

Harvest: September  – November

Winter: December- January

Getting there: Located just past the Main Entrance and Main Lobby.

Tips:  The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens like other attractions can be very busy at peak hours and times. We have always had luck either going early in the morning or later at night. Just be aware that everyone is trying to get that perfect photo or selfie so it’s easy to get crossed up with others.

The Mirage Volcano

Another iconic attraction on the Las Vegas Strip, the Mirage Volcano will leave you feeling the heat. Literally if you are standing close enough. It is a great free show of music, lights and most importantly fire and explosions. The Mirage has scaled back the amount of times it goes off so expect some crowds but you will still be able to take it in.

There is also a large fish tank located behind the main check in so if you are exploring The Mirage make sure you have a look.

The Mirage Volcano

Location: 3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at The Mirage Hotel & Casino.

Hours: The times were a little off on our last visit but they did go off twice a night regardless.
Sunday – Thursday 8:00 PM & 9:00 PM
Friday – Saturday 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM, 10:00 PM

Getting there: It is very easy to get to The Mirage Volcano as it is located right on The Strip in front of The Mirage.

Tips:  The scaled back times means bigger crowds and this is the one place where it can be frustrating to get a good spot. Here is a pro tip, you can view the Volcano from the other side of the lake which is right outside the main entrance to The Mirage and get a great view with less crowds. I would just get there early as well.

Fall of Atlantis at Caesars Forum Shops

Fall of Atlantis Caesars Palace

The Fall of Atlantis is told through an animatronic show filled with special effects and of course, a dragon. It’s sure to dazzle and is for all ages. A nice free touch inside a very upscale shopping plaza. There is also a large fish tank located at the base where the show is held.

Location: 3500 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 in Caesars Palace Forum Shops

Hours: Every hour/on the hour, Sun – Thr, 11 am – 10 pm; Fri – Sat, 11 am – 11 pm

Getting there: Located inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

Tips:  Put your walking shoes on it is located at the back of the Forum Shops and if you come from the street or via the casino it is still a hike to get there.

If you are trekking the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace make sure you stop by Kalifano’s. They have unique metal sculptures like Darth Vader, Predator and Terminator. They are truly an amazing site to see.

Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

The Flamingo Las Vegas

Not only will you find a flock of Chilean flamingos at The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat you will find ducks, swans and lost of koi fish. It’s a nice peaceful garden walk that takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the Vegas strip. You will almost forget you are in sin city.

Location: 3555 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at The Flamingo Hotel and Casino

Hours: Daily from dawn until dusk.

Getting there: Located inside The Flamingo Hotel and Casino

Tips:  Try to make it for the Pelican feeding Pelican at 8:30 AM and 2 PM every day.

The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

If you want to experience some decadence in Las Vegas then you will want to take a tour of The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. The canal winds it way through the shoppes and with the painted ceiling you will forget that you are indoors. You can opt for a paid gondola but you can just enjoy the water and people watch.

We took this photo in December of 2017 as we made our way to visit the Rolling Stones exhibit.

Location: 3355 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at The Venetian Hotel

Hours: Daily

Getting there: Located inside The Venetian Hotel

Tips:  The Venetian is a massive property. We have been there a number of times and never seen the entire thing. Put your walking shoes on and be prepared for a hike.

Big Elvis at Harrah’s

If you are looking for a free Elvis experience in Las Vegas you do not want to miss Pete “Big Elvis” Vallee. The man is a Vegas icon who puts on one heck of a show. Not only does Big Elvis belt the tunes out he also gives you a bit of a story or history about the songs and give you great insight into the King himself.

Location: 3475 Las Vegas Boulevard South Las Vegas, NV 89109 at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino

Hours: Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm and 5:00 pm

Getting there: Located at The Piano Bar inside Harrah’s. The entrance is right near Carnival Court in the open area between Harrah’s and The Linq

Tips:  Get there early to get a good seat. Ideally you want the center or right side when entering the Piano Bar. Once the show starts and the seats are taken gawkers will come in the left side and stand there blocking the view for everyone until they get yelled at.  You can also stand outside the bar by the entrance and watch from the outside if you don’t want to enter.

Pirates at Treasure Island

Pirates at Treasure Island

The free Pirate show at Treasure Island is long gone. The Pirate Ship is still there and worth a look. It’s too bad the show is gone but we couldn’t help stop and take some photos. Who knows if you might want to venture into Gilley’s and catch some bull riding.

Location: 3300 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino

Hours: Daily

Getting there: Located at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.

Tips:  It’s a short stop to add to your photo collection.

All of the activities and locations we have presented are located right on the The Las Vegas Strip. The Las Vegas Strip is amazingly large with countless activities and attractions. These are just a few of our favorite. Check back as we add more in the future and enjoy the Las Vegas Strip.