Las Vegas, Nevada, has reinvented itself many times in
the past few decades. From the posh, upscale Rat Pack days through the rejuvenation
of The Strip through it's brief (and, let's face it, ridiculous) flirtation
with being a "family destination" to the return to its "Sin City"
roots. Depending upon the economy and the marketing strategy of the day, Vegas
has been a huge bargain (well, for the non-gambler) or a pricey indulgence.
Today's Las Vegas
has taken a decided tilt toward the "pricey indulgence" end of the spectrum.
Say goodbye to 99-cent buffets and endless free cocktails for low-stakes
gamblers. Say hello to $14 well drinks (sometimes in a plastic cup), $100 per
person steakhouse dinners, and $200 tickets to premium shows. These might work
for those tourists who can afford the $300 facial creams ("with diamond dust exfoliant!") that are hawked in the boutiques connecting
The Strip hotels, but the average Jane like myself needs to seek out a little
sanity in this playground of overpriced indulgences.
Here are a few of my favorite Las
Vegas bargains as of late Spring
Bargain Eats And Drinks
Without resorting to convenience store fare from the north and south fringes of
the Strip, I did manage to find a few great deals that were also high quality.
The crepe shop in the "Rue de la Paix" walkway
and Bally's hotels has a variety of sweet and savory crepes for $9.99 -- one
easily splits between two for a light breakfast/lunch or a dessert or snack. My
favorite breakfast is sharing a ham and cheese or mushroom/spinach and cheese
crepe accompanied by a pair of the $5 Skyy Bloody Marys from the booth
just across the "Rue."
Toward the south end of The Strip, you'll find a pair of tenderloin sliders
at Gallagher's bar in New York
New York for just $10.
Considering these sliders are made from the same loin dry aged to perfection
for Gallagher's steakhouse customers, and you're getting about 2/3 of the
portion that sells for $45 in the restaurant, it's a helluva
deal. Tender and topped with Bernaise.
For a raucous bargain, also on the south end, check out Dick's Last Resort
at Excalibur. Smart-mouthed waiters serve up sarcastic wit along with rotating
specials such small buckets of wings with fries for $5 and
bargain-priced ultra-giant double well drinks.
Perhaps my favorite mid-Strip indulgence is "Trevi
Time" at the Trevi restaurant bar located amidst the
perpetual twilight of the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. From 2 p.m. til 6 p.m., those seated at the bar can enjoy a selection
of signature cocktails (e.g., Negronis, martinis) and
elegant appetizers (e.g., calamari, bruschetta) for
just $6 an item. Frozen peach-and-sparkling-wine Bellinis,
only $3, are a great way to beat the Vegas heat.
Some of the best "free shows" in Vegas are no secret: the fountains at Bellagio
(every 15- to 30 minutes afternoons and evenings); the pirate show outside of
Treasure Island (every 90 minutes in the evenings); the costumed aerial Show In
The Sky at the Rio (hourly evenings Thursday through Saturday); the amazing,
ever-changing floral fantasies and the Dale Chihuly
glass sculptures on display at Bellagio.
Take a bus downtown and experience
"old Las Vegas"
at Fremont Street,
including the overhead light-and-music shows and the highest density of
celebrity look-alikes. You'll also find hilarious celebrity look-alikes acting
as dealers in a special section of Imperial
Palace. If you find
yourself at the extreme south end of The Strip, take a look at the fish tanks
and Mandalay Bay
and the faux Egyptian ambiance at Luxor.
At the north end, Circus Circus offers acrobats and
other circus acts plus inexpensive carnival games at the upstairs midway. Where
else in Vegas can you play for an hour on five dollars and win a stuffed
Finally, don't be afraid to take the flyers that are constantly being handed
out as you walk down The Strip. Now, I'm not talking about the "Live Nude Girls
Direct to Your Room!" flyers -- I can't vouch for those. But some amazing
bargains can be found on those flyers. Check the fine print, of course, for
drink minimums and add-on fees, but some of those shows are genuine bargains. I
attended the Frank Marino "Divas" female impersonator show at Imperial Palace
for just $15 bucks, and it was fabulous. Check the Tix4Tonight booths for
last-minute show bargains as well.
The best way to get around the Las Vegas Strip is on your own two feet. Wear
comfortable shoes, stay hydrated, and you can easily log 10 miles of walking as
you take in the sights. Taxis are very expensive, but public transportation is
not. An all-day pass on the Duece and Express buses
is just $7, and it goes downtown as well. The monorail runs parallel to The
Strip on the east side and is $5 for a fast single ride -- not a bad way to get
from one end of The Strip to the other in a hurry.
Sally O'Neal is a travel and outdoor writer who lives and writes in Washington State. She writes weekly for sportsmansguide.com.