How long has it been since you’ve really had a blast? Is Las Vegas on your list of fun places to go? Think of all the places on your Bucket List. Will the high cost of living prevent you from ever going to most of those places? Learn what the locals know about having a good time on a budget. Their Staycation just may be your dream!
Why not do something different! More and more Americans are gambling less and playing more while in Las Vegas. In response, Las Vegas casinos are giving away less and charging more for food and attractions than in the past in an effort to survive the current economic times. Here are a few ways to tip the balance in your favor!
Since my notes on ‘very affordable’ Las Vegas are 98 pages long, we will focus on ‘free’ and ‘dirt cheap’ instead. There is a way to have a blast for next to nothing if you plan a little in advance. And you can still find free stuff if you know where to look.
Have Fun For Less:
There are many ways to have fun in Las Vegas, so we’ll start with a little clarification. In this article we’ll be looking at free lounge acts, low cost shows, reduced price headliner shows, and a little on gambling more with less money at risk. If that sounds like fun to you, let’s go for it.
Free Lounge Acts
Free lounge acts can be found in most every major casino on the gaming floor. Most of these will be music rather than comedy or magic. Some are as intimate as a nearby piano bar, while others are stage bands giving a free concert. The concept behind all of them is to keep you at the gaming tables, having fun, and spending way more than you realize in the process… courtesy of the complimentary beverages.
Throughout the year there are special events with free concerts downtown and at some of the shopping malls. By checking one of the local weekly publications when you get into town, you can usually find a schedule.
For a free lounge show (minus the gambling and free alcohol) head over to Harrah’s on The Strip near Flamingo Road. By the south entrance you can find Carnaval Court which is something like a street fair. In addition to kiosks with souvenirs and food stands, there is a large stage (with enough space for 375 guests) featuring free music all day long, every day of the week. Different bands play in the afternoon than in the evening, and a DJ spins out the tunes after midnight.
There is a full bar in the venue. The bartenders here usually put a little flair in their style by flipping bottles as they pour. And if you have to drive, Harrah’s has free parking in their garage which can be accessed from Koval Lane behind the casino (allowing you to avoid the insane traffic on The Strip.)
Not to miss out on an opportunity, Harrah’s does bring a few Blackjack tables outside when the weather is good enough. But you can ignore them and still have a good time here.
If gambling is your idea of having fun, then here are a few pointers to help you out. Of course there is no guaranteed way to win, (making your gambling free,) that’s part of the thrill; but there are ways to spend less while you’re at it. First of all, forget about the coupon books if you are not already very disciplined; they are designed to encourage spending beyond what you were planning. Not fun.
If the Slots are your favorite, then you might want to stick with the quarter machines – $20 can go a long ways with quarters. It usually takes three to five coins to play all the lines, so you’ll likely be risking $1.25 with every pull. (If you were to do that with dollars, you’d use $5 every time and go through your money four times faster. And pennies take 60 cents to a $1.20 per play – with smaller payouts. Megabucks and nickel slots have the worst payout of any slots.) The objective is to have fun longer, and still have a shot at the jackpot!
If the tables appeal to you more, look for the lowest minimum tables and don’t worry about showing off how much you can lose. Just play the minimum every time, and if you win about half the time, you will likely break even or lose slowly. Remember the objective is to play longer, and to walk away if you ever get ahead on these even money games.
The least expensive way to play is to bet on sports. A $2 bet on a ballgame, a race, or any other event will get you about three hours of free drinks. And a long shot at the races can pay for the day. What could be better?
If you limit yourself to what you would have spent on entertainment anyway, you will never get yourself behind the eight ball. Most gamers lose more than they win, but the thrill of winning occasionally makes it all worth while!
Low Cost Las Vegas Stage Shows
Every top show had to start somewhere, and Las Vegas discovers many of them. If you’d like to see a great show, but don’t want to spend too much in the process, there are quite a few not as well known acts to see. Base price on these tickets usually runs between $29 and $49 per seat; and for some of these shows that standard price is a real bargain, while for others even that seem like too much. If you’re looking for some good entertainment, and don’t care if the show has won any awards, this may be the perfect type of Las Vegas show for you.
There are two ways to get a discount on these shows in Las Vegas. The first is to go online at least a month before your trip (up to 60 days in advance) to pick up advance sale tickets. There are at least 3 or 4 websites that offer 40% to 50% discount on these lesser known shows when purchased in advance. Your tickets will be mailed to you, or you will be given a confirmation code online to use at the box office, (real tickets with tax included and not coupons nor discount vouchers) so your vacation can be planned and go smoothly without any last minute questions. (To find these sites just search for “Discount Las Vegas Show Tickets” – There is usually a small fee of around $3 for the service.)
Insider Tip: Check the websites FAQ to be sure their terms fit your need!
The other option is to wait until the last minute. By that I mean before noon on the day of the performance. Any show that hasn’t been sold out has a panic sale at 50% off> by this time. To find these tickets you have to go to one of their booths, first come first served. Tix4Tonight booths are located at the Showcase Mall (by the MGM Grand,) the Hawaiian Marketplace (across from CityCenter,) the Fashion Show Mall (across from the Wynn,) and downtown at the Four Queens (in the Freemont Experience.) They also offer a $2 coupon online (Tix4Tonight.com), and in the weekly publications available all around town, to reduce their small service fee.
These options can give you the opportunity to buy two show tickets for a tribute show like American Superstars for about $30 instead of paying the usual $30 each.
Discount Headliner Shows
There’s no doubt that Headliner shows are fantastic, the box office proves it. It’s a pity that once an entertainer gets famous, the ticket price becomes astronomical. Base price on these tickets usually runs between $59 and $169 per seat, and the VIP tickets are outrageous. Here’s my way of seeing the best, while spending the least.
Again there are the two options, but the deals aren’t as sweet as on the less popular shows. The first is to go online to any of the 3 or 4 major websites up to 60 days in advance to purchase reduced price tickets at a 25% to 40% discount. The Cirque du Soleil shows very seldom offer more than a 25% discount, but long running shows like Blue Man Group can offer up to 40% discount – so shop around a little since each discounter may have a different allotment of tickets. (These discounts are sometimes extended when sales are light.)
Inside Tip: Most of the Las Vegas shows no longer sell tickets by the seat. They prefer to sell by the section so that people come early rather than show up at the last minute, all at once. Some of the smaller theaters may only have one section. So my recommendation is to show up 45 to 60 minutes early to get a better seat in the front of your section.
Last minute options are first come first served on the morning of the show, so there are no guarantees of getting the tickets you want. But if the showing wasn’t sold out, you can still get a bargain at the Tix4Tonight booths around town. (See above for locations.) They won’t give you half off on these tickets, but they will offer %20 to 40% off on them. There will even be a few VIP and Dinner tickets available. The lines tend to be long, so plan to stand around a while, and aim at just a bit before 11 a.m. (which is when the booths open for the day.) From 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. there will be a monitor displaying all of the shows that still have seats available. And for the few theaters that still assign seats, you may not find two seats together. So this is your opportunity to consider your backup plan – What other shows would I like to see if I can’t get my first choice?
If you’d like to find out more about your best deals, there are too many choices to display in this article.