Thursday, 3 December 2009

Ultimate Las Vegas on a Budget, Part Two

Mc Donald's, Las Vegas

If you haven't yet, read Part One here.

Where to Eat

‘Plentiful’ would be an understatement when it comes to Las Vegas restaurants, buffets and diners. When going on any trip I’d recommend researching where you’ll want to eat beforehand, as this can make such a difference to your overall experience. Overpaying for substandard food in a poor atmosphere puts a damper on any evening, as does trekking around looking for somewhere nice within your budget.

Our favourites were the Hard Rock Cafe (beware the expensive cocktails and enormous portions – me and Cai both ordered a burger and neither of us ate even half); Roxy’s Diner (great 1950’s style diner with singing waiting staff!) and Denny’s for all-American budget fare (gets really busy, so expect to wait for a table.)

Pumpkin Pie, Denny's, Las Vegas
Pumpkin Pie, Denny's

[Word of warning: to the average female, American portion sizes are ha-UGE. Three of us made a meal out of just two starters one night, and didn’t even finish those off. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly to make big savings on food; share a starter before ordering any more.]

Another tip is to watch what you’re paying for. We had one breakfast at ‘Cafe Bellagio’ where a big plate was $15 which we thought reasonable. However, three OJ’s and coffee’s later and we were looking at an $80 tab, $80 people! It’s easily done when you don’t expect a juice to be $7.

Las Vegas is the land of buffet dining, and there are literally hundreds to choose from. The only one we tried out was breakfast at the Bellagio, but it was pretty special. If you’ve got a big appetite, you’ll get a good deal. If not, prices are much of a muchness with eating out elsewhere.

Where to Play

Vegas is a city of distractions, we set off one day to see both the Bodies and the Titanic exhibitions, and ended up taking a two hour detour through the Excalibur hotel, which included some free oxygen bar action. It’s a real experience just to let yourself get swept up in these distractions, and these can often be the spontaneous moments which really make your holiday special.

Oxygen Bar
Oxygen Bar, Excalibur Hotel

If you do want to see a show or do an excursion, there seem to be some great deals on Although, I was nervous to book after hearing horror stories of online events sites not really existing and scamming people of their money. The site is worth checking out if you can feel confident of its legitimacy.

However, it’s not necessary to book in advance if you’re going off season, as most hotels will have a desk for booking all manner of jaunts. We were able to get on a Grand Canyon tour for the next day, the night we arrived, which was great.

Grand Canyon

Megan at Grand Canyon
I know, I wore jeans. But what else can you wear to the desert?!

I’d 100% recommend a day out at the Grand Canyon, even though many sites claim it’s not worth it (it’s a three hour drive each way.) We felt it added another dimension to a holiday that was all bright lights and overindulgence. We did the West Rim with Sweetours and it was fab! Although we had a super early start – a yummy little breakfast was included, plus a hearty lunch, and our tour guide was a real gem.

Many sources of entertainment can be found in Vegas without parting from a penny. Circus, Circus have free circus acts every half our throughout the day, and Bellagio’s fountains will dance for you every fifteen minutes from 3pm until midnight. There’s loads more too, just head to the concierge of any hotel and ask what’s on.

What to Take

♥ Your Swimming Costume. In an epic fail, we all forgot ours, but a swim is just the thing on a hot day in Vegas (even in late November!)

Bellagio Swimming Pool

Comfy shoes. Traffic on the strip is often standstill, making taxis a bit ridiculous, and the bus is often crowded. To really get a feel for Vegas you should be walking, but you’ll be walking a lot (the strip is four and a half miles long.) One or two pairs of shoes that are suitable for strolling would be ideal.

Much more money than you think you’ll need. Beware the three T’s: taxis, tips and tax.

Confidence. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Room upgrades, coupons for the slots, cheap show tickets, free entry to clubs and free drinks etc. are only a cheeky grin away.

And that was me in Vegas! I really like writing these guides, so I hope you find them useful and inspiring - all your comments have been great. Look out for more soon (once my bank account has recovered...)


Marie said...

"♥ Much more money than you think you’ll need. Beware the three T’s: taxis, tips and tax."

This applies to almost anywhere in the USA - you should have that bolded, size 32 font and flashing!

Mausumi said...

Thank you for the great guide!

Vegas is not on my travel wish list at the moment, but more travel in the US really is!

I remember the portions to be huge too, I mostly just ate starters for dinner. It's a great saving tip and starters are always very tasty!

Kb said...

This is great, so is it worth staying in Las Vegas then paying for the day trip to the Grand Canyon? Or staying near the Grand Canyon itself? I'm planning a bit of travelling next year, so any knowledge would be useful.

Megan said...

KB - Depends what you want from your trip! If you want to really explore the canyon, it's probably worth staying nearby for a couple of nights, and then maybe having a few nights in Vegas too.

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