Visiting Las Vegas doesn’t need to cost you a mint, nor does it mean missing out on authentic Sin City experiences.
1. Stay at the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
If it happened in Vegas, it probably started at the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. When it opened in 1906, room and board was just US$1 a day. Today room rates are still very affordable, starting at US$21 a day. Head to the onsite Bar Prohibition!, which was frequented by Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin during the Rat Pack era.
2. Have fun downtown at the Fremont Street Experience
Steps away from the Golden Gate is the Fremont Street Experience, a five-block downtown entertainment district with popular attractions such as the SlotZilla zip line. It’s also where you’ll find Viva Vision, one of the world’s largest video screens at nearly 500 metres long and 30 metres wide. Once an hour, every night, starting at dusk, it features a free light show that includes (pre-recorded) performances by bands such as The Who and Green Day.
3. Explore the Strip
At the south end of the famed Las Vegas Strip, the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign has been greeting tourists since 1959 and is a perfect spot for a selfie. Then, head north along the Strip to check out the hotels and casinos, but be sure to stop outside the Bellagio Las Vegas to see the famed Fountains of Bellagio, a free, water, music and light show. Also free, The Mirage’s front yard Volcano erupts nightly with explosions and music.
4. Get discounted tickets to a show
Look for one of the 10 red and yellow Tix4Tonight booths around town, including in front of Circus Circus, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and Fashion Show Mall, to score a steep discount on a Las Vegas show. Whether it’s Cirque du Soleil, comedy shows or a musical performance, this Vegas institution has tickets at 25 to 75 per cent off.
5. Shop at the outlets
Forget the high-end designer shops that line the Strip and just go straight to Las Vegas North Premium Outlets where you’ll find designer shopping and high-end brands include Burberry, Tory Burch and Dolce & Gabbana, at a fraction of the cost. The city’s bus system (the Strip & Downtown Express route) offers frequent, daily service from various spots along the Strip to the outlets. An all-access day pass is US$8.
6. Eat at American Coney Island or Bobby’s Burger Palace
American Coney Island (open 24 hours) at the D Las Vegas Casino Hotel on Fremont is known for its specially seasoned Dearborn sausages (a family-run company based in Detroit), try the Coney Island Hot Dog with chili, mustard and onions for US$3.85. Or, if you want to try a celebrity chef restaurant for less, head to Bobby Flay’s aptly named Bobby’s Burger Palace for the Crunchburger made with an Angus beef, turkey or chicken patty and topped with cheese and potato chips for US$8.75.
7. Drink craft beer at Sin City Brewing Co.
Sin City Brewing Co. is helmed by brewmaster Rich Johnson who follows the traditional German principles of brewing called Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law, which limits the number of ingredients used in beer. Visit one of the microbrewery’s four locations to sample craft beers, such as Sin City Weisse, which is a traditional hefeweizen and Sin City IPA, starting at US$7.