Doing Las Vegas on a small budget (Hint: Don’t do it)

Ah, Vegas. We entered Las Vegas a bit demoralized after our failed Grand Canyon excursion, and the City of Lights didn’t help that feeling. First thing we noticed was that there are no hotels near The Strip that aren’t under $100.00. If you plan on “doing the Strip” for all that it’s worth, and don’t want to drive your car from a further-out hotel, make sure you budget for a more expensive hotel. Mike and I splurged on the Hooters Hotel and Casino, which is one block away from MGM. There is a 24-hour casino in almost every single hotel in Vegas, so don’t get stuck in a rut by just gambling at your own hotel.

Mike and I dropped our stuff off at the hotel, got a cheap dinner in Hooters Restaurant, and went for a tour of the strip. The best thing to do when visiting Vegas on a budget is eating cheap and seeing all of the sights on your own on foot. Boy, is there a lot to see. The lights alone at all of the casinos are worth the walk around, and then you have the great towering sculptures and fun billboards.

Ah, the lights!
Inside of Miracle Mile shops

We killed a good two hours walking all around the strip looking at the lights and exploring the Miracle Mile Shops inside of Planet Hollywood Casino. The ceiling of the building is painted and lit magnificently, and we found Sin City Brewing Company inside, a great find for brewery seekers like Mike and I. The bartender was fun and interactive, so even though the bar-like setting in the middle of the mall was a little off-putting, we had a good time.

This was taken at 1:00 am on a Tuesday, so you can see what I mean about the ceiling.

Our next stop, timed perfectly, was to see the Bellagio Fountain Show, a beautiful fountain performance in which the jets shoot out water in time to classical music. The fountain is beautifully lit, and it is great to see everyone stop their hurried walks to the nearest money pit in order to see the grandeur.

Part 1
Part 2

After that little detour, we tried our hands at the slots and tables of Caesar’s Palace and New York New York. Here is where your money goes to die; you have been warned.

First, the Pros:

  • When you gamble in a Las Vegas casino, there are cocktail waitresses that circle the floor taking drink orders. These drinks are free, since the casino is making enough money off of you through high-risk slots and tables. The more you move around on the casino floor, the more drinks you are likely to receive. The only exception to this rule is if you are staying on one table for a while; usually, the waitresses have a specific table they hit if there are heavy-tipping or heavy betting customers.
  • The casinos are open 24 hours a day, so you can also do the option of late-night pre-gaming at the hotel to save money and not get to the casino until 11:00 p.m. or later and you’ll still be fine.
  • There are plenty of “cheap” options in casinos, including $.01 slots and $5.00 tables. On a budget, this is the best way to go; most of the casinos advertise if they have options like this.

The Cons:

  • You are, 9 times out of 10, going to lose money. If you are “up” (gaining money for your original investment) you don;t want to stop playing, but if you are down you want to keep playing until you get your money back.
  • If you don’t know how to play card games, now is not the time to learn. You can learn by watching a table, but that’s discouraged, so either come prepared or don’t play a table.
  • The slots are boring.
  • If you aren’t dressed nicely, you won’t get as much attention from the waitresses.
  • You can easily lose track of time and all of the sudden realize you’ve lost $500.00 and an entire day.

Mike and I went into the gambling scene with personal budgets under $100.00, and we both lost basically all of it, not from lack of trying. Hint: It is no fun to do Las Vegas on a budget if you like to gamble. We also didn’t get to see any shows, which is half of the fun.

We managed to get back to our hotel room around 3:00 a.m., a little drunk and a little poorer. The sights were fun and gambling more so, but neither of us have much desire to return in the near future.

Next Stop: Hoover Dam!


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