Las Vegas has a reputation as Sin City and is known for the clink of coins, not only out of casino machines, but from right out of your pocket. However, there are some ways to enjoy America’s playground without surrendering all of your cash. Your mission, should you accept, will involve the following tasks:
Watch for free shows
- Living statues at the Venetian in the Canal Shoppes are dressed all in white and can stay so still you’ll think they aren’t even breathing. That’s when they will strike and hold a hand out to an unsuspecting tourist. Your cost for others’ heart attacks? $1 tip. That’s how they make their money.
- “The Sirens of TI” at Treasure Island is an 18-minute show of sultry dancers occurring at 5:30, 7, 8:30 and 10 p.m. daily. Stop in early — crowds tend to pile up near the fence in anticipation of the next show. If you show up early and show your MGM Mirage hotel key, you also can get a preferred spot to stand.
Check your reality and watch for the stars
- The cable television show “Pawn Stars,” shown on History, is located in Las Vegas, not too far from Fremont Street. The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is located in the 700 block of Las Vegas Blvd. near the Sahara.
|Deals and steals|
|Eat for cheap on the Strip
Free places to visit on the Strip
- Mr. Lucky’s 24/7, the Hard Rock Hotel. Order the Gambler’s Special: Steak cooked to order, three grilled shrimp, a choice of potato or broccoli and a salad. It's not on the menu — ask your server — and is available around the clock for $7.77.
- Pink’s Hot Dogs, Planet Hollywood. Star-worthy dogs, Chicago dogs, chili dogs, you name it, they have it for $5 to $15. Have one person order and another snag a seat — they get snapped up quickly. Open Sunday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Free on Fremont Street
- The Conservatory at the Bellagio has fountains and more 16,000 plants and flowers. When you head out and look up, above you will be the Chihuly glass flowers. Open daily, 24 hours
- The Fountains at the Bellagio are a popular free attraction. Around 7:30 p.m. or so, find your best standing spot around the fountains. The shows run every half hour until 8 p.m., when they start every 15 minutes.
- Interested in getting away from the Strip? Catch a cab to Fremont Street, about $20 per cab and 15 minutes away with traffic, to see the newly renovated light show over the main street area. Fremont Street is known as “old Vegas” and it flaunts that status with casinos like the Golden Nugget and Binion’s. The light show occurs every half hour from 8 p.m. to midnight.
- The neon signs that Vegas is known for have changed throughout the years, but while you’re on Fremont Street, take a pause to honor history and note the outdoor Neon Museum that has been created. Items that are must-sees include the lamp from Aladdin’s and the fabulous high heel.
Get back to nature
- Check out the free lion habitat at MGM Grand. The exhibit is ongoing each day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and feedings occur around 11:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Listen for the roaring.
- The Mandalay Bay Shark Reef has more than sharks — it has sea turtles and piranhas, as well as tons of fish. Get your tickets early, at least an hour before you go. Admission is $16.95 for adults and hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.
- Meet as many people as you can at The Rental Show and enjoy meals together. For some of the best places to eat, check out Crabbe’s Choices on page 10 and don’t miss Burger Bar in Mandalay Place, between Mandalay Bay and the Luxor.
- Consider a short trip down the Strip and get your own photo at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign, just south of the Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Blvd. — proof you were here. Mission accomplished.
Places to visit away from the Strip
- Red Rock Canyon. Travel about 15 minutes by car and you’ll enter a whole different world. Red Rock earns its name with gorgeous iron oxide-injected red and white rock formations that jut out of the desert and flame in the afternoon sun. Word has it that part of Red Rock is actually a result of a war between the earth’s tectonic plates. Either way, it’s a great place to drive, hike, watch for wildlife and remember the world that exists outside the Strip in Las Vegas. The park is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the park office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The entry fee is $2 for a motorcycle and $7 per car.
- Hoover Dam. You can drive, catch a helicopter or take a bus trip to see one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels. The biggest change here is the new 2,000-ft. long Colorado River Bridge, the longest section of the Hoover Dam bypass, which was finished in October 2010. However, you can still drive down to see the dam. The visitors’ center is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily and the Dam tour is $30. The Power Plant Tour is $11. Parking is $7. Walking around the area is free.