When I won flights to Las Vegas I remember thinking “this is exciting, but Las Vegas isn’t high on my bucket list”. Don’t get me wrong, I felt fortunate that I got to travel for free. But I always thought of Vegas as drinking and parting and that’s it, and I was recently a student so I had limited spending money.
However after numerous hours of research, I found a lot of things I could do in my budget that was more than you your typical Vegas experience. For advice about budgeting in Vegas, and the itinerary I used, read this 3 Days in Vegas Guide.
I know your probably thinking it’s Vegas what really do you have to plan for? If your main goal is to explore the strip, then you probably wont have a lot of planning besides booking your hotel, and airfare. But if you are looking to save money, partake in some interesting tours, and shows, then this is for you. I find that a lot of people miss out on what Las Vegas has to offer, because they just are not aware of what is so easily accessible to them.
This really depends on what you are wanting to do. I personally find 25 – 30 degrees Celsius my ideal temperature, so i prefer April – June. However, you can find some really good vacation pricing in November and December (at least pre-covid you could). Some months you might want to stay away from are July and August. The heat is blistering, and there’s always a chance of a grasshopper invasion (like in August 2019).
If your main purpose for going is to lounge at the pools, March – October is when you should be looking to go. Most hotel pools close for the winter and reopen in March and April. Check with the hotel to see when their opening and closing dates are.
Prices on your plane ticket will depend on many factors. For example here in Saskatoon, direct flights with WestJet usually run October – April, and arrive in Vegas in the evening. I went to Las Vegas in the middle of May, which meant there were no direct flights. What I did to avoid having to get up super early in the morning is booked a flight that has an overnight layover in Calgary. I had friends to stay with in the city so I did not have to spend money on a hotel.
The most popular area to stay in Vegas is the strip. If this is your first time in the city this is where I would recommend. If you have been a few times and want to try something new, I know people that have stayed on Fremont St. and really liked it.
The best value for money on the strip is the Flamingo. Usually The Linq is a similar price, however the rooms are smaller. This is also a really good location to be in as it is centre strip, and directly across from the Bellagio.
You will find other hotels that are cheaper, such as; the Stratosphere, Excalibur, Circus Circus, and off strip hotels. Any hotel at either end of the strip, or off strip, will take a fair bit of time to get to the big attractions. Some hotels off strip do offer complimentary shuttles, but if it is your first time, it is nice to be near everything.
There are a number of different ways to get around Las Vegas. My recommendations are: Uber, the RTC (the public city transit bus, your ticket also allows you on board the Duece), and the free trams on the strip.
I used Uber a number of times while in Vegas, such as to get to and from the airport, and to get to Springs Preserve.
The RTC travels throughout Las Vegas. You can find machines to buy tickets sporadically on the strip. I believe there’s a machine across the street from the Bellagio/ Cosmopolitan. This will cost you $8 for the day.
The free trams are a great alternative to the monorail, however there is a lot more walking involved if you decide to take them. Below is a map of their routes.
After an early morning flight my friend and I arrived in Las Vegas at 12 PM. I never like to make plans that require reservations on the day I arrive as there can be delays, so we really just wandered around the strip.
TIP: After being told numerous times by many different people to wear good shoes….. I well….. didn’t. I thought I was a pretty active person, and that I would be fine. But I wasn’t. Take it from me, if you are walking the strip WEAR GOOD SHOES.
Some things that you can do on your first day that require no planning are: The Bellagio Fountains, the Mirage Volcano (this happens at night), go shopping, lounge at your hotel pool
My personal favorite malls to shop at are the Miracle Mile Shops, and the Fashion Show Mall.
If you are staying at the Flamingo you can go to the Go Pool Day Club for free. However getting any kind of drink there is ridiculously expensive. An alcoholic slushy, in a very small solo cup, cost 18 USD. Other hotels on the strip also have pools, and are usually free for their guests.
My goal for the day was to go to the the Las Vegas sign, hopefully before the crowds. The Bellagio Gardens were a convenient place to start as the free tram, Aria Express, is operated from the Bellagio. To avoid the crowds get there early. We got here around 8:30 AM, and there were only two other people in the conservatory.
If you missed the section of this blog “Vegas Transportation” click here. I cover budget friendly ways to get around Vegas and the surrounding area.
After taking both of the free trams, and a 15 minute walk from Mandalay Bay, we arrived at the sign. This requires a fare amount of walking, however if you want to check out some of the hotels on the strip this is a good way to do it.
Tip: If you don’t want to wait in line you can go off to the side and take a angled photo in front of the sign. If you don’t mind waiting there is someone there (maybe a Las Vegas Tourism employee??) to take photos directly in front of the sign.
I don’t think they charge for this, but i’m sure tips are appreciated. If anyone knows for sure, comment on this article below. My friend and I took our pictures on the side. Another group was nice enough to take a picture of both of us.
There are really no limits as to what kind of show you can see in Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil is a popular choice. Personally next time I go, I really want to see Magic Mike Live… though this won’t be for everyone LOL.
This might not be for everyone, but I have an obsession with cacti, and this was my opportunity to live out my dream and see a standing cactus. The Springs Preserve Botanical Garden features a variety of cacti and succulents.
Tip: It is free to explore the outdoor portion of the Springs Preserve. If you don’t plan on visiting any of the indoor exhibits, just ask for one of the free tickets at the admission windows.
After checking out the gardens we moved onto some of the hikes, and their Boomtown 1905 interpretive exhibit. This area dives into the history of Las Vegas, which was actually really interesting. If you did purchase a ticket to the Nevada History Museum, a lot of the information you find here will be expanded on in the museum. And I would 100% recommend purchasing a ticket. I am usually not a fan of going to any kind of museum, but I found it to be interactive, and interesting.
Downtown Las Vegas ended up being one of my favorite places that I went in Vegas. There is really a lot of things you can do in the area.
I am just going to apologize in advance. I guess I was having such a good time when I was here, that I really didn’t take a lot of photos.
My first stop, the Mob Museum. Plan to be here for awhile, as we were here for three hours and didn’t see everything. This museum offers an in depth look at how the Mob formed modern day Las Vegas.
We also did their Distillery Tour. You have to be 21 to go on this tour as they hand out samples of their moonshine. The moonshine really wasn’t that great, but the tour was very informative and interesting, and I don’t regret going.
Tip: The basement of the Mob Museum has a Speak Easy, where you can purchase food and cocktails.
Container Park is less than a five minute walk from the Fremont Street Experience, yet a lot of people have no idea it exists. We spent our evening here having supper and a few drinks, and it was not busy at all. If you want to support local businesses, this is the best place to do so. This area is made up of shipping containers stacked on top of each other.
I had so many people recommend checking out Fremont Street. Honestly, I didn’t really get anything out of it. While Downtown Las Vegas has some really cool attractions as a whole, I feel that walking down the small strip of Fremont Street fell flat…? It took us maybe 10 minutes to do it, and then it was over.
Maybe we weren’t there late enough to get the true experience. I don’t know. I’m always in for a thrill though so so maybe next time I will zipline down.
Tip for Canadians: After working as a Travel Advisor, I realized that most travel insurance does not include extreme activities such as zip lining. Always make sure that the insurance you buy covers this. Personally I got my medical insurance from CAA as you can add on the adventurous air activities for a premium. Better safe than sorry. Also this is not sponsored, and I have never worked for CAA.