Do you want Las Vegas on a budget? Or loaded in luxury?

las vegas on a budget

Ever been to Las Vegas?

Indeed I have! It’s one of my favorite destinations for a short weekend trip or something without too much planning.  Las Vegas is a great time because it has so much for every type of person. It can be a trip filled with luxuries or it can be a pretty frugal trip with tons of free and cheap entertainment.

So what would you recommend if I’m going to do Las Vegas on a budget?

If you’re looking for a fun time in Las Vegas on a budget I’d suggest a few options like these: If you want to stay on the strip, in my opinion the Linq or Flamingo are probably the best values in terms of location. They’re both older hotels that have had some pretty nice renovations (especially the Linq). They’re both located right in the middle of the strip and boarder a new area called “The Linq” which has the High Roller Ferris wheel that has amazing views of the city and several bars and restaurants they imported from all over the world. If you don’t mind the travel time, there’s plenty of cheaper alternatives up on Freemont Street and off of the Strip.

There’s a few nice cheap and free attractions in this area you should check out. The Bellagio fountains are just to the south and have shows every 15 or 30 minutes. The Linq has a huge car collection you can check out for pretty cheap, or if you’re a collector you could buy some old and rare automobiles but that’s not going to stay cheap! The Flamingo has a wildlife habitat with some birds that obviously include flamingos.

If you’re looking to get away from your hotel, I’d suggest a day pass on the Deuce, it’s the main bus that runs up and down the strip.  With that you can go shopping at one of the two Premium Outlet malls(link) on the Deuce’s route. The stores in each are almost identical but there are a couple unique ones to each, check out their website to see which you’d rather shop at. I’ve gone to both and usually pick up several outfits when we go, especially if the exchange rate is close to at par.

Another option for cheap entertainment, food and gambling(if you can call any gambling cheap) you should hop the Deuce and head north to Freemont Street. It’s old vegas but it’s still a ton of fun. The Freemont Street Experience is a covered walking street with laser light shows on the ceiling and lots of live entertainment throughout. The casinos here are discounted compared to all of the newer ones on the strip. This includes the drinks and restaurants, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap on quality. Chances are you’ll find something to suit your tastes there.

The_High_Roller_-_View_From_The_Linq_2

The High Roller Ferris Wheel looking from The Linq Promenade

I want to live it up, where should I go and stay?

Well first did you speak to a fee based financial planner before you possibly blow threw a large pile of money? Make sure you’re set up for the future first but if you’re sure you want to go crazy here’s some of the more expensive places to stay.

Keep in mind a lot of what can make Las Vegas expensive isn’t in the activities, it’s in the gambling and hotels.  Since gambling is entirely your choice in how much you want to throw down on a table, I’ll list a few hotels that have some really nice suites you could check out.

Aria’s Sky suites – Located on the top floors of one of the newest hotels on the strip, these suites range have two to three bedrooms, span over one or two floors and range from 2,000 to 7000 square feet.  This space includes separate bedrooms, private salon and your own fitness center. Loaded in luxury they have their own private entrance and 24 hour butler services. You could stay here for the low low price of $7500 per night. Yikes!

If that’s not enough for you on the same block of the city center you can find the Mandarin Oriental’s Presidential suties. There’s 3 of them each with a different design but all are similar in size at 3100 square feet. In these you can have a large tub overlooking the strip, a media room, piano in your living room and enough room to sleep 8 people. Rates start at $15,000 per night depending on the time of year.

Not enough for you? Well if you’re looking at spending even more cash on a night in a hotel might I recommend the Octavius Tower Villas in Caesar’s Palace? For the insane price range of $30,000-40,000 dollars a night you can get over ten thousand square feet of space overlooking the nicest spots on their properties; the garden of the gods and the pool playgrounds.  For this price you’ll get a baby grand piano(I don’t know why they all insist on putting a piano in the rooms, do all rich people know how to play?), a games room with pool table and wet bar, bathrooms equipped with remote control toilets(why?).  To top it all off, there is apparently over $80,000 dollars’ worth of linens on each bed! I just picture that being 80 duvets stacked on one bed since I didn’t even know you could spend that much on linens for a single bed.

These are only a few of the numerous high end suites throughout the city. There’s several options that are mostly just rumors for people like you and I because they’re invite only suites for the ultra-rich and famous clientele that visit Las Vegas.  An example of this at The MGM Grand is The Mansion which the website states is for “Qualified Guests only” and by the pictures I’d say it may cost more than my net worth for the weekend. There are a few other hotels that have rooms or houses this exclusive, some are easy to find and I’m sure there’s some that are almost like urban legends.

Now that you’ve planned to spend more than most people’s annual salary on a few night’s in Las Vegas, you’re probably going to want to have a few nice meals. One thing Vegas is certainly not shy on is high end restaurants. Every hotel on the strip has a couple expensive restaurants and they’re easy to find and get reviews on. Just searching on the internet will get you one of hundreds of lists out there for expensive eateries. Many of them are several years old like this one from Business Insider’s list of the 7 best restaurants for high rollers from 2012. The list is still accurate as many of those restaurants are still on the strip today.  There’s also more up to date lists like on Vegas.com for the top 10 restaurants in the city.

Where ever you decide to eat, you have to save room for dessert and at Serendipity 3 you’ll find the world’s most expensive sundae. The Golden Opulence Sundae sells for $1000 and requires 48 hours’ notice to prepare because all of the ingredients are flown in from all over the world just in time to prepare this dessert.  You’ll want to sit down for this; this sundae is topped with edible 23 karat gold leaf. Yes, that’s gold you can eat. It’s also served in a Baccarat Harcourt goblet which is just a fancy way of saying expensive and you get to eat it with a 18 karat gold spoon. Unfortunately you don’t get to keep either.

Ok, I don’t have THAT much money to spend in vegas, but I’m still looking for a good time.

Alright, so you’re looking for a few steps up from doing Las Vegas on a budget but want to keep it in the 4-digit spending range? That’s doable too!

For me, I think if I were to get a slightly nicer room than my usual budget rooms I’d go for something along the lines of the Wrap around Terrace Suite at the Cosmopolitan. It’s not pretentiously covering it’s beds in $80,000 dollars’ worth of sheets or providing you with a piano but it has a 480 square foot balcony overlooking the strip or the Bellagio Fountains with some furniture so you can sit with front row seats and take in the sights on the strip. It’ll only set you back about $290 per night, which isn’t too much of a premium on hotels in most major cities’ downtown cores.

Las Vegas on a budget

Terrace one bedroom suite with a fountain view courtesy of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas.

As far as entertainment goes, I’d probably check out one or two of the VIP behind the scenes tours to some of the cirque shows on the strip.  I’m a huge fan of Cirque du soleil and have seen several of their shows(you can read my thoughts on their latest travelling show Kurios) so I’d love to see the behind the scenes tour and learn a little more about their shows’ productions.

In the day I’d probably head over to the speedway and rent some exotic cars to take a few trips around the track with.  There’s a few packages that will allow you to rent 2-15 different cars and take 5 laps around the track with each. I have always thought about buying a high end car, but when you drive less than 10,000km a year it’s hard to justify the per km rate that I’d be paying out each year.  Renting these exotics and driving them on a race track is probably a much cheaper alternative for more of an adrenaline rush.

That’s only a few ways to do Las Vegas, but in no way is it an all-encompassing list. Las Vegas has so much to offer everyone. Let me know about any Vegas trips you’ve done and some of your favorite places to eat in the comments below!

Photo Credits Las vegas sign - By David_Vasquez (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
High Roller - By Nate Stiller (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

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