Viva, Las-(on a budget)-Vegas!
Ah, Las Vegas, the city of sin, where people come for the experience, and leave their secrets behind in the desert. Most people familiar with this city picture the glitz and the glam…and losing to the house. Even the amount of freebies and comped services offered can bring on some serious side-eye, because…isn’t everyone in Vegas trying to hustle?
While that may be true, there are plenty of way to enjoy this city without going broke. This guide is intended to help you pilot your way towards the best that Las Vegas has to offer but come home with some money still left in your pocket.
Go beyond the blackjack tables
Yes, casinos and club-life are definitely going off 24/7 here, and you should definitely check out that scene. But many people overlook the other incredible things available to see and do in the area.
- Budgeting a few extra dollars to spend on dining experiences here is a must. Don’t let the convenience of all-day buffets blind you to the world-class culinary options available. Both on and off the strip, Las Vegas is home to some of the most famous chefs in the world. Be sure to take advantage!
- Plan a day trip away from the lights to explore the natural wonders just outside Las Vegas’ perimeter. Both the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon are within driving distance, and many tours can be arranged for under $100. If an all-day bus ride isn’t your thing, bring your hiking boots along and check out Red Rock Canyon. At just $15 per vehicle entrance, pack a lunch and you’ll pick up some fresh air and spectacular scenery for under $20.
- For every Broadway-quality show available to drop some serious money on, there are an equal number of free shows. The volcano at the Mirage, the Bellagio Fountain Show, and gondola rides at the Venetian are just a few of the (free!) spectacles not to be missed.
The fine print—what to expect when your bill comes
- Hotels — If you’re trying to save cash, there are plenty of budget hotels that are strip-adjacent. Ranging from $40-$50/room, this is a great option if you plan to spend more time out of your room than in. On the strip, expect rooms to range from $120—$Obscene.
- Hostels — For $20-$75/day, you can lay claim to a single bed in an 8-bed dorm, on up to a private room with ensuite bathroom.
- AirBnBs — There are plenty of private house and room rentals in Vegas for $150 on average/night, but not many are near the action, so you’ll need to factor in transport costs to get around as well.
- Food — Stick with buffets which will run you $10-$25 for all-you-can-eat, mid-range dining, which will cost you $20/entree and $6 for a drink, and you’ll have enough money left for at least one meal ($60 on average for dinner/drink) at a fancy high-end restaurant.
- Price-per-day breakdown — For the extreme penny-pinchers, you can experience Vegas for about $90/day. Mid-range spenders: $165/day, and luxe travelers should budget at least $380/day.
Pro-tips for budgeters
- Stay midweek and you’ll be rewarded with deep discounts on everything from lodging to food to entertainment.
- Gamble within reason, and while on the floor, enjoy free drinks, comps for meals based on winnings, and the use of free coupon books the casinos provide upon request.
- Walk whenever you can, and if you chose to cab it, pay cash to avoid the $3 service fee.
- Reverse happy hour (post-show eating and drinking starting at 10:30pm) and early-bird dinners can save you serious dough.
- Utilize a bundle pass like Tix4Tonight, Vegas2Go, or Las Vegas pass to plan entertainment for cheap.