Las Vegas on a Budget

Las Vegas Strip 
This post has absolutely nothing to do with hiking. 
One of the things I love best about living in Southern California is the close proximity to Las Vegas. At 80 miles an hour, it takes less than 4 hours to reach Las Vegas from Orange County. I make several trips a year to Vegas and I'm an expert on the restaurants, cheap drinks, free hotel pools, seedy strip clubs and cheap souvenirs. This is my Las Vegas guide for the budget traveler. Feel free to add your own tips in the comment section at the bottom of the post.

1. All You Can Eat Buffets: 
There was a time when Las Vegas had a ton of great, inexpensive AYCE buffets around town. In the past ten years, the prices at most of them have gone up drastically, while the quality of the food has gone down. My current favorite buffets in the city are at  Mandalay Bay, The Paris and the Bellagio, but none of them are cheap. Dinner will run you over 30$ at all of them. If I had to choose one as my favorite, I would easily pick the Bellagio buffet as my favorite. Its well worth the 32$ price. The sheer volume of food is overwhelming and everything at Bellagio is fresh and delicious. The dessert selection will have you in tears.

2. Cheap Drinks:
You can get a free drink at any Las Vegas casino if you're gambling.  At the strip casinos, this almost always includes the top shelf liquor. The Mandalay Bay sports book is my favorite place in town to get a free drink. The sports book is almost always dead during the week and the cocktail waitresses will bring you drinks even if you're not betting. I usually tip 1$-2$ per drink. You can sit in the leather chairs and watch the game on the giant projection screens and drink a six pack for less than the price of sitting on your couch at home.

Another great place to get a cheap drink on the strip is at a little place called Casino Royale. Its situated right between Harrah's and the Venetian. You can sit at the penny slot machines next to the bar and drink for free until you're good and plastered. A 1$ tip per drink will keep the cocktail waitress coming back all night. The Casino Royale bar also sells 1$ Michelob and Michelob light.

3. Hotel Pools

One of my favorite things to do in Vegas is sneak into the casino pools.  If you have an old casino key, you can walk right into almost any casino pool. I save all of my old room keys in the glove box of my car solely for this reason. There are a few pools that you can walk into without a room key. My favorites are the Tropicana, the Monte Carlo and the Hard Rock Casino.  You can say any room number at the entrance of these pools and walk right in. They will just assume that you've already checked out and turned in your room key. The Monte Carlo has a sand volleyball pit, a lazy river and a wave pool. And best of all, you can actually order a beer and drink in the pool.  The Monte Carlo is amazing on the weekends during the summer. They blast the music and it has a club feel. Most of the crowd is in their 20 and 30’s. 

4. Cheap Souvenirs
The best place in Vegas to get cheap souvenirs is at Bonanza Gifts on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Sahara. You can get a set of playing cards or dice that was actually used in one of the casinos for 1$. They also sell T-shirts 3 for $10. Another great place to get a cheap T-shirt are at the souvenir shops in the heart of old Las Vegas.

5. Seedy Strip Clubs
The best, or worst depending on how you look at it, strip club in Las Vegas is an old peep show on Las Vegas Blvd called Showgirl Video. Its a New York style peep show. You drop a dollar in the slot and the window opens. A nude girl dances behind the glass. This is the place where every bachelor party should end. For 5$, you get a 10 minute experience that you will NEVER forget.  The last time I was there, our dancer spent the show eating Del Taco and talking on her cell phone with her naked ass pressed against the glass. The pawn shop from the television show Pawnstars in located right next door. The cross streets are Bonneville and Las Vegas Blvd.

Dowtown Las Vegas
The old neon sign for the El Cortez Casino


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