Viva Las Vegas! With its flashy casinos, palatial hotels, shotgun weddings and all-you-can-eat buffets, Vegas is the real ‘Sin City’ – even the city’s tourist board proudly gives you a get-out clause… ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’!
The ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’ thrives on glitz, glamour and gambling, but you don’t have to be a high roller to holiday in Vegas. It may be a money driven city, but the mega-resorts are obsessed with putting on a good show, meaning there are thousands of freebies on offer.
1. Hotel Hop
The hotels in Vegas are an attraction in themselves, and it costs nothing to wander around the mega-resorts and soak up the ambiance. Marvel at the glitzy Wynn hotels (and pretend you can actually afford to stay there) and watch the ubiquitous Elvis performers wander around the casino halls. Walking up and down the strip is also an event in itself (and would take you a whole day, as it’s huge!) as you’re constantly surrounded by flashing neon and people guzzling super-size cocktails in plastic cups.
2. Watch the Wildlife
Not the gamblers teeming at the slots, but the whole host of animals you can find at the hotels….The MGM Grand has an in-house Lion habitat, The Mirage has its own family of White Tigers and aquarium of Tropical fish, and The Flamingo boasts a ‘Tropical island’ with exotic birds and flora and fauna. It’s like a free day out at a very weird zoo!
3. Live La Dolce Vita
Forget the soaring prices and language barrier of Italy’s top cities, in Vegas you can visit for free! The Venetian and the Bellagio offer their own glamorous take on Venice and the Italian Lakes respectively, with a jet-setting clientele to match. Take a ride on a gondola on the Grand Canal, and visit the mini St Mark’s Square at the Venetian, or marvel at the Murano Glass ceiling and wander through scenic courtyards, lakeside paths and botanical gardens at the Bellagio. Caesar’s Palace harks back to the days of the Roman Empire – The Forum Shops are surrounded by temple ruins and statues of Roman nobles who spout history about the days of the Emperors… The life-size replica of the Colosseum is pretty tough to miss, too…
4. Take a Free City Break
Vegas hoteliers seem to have made it their mission to create miniature cities within a city – Paris, Las Vegas and New York are the most famous mock-ups of the clan. Visit Paris for the surreal sight of an Eiffel Tower surrounded by the desert, bistros overlooking the strip, and hotel valets wishing you ‘Bonjour’ as they clutch their baguettes.
New York-New York is a little more hectic – the Empire State, Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge are all perched over the city’s busiest street, and inside you’ll find Manhattan cocktail bars, noisy delis and hot dog and pretzel stands.
5. Go to the Circus
Not a good idea if you’re clown-phobic, Circus Circus nonetheless houses the world’s largest indoor permanent circus, and a huge five acre theme-park. The impressive shows are all free and run every half hour, so you could catch anything from Russian acrobats to miniature bicycle riders during your day at the Circus. The theme continues at the hotel Rio’s ‘Masquerade Village Show in the Sky’, where lavish floats are suspended above an idyllic fishing village, and performers toss beads and trinkets to the audience. It’s as surreal as it sounds, and totally Vegas.
6. The Ethel M Chocolate Factory
Away from the bright lights of the strip, Las Vegas is still home to some old-fashioned treats, and in Henderson you can take a free tour of this Chocolate Factory, with samples included at the end. Learn how chocolates are made, then wander around the pretty cactus garden nearby.
7. Catch a Show
Forget the expensive spectacles playing at the major hotels, there are also free shows happening all over the city on a smaller scale. The Mirage Volcano and the Fountain Show at the Bellagio still draw crowds every night, and if you can bear the kitsch appeal, the Atlantis Water Show at Caesar’s Palace is a tacky but hilarious sight – moving statues battle in the middle of a shopping center… And then there’s the Sirens at TI – a full-on, swashbuckling Pirate show complete with explosions.
There are also free special events and one-off shows happening all over the city, so check out local blogs like Go Vegas for more information before you head off.
8. Ride the Monorail
Getting from hotel to hotel is a hike, and if you don’t fancy facing the crowds after an all-you-can-eat buffet, take a free tram to your next stop. There are several different trams and monorails that operate along the strip – the free ones connect TI to the Mirage, Bellagio with the Monte Carlo, and Excalibur with Luxor and Mandalay Bay.
9. The Fremont Street Experience
Only in Vegas would walking down a street be an ‘experience’… In order to tempt visitors Downtown, Vegas spruced up the area known as ‘Glitter Gulch’ by making Fremont Street into a pedestrian mall, with a 27m high ‘Space Frame’ of 12.5 million lights. From 7pm until midnight every evening, watch a free sound and light show with street performers, and go back to where the city of sin began with the first casino Sal Sagev, the towering Cowboy sign ‘Vegas Vic’ and the World’s Largest Slot Machine.
10. Free Gaming Lessons
Some of the Casinos offer free gaming lessons, which are a great hour long-introduction to prevent first-game jitters. They won’t win you big bucks, but learning to gamble is part of the Vegas experience. Excalibur, Circus Circus, Tropicana and Imperial Palace are all ones to try, but go in the morning when the casinos are less busy.
Got any more tips for Vegas freebies? Let us know in the box below!