The last two times I went to Vegas (July 2011, July 2010) were for business, so aside from a little bit of shopping, everything else – flight, hotel, food, entertainment, etc. – was expensed to the company. I went in 2009 with an ex-boyfriend, and I believe I spent about $700 total (including flight/hotel, spending money for 3 days/2 nights). And the first time I went to Vegas was in 2008, and spent just around $700 as well (for 3 days/3 nights).
Well, last week was my FIFTH time to Vegas in just 6 years, so I knew this trip was going to be different. First of all, I have a lot more disposable income than I did back in 2008 or 2009, and I was going with someone who had never been before. But most importantly, the things that I really wanted to do in Vegas were going to cost me money. And I had been putting them off for years. But not anymore. Since this was my fifth time going down to the desert, I have a feeling I won’t be going back anytime soon. So it was now or potentially never.
So here I present to you my top 5 (not so frugal) things to do in and around Las Vegas:
I really thought this lounge area was cool. Not only was it three-storeys high, but it had such a different atmosphere from the casino floor that surrounded it. There’s fun live music, and it’s a great place to sit, relax, and people watch. Even if you’re only going to splurge for one drink – because it’s pricey! Oh, and as you can tell from the pictures, it really was like sipping cocktails inside a chandelier. :)
5. Bacchanal Buffet in Caesar’s ($45.99 dinner on weekdays)
We purchased the $50 Buffet of Buffets deal, which gives you 24-hour access to 6 different buffets in Vegas, plus a discount on the Rio Seafood buffet, as well as the Bacchanal in Caesars.
If you time it correctly, you can get 4 buffet meals in 24 hours, so for our last meal, we decided to splurge and pay the $25 extra to get into Bacchanal for dinner, and it was completely worth it. It is by far the best buffet I’ve ever been to. Just look at all the delicious food!
4. New York, New York roller coaster ($14)
Every time I’m in Vegas, it’s a pre-requisite that I have to ride this roller coaster. It’s a splurge, but SO MUCH FUN! And definitely worth the wait to sit in the front row.
Sorry for the crappy photos – these were taken in 2008 on my first trip to Vegas.
3. Shoot a gun at a firing range ($30-50)
I’ve never shot a gun before, but I’ve always wanted to give it a try. And every time I’m in Vegas, I tell myself I’m going to do it. And then I either chicken out or I run out of time. But this trip, we had plenty of time. And when I saw an ad for Battlefield Vegas, I knew I had to go.
When I got there, the guys were pretty friendly. I had no idea what kind of gun I wanted to shoot, but ended up with a Glock – the kind that police officers use. I was tempted to go big and try a machine gun, but decided to play it safe (and cheap) since the small Glock was only $40 for 30 shots. And I found out my aim is pretty good! :)
2. Grand Canyon ($25 fee) & Hoover Dam (car rental + hotel)
This was one of the things I really wanted to see in the USA, and each time I went to Vegas, I thought – this will be the trip! But unfortunately, the south rim of the Grand Canyon is just far away enough that it makes it inconvenient. Plus, if you’re going to go all the way to the Grand Canyon, you have to stop at the Hoover Dam, right? So this trip, we went down for 5 days – which gave us enough time to leave the Strip for a night, and still have time to see everything that we wanted to see in Vegas. Our hotel in Williams, Arizona only cost $50, and made the trip more pleasant than trying to cram in an entire day of driving. We saved money by buying groceries instead of going to a restaurant to eat.
My only regret was not spending MORE time at the Grand Canyon. I would have loved to go on an overnight hike to the Colorado River.
1. Red Rock Canyon National Park ($7 fee + car rental)
Located just half an hour outside of Vegas, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to check out Red Rock Canyon. Especially since I’m a hiker. We chose to go on the Calico Tanks hike, which is only about 2.5 miles long. It was beautiful, and I’m glad that we went… but I wish we had more time to explore the area. Maybe even brought my climbing shoes. :)