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Las Vegas Vacation Secrets Only Insiders Know

Jodi Thornton-O'Connell
Las Vegas Vacation Secrets Only Insiders Know

What happens in Vegas might well stay in Vegas, but you don’t want that to include more of your money than necessary. Although you’ll have to set your own budget for gambling, there are things you can do to keep more money in your pocket when you’re in Sin City. If you plan to visit Las Vegas, you can find a number of ways to ensure that the parts of your trip you do control will cost you less by booking cheaper flights and taking advantage of myriad Las Vegas deals.

 

Travel in the Right Month and Save a Bundle

Saving money in Vegas starts with going when it’s cheapest to visit. A 2016 Hipmunk survey found that the three most expensive times to stay in Sin City, based on data from March 2015 to February 2016 — combining airfare and hotel rates — were:

  • During a major boxing match, with a median three-night stay of $1,038
  • New Year’s, with a median three-night stay of $982
  • During a consumer electronics show, with a median three-night stay of $927

Special events aside, April is the most expensive time to fly into the city, according to the survey, with fares that are more than 25 percent higher than January, the cheapest month to fly. Hotel deals are a different matter. You’ll find the best rates in December.

The best time to score a combined airfare and hotel stay in Las Vegas is in December, January, February or June. In all four months, the total median price for a three-night trip is at least $100 less than the most expensive months of April and October, according to Hipmunk.

Pick the Right Days to Travel

Save even more money by booking your vacation on the cheapest days of the week. Traditional advice suggests you get the best hotel deals in Las Vegas by booking for Tuesday to Thursday. However, Hipmunk data shows Sunday through Tuesday are less expensive.

Remember to check to see if there are any Las Vegas events during your planned getaway, and adjust your timing as needed. Aim for booking in that sweet spot between events, when prices are lower.

Every rule has exceptions, though. Trying to plan a bachelor or bachelorette getaway? You might just forget the savings and go when there are the most nightlife and entertainment options, such as holiday weekends and New Year’s.

 

Don't Overlook Southwest Airlines

After you’ve narrowed down the timing to take advantage of the best Las Vegas hotel deals, try to match those low rates with reduced airfare.

“If you want to save on flights to Vegas, you have to look to Southwest Airlines first,” said Clem Bason, CEO of goSeek. “They fly four times as many passengers in and out of Las Vegas as the next carrier, American Airlines. Look for their frequent fare sales and use their handy low-fare calendar to find the best dates to fly.”

Compare Booking Options and Sleep Cheap

How you book a hotel can have a dramatic impact on the price you pay, and Las Vegas hotels are no different. GOBankingRates did a recent check on booking a room at the Flamingo Las Vegas during Labor Day weekend. Booking sites Expedia and Hotels.com both offered prices starting at $199 per night.

The same hotel cost just $167 when booked through goSeek. “The site takes the best prices on the market and then beats them by 20 percent or more by finding hidden discounts that most travelers aren’t aware of, like coupon codes, special rates on your smartphone and membership rates,” said Bason.

Even better, rooms started at $164 a night when booked directly through the hotel’s website. So, the next time you’re booking a trip, make sure you’re using the best booking sites — which can sometimes include the hotel’s own website.

Think Outside the Box When Renting Wheels

You naturally think about Costco when stocking up on vacation snacks. But don’t overlook the warehouse club when booking your next car rental. “They have rates that can’t be beaten on major car rental agencies like Avis, Budget and Alamo,” said Bason.

If you’re not a Costco member, Bason advised using AAA. They have great discounts on the high end (Hertz) and low end (Dollar and Thrifty), he said. “So you can often meet your needs at a great price no matter the level of car and service you desire,” Bason said.

Uber and Lyft are also great options for getting around by car in Sin City. Just a touch of a few buttons on your smartphone lets you order a car and pay for it.

Keep Off the Beaten Path

Familiarizing yourself with Las Vegas streets and taking roads less traveled can save you cash.

Glenn Orloff, travel expert and CEO of Metropolitan Shuttle, offered this money-saving and time-saving tip: “If you’re taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel, be sure to tell the driver that you want to go via Swenson Avenue and not through the airport tunnel,” he said. The airport tunnel seems faster because it connects to the freeway and has fewer lights. However, “it’s several miles longer, and your cab fare is going to be more costly,” he said.

 

Pick the Right Casino for Blackjack

You’ll get more money for a winning blackjack hand in some casinos than in others.

Many casinos now pay out on a 6:5 ratio, meaning you’ll make $6 for a winning blackjack hand for every $5 you bet. Raise the payout by heading to casinos with a traditional 3:2 payoff instead, paying out $3 for every $2 you bet for a blackjack winning hand. That translates to $15 on a $10 bet instead of just $12 at a 6:5 table.

In a 2017 article for Travel Weekly, Vegas Guru David Yeskel cited the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino as the best place to play 3:2 blackjack. The casino features the payoff on all tables, even those with a $5 minimum.

 

Don't Give Up on the Cheap Buffet

The days of the $5 Vegas buffet your folks talked about are long gone. You’ll pay as much as around $50 these days for all-you-can-eat sumptuous feasts. But you can help Mom and Dad remember the old days by visiting one of the few cheap options of the best buffets in the city.

Try Ports O’ Call Buffet at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino. Get breakfast for $9.99 Monday through Saturday, and a prime rib dinner buffet for the modest price of $16.99 Saturday through Thursday.

Dare to Step Out of the Buffet Line

Las Vegas might be famous for its buffets, but eventually, you’ll want a real dining treat. Award-winning Charlie Palmer Steak at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas rolls out upscale dining.

A visit to the fine dining establishment doesn’t need to break your wallet. “Ask for the Cut of the Week menu when seated,” suggested Christa Weaving, Charlie Palmer Group’s vice president of marketing.

A recent menu included a petite New York strip accompanied by an endive salad, roasted cauliflower and potatoes au gratin, followed by a lemon bar. The sample menu priced out at $58 per person — just $3 more than the weekday dinner buffet at Caesars Palace.

 

Get Off the Strip

When people think of things to do in Las Vegas, their plans usually begin and end with the Strip. Most of the biggest Las Vegas shows are right there along with the biggest and most recognizable hotels and casinos.

But you have other options. “The Fremont Street Experience is just as fascinating as anything on the Strip,” said Joe Wareham, who has blogged about the travel experience. You’ll find the five-block entertainment district in the city’s historic downtown.

The district has a lot of fun and free things to do when you’re trying to save vacation dollars. Discover opulent relics at Main Street Station, or marvel at futuristic light shows on the Viva Vision screen 90 feet overhead.

 

Get Artsy With Your Pics

Snap edgy vacation pictures and save money by visiting free works of art missed by many visitors. Although you’ll want to include a picture in front of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, there are other locations you also won’t want to miss.

Start at the colorful stacked boulders known as Seven Magic Mountains, which is located about 10 miles south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway. Or grab a few shots in front of the colorful cylinders at the Pipe Dream art piece at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. For something a little more quirky, head to Downtown Container Park, a shopping center built from shipping containers, and pose as prey for a praying mantis.

Stop and Smell the Cactus Blooms

Did you know that the largest botanical cactus garden in the Southwest is near Las Vegas? But plants aren’t the only green you’ll be seeing when you visit the Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden. There’s no admission fee, so you’ll see more of that color when you peek into your wallet.

Meander through over 300 species of plants that include cacti, succulents and drought-resistant plants native to the U.S., Australia and South America. Spring is the best time to see colorful blooms in the four-acre garden, located near the Ethel M Chocolates Factory in Henderson.

 

Book a Once-in-a-Lifetime Suite Through Suiteness

Do you want a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon suite, but find yourself strapped for cash? Book your dream suite through Suiteness and you might qualify to finance your adventure for as little as 0 percent interest.

Although you can take up to a year to pay, you can only get 0 percent financing for three months. Still, if you’re looking to book a suite, you’ll free up more cash to spend wisely on your wedding day.

Enjoy Free Entertainment

You can spend hundreds of dollars on tickets to see Vegas shows starring famous entertainers such as the Backstreet Boys and Jennifer Lopez. But you also can catch famous entertainers for free at the Fremont Street Experience. Past headliners include Melissa Etheridge, Smash Mouth and 3 Doors Down. Check out the Fremont Street Experience website for upcoming events.

 

Go Where the Wild Things Are

If the constant clanging of one-armed bandits makes you want to run screaming into the warm Vegas sunshine, do it. You’ll find a bounty of places to drink in nature within driving distance of the city limits.

Wiggle your toes in the sand or rent a boat and head out on open waters at Lake Mead. If you’re more of a mountain person, breathe in pine-scented air at Mt. Charleston. If that scenery is not diverse enough, check Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area or Clark County Wetlands Park.

Click through to keep reading about how to book last-minute travel plans on the cheap.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Las Vegas Vacation Secrets Only Insiders Know