Where to stay
The lodging options for Las Vegas are endless. Now days you can stay in a lavish hotel, a cheap hotel, a private condo, a cheap motel, a budget hostel or even someone’s spare bedroom on Airbnb.com.
All hotels in Las Vegas are going to have their advertised price. Keep in mind that this is not the final price you will pay. In addition to the advertised price hotels also collect resort fees upon check-in. For example, Caesar’s Palace has rooms available on Travelocity.com in May for $231 a night. But read the fine print and you will see they also collect $32 a night plus tax. They also require a $100 per night security deposit, which you get credited back to your card a few days after check-out.
Hotels like Aria, The Venetian, The Wynn, The Cosmopolitan and The Bellagio are at the top of the budget for most travelers. These hotels are beautiful and worth the money, but most people traveling to Las Vegas see their hotel room as simply a resting place between fun activities. Most people don’t intend on spending the majority of their day in their hotel room. The best way to enjoy rooms in these hotels is when they mail out free offers for coming to Las Vegas on off days like Monday through Thursday when rooms are cheapest and hotel occupancy are lowest.
My go-to place to stay in Las Vegas is the Hooters Hotel located on East Tropicana Avenue. They just renovated all the rooms and the pool area over the last year but have kept the spirit of the Hooters brand (hot girls and cold beer). The hotel and casino are small compared to other nearby hotels (The MGM Grand is right across the street) but the atmosphere is fun and they do make it a point to take care of their regular guests. I also never intend on spending much time in the hotel room so I like spending less than $60 a night on a place to rest my head when I can.
For more extended trips (longer than a week or two) Airbnb.com has become a great option to book lodging in Las Vegas. A few winters ago I stayed in Las Vegas for just over a month and booked a room in a gentlemen’s apartment in North Las Vegas for $20 a night. He was about 14 miles away from the strip where I spent most of my days so it was good that I had my own car, otherwise taking the bus back and forth would have been a hassle. And taking a taxi would have just been too expensive.
Places to visit in Las Vegas
Fremont Street is one of the first places to make a stop. “Old downtown Las Vegas” as it’s often called is a smaller cluster of casinos and attractions than the strip and has its own unique feel. During the day thousands of people walk the covered street going from casino to casino, and at night thousands more enjoy the light show that is the digital ceiling covering the street. Food, drinks and entertainment are generally cheaper on Fremont than they are on the strip so this is also where budget-minded people like to stay.
The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard is another place first-timers must visit. The iconic sign is particularly popular for wedding parties, as I’ve driven by it and seen sometimes a hundred or so people gathered in tuxedos and dresses getting ready to pose.
The Hard Rock Hotel located of the strip at Paradise Road and East Harmon is an awesome place to visit for several reasons. The hotels located off the strip are generally not owned by MGM or Caesars Entertainment like most of the other big casinos, so they have to be more competitive to attract business. The Hard Rock is a over-the-top party of leather and lace with gorgeous cocktail waitresses, excellent food and drink selections and a display of rock and roll history and memorabilia. On the weekends they also feature go-go dancers behind some of the blackjack tables to help take your attention from gambling a few dollars.
Several casinos have shopping malls attached to their hotels, and the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace are always on my list to stop by. There are literally hundreds of high-end shops for clothes, watches and lingerie. On my list though is a memorabilia shop called Field of Dreams (who also have a shop in the mall attached to The Venetian). Their display of sports history is very impressive, and usually a few times a month they will have some retired professional athletes in the store signing autographs and taking pictures. Another favorite shop off mine is The Art of Music located in the shopping mall between The Luxor and Mandalay Bay. Pete Rose who resides in Las Vegas (and operates his own sports bar on the strip) makes regular appearances here, so if you’re a die-hard baseball fan then be sure to check them out!