Question #5

Hi! My husband and I are traveling to Vegas in April for the first time and I have no ideas where to even start. We are flying in on Saturday and should be there before lunch and leaving the next Tuesday morning. I have reservations at the LINQ however, the rest of the trip is completely open to suggestion. HELP!!!!! We want to get the most of our time and money while there!

Chelsey, Arkansas | February 2, 2019

Hi Chelsey! You and your husband are going to have a blast… the first Las Vegas trip is always magical, and next thing you know, you’re hooked! I actually recommend keeping your itinerary fairly open, since the beauty of Las Vegas is the abundance of options and the spontaneity that it breeds; especially for your first trip, I’d err on the side of leaving your options open and seeing what strikes your fancy once you get there! As you’ll discover, once you get to Sin City, plans tend to go out the window as Vegas happens… so unless you’re a total Type A planner, going with the flow can sometimes lead to the best experiences!

I personally like to plan one big “anchor” for each day; this can be a show, meal, attraction, casino to check out, etc. I make a point to plan for this big event while scheduling everything else (and lots of free time) around it. I find this to be the best compromise between a detailed itinerary and a complete lack of structure, but you could adjust this to your level of planning comfort.

Don’t stress about fitting everything in either. I’ve been out 16 times, and I STILL have an ever-growing list of things I’d like to do; that’s the beauty of Vegas! There’s always more to do, new things to explore, and new novelty to be had.

That said, here’s some overall recommendations:

 

Hotel

You’re off to a great start at the LINQ! It’s one of my favorite properties, due to its prime center strip location, affordable rates, and the fact that they comp a shot and a beer while you’re gambling. Did you book direct through Total Rewards? If so, make sure it’s linked to your players cards. You should be able to link you and your husbands accounts to the reservation, which will help generate better offers in the future. If you did book direct, you also have free cancellations/the ability to modify, so I’d recommend checking every week to see if the rates have went down. If they have, you can cancel and rebook at the new rates!

You’re located right by the LINQ Promenade, which is a fun outdoor strip to walk. It has lots of great restaurants, including Flour & Barley (great pizza and Italian), and In N Out (one of the best values on the Strip, with a delicious burger for under $4). There’s also a Sprinkles Cupcakes, which has a regular store as well as a “cupcake ATM” (I found them to be dry and overrated, but it may be worth checking out if you’ve seen them on TV).

You’re also adjacent to Carnaval Court, which is one of my favorite bars on the Strip.

 

Transportation

I recommend using Lyft and Uber, since you can see the rate and an ETA before you book. Just be sure to go to the correct pickup area to avoid confusion. Fortunately, hotels have pretty clear signage for rideshare pickup now, but if you have any trouble, you can ask an employee.

You can also ride Las Vegas RTC buses to save a few bucks, but I value my Vegas time and find Lyft/Uber worth it for the convenience. The Deuce is a popular route that runs between the Strip and Downtown. You can buy a 24 hour pass for $8, which can be useful if you’re exploring the Strip and Downtown and want to wander with no set destination.

If you want to rent a car, I recommend using Autoslash to secure the cheapest rate. However, for your first trip, I’d recommend skipping a car, so you don’t have to worry about parking (or driving drunk); there’s so much to explore and take in on foot, a car would just be added stress. That said, if you and your husband are big fans of nature, you could take a day trip to Red Rocks, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, or Valley of Fire State Park.

 

Free Attractions

One of the best parts of Las Vegas is that there are no open container laws. So you can drink wherever and whenever you’d like! This can make everything into a free attraction, since people watching opportunities abound. I have a personal policy that I won’t walk the Strip without a drink in my hand.

The Bellagio Fountains are a classic for a reason. They run at least every 30 minutes after 3pm, and you can view the schedule here. I recommend checking out a few different times, both day and night, since each show is set to a different song and has different patterns. The Bellagio Conservatory is also worth checking out. It has a seasonal display that’s always changing, and is very artfully done.

The Fremont Street Experience is Downtown Las Vegas’ version of the Bellagio fountains. On the hour, from 6pm to 1am, they have a music video show on the canopy above the street. The schedule is available here. This is great not only to take in the music, but for people watching as well. There are also tons of street performers, characters to be seen, and people watching to be had Downtown. Fremont Street is small enough that it’s very walkable (unlike the Strip), so it’s worth spending at least a day here. The bars on Fremont East are also more affordable than their Strip counterparts.

I enjoy walking up and down the Strip and exploring the different hotels, since each one has a different feel. The Wynn is a must-see, since it has an amazing floral display including a merry go round made out of flowers. There is also some great art placed throughout the Wynn and Encore. The Cosmopolitan is another of my favorite hotels, and has an overall swanky feel and some great (but pricy) restaurants on the second floor.

If you’re a shopper, there are tons of great places. The Fashion Show Mall (across from the Wynn), Grand Canal Shoppes (at the Venetian), Forum Shops (at Caesars Palace), and Miracle Mile (at Planet Hollywood) all offer a ton of shopping options. The Shops at Crystals (in Aria), as well as the boutiques scattered throughout the Wynn/Encore and Bellagio have some premium brands that are great for window shopping.

 

Paid Attractions

The High Roller at the LINQ is the big wheel at the end of the promenade. It’s like a ferris wheel, but you’re in an enclosed pod and can walk around; don’t worry if you’re afraid of heights – I am too, but I felt totally secure in the pod! It offers a gorgeous view of Las Vegas, and really helps you take in the glitz and glamor of the Strip. I’d recommend going at night when everything is lit up (it’s well worth the extra few dollars). You should be able to get a discount since you’re staying at the LINQ – they will most likely send you an email with discounted tickets, but you can also ask at the players club when you get there. They also offer a Happy Half Hour for a few more dollars. If you’re a drinker, you can get a good value here with a positive attitude and frequent tips; I got 10 drinks last time I did it, which was well worth the additional fee.

Even if you’re not a big gambler, I’d recommend gambling at least a few bucks. I’ve got a beginner-friendly gambling guide that can help you get comfortable with everything before you get to the casino! As a first-timer, you’ll be eligible for sign-up bonuses when you join a players club, so be sure to take advantage of these promotions! If you’re serious about gambling, you can get even more free money to gamble by stacking with coupons in the ACG and LVA.

If you’re into comedy and/or magic, the Mac King Comedy Magic Show is one of the best values on the Strip. It’s a matinee that runs at 1pm and 3pm Tuesday-Saturday, and is an incredible value. You should be able to get a discounted ticket through Total Rewards. When I went, I got “free” admission with a $15 drink purchase, but they also run BOGO tickets and other promotions. Tickets are always on sale, so don’t pay full price (or more than $30 for that matter). If you’re a fan of cheesy puns and impressive illusions, you’ll love it!

If you’d like to see any other shows, get your tickets from Tix4Tonight the day of the show. These are red and yellow kiosks located throughout the Strip that sell discounted tickets. You will save 30-50% off of the face value. Show preferences vary by everyone, but I can personally recommend LOVE if you’re at ALL a fan of the Beatles or the 60s. I also enjoyed Absinthe, which is a very raunchy variety show with politically incorrect humor (not for the faint of heart or easily offended). I would shy away from Ka, which I found to be very boring (although impressively choreographed and staged).

 

Downtown Las Vegas

I am a big fan of Downtown Las Vegas (aka “Old Vegas,” DTLV, or the Fremont Street Experience). It offers better gambling rules, lower table minimums, better returns on slots, cheaper drinks, more affordable food, and more walkable casinos. That’s on top of the people watching, which is the best downtown.

Downtown is one of the best places to maximize your value. I highly recommend at least a day here to explore, watch the street performers, enjoy the free live music at night, and take in the videos on the canopy every hour.

I am a big fan of the bars in the Fremont East district, which are far more affordable than their Strip counterparts. Vanguard Lounge often has a great Groupon that can net you cheaper drinks, and the Downtown Cocktail Room has a great half-off happy hour from 4-7pm (although the door is tricky to find… it’s on the left wall, and you just have to push the glass). Hogs and Heifers is also a biker dive bar, but great for people watching as long as you can handle being heckled by a scantily clad bartender on a megaphone!

There are also some great restaurants downtown. Pizza Rock has some of my favorite pizza in the world (go to the restaurant, though, since their by the slice options pale in comparison) and a great late-night happy hour. Triple George has classier fare that is more affordable during its happy hour. On the cheaper end, the Binion’s Cafe and Magnolia’s (at Four Queens) offer cheap and serviceable breakfast/lunch/dinner, and the Garden Court Buffet (at Main Street Station) is a good low-cost buffet.

 

Food and Drink

Downtown is generally cheaper than the Strip.

Your best bet for free/cheap drinks is to either gamble for free drinks (and slow-roll to stretch your budget further), or to mix your own; bars are insanely overpriced. The LINQ is great in that they’re the only Strip property (as far as I know, at least) that will comp you a shot AND a beer on the same order while you’re gambling at a table.

For food, I usually try and pack snacks for breakfast (and/or my late night drunk snacking) so that I only have to pay for one or two meals per day.

On top of the restaurants I already recommended, I’m a big fan of the Steak Special at Ellis Island. With a players card, you can have a delicious steak meal for under $10! It’s walkable from the LINQ, or a short Lyft/Uber if you’re feeling lazy.

You can maximize your value through Groupon, and coupon books like the American Casino Guide (ACG) and Las Vegas Advisor (LVA) that have many BOGO coupons. If any of the restaurants included in these books are appealing to you, they’re an incredible value.

One last food note: if you’re a fan of donuts, District Donuts at the Cosmopolitan had the best donuts I’ve ever had, hands down. I’m normally not a big donut fan, but these were so good I went back the next day and I’m still craving them a month later!

 

I hope that helps a bit! If you have any questions or want more specific recommendations, please comment below and I’d be happy to oblige!

 

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