Las Vegas is exciting because it is full of options! But this can also be overwhelming when trying to plan a vacation; there are so many possibilities, it’s hard to know which are worthwhile and which will be a waste of your time/money.
Here at Viva Las Value, I’m committed to helping you find the best value in Las Vegas and sharing my experiences — the good, the bad, and the ugly. While I recognize that experiences differ for everyone, I hope that my recommendations can help give you some clarity and direction.
The following will be a dynamic, growing, and evolving list of attractions/services that I have personal experience with and recommend.
Last edited: January 26, 2020
Although I have flown many airlines, I now (almost) exclusively use Southwest Airlines. I appreciate the ability to change/cancel flights without fees, their generous frequent flier program, the friendly crews, and the two free checked bags. I know that airlines are region-dependent, but if you’re in Omaha, Kansas City, Denver, or another area serviced by Southwest, I highly recommend checking their site out (since their fares don’t appear on travel engines).
People always try to say that alcohol causes problems, but according to chemists, it’s a solution. That’s the attitude I embrace, and fortunately Las Vegas has some great watering holes. Here are some of my favorites:
- O’Sheas – Play some bartop video poker to get some comped Frozen Baileys. They’re an incredible way to start the day. Limit yourself to two, though, or your stomach will hate you the next day (I learned this the hard way).
- Downtown Cocktail Room – Their half-off happy hour covers everything on the menu, making delicious craft cocktails accessible at $6-7 a pop between 5 and 7. The door is tricky to find, so just take a leap of faith and push on the black glass to the left of the sign, and you’ll be rewarded with cheap drinks!
- Frankie’s Tiki Room – The ambience alone is worth the steep price of these classic tiki cocktails. The stiff drinks are just a bonus. These pours are heavy, so even at $10-12 a pop, you’ll be on the floor before your wallet empties out.
- Atomic Liquors – Classic Vegas. As the oldest freestanding bar in Vegas, it is full of stories for history nerds like me.
Vanguard Lounge – Paired with their usually-running Groupon, the cocktails are well worth $13. The bartender in the daytime is incredible, and makes the best craft cocktails I’ve ever had. This was the first bar where I was a regular and the bartender remembered my name (yes, this ranks on my list of great accomplishments). The bar turns into an R&B club by night, so check it out before 7.F. Vanguard closed on December 31, 2019. Leaving this here as a memorial and to remind you to enjoy what you love in Vegas while you can.
- Boar’s Head Bar at Main Street Station – I begrudgingly included this since BConnected completely devalued the players club here, but you can’t beat 9/6 full pay 25¢ Jacks or Better at the bar. I polished off a bottle of comped Makers Mark while watching the election returns in 2016, which is also on my list of accomplishments.
I personally use and recommend the Citi Double Cash and Chase Sapphire Preferred. I have redeemed over $2,000 worth of rewards between these two cards without paying a penny in interest or fees. For more information, or details on how to apply and net a sweet sign up bonus, check out my post on credit cards.
I’ve stayed all over, and have settled on three main hotels:
- Four Queens – My favorite Downtown hotel, since they have held out and still do not charge a resort fee. That’s worth supporting on principle alone. The rooms aren’t anything special, but they’re serviceable and affordable. The hotel attracts an older crowd and is a bit more boring, but all I ever do is sleep, shit, and shower in my room, so I don’t care.
- LINQ – My homebase on the Strip. Through my players card, I can usually get rooms for under $100 a night after resort fees. The central Strip location is prime, since it’s walking distance to the Linq Promenade, the debauchery at Carnaval Court, and other hotels.
- Cosmopolitan – My favorite splurge. This is where I spent my “24st” and 25th birthdays, and it’s worth every penny of their exorbitant rates (ideally split with friends, though, unless you’re independently wealthy). Once you stay in a Terrace Studio with a Fountain View, there’s no going back to anything else without dreaming of watching the Bellagio Fountains from your private terrace 30+ floors up.
There are a variety of delicious restaurants in Las Vegas. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Pizza Rock – Some of the best pizza I’ve had! The prosciutto with balsamic glaze personal pizza is heavenly, and can be had for a great price at their late night happy hour. Go to the restaurant rather than ordering it by the slice. The meatballs are also delicious!
- Flour and Barley – Situated on the Linq Promenade, this is a nice place to people watch and enjoy some expensive (yet reasonably priced for the Strip) pizza.
- In ‘N Out – For my money, this is the best value burger you can get on the Strip. Avoid the fries, though, as I find them to be underwhelming.
- Magnolia’s at Four Queens – The Queen’s Breakfast ($9.49) is the best of breakfast on a plate; with 2 eggs, 3 pancakes, french toast, a sausage patty, AND 2 strips of bacon, the eternal debate over what to get for breakfast (or brunch, if you sleep in like me) is settled.
- Binion’s Cafe – Cheap, serviceable food, paired with a generous comp program. Nothing impressive, but it does the job. I’ve been known to order the steak and eggs, the gridiron breakfast, or country fried steak if I’m really feeling the hangover/self-loathing.
- Ellis Island Village Cafe – Their steak special is iconic, and it’s for good reason. With a players card and minimal play, you can score a decent steak for $7.99. Pairs well with their house-made root beer or beer from their brewery.
I highly recommend the following shows:
- Mac King’s Comedy Magic Show – a matinee show outside of Harrah’s that is the perfect mix of impressive illusions and cheesy humor. Tickets shouldn’t be more than $20, and they come with a (strong) free drink.
- LOVE – My favorite Cirque show by far. A great set, excellent choreography, amazing music (assuming you like the Beatles… and if you don’t, who raised you?!), and the acrobatics you expect from Cirque.
- Absinthe – Not for the faint of heart. A very raunchy adult variety show, with a mix of circus/freak acts and some impressive feats of strength and talent. Expect crude, politically incorrect jokes.
- Opium – By the same producers (Spiegelworld) as Absinthe, a sci-fi themed variety show that has less acrobatics, but more niche talent acts. The bubble scene blew me away.
I had an incredible experience at Studio 21. Besides the excellent customer service and clean parlor, one thing that sets this shop apart is the ability to make a deposit and appointment over the phone and pay for your ink with a credit card. The prices are high, but you gotta pay for quality; especially when it’s on your body for the rest of your life. Check out all of the artists’ portfolios to find someone in your preferred style, but I can personally vouch for Chad James.