It used to be Las Vegas was about 25 cent shrimp cocktails and going there with a pocket full of quarters in hopes that you would double or even triple your investment. Those days are long gone and now are the days of luxury, high rollers, lush, and anything else sinful by nature. However, this is not always true either. Las Vegas has done a rather good job at marketing themselves as a family city. Casinos offer roller coasters, movie theaters, food courts, and arcades to keep the kids at bay so the parents can gamble. Las Vegas is truly a city where anyone can find something to do and be happy.
Even the penny pinchers (i.e. me) can find solace as there is a load of free stuff offered on and off the strip in Las Vegas. Some of my favorites are:
On the Strip:
The Bellagio Atrium: I love the atrium and it changes for each season and holiday, so it is something you can visit every time you go and it will always be different. It’s a family favorite.
MGM Grand Lions Habitat: In the middle of the casino there is a special habitat made and maintained just for lions! Usually during the day there are about two adult lions. They also have a lion expert there to talk to you about the lions, their likes and dislikes, and some educational facts. It’s really actually cool. And in the morning you can go and they have baby cubs you can get your picture taken with (not free).
M&M World: I have been there a lot and while walking around the shop is fun and they have some cool products, not very many people know they also offer a free 3-D show! It’s on the top floor and you have to be there at the right time to experience it (ask someone about it).
CBS Television City at MGM: a place where you can watch and rate upcoming shows on CBS. It’s a little time consuming (about an hour) but it’s a different and can be fun- depending on the show.
The Volcano at the Mirage is kind of fun as well as the pirate show, Sirens at Treasure Island (although not to sure if the pirate show is for kids), or you could check out the Fremont Street Experience (a great place to find the deep fried twinkie). If you do go down to Fremont don’t forget to look up and see the cool LCD screen shows.
Off the Strip:
Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory and Botanical Garden: located about 15 miles off the strip on Sunset Blvd. Ethel M offers a free factory tour where you can view the 50 different types of chocolates being made, and you get a free sample at the end of the tour! After you are done drooling over the chocolate and eating your sample, you can walk off the calories at the botanical gardens and learn about different types of cactus and other plants native to the area. It’s a really pretty walk and interesting all at the same time. AND It’s FREE!
Masquerade Show in the Sky at the Rio: A party in the sky and a chance to collect beads! Kind of like Mardi Gras but from the convenience of your slot machine. It’s worth seeing at least once in your life.
Hoover Dam: It’s about 20 miles south east on highway 95. But it’s a sight to be seen. Famous in it’s own right and has been rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders. Worth the trip out in my opinion.
If you are like me and love to shop but fancy designer clothing is not your style (or your budget) there are also a number of outlet malls in the area that may suite your fancy. Just down the strip you have the Las Vegas Outlet Mall which is actually pretty impressive. Has a huge Nike store, tons of skate shops, and even a Mikasa outlet store (my mom’s personal favorite). The mall tends to be a huge tourist attraction but I fear that over the year’s the mall has lost it’s outlet muster and the prices are starting to be comparable to their non-outlet companions. Still worth the trip. If you are willing to drive about 40 miles south of Las Vegas on Interstate 15 to Primm Nevada you will find the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. I have never personally shopped at these outlets, but I have heard rave reviews of those who have. Outlets you will find there include Coach, Hollister, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, Old Navy and many more.
Las Vegas is for everyone, even those on a tight budget. I have always challenged myself to think outside the box and find new adventures every time I go. Las Vegas is a magical place and has much more to offer than just Sin City and gambling. I on