From fancy restaurants and nightclubs to posh hotels and poolside bars, Las Vegas has everything a jet-setting, high roller could desire. But, there's much more to Sin City than just the casinos, and in a slow economy you'll find that the land of the rich can also be affordable for everyday Joes and Janes.
5… Deal Yourself a Deal
Many hotels throw in freebies like food and airport transportation to lure people to town, and are offering internet-only specials with rates as low as $49 a night at reputable resorts.
To snag a great deal, spend some time looking at individual resort Web sites and sign up for their e-mails. In most cases, you will get weekly e-mails that can get annoying, but you will also get many incredible offers that are usually not available through other venues. It's well worth the extra clutter in your inbox.
Stay on the strip, or at one of the big name resorts, like the Hard Rock Hotel or The Palms, instead of the generic chain hotel that might be a little cheaper. It will be well worth it, because places like that usually have free shuttle between certain hotels and concierge desks that can get you into the hottest clubs without getting in line or going into debt. Staying off the strip usually means money for expensive cab fares that could be used to purchase a pool-side daquiri instead.
4… Make It a Girlfriend Getaway
It may be known as a party place for the boys, but if a good time with the girls is what you crave, Las Vegas is a perfect choice.
Max out your credit card at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. Both sets of shops have high-end stores like Versace and Louis Vuitton, as well as some must-eat-at restaurants, like Spago. Pick a hotel, like Mandalay Bay's The Beach, or Hard Rock's Rehab, that has a pool almost as famous as the nightlife that's offered, and rent a private cabana to have everyone wondering who you are. If you're looking for low-key fun, check out the Luxor’s pool. It’s chill, laid-back and relaxing. Make sure you try one of their perfectly-made margaritas.
The Light Group, which manages restaurants and clubs like Caramel, Jet, Diablos, Yellowtail and Bare Pool Lounge, offers fixed price packages that your party can book in advance.
There are plenty of bachelorette-type shows like Chippendales at the Rio that cater to the female crowd, but for a classy, one-of-a-kind event, check out a place usually reserved for the Hollywood male crowd — Sapphire Gentleman's Club. A short cab drive from the strip, this upscale club offers a male revue show for women on certain nights of the week in a separate area from the bikini-clad girls, and you won't feel like you need a shower the minute you leave.
3… Check Out the Free Stuff
Start at one end and take a walk down the strip and back. Walk in and out of every hotel, looking for the free exhibits, architecture and shows each has to offer.
Stop by the famed fountains at the Bellagio and go inside to check out the latest garden-style exhibit they have in the lobby. Tour the lion habitat at the MGM Grand and the live flamingos and other creatures at the Flamingo Hotel.
Caesars offers beautiful statues and architecture, both inside and out, as well as animatronic shows in the Forum Shops. Stop at the outdoor bar for a quick drink and some amazing people watching.
Take a cab to the Fremont Street Experience, preferably at night. This is old-style Vegas at its best. You will find the legendary Golden Nugget and get a glimpse of what it was like years ago when 99 cent shrimp cocktails ruled the restaurants. Look up and you will find a video display system that spans almost the entire length of the street. Live music and street performers keep the excitement going outside the casinos.
4… Get on the A-List
First stop after checking in to your hotel should be the concierge desk, especially if you are in town over a weekend. Most times they can get you into hot nightclubs like Pure inside Caesars Palace, or The Bank at the Bellagio for a low cover charge, or if it's a really slow week, they can might be able to put your name onto a guest list that will get you to the front of the line and in the door without costing you a dime. On a recent trip we found that the concierge at Planet Hollywood is very good at this.
Walk past the place you want to go to during the day, because a lot of the nightclubs will have someone standing outside the entrance that are usually more than willing to hand you a free or 2 for 1 pass, especially if you are female.
Before you get to Sin City check out Web sites like visitlasvegas.com for special nightlife promotions, and check out social networking sites like Facebook where many of the clubs have fan pages and also run Facebook-only specials. Look for reputable promoters, like Mike Tantalo who runs the group "Las Vegas Nightlife" and has his pulse on everything entertainment related in Vegas.
Check out the major hotspots like Pure, The Bank, and Ghost Bar at The Palms for bragging rights when you get back home, but be sure to make time for other watering holes like the Carnival Court Bar and Grill at Harrahs where flair bartenders make Tom Cruise in "Cocktail" look like an amature, and Voodoo Steak and Lounge at the Rio where vibrant voodoo-themed art work covers the walls and the multi-level outside decks give a spectacular view of the strip while you party.
1… Get out of Town
Race through the Valley of Fire on an ATV, stand at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or rock climb up the multicolored cliffs at Red Rock Canyon.
LookTours offers a variety of water, land and air tours through the desert and around the greater Las Vegas area, including a guided ATV adventure that rides up and down rock formations, stops at caves, and lets you speed through the desert in a remote location with no casinos in site. They pick you up and drop you off in an air conditioned bus, which is very important in the 100 plus degree summer weather. Lunch is usually included in the price.
There are dozens of Grand Canyon tour operators, but if you have your own car try making the trip partially on your own. Destinationgrandcanyon.com offers visitors the ability to drive the desolate, but scenic road from the Hoover Dam to the base of Grand Canyon West. There, friendly guides will shuttle you up to the rim to the Grand Canyon Skywalk — a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge suspended 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. The western rim has no guardrails and allows visitors to experience the beauty of the canyon with no obstructions.
Less than an hour from the strip you can immerse yourself in the beauty of the Mojave Desert at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The brightly colored rocks, true in color to their name, are strewn with more than 30 miles of hiking trails, guided horseback riding, rock climbing and a 13-mile scenic drive with lookout points offering amazing views of the desert and plenty of Kodak moments. Watch out for native species like tortoises and snakes or the occasional burro that will come up to your car looking for food.