Best spring break value travel destinations: Las Vegas

Over the past decade, Las Vegas has steadily grown into a world-class destination with amazing dining, shows, nightlife and—yes—daytime activities, too. (It’s not all gambling and showgirls!)

From once-in-a-lifetime experiences like racing Ferraris at Dream Racing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to visiting The Little White Wedding Chapel, where Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Britney Spears and Demi Moore all said “I Do,” Sin City has something for everybody. You know about the amazing shows and mouthwatering dinners; what you might not realize is that Vegas is rife with free and inexpensive things to do, too.

Vegas is chockablock with cool museums: see iconic flashing signs at downtown Las Vegas’s Neon Museum, which has over 150 signs from the 1930’s through the present, including the famous Stardust sign. Explore Vegas’s gangster origins at the Mob Museum; or see the largest baseball memorabilia collection outside Cooperstown at the Sports Hall of Fame.

Want to stretch your legs? Red Rock Canyon, a stunning oxidized rock area with cliffs up to 3,000 feet high, is only 15 miles outside Vegas. It features horseback riding, waterfalls, hiking, and, of course, rock climbing.

The Las Vegas strip itself is home to some of the best shows in town, including the famous fountains at the Bellagio, the Volcano and the White Tigers at the Mirage, and the trapeze and contortionist acts at Circus Circus,

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If you’re itching to check out Vegas’s famous tables without breaking the bank, many hotels like Planet Hollywood, Excalibur, Monte Carlo and The Venetian offer free craps lessons, even if you’re not a hotel guest. Check with your concierge for times and be sure to get there early or make a reservation.

While Las Vegas has hotel deals aplenty, if you’re truly looking to save money, consider staying on the northern end of the strip—known as Vintage Vegas—up near Fremont Street. The area, which used to be the hub of old-school Frank Sinatra and Wayne Newton-style Vegas, is undergoing a tremendous renovation, and classic hotels like The Plaza offer excellent value, with huge rooms featuring excellent views starting from just $29/night.

Las Vegas is a short flight from the west coast (only an hour from Los Angeles) and just over 3 hours from Houston or Chicago. Many airlines and travel sites such as Orbitz offer Vegas packages, so getting and staying there is often the least expensive part of your trip. (After all, they want you to save your money for dining, shows and gambling!)