One need not be a world champion at Texas Hold ‘Em or wealthy supermodel to have really good time in Las Vegas. Nor does one need to spend tons of money. I think The Strip is still years away from being what I would consider “family friendly,” but it’s certainly a lot more PG than it has been. Here are five tips on how to visit Vegas and have a good time while leaving your mortgage and morals intact.
If at all possible, don’t spend more than three or four days in Las Vegas. Even Hunter S. Thompson wrote: “After five days in Vegas you feel like you’ve been here for five years. Some people say they like it — but then some people like Nixon, too.” If you arrive on a Friday evening, you’ll notice the extremely long queue for taxi cabs. And by long I mean seven rows deep of one soccer field length wait each turn. The last time I saw lines this long I got to ride the Dueling Dragons at the end. However, I will say that these folks are efficient. We got through the line and into a cab in less than 25 minutes. Then, about $16 later, we were at our hotel on the Strip.
Instead of paying a high cover price to get into a night club, pay attention to those annoying people on the street trying to hand you stuff – not the people pushing prostitute brochures in your face, the other ones. One our way into the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, a blonde woman offered us wrist bands that would give us access to KOI after 10 pm. It seemed like a good offer at the time. But then we had dinner at KOI, which is worth every penny (in the $40 range for one person), and our waitress gave us some kind of VIP card that got us in and we didn’t have to wait in a line 25 people deep, or pay cover. I hear Voodoo lounge does the same thing, giving away passes on the street, mainly to women. Jet is another popular destination. Girls, try to leverage yourself to get your man in for free, or tell them you won’t go. And keep on the coupon trail. If you want to get a spa appointment at the Mandarin, look inside the room for a 20% off coupon or search online before you go. They exist. Use them.
Why wait until the sun sets to get your groove on? The Azure Pool at the Palazzo is open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and offers a poolside DJ, a menu by Wolfgang Puck, and four bathing areas with an amazing view of The Strip. I think The Palms has my favorite pool, and not just because MTV’s “Real World” was filmed there in 2002. With a capacity for 2,500, and a bar under the water where you can swim up and order a drink. Their cover prices varies and you must be over 21 to enter.
Even the Bellagio has $10 tables. If you want to dabble, stick with Bill’s $5 craps or black jack. The new Sex in the City slot machines are confusing and haven’t paid out to anyone I’ve heard about. But those large $1 wheel games can really stretch the fun. Just be aware that some of the slot machines say one cent but actually use $.30 per game.
Most buffets are garbage. I’m sorry to report this. I know it’s so alluring that for $40 you can get 24-hour access to the buffet at Planet Hollywood’s Resort & Casino. But for that amount you could eat eight PINK’S hot dogs, which are so good celebrities stand in line waiting for them. Check Opentable.com before you go so you won’t get sticker shock when you see these restaurant’s prices. Inside the hotels on the north end of the Strip, expect to pay around $120 for two people with drinks and apps at dinner. There is a food vendor outside Caesar’s Palace that has tasty street food at all hours on the cheap. Of course, Las Vegas is one of the few places in the country with this many four and five star restaurants, so it would be a shame to not try at least one, even for lunch.