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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Philadelphia's Elfreth's Alley

When I travel, I love to visit historical sites. I find them to be full of beauty and interesting architecture. No place is that more true than in Philadelphia. Everywhere you look there's something gorgeous to look at, and Elfreth's Alley was one of my favorites. This is the nation's oldest residential street that has only been occupied by private citizens since it was built. 


Elfreth's Alley was not included on the original plans for Philadelphia, but being the port city it was, artisan's and merchants bought up so much land close to the waterfront that overcrowding happened pretty quickly. Two landowners decided to combine their properties to create Elfreth's Alley for residential housing and also a path for carts to use to get goods to and from the river.





People have lived in Elfreth's Alley continuously since 1713. 29 of the 32 homes are residential, 2 make up the Alley's museum, and the last hosts special events. The sheer colors, brickwork and feel of the alley make it a place you want to just wander all day. 






Amazingly, Elfreth's Alley is just a few steps from other historical attractions, like Benjamin Franklin home and museum and Betsy Ross's house. You can take tours of the Alley on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as check out the museum (open 12-5pm). We visited on a weekday evening, so we just wandered through by ourselves. The best part is that it's totally free! (Guided tours are $8 and museum admission is $3.)

If you want another taste of history, there's the original Olde City Coffee Cafe right around the corner. Yum!

What's one of your favorite historical places where you live?

Saturday, March 16, 2019

There's Still Time to Plan a Spring Break Trip

Much of the country is under snow or having terrible extended winters. It's March and we have had two snowfalls and weather in the 40s in Portland and I'm sick of it! I'm really just excited to head to Las Vegas, even if I have to work much of the 4 days I'll be there. All I want is to not have to coat when I go outside. If you're in this boat also, there's still time to plan a Spring Break trip, and on a budget.


Here's where to go:

Las Vegas

This isn't just on the list because I'm going there, but rates drop pretty good during this time of year. Your only problem with finding a cheap flight may be if where you live is a great Spring Break destination. Apparently, Portland is a place people want to come and my return flight was going to be outrageous, so I changed my return to Seattle and am taking the train back, and still saving hundreds or half a day. 

I've been seeing really low flight deals to/from other cities to Sin City, plus great rates on hotel rooms. Enjoy the weather, hit the pool, party your butt off and then save money on other activities and dining. Don't forget to get some rest and stay hydrated between all your foot-long margaritas.

Photo by William Carretero on Unsplash

Miami

Florida is getting some hot weather right now, which seems about right, but also really necessary for some people to get in on. I was just happy to get some sun this week, even with the abnormally cold weather, but I wouldn't say no to having to put on some shorts and taking a stroll on the beach. Spring flights to Miami are dropping more than 40% this Spring and you can even take advantage of Miami Music Week the last week of March. Miami is very popular for Spring Break though, so if crowds are not your thing, you may want to skip it.

Orlando

If you want to hit some theme parks on your Spring Break, flights to Orlando are dropping to as low as 70% regular rates. Not only can you spend all that money you saved on Butterbeer, but you can also get in on Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras celebration, which lasts through April 4. If theme parks aren't for you, head to the beach instead, hit up Gatorland, visit the zoo, take a city tour, or check out the aquarium. 

New Orleans

With Mardi Gras being finished, the swarms of people visiting Nola leave, meaning the city is seeing a downturn in tourism, despite the New Orleans Bourbon Festival and the Tennessee Williams Festival going on for the last two weeks of March. There's a lot to do even without these things. Here were some of my favorites.

Honolulu

Hawaii is on a lot of lists for travelers, so why not head there over your Spring Break? The weather is gorgeous, the beaches aren't packed full of people like they can be, and you can actually get a table at that restaurant you've had your eye on. It's been some time since we've visited Honolulu, but if you actually want to get out and do things in between bouts of getting some sun on your body, you can check out my post here on how to save.

Photo by Thomas Bormans on Unsplash


New York City

If the chill weather isn't a concern to you and you want to take a non-traditional Spring Break, NYC flights can dip below 20% off this time of year. If your top must-do is a Broadway show, that's cool, but you're going to bust your budget fairly easily that way. Don't worry though, because Lonely Planet has a list of 45 free things to do in NYC.

Los Angeles

California has some fantastic weather much of the year, or at least better than other parts of the country. I've never turned down a trip to LA, because Disneyland, Universal, Hollywood, delicious foods, amazing art. I mean, the list goes on and on. Couple that with flights that are almost 25% less than other times of the year and you really can't go wrong. My friend and I spent two days in LA last year when we did theme parks and we were never disappointed by what we found to do.

Obviously, there are plenty of other places you can head to this Spring to get away and also save money, but these are some easy ones to get to. I've been packed for weeks for my trip, because I, honestly, can't handle anymore snow or freezing rain or icy winds. 

What is your top destination for Spring Break?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Get Free Money!

Do you like free money? I mean, don't we all? Well, right now you can get a free $20 for doing almost nothing! Who's giving all this money away? Qapital!

Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash

Normally, when you sign up using a referral link, you get $5, which is still pretty awesome, because that's five more dollars than you didn't have before, but right now, when you sign up through my referral link, you get four times that amount! 

Maybe you're thinking "what the heck is Qapital and why would I sign up for it?" That's valid. Qapital is an awesome app that helps you save for things in life you want, like that amazing trip to Greece you've been thinking about. Signing up is easy. You link up your accounts to it, create "rules" for yourself, and then start saving! 

Photo by Kody Gautier on Unsplash

Some of my favorite rules are the Round Up, the Payday, and the Spend Less Rule. Round Up rounds up all your purchases to the nearest $2, so if you spend $23.45, $.55 will automatically go to your Qapital account. The Payday Rule gives you a way to put aside a set amount of money each payday. The Spend Less Rule has you set a budget for certain things and if you come in under that budget, the remainder gets saved to your Qapital account. It's super easy to save, but also super easy to move your money back to your bank account (or your spending account if you use the Qapital debit), so you can use it on your goals. 
What if you don't have any money in your bank account? That's okay! Qapital monitors your accounts and pauses your saving when you get below a certain threshold so you don't end up in the red. They look out for you in all the important ways, and before you know it, you've got money for those things that are on the top of your list. So....not overlimit fees. 

There are TONS of rules you can set up, so there's always something that's going to work for you, plus you can pause savings when you need to, or you can add a little extra to your savings when you have extra to put away. When you make a milestone, Qapital throws you a little party on your phone to let you know how you're doing and make you feel good about yourself. I love it. I've been using it for two years now and have saved about $1200 just by rounding up my purchases with my debit card. 

Start saving now and soon you'll be planning that trip you've been dreaming about! What are you saving for right now?


Disclaimer: When sign up and get money, I also get money. Once you sign up, I encourage you to refer all your friends and make even more free money from Qapital!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Budget Criusing Tips - Part 2

We're talking about cruising with summer right around the corner. We talked about how to save in my last post, but how do you pick the right cruise and cabin and all that other good stuff? I'm about to give you some help! 

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

What to Consider

There are a lot of factors to deal with when booking a cruise, so don't just close your eyes and point at something, because that probably won't go well. My first cruise was on a very small ship and it gave me a good bout of cabin fever. The ship seemed bigger when looking at everything online, but in reality, it was fairly small compared to all the others out there. I learned for next time. 
  • Decide how much you want to spend. This is always number one. If you don't know, perhaps look around at cruise deals to figure out what sort of budget you'll need. Keep in mind what is included – cabin, food, beverages, most entertainment, kids club (most of the time), room service – and what's not – some activities, shore excursions, alcohol, soft drinks (usually), fancy coffees, specialty dining, childcare, tipping, spa service, casino, shopping, personal trainers and exercise classes. Gratuity generally adds about $10-15 per person per day to your cost, which will add to the posted cost. In fact, the posted price is always going to be less than what you will actually spend.
  • How long do you want to be gone? As a first-timer, I wouldn't suggest anything longer than 7 days, but it also depends on the itinerary you choose. If you're unsure how you'll feel about being on a big ship, maybe pick a shorter cruise to start off, and if you like it, you can plan a longer cruise in the future.
  • Where do you want to go? This is usually the first thing I think about and then figure out how I can make it work with my budget. It also depends on what time of year you can go what's available. Most cruises don't sail year-round. 
  • Who's going with you? Some cruise lines are more suited to families than others, which cater more toward grown-ups.
  • Are you cool with crowds? It's simple math. The bigger the ship, the larger the crowds on it. If you want a more intimate experience, go for a smaller ship. If you don't care and you want a long list of available activities, then a large ship is where it's at.


Really just want a good cruise for your first time without all the effort? Then check out Cruise Critic's list of 12 best cruises for newbies. They are also a great resource for researching all ships and itineraries.


Choosing the Right Cabin

I'm not big on staying in my room, whether I'm on a ship or in a hotel. I mean, I like to be comfortable, but I tend to be out more than I'm in on almost all my trips. That said, you may end up in your cabin more than expected, so picking the right one for you can make or break your trip.
  • If you get seasick and are planning a trip on a smaller ship, choose one that's in the middle of the ship for the least amount of rockage. That said, you probably won't feel any rocking at all, no matter what ship you choose, unless the weather is pretty iffy. 
  • If you like to sleep and enjoy your blackout curtains, go for an inside cabin. This is also great for those that just want to enjoy the ship and ports and want to save as much money as possible. Keep in mind, if the lights are out, even if it's the middle of the day, your cabin will be pitch black
  • If seeing the outside world is important to you, or you just need sunlight to feel like a person who doesn't live in a cave, choose an outside cabin. If nothing else, it'll have some portholes that will let light in, so you'll at least know if it's daytime or not. Those higher up on the ship will have larger windows.
  • Some people value their connection to the sea and want to experience it 24/7. This is when you should get a balcony, or at least a Juliet balcony (which offers a sliver of standing room outside your sliding floor-to-ceiling window. 


Extra Tips


Staterooms on ships are not the largest. The bed takes up most of the space, so you’re going to want to hang everything you can. 
  • Bring some magnetic clips to keep stuff organized that you can stick to your cabin walls (because they’re magnetic!). 
  • Pack a cloth shoe organizer to hang in the closet to stash things that you don’t usually hang up, but don’t want to have to keep on the closet floor or wrestle out of your suitcase each time you want to use it.
  • Keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones by bringing along a mesh, pop-up hamper. I tend to take mine down to the laundry to clean everything before I leave so I don’t go home, or to my next destination, with a bag full of dirty clothes.
  • Pack a small power strip, because like hotel rooms, staterooms are woefully lacking in outlets. I like this one from Belkin and have one in my travel bag at all times and two at home.
Some cruise lines try to dupe you into paying more for less. I mean, it's like Vegas. Why not charge for everything when you still have money in your pocket? Here are some things to watch out for:
  • Check the room diagram (and reviews). Some lines are claiming rooms are suites when they really are not. A suite should be more than one room and a few are offering one room separated by a curtain, and some not even that.
  • A balcony should be able to hold a few chairs, at least. Watch out for those that claim you get a balcony, but it's either the smallest standing room or a sliding door where you're basically standing in the doorway to be "outside".
Now you're practically an expert on all things cruising. You can pick the right ship, the right cabin, the perfect excursions on your own and even save money once onboard. The only thing that's left is to pack and put on your sunglasses! And if you want packing tips, make sure you're subscribed to my newsletter, as my next one will have exclusive packing light tips specifically for cruising.

f you've been on a cruise, where did you go and what was your favorite thing?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Budget Criusing Tips - Part 1

Cruising is unlike other travel. Most people book through a travel agent, because it’s so foreign and they are afraid of making a bad decision or getting a crappy deal. The thing is, you don’t need an agent, you just need to know-how to do it right, even if it’s your first time cruising. Unlike booking a hotel or a plane ticket, you’re stuck on the boat and in your cabin for three nights to three weeks (depending on your itinerary) and there’s really nothing you can do if you hate your boat or your room.

Photo by Peter Hansen on Unsplash

So, how do you figure it all out and still save money? It’s really not that difficult. You just need to do a bit of research and planning. This is the time to make sure to check out previous cruiser reviews.

How to Save Money

There are a lot of ways, big and little, that can help you save on your cruise. Some are no brainers (to me, anyway) and some are little known.
  • Book your cruise early. Unlike airfare, you can really save a lot of money if you book your cruise far in advance. I’m talking a year out, maybe more. Cruise lines lure you in with the promise of incentives like beverage packages, free gratuities, onboard credits, free upgrades and much reduced rates. 
  • Book your cruise late. If you don’t like to plan ahead (or that far out), look for last-minute cruise sales where you can get similar deals to early-booking. You may not get your first choice of cabin, but you’ll save big time on those that need to be filled before sailing.
  • Sail in the off season. When you can, choose off-peak times to cruise to get a better deal and possibly a less crowded ship. Obviously, prices are lower for the less desirable cruise times, like hurricane season (which rarely sees a hurricane).
  • Tip strategically. Most gratuities for services on the ship are included, which you’ll see on your receipt when you sign for them to charge them to your room. Unless your service was over the top outstanding, don’t double tip. In fact, if you go to check out your bill before debarkation and you feel like your gratuities are…uh…gratuitous, you can certainly dispute this to change them. And the reverse is also true if you want to add to your total.
  • Book your shore excursions separately. I can’t tell you how much cruise lines mark up excursions. They make tons of bank on people who either didn’t know they could book independently or were too lazy to do it. You can save an average of 50% by doing it yourself, even through the same companies that the cruise works with. Just make sure to check reviews to see what others had to say.
  • Book a package. If you know you’ll want to drink a ton of soda (or anything other than tea, water and coffee), purchase the beverage package and save yourself some bucks. If you want to spend time hitting up the specialty dining on your ship, look into the dining packages. You may save quite a bit by doing these instead of paying every time you decide to go “off menu”. 
  • Skip the spa or book on port days. You’ll probably be so busy doing other stuff on the ship that you won’t have time to get pampered at the spa, but if not, know that you may end up paying twice as much for services as you would on land. Prices drop significantly if you book when the ship is in port, since most people will be out and not interested in staying on the boat.
  • Save your drinking for port days. I know most people get super excited to sit by the pool and drink their days away. By doing this, you’re spening way more on booze than you need to. Instead, do other things on the boat and then drink for much less in port. If you must drink while cruising, here are some ways to do it for free or cheap:
    • Keep an Eye out for BOGO Deals - Okay, so you aren't getting totally free drinks this way, but some of the bars on board will offer specific hours where you can buy a drink and get one free. Take advantage of these times.
    • Check out some art - Every cruise wants to part you from your money. If you're willing to spend some of your free time sitting in on an art auction (whether or not you are actually planning to buy any), you will be gifted a glass of champagne or sparkling wine just for showing up.
    • Go to the Captain's reception - Everyone's invited to this party and drinks (alcoholic and non) are free. You just need to put on something other than your bathing suit to look presentable.
    • Say goodbye with free booze - The day before you head home, there is usually a party to thank you for cruising. Free drinks are served, though they may not be the best options. I had some really weird alcoholic beverages at ours, but there was also entertainment and dancing. 
    • Attend duty-free tastings - In the first days of your cruise, the duty-free shop will usually offer free tastings from what they have for sale to entice you into making a purchase. If you don't make a purchase, it's fine. If you do, know that you're still paying approximately double the price you would pay off the boat for that same bottle.
  • Link your cruise card to cash instead of a credit card. This is a new tip I just learned. In order to combat overspending, which is super easy to do when you just hand over your stateroom card for everything, head to the purser’s desk and give them half of the cash you have allocated to spend onboard on the first day of your cruise instead of linking to your credit card. Halfway through, give them the other half of your cash. One, this eliminates the willy-nilly spending for things you don’t need. Two, this allows you to have cash available for excursions instead going broke before your trip is over.
  • Book your next cruise while you’re on your cruise. This is more a tip for potential second cruisers, but you can do it while cruising for the first time. Cruise lines give deals to loyal cruisers with significant discounts, onboard credits and more.
Okay, so now that you know how to save on your actual cruise, you need to know how to pick a cruise. But you’ll have to wait for my next post to learn more about how to be awesome at cruising. And if you're in need of packing light tips for cruising, make sure you're receiving my newsletter, as that will be a bonus exclusively for subscribers.


If you've cruised previously, what are your best tips for saving on one?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

In just a few days, the world will be overcome with green: Green beer. Green shirts. Green beads. Green hats. And corned beef and cabbage. What? Don't ask me. I've never heard of anyone eating corned beef and cabbage outside of an Irish restaurant or St. Patrick's Day. I'm not sure it's for me, but I made colcannon, which is basically mashed potatoes and cabbage, and I liked it, so maybe I should give it a try. Anyway, back to St. Patrick's Day - the celebration of St. Patrick driving the (non-existent) snakes out of Ireland, by drinking green beer until you can't see straight. Why? Because that's how Americans celebrate almost everything. 


While you can probably find that old Kiss Me I'm Irish shirt in your closet and hit up your local parade, a change of scenery may not be a bad thing. Maybe you're traveling over the holiday and are looking for something fun. Here are some of the best celebrations around the world:

photo credit

Bueno Aires, Argentina

Argentinians love to party and they have the 5th largest Irish population in the world, so not getting in on this celebratory time is simply crazy talk. The parade and a ton of activities, food stalls and more go one throughout the day. Because it's not an official holiday, it's celebrated on the Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day (this year the 18th), so you can actually celebrate twice if you want, or spend the actual day going to church and the traditional things one would do on Friday, which I'm sure many of the 500,000 Irish in Argentina take advantage of.

photo credit

Chicago, Illinois

The city is famous for turning their river green each year for St. Patrick's Day. Once the Chicago River has been colored, it's time for the festivities to start. The parade takes place on the Saturday nearest the 17th, but there is a second celebration that takes place in the city as well. The South Side Irish Parade takes place the day after the downtown parade, so you can make a weekend of it. There are also many Irish pubs around town to indulge in some beer, music and food.

photo credit

Dublin, Ireland

The ultimate place to get in on the festivities is where it all began. Well, not the parties. The holiday was quite religious and secular in Ireland until fairly recently. The first festival to be held in Ireland didn't occur until 1996 and it was only one day. Since then, it has grown into a week-long celebration of all things Irish that draws hundreds of thousand of visitors every year who come to party, join parades, watch concerts, witness fireworks, attend sporting events, take in theater performances and, of course, to drink beer.

photo credit

Montreal, Quebec


Who knew that there was a place in Canada that was like being in a little version of Ireland? Despite being in the heart of French Canada, you can find a selection of Irish pubs and a St. Patrick's Day parade that's like the US Postal Service. Whether snow, rain, sleet or hail, the parade must go on. It always takes place on a Sunday and is surrounded by an Irish Film Festival, charity ball, luncheon and more. 

photo credit

New York City

There's no surprise that a city built on immigrants has a large population of Irish and makes their celebrations its own. The city still has one of the largest concentrations of Irish in the world and their history can't be forgotten. New York's St. Patrick's Day parade lasts nearly 6 hours, and if you can't make it there, or hate crowds, you can watch it online. If nothing else, you won't be surrounded by a bunch of drunks, as alcohol is strictly prohibited. 

These are just a few of the places that throw a great bash. It's by no means a complete list, as you can also find wonderful celebrations in Boston, London, the West Indies, LA and possibly even your own city. You won't catch me at pub chugging a green beer, wearing shamrock sunglasses, but I might be quietly sipping a Guinness and watching a local parade on TV or watching others celebrate in Dublin on Earthcam like I did last year.



How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

What To Do In New York City

When you’re heading out to NYC, there’s so much that you’re going to want to see and do. But do you have a plan of how you’re going to spend your time there? Let’s take a look at some of the best things you can do.

Photo by Christopher Czermak on Unsplash

Shop

First of all, when you’re heading to NYC, one of the best things you can do is to think about heading out and hitting some of the shops. Because we all know that this city has some of the best shopping in the world. So this should be your start.

Eat

And another way you’re going to want to consider spending your time in NYC, is to eat. Because like shopping, eating comes alive in New York City. So before you head out, think about researching some of the restaurants you might want to eat at.

Explore

Then, you’re going to want to get out and explore the city and all of the incredible culture it has to offer. Because there are so many sights! From the Empire State building to the Top of the Rock and then even sights like the Met Museum, make sure you see it all.

Enjoy!

Finally, you’re definitely want to get out there and enjoy some of the different experiences there are. One of the best is being to head out and see a Broadway show or even enjoy a Mets game! If you want to work out what show you should see, take a look at the infographic below.

Infographic Design By broadway shows

For more ideas on what to do in New York City, check out this post.

What are your favorite things to do in NYC?

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Cheap and Free Things to Do In Las Vegas

I visit Vegas several times per year and I'm always looking for cool things that don't cost a ton of money. Although it seems like the city has really gone up in price, there are still a lot of things you can do that keep money in your pocket for more important things, like gambling and eating. Of course, things are changing all the time, so one year you go and find stuff and the next time it may be gone. Here are some of my favorite free and cheap Vegas finds.


Downtown artwork

Downtown used to be a place you went to save a bunch of money, but not to do fun stuff or be safe, but the City of Vegas is changing all that, especially by beautifying the area. Now downtown is the cool place to be, and it's much quieter than The Strip. The city has commissioned local artists to beautify the area, and they are doing an amazing job.


Bellagio Fountains

The classic Bellagio Fountains is probably on everyone's list. They start during the day if you're visiting on a weekend, but they're a fun way to see a free show and take a break when walking down the strip


Bellagio Conservatory

One of my favorite places in Vegas is the Bellagio Conservatory. It is changed every season, so it's likely to be different each time you visit. This time we were there it was a shipwreck. They create a ton of stuff out of fresh flowers and it always smells lovely. This is coming from someone who's pretty much allergic to everything. The air is always fresh and there's no sneezing or eye watering. The Conservatory is open 24/7, so you can always fit it into your visit. {You can also go around the corner and see the world's largest chocolate fountain in front of Jean Phillipe's.}


Wynn fountain and waterfall

I like the Bellagio Fountains, but it's always crowded and hard to see and you have to wait for certain showtimes. The Wynn has a fountain show (albeit much smaller) that runs 24-hours a day and there are no large crowds you need to compete with for pictures/videos. You can stop at any time of the day or night and watch the fountain waters dance...and if you head around the corner, you can see the awesome waterfall. It's a great place to grab a selfie for your Instagram.


Encore indoor garden

Okay, you all know that I will hit up the Bellagio Conservatory each and every trip to Vegas, but it's not the only indoor garden around. The Mirage has a rainforest, the Palazzo has a floral lobby, and the Encore has a totally unexpected walkway lined with trees and floral sculptures. 

If you want to see a fantastic water show, you'll have get a seat at their bar or outdoor restaurant. After dark, they have a water wall that comes alive with fountains and projected images. It's not free, but it is if you plan to take there anyway. We'll definitely be doing that on a future trip.


Downtown Container Park

I've talked about the container park before. It's basically an outdoor shopping center with tiny shops made from old shipping containers. There are restaurants, an arcade, a salon, a wedding "chapel", a large playground, and a fake grassy area where you can stake a spot on to watch a free movie on certain days.

After 9pm, the Container Park is 21+. You don't have to go in to enjoy the large metal mantis out front that spews fire. Every 15 minutes or so, music will start and the mantis rocks in time with it and also fire shoots out of its antennae. It's a fantastic light show and totally free. You'll also find the Dome here, which also used to be a Burning Man installation, but is now a mini theater.


The Dome LV

This year they have added a brand new attraction to downtown. The dome that was already a staple at the Container Park has been turned into a mini theater. Of course we had to try it out. They do light shows throughout the day with different themes. We sat in on the U2 show and were the only ones in there. 

While you can get an hour show for around $12 a person, if you book your shows online, you pay less. They even have a meal and show option that's only $15 per person, which is a fantastic deal in my opinion.

Two things I'll tell you: 
  1. If it's really hot outside, the temperature inside won't be much better. I would wait until it's dark to hit a show. It felt like we were in an oven, despite the fact that they have "air conditioning" in there. The air doesn't move at all, so it doesn't make a noticeable difference, except that the sun isn't beating down on you.
  2. If you get motion sickness, maybe skip this, as it can be very disorienting and make you feel like you're spinning through space at times.

Pinball Hall of Fame

This can be as cheap or as expensive as you like. The PHoF is full of vintage and retro pinball machines, with a few other games mixed in for fun. I think the most recent machine I saw in there was Terminator. I love this place, because machines are either one or two quarters (there are a LOT of 25 cent ones). You can stay for an hour or more on just $5, so it's a fun way to spend time and appreciate some games you either never saw or miss from the past. 

Each machine has a sign on it that tells you when it hit the market, which company designed it and a bit of history behind the concept. It's really interesting and easy to lose yourself here for hours at a time. It's a bit off The Strip and looks pretty shady from the outside, but don't let the building fool you. Inside is huge entertainment.


M&M World

If you love M&Ms, this is a fun place to visit. There are multiple floors of all the colored candies, artwork, clothing and other products, and even a free movie featuring your favorite M&M guys (and lady).  

photo by Eric

Coca-Cola World

I didn't get to go to this last year, but Eric went and you can taste test some of the Coke products sold around the world. You can also browse and buy tons of amazing products and clothing. 


Pallazzo lobby & atrium

Like the Bellagio, there are flowers everywhere, including masquerade women. The atrium is just the tip of the iceberg. Make your way into the Canal Shoppes to see the magnificent waterfall and other landscapes. There's a spectacular bridge on display with fountain. 


Aria lobby & water wall

The lobby is beautiful and has some fun art including floral clouds. Out front is a wall that creates a waterfall when water is pumped over it in different ways. There is also a fun multi-colored fountain and these amazing pigeon chairs to wait for your valet (or just enjoy being next to the water wall).


Flamingo's flamingo habitat

This seems to be a little known and underrated attraction to anyone not staying at the hotel. It's a little difficult to find, but if you follow the signs and go out to what looks like the pool, you're there. There are more than flamingos, too. There are storks, turtles, ducks, koi, waterfalls and a cute flamingo fountain. 

Obviously, there are plenty of other cool things to do in Sin City. There's really something for everyone. You may like the craze of Fremont Street, the free circus acts at Circus Circus, the piles of candy at Hershey Chocolate World, the big crowds at the Mirage for the nightly volcano show or the mermaid brunch at the Silverado. These are just some of my favorite ways to save money in town, while I splurge on some delicious cuisine and gamble in between. 

What are your favorite things to do in Vegas? 
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