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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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