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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

How To Save Money in Las Vegas - Off The Strip

In my last post, I started telling you about my favorite things to do in Vegas if you don't want to spend any money. Believe it or not, there are quite a few things that are absolutely free - or really cheap - to do. If you don't want to spend your entire trip on The Strip and you're willing to rent a car or Uber somewhere else, then that opens up a whole new world of Las Vegas for you.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few things that are absolutely free - or really cheap - to do in Las Vegas, especially off The Strip.

If you're looking for splurge-worthy activities (that aren't gambling or shows), then I'll be adding another post for those. Right now, here are some great free ones to fill out your trip.

Pinball Hall of Fame

Previously a mile or so away on Tropicana in a very non-descript warehouse with no windows., the Pinball Hall of Fame has moved to a more convenient location down by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Yes, I know I said this was a list of non-Strip things, but unless you're willing to walk in the heat, this is probably not a part of The Strip you're likely to go to. Inside you'll find hundreds of vintage pinball and arcade games. Each game has a card on it with info on the game and manufacturer. You can even play these games, though you will have to shell out money for that, but most play on just one quarter, so you can get a good chunk of entertainment out of just $5.

Ethel M's Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden

This is another destination we hit up nearly every time we're in town. You can watch the process of chocolate-making in their working factory for free, get samples, and browse all the different kinds of chocolates they make or pick up a non-edible souvenir, like a magnet or souvenir. Outside is an extensive cactus garden. There are even ones that I haven't seen, coming from Arizona. It's really tranquil, even when it's 115 degrees outside. 

Downtown Arts District

Downtown Las Vegas has so much more than it used to. In fact, it's no longer the dirty, sketch place it was, and now has a revamped look with the city working with local artists for murals and sculptures and other types of art. One of my favorites this year was the bright pink The Empty Club by artist Andre Saraiva, who specializes in French aesthetic. Eric enjoyed the giant fallen robot right next to it (above) called Mechan X and done by Tyler Fuqua Creations. 

Container Park

If you've not been to the Container Park yet, you need to go! I always suggest going at night, but you really should do it during the day and then return after dark to get the full genius of it. The Container park is a collection of shops and eateries made of shipping containers. Inside you'll find a huge playground for kids and a fake grassy area. After 9pm, the park is only open to 21+ and they host activities such as movies on the lawn, wine tasting and live entertainment. 

Out front is a giant metal praying mantis that was part of Burning Man. After dark, it shoots fire to music. You'll also find The Dome, a dome that houses music shows like the planetarium. I wrote about it here. You can also see a video of the praying mantis at work.

Fremont Street Experience

Maybe you've been afraid to go downtown at night time, but know that you will find the area patrolled heavily by police, so you really shouldn't worry too much about your safety. I enjoy visiting Fremont during the day as well, but you'll find a whole different vibe when the sun's still up. Depending on when you visit, daytime Fremont is pretty chill, though you'll find the same "showgirl" and "celebrity" photo ops anytime, you may also see some interesting street shows. On our last visit, we stopped to watch a saxophonist do a set. You can also get your palm read, buy souvenirs and people watch. 

When night falls, you will find tons of free music (there are three stages that run all at once), and each hour they turn the lights down for you to turn your eyes upwards to watch the Fremont Street Experience. There is a light canopy that runs two blocks. Music plays and the lights create patterns, show videos, and chase each other throughout the show, which can last 3-5 minutes. Tourists flood the street at night, so if you're not a fan of crowds, this might not be for you. 

This last visit, I had a tip from a fellow blogger about a vintage toy store on Fremont Street, so we went in search of it. It's called Toy Shack and it is packed floor to ceiling with amazing vintage toys from all decades, as well as some new stuff. Many of the things inside I've never seen before. They don't mind if you take pics and video and are happy to haggle with you if you're reasonable. It's definitely worth a look inside, plus it's air conditioned, so it's a nice break from the heat outside.

You can visit Fremont Street, the Container Park and see a ton of street art all within a few blocks of each other, so if you're looking for the biggest bang for your drive/ride, this is it. There's also a highly recommended coffee shop - Public US - that I am hoping to hit up on this next visit, too.

Seven Magic Mountains

If you haven't seen the colorful photos of people visiting this art project in the desert, you might be living under a (normal, non-painted) rock. It's a bit of a drive out of the city, but I was really excited when I didn't miss it on its first run, because they had extended the project for a further 2 years (this is the last year, supposedly, that it will be up, but I can't find any info about an end date on their website now, so who knows). The Seven Magic Mountains are seven stacks of painted rocks that contrast sharply with the surrounding brown and muted green desert landscape. It's quite surreal and the stacked boulders are pretty amazing. 

There you have it. My free off-The-Strip attractions and activities. Stay tuned for the splurge-worthy, and just plain cool, paid attractions that I recommend, so you aren't wasting your time and money on your trip. 

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