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Best Bets in Las Vegas

You don’t have to be a high roller to enjoy fabulous food and fun along the Strip.

  • Fountains of Bellagio on the Las Vegas Strip, picture
    Photo credit
    Phil Stringer / Tandem Stock
    Photo caption
    The free show at the Fountains of Bellagio on the Vegas Strip.
  • Lunar New Year, Wynn hotel Las Vegas, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Jeff Green
    Photo caption
    A Lunar New Year display at the Wynn hotel.
  • Ka, Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Eric Jamison
    Photo caption
    Cirque du Soleil's Ka.
  • Shake Shack at New York-New York hotel, Las Vegas, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: James Bueti
    Photo caption
    Shake Shack burgers and milk shakes.

Welcome to Las Vegas, land of penny slots and 99-cent shrimp cocktails. At least, that’s what it was like in Frank Sinatra’s day. As gambling revenues have dwindled in recent years, so have the city’s famously budget-friendly diversions and dining options. But you can still indulge in fantastic eats and entertainment on the Strip, even if you haven’t hit the jackpot. 

“Deals do still exist,” says AAA Travel Agency Manager Rene Schneeberger. “If you want to have that great-value experience in Las Vegas you can with a few insider tips.” 

Inexpensive Las Vegas Shows

To save on seeing Vegas’s big-name acts—from Cirque du Soleil to Céline Dion—go through a broker like Tix4Tonight, which sells same-day tickets to many shows for as much as half off. The Las Vegas Power Pass, starting at $89 for one day, gives access to more than 50 attractions, from the Stratosphere Tower observation deck to the roller coaster that wraps around the New York-New York hotel.

The most famous free spectacle is the Fountains of Bellagio, where waterspouts shimmy like showgirls to a lively sound track. The song-length performances erupt at 15- or 30-minute intervals. The complimentary experiences continue in the Bellagio lobby, where the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens transform with the seasons. Likewise, the Wynn and Encore hotels mark the Lunar New Year with elaborate floral and sculptural displays, including fruiting mandarin trees, symbols of good fortune in Chinese culture. Meanwhile, the luxe Aria Resort & Casino showcases paintings and sculptures by such prominent artists as Julian Schnabel and Maya Lin throughout the hotel.

Even at full price ($36.95), the Mac King Comedy Magic Show at Harrah’s likely won’t blow your budget. But Mac King will bust you up. His show hums along with sly humor and astounding sleight of hand—like when he swallows a live guinea pig.

Budget Bites on the Strip

Dining out on the Strip can be theatrical, too, with stylized restaurants that cost as much as a mortgage payment. For affordable eats, try Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, with locales inside Fashion Show and the Grand Canal Shoppes. This faithful offshoot of the beloved Brooklyn parlor offers pies that can feed a family of four for $19. Shake Shack, another Big Apple–born phenomenon, turns out burgers, shakes, and fries at the base of New York-New York.

No style of dining better embodies the generous local ethos than the all-you-can-eat buffet. And no buffet is a better value than the Cosmopolitan’s Wicked Spoon. For $28, weekday brunch brings a spread of nearly everything you can imagine, and more shrimp cocktail than you could ever want.

Rather than spend a fortune on one high-end dinner, join Lip Smacking Foodie Tours' Afternoon Culinary Adventures ($125) and try signature dishes at Momofuku, Wolfgang Puck's Cucina, and other marquee restaurants. 

Up Next: Classic Las Vegas Haunts and What to do in Downtown Las Vegas

This article was first published in Winter 2018 and updated in Fall 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.