You don't have to spend big to live large in Nevada's Sin City.
The city of extremes can have some pretty extreme prices. But if you know how to find the deals, you, too, can enjoy the life of a high roller for discounted prices. Here are some tips on affordable things to do in Las Vegas that can make that happen. Area code is 702 unless noted.
1 SEE FOR FREE The light and music show at the Fountains of Bellagio still enthralls. Watch this choreography of water a couple of times an hour. The Mirage’s exploding volcano delivers an extravaganza of fireballs and explosions, with a soundtrack by the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart and Zakir Hussain. Along the Carnival Midway at Circus Circus, you can ooh and aah at the daredevil trapeze artists swinging overhead.
2 GET JUNK “In Vegas, you want to do the opposite of what common sense tells you everywhere else,” says Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, a Sin City deals newsletter. “You want junk mail. That’s where the deals really come from.” Check out Las Vegas Advisor and Vegas.com.
Sign up for online loyalty programs and email deals pour in: Aria Resort & Casino offers various promotions, such as dining credits or a facial at the spa, followed by a relaxing stretch on a heated-stone bed. 3730 Las Vegas Blvd., (701) 590-7111.
Facebook, Twitter, websites: It’s easy to find discounts, especially for entertainment, even on top-drawer experiences like Cirque du Soleil. You may find yourself watching one of their eight different shows such as The Beatles Love and Zumanity for less than full price. Cirque du Soleil also has discounts and exclusive offers for students and military.
3 EMBRACE THE WORKWEEK Things are cheaper Sunday through Thursday. A room can cost half as much on a Tuesday as it does on a Saturday. Spas offer midweek discounts; so do buffets.
One of the best buffets is the Cosmopolitan’s Wicked Spoon, which offers small scrumptious servings—a shot of ceviche, a crème brûlée—in cute mini pots and baskets. The weekend brunch costs $34, but weekdays it’s a steal at $26. The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 698-7000.
A reserved poolside lounge chair is $50 Monday through Thursday at Bellagio’s Cypress Pool—complete with Evian misters, chilled towels, mini smoothies, and attendants adjusting umbrellas—half its Saturday rate. 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 693-7075.
4 EAT EARLY The secret to eating well—really well—on a budget, even at celebrity-chef restaurants, is to eat earlier. At the white-tablecloth Greek restaurant Estiatorio Milos, you can lunch on a meze plate, grilled bass flown in daily from the Mediterranean, and fresh fruit or Greek yogurt for dessert for $22.13. The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 698-7930.
David Myers’s Comme Ça, a French brasserie with a stunning terrace view of the half-scale Eiffel Tower, offers a $19.50, three-course lunch special featuring delights such as steamed mussels and red velvet bacon waffle. The best part: Lunch runs late. Grab a table at 4:15 p.m. and linger through evening. The Cosmopolitan, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 698-7910.
5 HEAD FOR HAPPY HOUR Las Vegas is thick with happy hour menus. The appetizers are half-price at Stratosphere’s Level 107 Lounge (that’s 107 floors above the Strip) and can fill you up, and the cocktails are two-for-one from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 380-7764.
At the trendy Lavo lounge overlooking Treasure Island Hotel & Casino’s pirate ship show, a glass of happy hour bubbly is $7, as are two big Kobe beef meatballs with garlic bread and spicy tomato sauce. The Plazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd., S., 791-1800.
6 JUST ASK Sirio Ristorante, with its 1960s dolce vita vibe, charges $52 for roasted veal chops. Mention you’re hunting for a deal and you’ll learn about the Caffe menu specials. Aria, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 230-2742.
Try strategic bargaining in a boutique. If something catches your eye, but the price is too high, ask the sales clerk what they can do for you. They can say nothing, but if they don’t, you may come home with a stylish new outfit—at a discount.
Photography by David H. Collier (Wicked Spoon, Comme Ca); courtesy Las Vegas News Bureau (the Strip); courtesy John Davis/Costumes by Alan Hranitelj/Cirque du Soleil (Zarkana)
This article was first published in January 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.