Viva Las Vegas, isn’t that what they say? I just returned from my 14th trip to Las Vegas and it still wows me EVERY time. I have been traveling out west for 10 years. Growing up my dad lived in Vegas and I still remember my first time seeing all of the lights!
My most recent trip was for my 23rd birthday and it was SO FUN! I think at this point, I’m low-key an expert so here are my tips on how to make Vegas FUN & CHEAP!
For starters, we flew in from Detroit so its about a four hour flight. I think it’s important to check flight times and pay attention to landing times. For us, we landed at 1pm Vegas time which is really 4PM Detroit time so we were hungry and kinda tired. We flew in on a Sunday, which usually a cheaper flight! I have never been to Vegas on the weekend but that is when its busiest. Flights and hotels are cheaper Sunday – Wednesday. Pack light or split a bag with you’re friend if you’re trying to cut costs!
Once we landed and gathered our bags, we took a Lyft to our hotel. The first few times we went to Vegas, we purchased the hotel shuttles that can be up to $30 a person and they usually have multiple stops. Some hotels, have complimentary shuttles but personally I like spending my $15 on a personal ride that will take me directly where I want to go and quickly.
We stayed at Harrahs, it was cheap and centrally located on the strip. If you’re really trying to save money, you can stay off of the strip. Some hotels will shuttle you to the strip for free but I really think staying on the strip is worth the money and the experience! Harrahs has a great location, and a really good cafe in the lobby. It also has three bars located in the casino, a huge piano bar (that’s busy every night) and a huge like, HUGE bar outside.
So far I have stayed at Paris, which is my all time favorite. Depending on your room, you can have an amazing view of the strip or the Bellagio Fountains! They have the “cleanest” air in my opinion, amazing food (more on this later) and a cabaret stage with a bar and live music in the lobby! Ive also stayed at Park MGM, which is near the end of the strip but its newly renovated, has a huge Italian food court that is so modern, chic and perfect for your instagram. Its also located near so many other great hotels and its reasonably priced! Excalibur, its older but I will say I have had the nicest room here. Im not a fan of their casino but it was perfect for my work trip because it has a tram to Mandalay Bay. Lastly, the Flamingo. It’s an old classic on the strip, generally rooms are cheap too. They are centrally located in the strip and close to the LINQ Promenade. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Flamingo but I would stay here again.
Okay, if you have never been to Vegas this is the most important thing you need to know. The strip is HUGE. Yes, its 3 miles start to finish, BUT you have to walk in an out and up and down so many buildings you can walk 13 miles and not even see everything. So wear comfy shoes! I personally like black Nikes because they match everything and my feet don’t kill. I like staying in the middle of the strip because you can navigate wherever and find your way back. There is nothing worse that staying out all night and then having to go into a random hotel, walk all the way to the back parking lot, catch and ride and then go back through traffic to your hotel! It sounds confusing, but this isn’t like a big city where you just catch a ride on the road. Most of the hotels have “ride share” areas in the back of the hotel parking lot, this is where you catch Ubers and Lyft.
Located on the strip, there are SO many things that really make you go “woah”. If you have never been to Vegas, I don’t recommend trying to see all of these in one day but I do recommend grabbing a drink ( yep, you can walk around in public and drink cocktails on the street, take them from store to store, and even drink a beer while buying a beer at CVS), putting on comfy shoes and wandering a bit! A lot of these are free, but included a few that are fun and worth the money.
- New York New York – They have a rollercoaster in the hotel which is insanely genius but it’s also set up like a mini “city” inside with pubs and restaurants that are “outside” but “inside’. The outside also has a mini Brooklyn Bridge and a statue of Liberty. Worth seeing and the pizza slices are yummy for a quick midday snack and $6. #MajorWin
- Park MGM – This used to be the Monte Carlo but it was renovated and renamed in 2018. Its so cute and “zen” with light colors and fun chandeliers. The have this gorgeous Italian marketplace set up that has 14 different restaurants and counters to choose from. Its worth checking out and if you have a group is perfect because there are multiple food options!
- Cosmopolitan – This hotel has a 3 story bar that is basically inside of a massive chandelier. Its the perfect mix of gaudy and interesting, you kinda have to see it. Perfect instagram picture spot AND they have a secret drink. Order the Verbena (warning, its $18) and snap your pic! The Verbena is a ginger margarita that changes flavor when you chew the flower, its not on the menu but the bartender will know, if you ask for the “flower drink”. The Cosmo also has a great nightclub, Marquee. The cover charge is about $40 so try and find a promoter on the street to get you in for free. If you’re with other girls on your trip, they’ll approach you. Take advantage of this!
- Bellagio – The fountains are honestly gorgeous and low-key my dream proposal spot (Jake, did you catch that). They do the fountain show every 30 minutes after 6pm and its amazing to watch every time! Inside the Bellagio they have the conservatory, its a must see. At this time of year (January) its decorated for Chinese New Year, its stunning. Ive seen it in the summer too and it always “wows” me! After seeing the fountains, turn around and take in the Eiffel Tower at Paris!
- Paris – MY FAVORITE. The vibes are sooooo chic, I clearly love the Parisian feel and they have yummy food. I love the cabaret stage in the lobby with live music too! Not my favorite place to gable but is a more relaxed casino.
- Flamingo – Surprise, they have a flamingo exhibit. Its cute and worth the instagram pic if the weather is nice. After snapping pics, head out toward the LINQ promenade.
- LINQ – Between the LINQ and the Flamingo is the promenade, its quaint and not as busy as the main strip but you can spend all day in here exploring. Zip line, shopping, Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, they have it all…Most importantly the have In-N-Out (a west coast favorite and something you have to get)! There are plenty of bars and restaurants in here and the LINQ Highroller. The Highroller isn’t free but its unique and offers and amazing view of the strip. If you like to party of even gamble, visit O’sheas in the LINQ. They have beer pong and live music every night!
- Mirage – The Mirage has a huge volcano out front that goes off nightly. Tbh, I’ve never seen it besides from my hotel room at Harrahs but it is cool and if you’re out that way, check it out!
- Venitian/Pallazo – Okay, I cannot tell the two apart when I am inside. They connect and its confusing but its one of my favorites. The ceilings inside in Venitian are insane and it’s shocking that all of this art and culture is in a Las Vegas hotel. Get some gelato and wander around, pretend you’re in Italy (I’m not judging) and take it in. They have the ceilings painted sky blue with clouds and yes they have a river with gondola rides, I wasn’t kidding when I said Las Vegas was over the top. Venitian has good shopping and a mix of casual and fine dinning.
- Wynn/Encore – I haven’t spent a lot of time down here BUT its always decorated great with fresh flowers. ALSO if you go during warm months, they have an AMAZING pool and beach club.
- Fashion Show Mall – This is where you want to go if you’re looking fort casual shopping. They have a Forever 21 that is 3 stories and tons of other great shops. On the weekends they also host free fashion shows in on the main level, hence the name. If you happen to go to Vegas and experience bad weather, its worth Ubering down here to kill some time and money!
- Planet Hollywood – This hotel and casino is also connected to the miracle mile shops (good casual shopping). Inside, they also have a robot bar. Yes, an actual robot will make you a cocktail. The drinks range from $11-$17 dollars but where else is a robot going to make you a drink? Certainly not Michigan.
I’m sorry but if your vacay isn’t about gambling, shopping and food, we cannot be friends. Okay I’m kinda kidding, but food is a huge part of vacation. Seeing that I have been to Las Vegas more times than I can count, here is a round up of my favorites and yes, they’re all Instagram worthy.
Mon Ami Gabi – hands down my FAVORITE place to eat on the strip. It’s located in Paris and they have a beautiful patio/pavilion area. I ALWAYS go here for breakfast/brunch (served until 11) and its the best bang for your buck. The portions are HUGE and the food is so f*cking good. I always get the traditional breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash brown and toast with coffee. Im boujee and I love this place. I always talk the person I’m with into splitting an order of crepes. All together, our breakfast is about $50, so $25 each. I know you’re like “lol Collette thats expensive” BUT let me explain. If you get a coffee at Starbucks and a muffin, you’re gonna spend $12 (its more expensive in Vegas anyway) and you’ll be hungry in an hour. A big breakfast, starts your day off right, which is important if you’re drinking all day but its nice to put a cute outfit on an enjoy your meal. You don’t have to do this everyday, but at least once!
Henrys. – Located at the Cosmopolitan. This is also a good place for a sit down breakfast. Its still gonna run about $20-$30 a person but the service is great!
If you’re not looking for a sit down breakfast and you want something local. Almost all of the casinos have a cafe of some sort in their lobby. You’ll be able to get pastries and egg sandwiches quick and on the go. When I travel, I try to eat something I don’t have at home.
Pin Up Pizza – After my huge breakfast, I like a smaller and cheaper lunch so I can enjoy dinner. Pin Up Pizza is in Planet Hollywood and you can walk in right off the strip. Its like $6 for a huge slice of pizza. Get your Diet Coke and you’re ready to go.
Hexx Kitchen – If you’re looking for a sit down place, I love Hexx. They have a pretty wide menu selection and a gorgeous patio if its warm out. Hexx is located at Paris and they have amazing spin dip! 😜
Greenbergs Deli – Okay if you have ever been to NYC, you’ll appreciate this. This deli is located in the New York New York hotel. Inside they have a whole “food court” of restaurants and its just like being in Greenwich Village. It’s so stinking cute but honestly you won’t find a better Italian sandwich on the strip. Quick, easy and affordable!
Guy Fieri Vegas Kitchen – Not everyone is into foo foo food like me, and if so you’ll love this. They have a huge menu with burgers, nacho and other giant entrees. I always order the trash can nachos, they’re $20 and big enough split with someone (cheap 😜). This is my favorite place for dinner and I’ll tell you why. It’s located at the LINQ which is in the middle of the strip. After dinner you have the option wander in any direction or go party at O’sheas.
Eataly – Located at Park MGM, this is a new build and 100% worth checking out. Park MGM is newly renovated and Eataly is an upscale Italian food court, and my upscale I don’t mean expensive. Eataly is a new and unique dining experience offering all types of traditional Italian foods in on place. There are fine wine bars, fresh seafood markets and gourmet pizza stations all under one roof. Its so hip and cool, I would totally recommend a quick dinner here.
Craftsteak – If you’re looking for a nice place to grab dinner and spend little more, I recommend Craftsteak inside of MGM Grand. I went here this past August and no lie, I still dream of the potatoes. its pricy but worth it, and the atmosphere is very romantic. If you’re looking for a “date night” dinner, this is where you wanna go!
If you’re on a budget, I really can’t stress how important happy hour is! There are a few places I love to go for drinks because I’m broke.
The Bird Bar – Located in the Flamingo, they often have fifty cent beers, generally Miller Lite.
Blondies – Located in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. They offer $20 “all you can drink”. It’s going to be well drinks so don’t expect Patron. The service is subpar but you get what you pay for.
Coyote Ugly – Located at New York, New York. They have 2 for 1 drinks from 6pm – 9pm and omg this place IS FUN.
O’sheas – I personally think this is one of the most fun places on the strip. Located in the LINQ, you will always a see a wasted 24 year old male playing beer pong and losing their money at the War table, but its so entertaining.
Chayo – Also at the LINQ, if you want mimosas come here! They have $20 bottomless mimosas from 10-4pm.
Other than that, drinks can be pricey! I always grab drinks at CVS and keep them in my room. You can openly carry alcohol on the strip and take them from casino to casino.
I could go on for days talking your ear off about Las Vegas, it truly is my favorite travel destination. I am lucky I get to travel here often for work but I’m still in awe every single time. A lot of people think Vegas is super expensive and over the top but thats not always the case. There are a ton of good deals on Groupon if you want to see shows or do other activities. If you have questions about anything please comment below, I am more than happy to help!