We've been to Las Vegas three times and we've enjoyed it in a number of ways.  The great thing about Vegas is that it can serve as a fun weekend getaway at a low cost.  Truth be told, Vegas on the cheap can be easily done and is still a lot of fun!  Now, where are those penny slots?

The first time we visited was for Jess's 21st birthday (what a way to celebrate) while she was still in college.  The second time, we had a little more money to spend.  The third time, we were more established in our careers and could splurge a bit more.  And the fourth time... well, we'll see about that.  We're going to share our experiences in two different posts.  The first is this post, on a budget.  In the second post, we'll share some of our favorite splurges.

Take your picture at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign (it's free)!  You will have to fight a crowd, but it's a fun thing to see in person.  Disclaimer: We actually didn't make it to the sign until our third trip to Vegas - you have to make an effort to get there.  We recommend stopping there from the airport on your way to the strip.

The Monte Carlo is a great place to stay at in the Fabulous Las Vegas.  It's located right on the strip and won't break the bank.  It's got everything you need: clean room, good location, decent casino and decent restaurants.

3770 Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(855) 516-1090

You can be on a budget and enjoy some crazy things Vegas has to offer.  One of the best things about Vegas is all the free stuff there is to do.  It's free to go into all of the hotels and check them out.  You can pretty much walk or use the monorail to get to all of them on the main strip.  One of our favorite places to check out is the Bellagio Conservatory.

The Conservatory and Botanical Gardens are a marry of nature meets art.  The gardens' display changes every couple of months so you'll never have to worry about seeing the same display twice.

Next up is the Mirage's Beatles Love display.  Mirage Las Vegas (like most hotels) plays home to a Cirque Du Soleil show - theirs is about the Beatles.  You don't have spend money on tickets to the show to take some fun pictures around where the theater is located.  While you are checking out the Mirage, make sure that you stay to see the volcano eruption.  Check their website to confirm the times during your stay.

New York New York is another great hotel that we always check out.  It's got a roller coaster (overpriced) outside of the hotel and the inside makes you feel like you're walking through Manhattan... kind of, unless you've been to Manhattan and then you know that nothing can top being there in person.

While you are at New York New York, you won't be far from M&M's World.  It's a fun stop and you can get your photo taken with the Coke-a-Cola Bear.  When you're in Vegas, you might as well.

Caesar's Palace is a world in itself.  It's the biggest hotel in Vegas and might be one of our favorites... it's hard to pick.  There are so many awesome hotels in Vegas.  Make sure you walk through the hotel and check out all the mall inside - Fall of Atlantis is there along with other cool interactive statues.   Some of the displays are shows within themselves.

The Shops at Crystals sits right on the strip close to the Aria hotel.  You won't be able to afford any of the clothes, shoes or handbags... but the iceberg fountain is something to see.  That's another thing about Vegas - the shops are unbelievable, and almost everywhere.

Sirens of Treasure Island offer(ed) a really neat pirate show four times a night.  The pirate ships came out of their lagoon and the sirens flew across the ship while singing and dancing.  The show was permanently canceled in November of 2013 after showing since 1993.  The cove is still there, although its had shrinkage due to a new shopping complex.  The best part of the show is that it was free.  The space now holds a few modest water features - who can compete with the Bellagio?

You won't be able to walk, (believe us we tried - it's far and you pass some pretty sketchy stuff) but grab an Uber or cab down to Old Vegas where sin city got its start.  This part of Vegas houses the Stratosphere (the tall building you see in every Vegas promo) and the Fremont Street Experience.

Fremont is really cool as there is a canopy over the entire block that plays videos above you.  The videos are timed with a live band culminating in an interactive audio-visual experience.  It is open 24 hours (like most things in Vegas).  This is something that you should at least see while in Vegas. We've been one of the three times that we've visited.  It definitely isn't a must on our list.

With all of this walking, you're going to be hungry.  We found two great happy hour places where you can get quality food for a cheap price.  There are plenty of others around - check with the restaurants in the hotel that you're staying in.  Several of the hotel restaurants offer happy hour specials.

The Pub at Monte Carlo is a great place to grab a beverage and some bar food.  It's simple food done right at an affordable price.  This place has also been permanently closed since our first trip to Vegas, but like we said - check the happy hours for the restaurants near you.  That's how we found this one.

Brand Steakhouse is an upscale restaurant at Monte Carlo that offers a great happy hour.  From the steak sashimi to the flatbreads, it's high-class food for not a lot of cash.

There's plenty of free to really cheap entertainment even on a budget besides just walking around and looking at hotels and their flashy casinos.  Pretty much all of the hotels have pools that are larger than life.  You're paying to use them when you get a room (gottta love those resort fees), so take advantage of them.  Our trips to Vegas have been in the months of February, July and October.  The only time that we weren't able to use the pools was February.

When it comes to gambling, Las Vegas is the mecca of the world.  Although we're not big gamblers, we had to try our luck.  Plus, you can feel like you're really part of the Vegas gambling scene while sitting at the penny slots. And the bonus: 30 minutes later, you've only gone through a few dollars.

One of the best parts about penny slot machines, free drinks!!  The cocktail waitresses wait on you no matter how much money you're willing to gamble.  As long as you keep the tips coming, they'll keep your drink full.  Free drinks at the casinos is the way to go in Vegas!  We've wasted money on purchasing drinks to have in the room, but the thing about Vegas is that you really don't stay in your room much.  That's also why you shouldn't waste too much money when it comes to booking your hotel room.  Just pick one on the strip with a great location.

Great point here... We highly recommend NOT taking your kids with you to Vegas unless they're teenagers (and then only maybe).  This is a perfect example of casually strolling through a casino and seeing a poll dancer along the way.

If not taking your kids isn't an option, we're sorry.  But, we do have a couple of free kid-friendly recommendations: 1. Scenic Wildlife Habitat at Flamingo Las Vegas and the World's Largest Permanent Circus at where other than Circus Circus. These hotels are both located in Old Vegas.

We both love sports, so seeing all the betting parlors at various casinos was really neat.  You can literally bet on just about any sport.

The most well known free thing to see in Las Vegas is the Bellagio Fountains.  It's a spectacle to see the fountains shoot up high in the air coordinated with music.  Don't skip this.  This is one of those cases where the touristy thing to do is a must do.  Shows vary from running every 15 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day.  It's easy to catch them once (or even a few times) while visiting Vegas.
Because there are some many rooms, you can almost always get a complimentary early check-on at your hotel.  If it's not available, they'll be happy to store your luggage so that you can begin exploring without the hassle of lugging your bags around... winning!

The hotels are a lot farther from each other in person than they look on TV.  Take advantage of the free monorail system that runs between several of the hotels.  Pack band-aids, you'll be sorry if you don't!

When you're in Vegas, you don't spend a lot of time in your room.  Keep this in mind when booking a hotel and plan to spend your money on other things while you're there.

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