You don’t need a bottomless budget for celebrity chefs, craft cocktails and Cirque shows to enjoy Las Vegas. Here are some of the best things to see, do, eat, drink and more on a budget.
People have quite a few preconceived ideas about what a Las Vegas vacation should look like, usually involving suites, champagne, and $500 chips. But the reality is quite different, with far more visitors seeking to get a deal than blow a jackpot.
Bajamar Seafood & Tacos
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
Bajamar Seafood & Tacos is situated where the Strip meets the Arts District. The small, aqua-tinted restaurant has a somewhat limited menu, but what they do, they do very well. The focus is on seafood dishes with simple preparations—sauteed shrimp enchiladas and fried fish tacos, most for $4 or less. There are also light, ceviche-like dishes such as the tostada mixta. Try a hibiscus lemonade to wash it all down.
Bally’s Hotel & Casino sits right in the center of the Strip. Along with almost 3,000 rooms, the property also boasts a spa, tennis courts, a convention space, and more. The rooms are comfortable, reasonably priced, and close to other properties as well as the Monorail. Bally’s also offers other value, such as a happy hour at Tequila Taqueria with $2 tacos and beers, as well as the outrageous Queens & Cocktails drag show on weekends in the Indigo Lounge.
An old-school Vegas classic, Battista’s Hole in the Wall has been serving Italian food and wine—lots of wine—since 1970. A warren of rooms crammed with photos, decanters, novelty lamps, and other memorabilia, Battista’s also features a wandering accordionist. The menu is Italian classics, such as ravioli with meat sauce and chicken parmigiana, but all meals come with bread, soup or salad, cappuccino, and unlimited red or white wine.
A combination bar, restaurant and music venue, the Las Vegas version of Brooklyn Bowl offers something for everyone. There are daily happy hours from 5 to 7 p.m.and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., with a half-price deal on drinks and appetizers. While you’ll have to shell out for name acts like the Deftones or Gary Clark, Jr., Brooklyn Bowl does offer some no-cover shows, usually local acts or the occasional tribute band.
The Double Down Saloon is a beloved bar for 25 years now for many reasons: the charming bartenders, the eccentric regulars, the banging jukebox, the unique interior décor. But there’s also the bottom line of cheap drinks and free music. Whether punk or blues, movie night or burlesque night, there’s never a cover and the drinks are always reasonably priced. And Mondays through Fridays, happy hour runs 12–5 p.m., with any beverage in the house from PBR to Grey Goose running you a mere three bucks.
Once owned by mobster Bugsy Siegel, the El Cortez Hotel & Casino has undergone property-wide renovations over the past several years. Rooms range from basic models for those who’d rather spend money on a restaurant or poker game than a room, to the reasonably-priced and sleekly-designed El Cortez Cabana suites, to a high-roller penthouse. Casino bars offer a monthly $5 cocktail special, while the Parlour Bar has a daily happy hour with 2-for-1 drinks and $5 appetizers.
While the words “chocolate factory” should be enough to intrigue anyone, the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory offers more than just a sugar rush. The factory is situated out in the suburb of Henderson and contains a botanical garden of cacti and other succulents for visitors to wander through. Consider it a way to walk off any samples you might score on your factory tour.
What’s more fun than pizza, beer and insane stunts that are liable to get someone killed? Evel Pie is an Evel Knievel-themed pizzeria and bar in Downtown Las Vegas that takes its motif seriously, from the Evel pinball machine and Evel action figures to Evel Ale beer and rattlesnake sausage pie. A fun atmosphere along with cheap beer-and-slice deals have won locals and tourists alike—as well as the approval of the Knievel family.
There’s always plenty of action on Fremont Street, the center of Downtown Las Vegas. The street is lined by older casinos such as the Golden Nugget and Binion’s, as well as a variety of gift shops and restaurants. The giant canopy over the street is the site of the Vistavision light show, while several stages feature live bands performing for free nightly—usually tribute acts, but name bands entertain on holidays. If you’re seeking an inexpensive libation, try the bar inside the Fremont Hotel & Casino; for discount dining, the D Las Vegas has an outpost of the famed Detroit Coney Island hot dog stand.
Herbs & Rye has long been a favorite spot for those in the Las Vegas service and entertainment industries. The bar creates lovely cocktails from a menu divided up by eras, while the red-wallpapered dining areas focus on steaks and Italian food. Herbs & Rye is best known for the excellent value of their happy hour, which runs from from 5–8 p.m. and 12–3 a.m., when drinks discounts are offered alongside steaks and appetizers for 50 per cent off.
The Stratosphere is the tallest building in Las Vegas, as well as the tallest freestanding tower in the United States. The Stratosphere is known for inexpensive rooms good for families or budget travelers. The lounge at the top of the tower has a daily happy hour with 2-for-1 drinks and half-price appetizers; on the ground level, casino bars offer all-you-can-drink specials.