Pismo Beach Vacation Traveling with kids can sometimes be more stressful than staying home. There's…
Our Cheap Las Vegas Vacation
Las Vegas for Two
In July 2014, our (then) youngest child was a year and a half old and we had not been out of town for over TWO YEARS! We hadn’t been on vacation alone together in four years. It was ok, we knew that was the deal when we started our family – travel was going to be a little harder financially and logistically for a little while. So when I got the idea to finally go out of town, just my husband and I, I knew we had to do it on the cheap. So, here’s how we had a cheap Las Vegas vacation for under $500.
About a year before our trip, I started playing myVegas on Facebook. Now, I’m not really one for a ton of Facebook games, but the fact that this one had actual real world rewards with no investment other than my time, it became an easy way to fill my spare time. For my efforts, I was able to book 2 free nights at the Luxor, 1 night at the Bellagio for $65, two free tickets to Tournament of Kings, 2 free tickets to Ka at the MGM Grand. Awesome, right?
After that, it was just food here and there, resort fees, bus tickets, and whatever else we wanted to buy. We made it there and back easily on our $500.
So How Did the Trip Go?
I’m a sucker for Vegas. I love it. Not the sleazy run around half naked and drunk, or half drunk and naked, take your pick. No, if you want to know the hottest strip shows and sexiest nightclubs, I’m not your girl. But if you like a good show, good food, and maybe a couple rounds of blackjack, I’m all in.
The biggest problem we encountered was that our air conditioner went out on the drive from California to Las Vegas. In July. Trust me, you do NOT want your air conditioner to go out in the desert in July. We got into town and pulled into the Luxor to check in. Can I just say that I love that Vegas has valet parking everywhere? We were hot and tired, but we were there. If you get there at the standard check in time, expect to wait in line to check-in. While you’re at it, expect to pay resort fees. Our hotel room was technically free, based on my awesome gaming skills (well, at least, my hours of time spent gaming so I could get a cheap vacation), but we still had to pay the resort fee. I knew this going in, but it is just something to be aware of.
I know the Luxor is an “older” resort and not as shiny and new as say, the Aria. Still, I have to say, it’s held up really well. It’s still a beautiful hotel with very nicely appointed rooms, nice restaurants and amenities, and nice, no frills pool. We stayed in the tower rooms, which were a bit of a hike toward the back, but we had a nice view of the pool, a comfortable bed and a beautiful room with the expected Egyptian decor. One big thing that the Luxor lacks is covered parking. When we got our car back, it had been sitting in the sun for two days and our air conditioner was broken – that was a terrible combination. We quickly drove to covered parking and got out of the heat.
We stayed in the Luxor for 2 nights and on the 3rd night, moved to the Bellagio. If I am being honest, we should have stayed another night at the Luxor. Our night at the Bellagio was discounted, but not free, and while, let’s face it, it is a very nice hotel, I really did not feel that it lived up to the hype. For the price we paid, it was worth it, if I was paying full price, there are a lot of really nice hotels in Vegas that don’t cost so much, especially since you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy the hotel itself.
Where We Ate
We were there for 3 days, so we ate at several different places, and it was 3 years ago, but I will give you some of the highlights.
Yes it’s a chain restaurant. BUT, we were trying to travel cheap and they have a $30 off your entree on your birthday and it was Jimmy’s birthday. So, we made a trek across town (by bus) to the downtown area and had birthday dinner at Benihana, which was delicious and fun. I don’t know how great we did at saving money, since my husband went ahead and got steak and lobster, but we had a great time anyway and made plenty of friends. If you have never been, it’s a chef’s table restaurant where they cook the food right in front of you in an entertaining way. You’re also seated with a group of 6-8 people, so we got to meet people from other places around the world and talk with them over dinner. Honestly, I wish more restaurants had this options since I love getting to know people over a meal.
Rice & Company –
Our second night in town, we went our before seeing a show and decided to stay close to “home” by eating in one of the hotel restaurants. We chose to eat at Rice & Company a Pan-Asian restaurant in the Luxor, which probably wasn’t a great call. Overall, we did not get great service, the food was bland and we would have been better off at the buffet – and I hate buffets. I don’t know, perhaps we had a one off experience, but it was not good and we paid WAY too much for it.
Tournament of Kings –
So this was a combination of food and entertainment, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the food. No, it’s not gourmet quality or the best food in town, but it was pretty tasty, especially the tomato soup. Be prepared to eat with your hands!
Bobby Flay’s Burger Palace –
As long time Food Network fans, we had to check out at least one celebrity restaurant and this was a a great quick serve option for lunch. The burgers were good (and huge) with a lot of options. It’s a modern burger joint and not particularly noteworthy, but I didn’t regret eating there.
I first discovered this restaurant inside Planet Holloywood at my friend’s bachelorette party back in 2009. Ever since then, I have been dreaming of their cinnamon roll french toast, and I insisted that our last breakfast in Las Vegas include cinnamon roll french toast. Though they were a little busy and it took awhile to get our food, it did not disappoint. And while it wasn’t free, it still met my goal of being reasonably priced.
KA at the MGM Grand –
Truth be told, this show is why we went to Vegas in the first place. Years ago we happened to catch a making of documentary on TV and going to see KA immediately became a bucket list item. KA is a Cirque du Soleil show, which I love, but had never had the chance to see in person before. While it includes all of the amazing spectacle you would expect from a Cirque show, it also tells a story of twins separated in a storm and their journeys. It is a visual feast that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I loved every minute of it and thanks to myVegas, our tickets were free! Seriously though, if I had paid full price, it still would have been worth it.
Tournament of Kings –
I feel like this is something that you are either into or really not. The audience is divided into sections to cheer for one of eight knights, served dinner with no utensils and are treated to a a medieval tournament with a somewhat cheesy storyline of an evil wizard invading King Arthur’s court. It’s a lot of fun if you just relax and get into the cheering and booing. Watching the horses and the talent of the performers really is a treat and it is a very family friendly even. If you have dust allegies, you might want to sit in the back as the dirt floor can get a bit stirred up. All in all, we had a great time (and our tickets were free!)
So, there are definitely things to see and do here. The LED screen ceiling and zipline are the main attractions and it seems like 5 or 6 bands were playing on the different stages up and down the street. Remember when I said that half naked and drunk weren’t my thing? Yeah, I will probably be avoiding Freemont Street on future visits unless there’s a concert there I really want to see, and let’s face it, there probably won’t be because I’m too busy with kids and teaching to keep up with music. There was a whole lot of drunk people and a whole lot of mostly naked people there. I felt a little more than out of place. That’s ok, I got to see what I wanted to see and don’t need to see it again!
One of my favorite non-gambling activities in Vegas is checking out the hotels and the design work that went into them. On this trip, we explored the Venetian, Palazzo, New York, New York, Bellagio, and Mandalay Bay. You have to pace yourself because things appear much closer than they really are and it can be a lot of walking, but thanks to the monorail and bus system, getting up and down the strip doesn’t take much time at all and you can explore to your hearts content.
Such a simple thing, but it’s just beautiful and free entertainment. Plus, you’re right in the middle of the strip, soaking in all the lights and how amazing it all is by night. Las Vegas is definitely meant to be seen at night.
When all was said and done, we had a nice time for 4 days (other than our broken air condidtioner) and had an opportunity to relax without our kids – and everyone needs to do that every now and then.