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Sin City - Free in Vegas!

Updated on March 11, 2013
Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada
Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada | Source

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Las Vegas, Nevada

On a prior road trip, a funny thing happened on the way to Las Vegas. I broke down. Outside of town. In the middle of nowhere. More than 100 miles from Las Vegas. With three kids. And a dog. Yeah, well, if you don't have kids, imagine three small people relentlessly asking questions that seem obvious to you but that they have no clue about. It goes something like this: "Where are we?" "What's going to happen now?" "What are you going to do?" "Can you make the car work?" "I'm thirsty!" "I'm hungry!" "I have to use the bathroom." "Woof!" The mind-numbing experience went on for hours.

This made actually getting to Las Vegas so worthwhile and enjoyable to me. I was SO happy, I just stayed motionless on the hotel bed for thirty minutes, while blasting the air conditioner, before I decided to see the sights. I ended up having a great time in Las Vegas... As for my car... Well, that's another story! So, what's in Las Vegas? Let me tell you all the freebies that are waiting there!

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Las Vegas is located in the southern most portion of Nevada, in the midst of a desert, located in the Southwest part of the United States. Most people view Vegas an adult playground, but there are many family-friendly choices, business conventions, and nature parks located in and around Sin City, making Las Vegas an excellent choice for anyone seeking an oasis in the desert. The people who live here, relocate here, and visit here have come from all over the world, making Las Vegas a unique, cosmopolitan city.

There are ample shopping choices, including upscale, designer, and budget-friendly outlets. While not everything is free, there are free sightings and experiences to enjoy. If you enjoy window-shopping, retail-therapy is an uplifting past time.

Here are some Las Vegas shopping choices:

  • ln the Major Hotels - Large hotels with casinos on the strip often have designer stores downstairs.
  • The Miracle Mile Shops - 170 shops in total - Just look for Planet Hollywood and you are there! (3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd, cross street: Harmon Avenue, between Flamingo and Tropicana)
  • The Outlets - Find great deals at the Las Vegas Outlet Center (7400 S. Las Vegas Blvd.)
  • Star Sightings - Find the Hollywood elite shopping inside the Forum Shops (inside Caesars) or at the Grand Canal Shoppes (inside the Venetian).

Las Vegas Boulevard - Forum Shops
Las Vegas Boulevard - Forum Shops | Source
LVCC South Halls - Las Vegas Convention Center (Photo by Michael Dorausch)
LVCC South Halls - Las Vegas Convention Center (Photo by Michael Dorausch) | Source

Las Vegas - Conventions

Annual Las Vegas conventions drive masses of people into the area. Here is a sampling of the types of conventions and expos held each year:

  • Annual International Pizza Expo
  • Society of Emergency Medicine Physician Assistants Annual Conference
  • National Council of Teachers of English - Conference on College Composition & Communication Annual Convention
  • Wedding & Portrait Photographers Annual Convention & Trade Show
  • Air Cargo Annual Conference
  • Truckload Carriers Association - Annual Meeting
  • Sport Clips National Annual Huddle
  • Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) Annual Convention & Expo

While conventions typically have an admissions fee, here are ways to get into some conventions free.

Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas
Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas | Source

Las Vegas - Hotels

There are budget-friendly hotels and luxurious lodging available, plus everything in between. There are hostels, too! Here is an idea of what you can expect to pay for accommodations in Las Vegas.

  • 5 Star Hotels - These are hotels like Caesars or the Venician, with so many choices, from shows to dining to gambling to pool events (and one with a circus!) that you don't even need to leave the building... and, that's the idea. They range from $150-500 a night with packages.
  • Budget-Friendly - These are basic hotels running $40-60 a night. One such hotel is Super 8, located just off the strip.
  • Off The Strip - These average $80-100 a night for most modest and middle-of-the-road hotels. Sometimes, breakfast is included. Other times, it's not.
  • Las Vegas Hostel - Rates range from $14 to $36 a night, depending on type of stay.
  • Free Stay - If free is on the list, check out house sitting jobs in exchange for a free stay (listed on craigslist) or think about sleeping on someone's sofa. Learn more about "couch surfing."

Free Things To Do and See In Vegas

There are plenty of free shows (and more being added all the time!) Here is a sampling of rated-G, free shows available year round (check hotels for showtimes).

  • Caesars - Moving Statues
  • Belagio - Water Show (depending on winds)
  • Treasure Island - Sword Fighting Show on the Water
  • Mirage - Light Show and Volcano Eruption
  • Circus Circus - Acrobatic Shows and Magic Shows

Pyrotechnics at the Mirage
Pyrotechnics at the Mirage | Source

Las Vegas - Nevada Nature Parks

Going to a national park or local nature park is generally free - if you don't pay for parking lots. Free parking is often available near most parks. When parks do require fees, they are generally low but you can still visit a park for free that normally has an admission cost, if you go on a free park day.

Visit the Hoover Dam - an engineering feat that put thousands of men to work after the Great Depression. The largest dam of the times was built in only five years. A recent visit to Hoover Dam was free for our family of four (pet dogs not allowed).

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers trails to hike and a rustic landscape from the desert scene. Here, one can rock climb, bicycle, picnic, camp, and horseback ride.

Wetlands Park - Hike, picnic and enjoy wetland wildlife.

Grand Canyon Tour - Take a Skywalk Tour or drive yourself there for a view that just cannot be captured in words and a learning Visitor's Center, to understand how this masterpiece of nature came to be formed. I visited the Grand Canyon on a "free day." The National Park Service (NPS) has a free days a couple times a year. The Visitor's Center was free. So was the NPS bus shuttle service within the national park.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon | Source

Free in Las Vegas

Vegas offers free entertainment and free experiences for the savvy budget-traveler. Just asking about free options can result in free tickets or passes to events. I asked where I might take my children swimming was given a free family pass to a private swim club on the strip that would have normally cost $20! Remember, it doesn't have to cost a fortune to have a fabulous time!

Check out these links for more budget-friendly solutions to your travel needs:

Financing Travel

Family Travel Budgets

Budget Travel Idea - Family Camp

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In The Southwest

There is more to do, see, and experience in the Southwest:

Arizona/Utah - Monument Valley Tribal Park

California - Celebrate on the California Coast

Colorado - Grand Canyon West & The Skywalk

New Mexico - Art & Nature Await in New Mexico

Texas - Top 5 Things To Do in San Antonio

Southwest - An Overview of the Southwest Region of the USA

Train Trips In The Southwest


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