3. A bargain outing beyond the Strip
The deal: Since it’s stuck in the middle of the desert, Vegas doesn’t offer a host of natural attractions within an easy drive. But who’s to say you can’t partake of the desert itself? A trip to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area runs $7 for a carload of individuals and lets you experience the Mojave Desert up close.
Worth it? For the cost of less than a single blackjack bet (many casinos have a $10 minimum), you can experience one of the most surreal landscapes you’ll ever see — red-colored mountains, parched patches of land, cactuses of all kinds. But the best part is that you can do all this at Red Rock without leaving your car; there’s a brilliantly designed 13-mile scenic drive that takes you into the heart of the conservation area and back. (Of course, you’re still more than welcome to get out of your car, and there are some easy trails worth hiking on a comfortable day weather-wise.) The bottom line: This is definitely worth it, especially if you need a break from those blackjack tables.
4. Free parking
The deal: You read that right: free. In Vegas, perhaps the most ubiquitous deal is the free valet parking offered by the resorts/casinos. Of course, you’re still expected to tip a few dollars for good (or even not-so-good) service.
Worth it? Given the low cost (just the tip) and the convenience, valet is almost always a better bet (no pun intended) than self-parking, especially since Vegas valets do a remarkable job of getting your car to you quickly, and most are remarkably helpful with driving directions. But if you’re weighing skipping a car altogether and relying on public transportation to get around Vegas, the math gets a little trickier. A rental will run at least $30 a day, while a one-day pass on the Vegas Strip bus (known as the Deuce) runs $7, or a one-day pass on the Vegas monorail (with limited stops) runs $12. Our view: Nothing beats the convenience of the car, especially if you’re traveling to Vegas during the hotter months, when waiting for public transportation can make your blood boil.
5. Renting time — as in time-shares
The deal: Staying in a time-share in Vegas — as opposed to a high-end resort — for as little as $100 a night. Many Vegas time-shares essentially double as hotels, meaning they rent out unused rooms by the night. Of course, if you’re a time-share owner, you may also be able to land in one of these resorts through a traditional swap via RCI or another time-share exchange company.
Worth it? If you want luxury without the sticker shock, this can be a great way to go. While rooms at the Bellagio may be had for more than $300 a night, rooms at the decidedly plush Hilton Grand Vacations Club on the Las Vegas Strip can be found at that magic $100 mark. (Actually, we even found a studio unit in October going for $80 on Expedia.com.) Keep in mind: This is just not a hotel room, but an actual apartment-style lodging, replete in some instances with a full kitchen and washer/ dryer in your unit, so you’re getting lots for your money. We stayed at the Hilton property through a time-share exchange and can attest it’s a good find, especially if you snag an upper-floor room (we were on the 23rd level) with breathtaking views of the city.