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San Diego Uptown News | June 24–July 7, 2011


sin city on a budget

The Las Vegas Strip. Photography by Bethany Salvon T

raveling to Las Vegas is an ideal option if you’re looking for an exciting

getaway on the cheap. Like one giant Groupon, Sin City offers deals on pretty much everything. As long as you don’t fall prey to the house, the taxi cabs or the other tourist trappings, you can keep your cost-to-fun ratio in your favor. Here are five ways to do Vegas on a budget.

HALF-PRICE ROOMS Las Vegas resorts offer deeply discounted room rates (yes, even at the luxurious five-star resorts) Sunday through Thursday. Since Las Vegas is abuzz 24/7, visiting on days that might be downtime elsewhere makes no difference in your fun quotient, and you can sin on the Strip for about half the cost of a Motel 6 in El Cajon.

CAMPING Another cheap accommodation option is camping. If you’ve got an RV or tent and a few friends, Cir- cus Circus Hotel and Casino has a campground on its property. Sure, it’s just one huge blacktop slab with a few sand patches for tents, but there really is no cheaper way to stay on the sultry Vegas strip, and if you have pets who need to howl at the desert moon come sundown, camping is a way to give them their creature comforts while staying within your budget. The campground is operated by Kampgrounds of America (KOA), with sites starting at $38 for up to six people.

ALL-DAY BUFFETS For many, Las Vegas buffets

are a rite of passage, and for good reason: The city boasts a cornu- copia of all-you-can-eat lobster, prime rib, fresh fruit and baked goods. Until the economic down- turn, such feasts were priced as opulently as the fare they offered. But now, scrambling to bring in tourists, resorts offer all-day buffet passes for about the same price as a dinner buffet used to cost. All-day buffet passes vary in cost depending on the prestige

of the casino. For example, an all-day pass to the Stratosphere’s buffet will run you $20, while the MGM Grand charges up to $40 for its all-day pass. Additionally, casinos now bundle all-day buffet passes with room deals. For example, two all- day buffet passes are included in your stay if you book two nights at any of Caesars Palace’s related properties; the passes can then be used at any of the company’s seven resorts, including Paris and Bally’s. Prices for that pack- age start at $53 a night for a room at the Imperial Palace.

TAKE THE DEUCE Las Vegas taxicabs will break you quicker than the craps table.

In addition to being costly, the cabs are actually more inconve- nient than the Deuce—the city bus that runs the length of the Strip. The air-conditioned, double- decker bus stops at virtually ev- ery casino on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as at the Fremont Street Experience. Also, unlike taxicabs, you can pick it up from the street (you can’t hail taxicabs from the Strip). Single tickets, and all-day and multi-day passes are available for the Deuce, which operates 24 hours a day.

THE SPORTS BOOK SECRET People like free booze, and

gamblers in Las Vegas receive complimentary drinks. Personally, I like to drink much more than I

like to gamble, especially when it’s on the casino’s dime, which is why I like to hang out in the sports book. For as little as $2, I can bet on a two-hour sporting event, making me eligible for free, unlim- ited drinks while I’m watching the

game. (Make sure to keep your wagering ticket out for the server to see and tip on each order.) Another bonus is that the service is generally quicker, because the sports books are usually located close to a bar.u

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