What I’ve Learned About Vegas

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Over the past few years, Las Vegas has been our destination of choice whenever the hunny and I start itching for a little vacation away. We love vacationing locally, but sometimes when the price is comparable (or sometimes less), it just makes sense to hop on a plane to a sunnier destination.

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The very first time we went (about 5 years ago), I scoured the internet looking for tips similar to the types of tips we write about here at The Pulse. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find almost all of the “10 Things You Must Do In Vegas” articles included things that I already knew about. Chances are, even if you haven’t been to Vegas, you’ve already heard about the Bellagio Fountains, the Sirens of T.I. or the volcano at the Mirage. I didn’t need travel writers to tell me about those things – I already knew about them! Since there wasn’t much additional information to be found at the time (and none of our friends or family had been before), we felt a little like we were going in blind, but decided to figure it out once we got there!

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Although we had a wonderful time, we certainly felt like there was a huge learning curve that we both experienced while we were there. Since we’ve been back to visit a number of times since then, we’re able to laugh at ourselves now, but the trip was certainly was a wee bit disastrous. Whenever we hear that a friend of ours is visiting the city for the first time, we’re always eager to share what we learned, to help spread the knowledge (and the laughs)!

Since I’ve just recently gotten back from a lovely vacation to Sin City, I thought it would be a great time to share my personal tips on how to have the most fun while you’re there.

1. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the things to spend your money on!

Chances are, you arrived into town with a budget – and for a good reason. Now, stick to it! One of the biggest things we realized during our first trip was that there was just so much to see and do, we couldn’t possibly have enough money (or time) to see and do it all. We now know that you aren’t meant to soak it all in during the first visit – and that’s what makes returning again and again so much fun! We did, however, find ourselves getting a little bummed out that we “didn’t plan enough” or “didn’t budget enough” to have a good time. Although we didn’t know it at the time, there are actually plenty of ways to have a blast in Las Vegas, even if your budget is smaller than you’d like. You might have to dig a little for the affordable options, but they are there, and they are awesome. I’ll be publishing a more detailed post on this in the future, but here are a few of my favourite cheapsy destinations:

  • The Cheesecake Factory at The Forum Shops (Caesar’s Palace). Huge portions, cheap prices, great desserts and surrounded by great shops.
  • The $3.95 Breakfast at the La Salsa Cantina in the Miracle Mile Shops (Planet Hollywood) & on the strip next to the M&M World. Usually runs until 10:00 or 11:00am, and can be accompanied by a 99 cent bloody mary.
  • PBR Rock Bar & Grill also has great food with huge portions. I’d include the picture of the club sandwhich here, except I’m making a horrible face as I’m attempting to eat it. I’m fairly certain there were 4 layers of bread, and it took 3 of us to finish it all. Not bad for $12.
  • Tony Roma’s in the Freemont Hotel & Casino serves ups $11.99 steak and lobster between 9pm-11pm (other specials here)
  • Get over to Hooters Casino for the cheapest blackjack on the strip (at $3 a hand, you’ll get more in free drinks than you’ll lose on the table!). Plus, it’s really not as bad as you might think.
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My sister & I waiting for our 3.95 breaky at La Salsa Cantina

2. Buy the Buffet of Buffet’s Pass. Seriously.

Not only is there unlimited cotton candy, there’s also unlimited buffet food for a full 24 hour period. For about $50, you get full access to 6 different buffets including the Spice Market (Planet Hollywood), Le Village Buffet (Paris), Paradise Garden (Flamingo), Carnival World (The Rio) and Bacchanal (Caeser’s – nominal upgrade fee does apply to this one).

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Unlimited cotton candy at the Spice Market in Planet Hollywood

Since we’ve gotten this pass every single time we’ve been down, we kind of have it down to a science. How do you make the most of it?

Step 1: Get a Total Rewards Card (the free casino rewards card for Caesar’s Palace properties) – it’ll save you a few dollars when you buy the pass.

Step 2: Start your pass around 6:00 or 7:00pm. This gets you in for dinner, then breakfast and lunch the next day. Plus, as long as you get into a buffet by the time you started your pass – you’ll get another dinner! No need to rush once you’re in the buffet, you just have to get through the cashier before your pass expires.

Step 3: Don’t just stay at the same buffet! Planet Hollywood, Paris and the Flamingo are relatively close together so why not try different ones for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Planet Hollywood’s buffet is incredible for dinner (with stations like Italian, Mediterranean, Asian and American – you’d wish you never got full), whereas we found Paris to be a great destination for a sweet treat or savoury lunch.

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Made to order Caprese crepe from the Village Buffet in Paris.

3. Just because the sun is shining, doesn’t mean the pools are open!

Since our first-ever trip to Las Vegas was in February, one of the things we were looking forward to the most was the sunny weather. While it was dreary and gloomy in the Fraser Valley, we knew it was going to be short weather in the desert, and we couldn’t wait to change into our bathing suits and hit the pool deck. Apparently the MGM Grand didn’t get that memo, and had closed their pool for the “winter” months. Imagine our disappointment when we learned this upon checking into to the hotel! As we were dying to change into our shorts, apparently the locals figured it was too cold to swim.

If you plan on visiting Las Vegas between November and March, and a pool experience is important to you, make sure to ask about it during the reservation process. We’ve learned that about half the pools in Las Vegas close, whereas the other half stay open – so there is still hope if you just want to lay out to catch some rays!

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Our somewhat unsuccessful attempt at a photo optical illusion!

It is also worth nothing that most pools in Las Vegas are only open until around 5:00pm. Check out this great resource on Vegas.com for specifics regarding pool operation hours for all the resorts on the strip. It’s especially helpful if you plan on pool hopping while exploring on the strip, so don’t end up at your main destination with only 10 minutes to enjoy it.

Final pool tip: If you are staying at any Caesar’s property, you can utilize any other Caesar property pool free of charge. For example, if you are on a budget and decided to stay at Bally’s – you are able to use the pools at Caesar’s Palace, Planet Hollywood, Paris, etc for free. Just show your room key to the man guarding the door and your golden! We usually stay at Planet Hollywood, but spend most of our pool time over at Caeser’s. They have the best rum & strawberry lemonade… and alcoholic popsicles!

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What are your favourite tips to pass along to Las Vegas travellers? Do you have favourite spots that you like to go back to each time you visit, or do you attempt to try something new each time? Better yet, what have you learned from your mistakes when traveling to Las Vegas or anywhere new?! We’ll be posting part 2 of our Las Vegas series soon, but would love to hear your best tips and travel tricks in the meantime!



Contributor: Shannon Clattenburg

Shannon Clattenburg is a creative spirit first and a freelance writer second. She is a features writer for Fraser Valley Pulse and has a love for uncovering hidden gems throughout the Fraser Valley . She lives in Chilliwack with her boyfriend and her doggy Rolo. Twitter: @OrdinaryShan



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