Las Vegas is hardly the first destination to come to mind if you’re planning a romantic getaway — on a limited budget, at that — but if you can control the urge to gamble away your hard-earned savings while you’re there, you may be surprised.
Sin City has plenty to offer besides casinos, from entertainment to food, to very reasonably-priced luxury accomodations, that it’s worth considering it for your Valentine’s day travel plans even if that might require coast-to-coast travel. (And if things go well, there are so many wedding chapels… Well, let’s not get carried away.)
Things to do
Las Vegas (Entertainment Capital of the World!) offers many free attractions, mostly of the stop-and-gawk variety and mostly in the evenings. At the Mirage, experience the 12-foot fireballs of the famous volcano, which erupts every 15 minutes from dusk until midnight, to a choreographed audio/visual program created by Mickey Hart, legendary Grateful Dead drummer. Further down the Strip, check out the fountains at the Bellagio, the sirens of Treasure Island and the “Show in the Sky” at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.
Seeing a show while in Vegas is a treat, and does not have to break the bank. From Carrot Top at the Luxor Hotel to the Blue Man Group at the Venetian, there is something for everyone. Check out Tix4Tonight for discount tickets; coupons for discounts on service charges are available online.
If you have a car,you can take a day trip to one of the nearby natural attractions on less than a tank of gas, including Red Rock Canyon (15 miles west), Valley of Fire State Park (55 miles northwest) and Mojave National Preserve (60 miles southwest). Or check out the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake (35 miles southeast).
One thing Las Vegas is known for (well, besides the gambling and Elvis impersonators) are cheap all-you-can-eat buffets. The new thing in town is all-day buffet passes, which allow you to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, all for one set price. At the Excalibur Roundtable Buffet, you can buy a “Buffet All Day” pass for $25, which includes unlimited reentry to the buffet line. And the Harrah’s Entertainment group offers a 24-hour buffet pass that is good in seven different restaurants around the city.
Many hotels and restaurants hand out coupons for reduced or 2-for-1 meals at their buffets – Planet Hollywood is well known to offer coupons at the entrance. Browse the magazines and flyers in your hotel room for coupons, or pick up a local newspaper and scan for ads. Another trick for buffets, called roll-overs, involves arriving at the buffet 15 minutes before the meal before ends, taking advantage of the lower price and enjoying the buffet as it switches over to the next meal. Many of the top-quality buffets offer this, as they don’t have time for a break between meals.
But, buffets can get old and sometimes you just want to sit down for a romantic meal for two. Yelp user Blair B. has put together a list of places in Las Vegas where you can eat well on a budget, which includes several lunch spots, vegetarian, fast food, and pizza places. For something a little more upscale, Zagat’s recommends Steak House ($58/person average tab) and Bouchon ($62/person). A less-expensive option is Lotus of Siam, an authentic Thai restaurant with a great wine list ($31/person).
Michelle Snow at Uptake Lodging has put together a list of 6 affordable Valentine’s Day hotels in Las Vegas, offering deals starting at $90. And if you are looking to spice up your romantic vacation, check out the Palms Casino Resort with their collection of fantasy suites, including the Erotic Suite with eight foot round rotating bed! (Suites start at $169/night).
While booking your flights to Las Vegas, look into adding a hotel to your package – very often the deals make the hotel rooms very inexpensive, saving you $50-$100 on your trip. Using Expedia or Travelocity, compare prices and reviews of several hotels along The Strip. For more savings, look for accommodations slightly off The Strip, which may offer more space and amenities, to boot.