By in Saving

Michael Jackson & Me in Vegas (what happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas)

In Cheap Summer Vacation Tips I mentioned my upcoming Las Vegas vacation. The vacation surpassed my expectations and was fun, affordable, and relaxing with activities for all ages and budgets. Some of the attractions were pricier than others, but in total, the trip was well worth the cost!

Here’s a play by play of our trip with tips and ideas for you!

Our party included El Carino, Jr. Carina (our 20 something daughter), and my mom. The cool thing about Vegas is that there’s something for every age from the smallest kids (arcade games) to the senior citizens (shows and gambling).

BEST TIP: Look for coupon books everywhere to get deals on souvenirs, meals, attractions, and shows! Sign up for players cards (at customer service desks in each casino) for more comps and promotions. We got $40 free cash when we signed up at the Paris. That reduced our buffet charge for brunch from $65 down to $25 for the four of us.


We live an hour away by plane and got a super vacation package from Southwest which included airfare and 2 hotel rooms at the Paris for four days and three nights all for about $1,000 for the four of us.

Most cities have special flights to Vegas or vacation packages. Check your regional airlines, Expedia, Orbitz, or Priceline for air and hotel packages. You usually save a few hundred bucks by taking a package.

Midweek is a great time to travel, we went from Monday morning to Thursday night; less crowded and great deals.

There are tons of hotels for every taste and budget. We stayed at the Paris, which as the name suggests, is a take off on the French city replete with an Eiffel tower, hot air balloon, shops, and a buffet filled with delicious French pastries.

The Luxor Hotel is a giant pyramid, the Venetian, a beautiful Italian hotel complete with an indoor canal, and I preferred New York New York to the real city, much cleaner and smaller.

To get around the strip, try the monorail, buses, cabs, or walking. Be sure to bring some water and sunscreen if you go in the summer!


The Mob Attraction at the Tropicana Hotel was my favorite. We participated with real actors in a “crime”, and paid the consequences! Luckily, I broke free. On top of our crime, the history and background of the Las Vegas mob was fascinating. We all loved this one. Discount tickets are available in front of the hotel as well as in several coupon books.

The MGM offered a free screening of a new television show for a real life market research company in exchange for coupons. It was so fun to have our opinion considered by the networks in their fall lineup. The free photo booth across from the signup included backgrounds from Weeds, Homeland, Dexter and a variety of other shows. The pictures were wonderful FREE SOUVENIRS.

Madame Tussaud’s was so life like with photo opportunities galore. I even got the chance to marry George Clooney! El Carino didn’t mind as he was busy playing basketball with Michael Jordan. With $10 off coupons and one senior citizen discount, the price was about $15 per person and well worth it.

We sprung for a gondola ride down the canals at the Venetian Hotel with a real Italian singer at the helm. Quite romantic (except that my Mom was along). I can’t remember the exact price but it was around $20 per person. We saw a free show on a stage in San Marco square at the Venetian, the opera singing and beautiful costumes transported us straight to Venice.

Jr. Carina lured me to Chippendale’s with a half off discount ticket of $25 per person. Not too racey and really fun.

The live Price is Right show with host Joey Fatone would have been better if one of us (particularly me) got picked to be a contestant. If you like the game show, it was really fun, and the host was great. (This one was pricey at $50 per ticket, but at least we got free t shirts). Check around for discounts if you’re interested.

Most hotels have free lounge shows with quality talent. We saw several free concerts on the strip and free shows are draws at most hotels.

Other entertainment options include Comedy Shows, Variety Shows, Broadway performances, headliners, Show girl extravaganzas, Circle d Soleil, Dancing with the Stars, and hundreds more. There is something for everyone!


We visited two arcades, one in New York, the other in the Excaliber. On previous trips I’ve also sampled the arcade in Circus Circus. Scores of kids and adults were hitting frogs on the head, throwing skeeballs and basketballs, and shooting the bad guys. The games took quarters or fifty cents and we racked up tickets fast. Cash out for great prizes and toys to junk up your home.

Swimming is perfect for the sizzling weather. Every hotel comes with a large pool, some with waterfalls and extras as well. There’s even a lazy river and beach at the Mandalay Bay.

Circus circus and Excalibur are designed with kids in mind. Walk through the main areas for visits from jugglers and shows just for kids. Add the arcade games to the mix and these are ideal family spots.


Cheap and free drinks are everywhere. At the Flamingo we used a coupon for 2 margaritas in free souvenir glasses for a total of $10. Dollar shots and 2 buck mixed drinks abound. If  drinking is your pleasure, you can imbibe on the cheap with coupons and specials.

We’re not big gamblers, but we couldn’t go to Vegas without playing a hand or two. On the penny slots I won $2.30. Then turned around at the $1 blackjack machines and lost $10. I didn’t like that :). Hooters Casino offers $3 black jack tables, but we never made it there.


El and Jr. Carino love the trinkets at the souvenir shops. From shot glasses and coffee mugs to light up Vegas signs and t-shirts, there’s something for everyone. And the prices are low!

Every hotel has shops and there are malls to suit every taste, from the Hard Rock Miracle Mile Shops to the upscale mall by the Cosmopolitan hotel.

Vegas is the ideal family vacation with something for everyone.

Can’t Get Enough Travel Tips?

Let me know any travel tips I’ve missed.