Las Vegas is probably not the first place to come to mind when you’re looking for a budget-friendly destination in the USA. Famously packed with casinos, golf courses and high-end bars, restaurants and shops, it’s naturally known as place where money is spent, not saved. However, you might be surprised by how much you can do without spending a single cent, as well as what you get up for a relatively low fee.

    Surprisingly, casinos are actually among the best places to find freebies. They compete with each other to draw people to the gambling floors using free shows and attractions. Once you’re there, you can also get free drinks while you gamble. Or, if you’re lucky, while you watch someone else gamble!


    Take a selfie with the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign

    What better way to start your visit?

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    Perhaps one of the most iconic sights in Las Vegas, the illuminated welcome sign is on South Las Vegas Boulevard, between the Bali Hai Golf Club and McCarran International Airport. The 25-foot-tall sign was built in 1959 and is one of the most recognisable structures in the city. It rapidly became such a hit with people wanting their photo taken with it that a small car park had to be built in the median of the highway to prevent people stopping on the busy road. It’s especially attractive at night, but is obviously accessible (for free) at any time.

    Location: 5200 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA


    See the flamingos in the Flamingo Hotel

    A mini zoo in a casino hotel

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    The Luxor has its pyramid and Paris Las Vegas has its mini-Eiffel Tower, so it doesn’t take a genius to guess what the Flamingo Hotel has. The resident Chilean flamingos join other feathered friends like sacred ibis and brown pelicans, as well as koi fish and turtles, in the Wildlife Habitat. It’s a verdant, serene spot in the casino hotel’s grounds, with the waterfall splashing just steps away from the blackjack tables. The animals are well careful for and their artificial habitat is very well maintained by staff who are willing to answer questions and share interesting facts.

    Location: Flamingo Las Vegas, 3555 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to midnight

    Phone: +1 702-733-3349


    Smell the flowers in the Bellagio Botanical Gardens

    There are about 10,000 of them

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    Most hotels in Las Vegas have gardens, but the Bellagio does nothing small. The 14,000 sq ft conservatory and botanical gardens transform 5 times every year, with special displays of plants for Chinese New Year, spring, summer, autumn and winter. Expect beautiful orchids, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums and poinsettia, among many others. Right next to the hotel’s lobby, the conservatory is extremely environmentally friendly, with wilted flowers reused as compost.

    Location: Bellagio Hotel & Casino, 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: 24 hours

    Phone: +1 702-693-7111


    Soak up the “Streetmosphere” in Venice

    Without ever leaving Vegas

    The Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian is an impressive recreation the famously romantic canal city in Italy. Just like the real thing, you can enjoy an expensive gondola ride, but also free street performances in the form of the Streetmosphere. These aren’t your average buskers, but an international cast of classically trained singers, actors and musicians. Between their impressive shows of classic Italian street theatre, you can take a wander around the 85,000 sq ft shopping emporium and enjoy the delightful design and exotic shopfronts. Don’t expect to snag many bargains, though – it’s mostly luxury lifestyle brands.

    Location: The Venetian, 3355 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 702-414-4500


    Take a chocolate and cactus tour

    A weird but wonderful combo

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    The East Las Vegas suburb of Henderson is home to gourmet chocolatiers Ethel M and their main factory. The good news for budget travellers is you can take a self-guided tour for free. It’s not what you’d call a natural combination, but there is a 3-acre cactus garden outside, which you can explore. The chocolate tour allows you to look into the company’s kitchens while they hand-craft everything from pecan brittle to signature fillings. In the cactus garden, you can see 350 species of cacti and succulents, which recycle all of the factory’s waste water.

    Location: 2 Cactus Garden Dr, Henderson, NV 89014, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +1 800-438-4356


    Enjoy the fine art at the ARIA

    Explore the resort to find its artistic treasures

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    The ARIA Fine Art Collection is one of the largest corporate modern art collections in the world, and one of the first in Las Vegas to be displayed in a public space. It features dramatic sculptures, paintings and installations by artists from around the world, with ambitious themes like the fundamentals of the human experience, the importance of a single human life and the dialogue between humankind and the world we live in. The artworks are spread throughout the resort, but maps are available to guide you to each.

    Location: Aria Resort & Casino, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd S, ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Daily from noon to midnight

    Phone: +1 702-590-7111


    Go to the circus at Circus Circus

    Free shows in the Carnival Midway Arcade

    It may not be quite on the same level as Vegas’s famous Cirque du Soleil shows, but the awe-inspiring acts at Circus Circus are free. Inside the big top-style hall, you can see daily shows throughout the afternoon and evening, including clowns, acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists and more – basically any act which comes to mind when you think of the word “circus”. The international cast are extremely skilled and fun to watch.

    Location: Circus Circus Hotel & Resort, 2880 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am until late

    Phone: +1 800-634-3450


    photo by Allie_Caulfield (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Watch the Fountains of Bellagio

    An iconic free show on The Strip

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    Watching the balletic display of the Fountains of Bellagio is one of the most iconic free things to do in Las Vegas. Over 1,200 nozzles in the 8-acre manmade freshwater lake spray jets up to 460 ft into the air in time to a selection of soundtracks ranging from Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” to "My Heart Will Go On" by Céline Dion. Barring any unusual weather conditions, there are shows every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes after dark.

    Location: 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Monday to Friday from 3 pm to midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, Sundays from 11 am to midnight


    See the Mirage Volcano erupt

    Start your night with a bang

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    While the aquatic show at the Bellagio is the more famous, the Mirage Volcano is no less impressive. The flames quite literally dance to the music for several 4-minute shows every night. Fireballs reach 12 feet into the air while artificial lava spews from the mini mountain. There are also laser light shows and water jets, adding to the spectacular show.

    Location: The Mirage, 3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA

    Open: Daily at 8 pm, 9 pm and 10 pm

    Phone: +1 702-791-7111


    photo by Frank Seiplax (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Experience Fremont Street

    A cheaper, more colourful version of The Strip

    Fremont Street was basically The Strip before there was a Strip. Part of it was known as Glitter Gulch because of the huge number of neon signs for casinos there. The Fremont Street Experience is a covered pedestrian mall which spans the westernmost 5 blocks, including the Gulch. The impressive illuminated roof covers casinos, restaurants, bars – all cheaper than those on The Strip – and a lively atmosphere. Uniquely, you can soar over the street like a superhero on the SlotZilla Zip Line, though that part of the experience isn’t free.

    Location: Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA

    Open: 24 hours

    Phone: +1 702-678-5600

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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