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Las Vegas Pt. 2

February 27, 2012

It's water, it's lights, it's music, . . . . it's beautiful (and free)

A trip to Las Vegas is too much to write about in just one article, so this week it is time for Vegas the sequel. Hopefully I can give you some more tips on how to have a great experience in Las Vegas and not break the bank.

If you are in Vegas for a while, you don’t want to spend all your time gambling as you likely will lose all your money eventually. There are some other very enjoyable ways to spend your time.

I’ve always enjoyed the shows in Vegas. There is something for everyone. You have major top-notch shows such as Celine Dion, Jersey Boys, and a collection of Cirque du Soleil shows. These are all fairly expensive and it is tough to find any deals on these shows. If you are staying at a hotel where one of the shows is playing, you can occasionally find a deal, but more than likely you will have to pay full price.

If you don’t need to see the big shows, but still like good entertainment, there are a couple of different options if you are on a budget. On my last trip, I purchased the Total Rewards All Stage Pass. With tax, it cost me $116, but there was a selection of around 20 shows, and I could watch as many as I could make in 48 hours. Before the trip, I figured out how to make as many shows as possible to make the deal worth it.

I was a little nervous that the shows I wanted to see would be sold out with my trip being over the weekend, but we were able to get into every show we wanted. We started off Friday afternoon by seeing “The Price is Right Live” with Joey Fatone formerly of the boy band ‘N Sync fame. My brother, Ben, was called to contestant row and won the bid to go on stage with Joey. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to win the $800 athletic training set, but still won $60 by making it out of contestant row.

After “The Price is Right” was over, we went to a variety show at Ceasar’s Palace. It was very strange, but some of the acts were feats of strength and balance I had never seen before. After that show we caught improv comedy at another casino. The next day we saw magician Mac King in the afternoon. We were about five rows from the front and the show was a blast. We enjoyed it just about as much as the group of 12-year-olds who were there for a birthday party.

The final show we saw was the Australian music group Human Nature. They sing and dance the Motown classics and are fantastic. I’m thankful growing up that my dad watched every Motown special on PBS, which let me truly appreciate every song they sang. We did have the chance to see “Legends in Concert,” and there was the possibility of getting one more afternoon show in, but five shows in two days was pretty good.

If we would have purchased individual tickets, it would have cost around $270 for each of us paying full price. If five to seven shows in two days is too much for you, there are multiple locations along the strip that you can purchase half-price show tickets. Even though you won’t find the top shows here, there are a wide variety of shows you can see every day for half the regular price.

There also is a lot of free entertainment in Vegas. My favorite free entertainment is the fountains in front of the Bellagio hotel. There are fountain shows every 15 minutes after 7 p.m.. According to the Bellagio website:  “Take in a complimentary Las Vegas show of water, music and light thoughtfully interwoven to mesmerize its admirers. All for your amusement, the most ambitious, choreographically complex water feature ever conceived amazes against the beautiful backdrop of Las Vegas’ lavender sky. Each dynamic performance from the Fountains collection is unique in its expression and interpretation.” Sometimes people try and talk up their free entertainment, but when you grow up in an agriculture based community, there is something very relaxing about watching water, lights and music together.

While at the Bellagio, it is worth the time to go into the hotel and see the Conservatory at Bellagio. This garden is crafted by more than 100 horticulturists and is impressive even when you don’t know much about flowers. I would stick around the casino, especially on weekend nights, and see the crowd heading to the club. I think most of the outfits worn by the club goers were more expensive than my whole wardrobe. If you enjoy people watching, it is a prime location.

If you have a hotel with a pool, a great way to spend a day is to relax by the pool. It is a great place to take a step back from the hectic world and enjoy the desert heat. On the strip, you also can see the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo. The exotic birds found here is a relaxing stop and holds a special place in my heart as it was where Kerri and I were married almost eight years ago.

There are a variety of other free options for entertainment, so do your research before you head out. I think this is the key to the whole trip. Take some time to plan out what is important for you to see. It is nice to do some things spontaneously, but by doing your research on what you want to do and what you can afford, you can have a great trip.

Remember to keep sending me your Vegas tips at andrewlong@fastmail.fm or comment at greatwonder.wordpress.com.

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