Frugal Travel Tips For Las Vegas Attractions

I don’t gamble so I often get asked why I visit Las Vegas at least once a year. The answer? The free attractions make Las Vegas a frugal traveler’s paradise (and we’ll save the dining discussion for another article). Almost every casino has some sort of freebie gimmick to attract gamblers. In this article, I will cover, what I consider to be the must-see’s to give tourists a flavor of Las Vegas.

The Fountain Show At Bellagio

With nightfall comes the fountain shows at Bellagio. In the massive pool of water on the Strip side of the casino, illuminated spirts of water dance to a variety of music, popular, classical and even opera. They usually operate every 15 minutes (check with the casino to ensure), with a different song and show each time.

Sirens Of TI

Every night, in front of Treasure Island on the Strip, a battle takes place between sexy sirens and renegade male pirates. There are usually four identical kid friendly shows nightly. Get there early for best viewing (especially if you are vertically challenged). Stand close and you could get a bit wet.

Circus Circus Shows

Approximately every half hour in the Circus Circus casino on the Strip, there are free yet world class midway acts including jugglers and trapeze acts. I stayed for three shows and all three were different.

Freemont Street Experience

Las Vegas is more than the Strip. Situated in the heart of downtown, the historic Freemont Street Experience is a pedestrian walkway, covered by what they bill as the biggest big screen on the planet. There are street performers, vendors and every night at multiple times, a light and sound show.

Ethel M’s Chocolate Tour And Botanical Cactus Garden

Want to get away from the Strip yet do something free? Check out the Ethel M Chocolate Factory (One Sunset Way). A must for chocolate connoisseurs (I have purchased chocolate from all over the world for my Mom, her favorite is Ethel M’s), there is a self guided tour, free samples, and products for sale.

Outside there is the Botanical Cactus Garden with over 350 kinds of cacti, succulents from the local area and around the world (also free admission).

Note: There is an Ethel M’s at the airport if you are concerned about chocolate melting (check hours of operation as every time I go, its closed).

There are many, many other free attractions in Las Vegas. Attractions that are changed often to ensure the city remains fresh, exciting and a frugal traveler’s paradise.

Frugal Travel Tips For Washington DC

You can not say you’ve seen the U.S. without seeing Washington D.C. Although hotels are costly and parking a challenge, the nation’s capital is full of free attractions and things to do.

The White House And The Pentagon

Entrance to President’s Park is free and gives the frugal traveler great views of the White House. The visitors center has some very nice permanent exhibits. Tours of the White House can be arranged for groups of 10 or more. However applications have to be received at least six months in advance.

Tours are also available of the Pentagon. These also have to be arranged well ahead of time.

Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Washington Monument

The National Mall And Memorial Parks contain some of the U.S.’s most important monuments. These include The Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and the Washington Monument within walking distances of each other. The Mall itself is a great place to picnic and people watch. Entrance is free

Smithsonian Castle

When I think of the Smithsonian, I think of the Smithsonian Castle, the first building. Entrance as with all of the 17 Smithsonian buildings and the National Zoo is free. There are also free tours available. The building itself is beautiful. The exhibits? It’s the Smithsonian.

National Museum of Natural History

Another Smithsonian Museum, the National Museum Of Natural History is a favorite with kids. They have tarantula feedings, dinosaurs, and preserved animals. As with all the Smithsonian Museums, the National Museum Of Natural History is free.

National Museum Of American History

Another free Smithsonian Museum, the National Museum Of American History showcases American culture and history. From Dorothy’s ruby red slippers to full sized locomotives, think of an American icon and you can likely find it in this museum.

Washington D.C. is full of free tourist attractions with American politics, history, and culture as the focus. The Smithsonian Museums alone, a great rainy day alternative, can take weeks to explore. The city is a must see for both American visitors and residents.

Frugal Travel Tips For Los Angeles

Los Angeles, home of Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, is not the first city travelers may associate with free and frugal attractions. However for the thrifty traveler, the deals are plentiful.

The Getty

Hosting one of the best collections of art on the west coast, the Getty has such a huge catalogue of work that they’ve split the gallery into two separate sites.

The Getty Center in Los Angeles contains the collection of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. The building is a modern masterpiece and the views fantastic.

The Getty Villa in Malibu is my favorite of the two, dedicated to the study of arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The building is truly a Roman inspired villa surrounded by wonderful gardens.

Admission to both J. Paul Getty Museums are free but there is an $8 charge for parking.

Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier consists of amusement parks, restaurants, vendor carts, and other street entertainment. One of the top attractions is a beautiful carousel with hand painted horses. A great place to people watch, entrance to the Santa Monica Pier is free.

Chicken Dinner At Knott’s Berry Farms

Imagine a chicken dinner so good that a theme park was built around it and you have the chicken dinner at Knott’s Berry Farms. The dinner comes with buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes and veggies. End the meal with a mouth watering boysenberry pie. All at very reasonable family style prices.

The Dash

Los Angeles is definitely a city with a dominant car culture but renting a car is not the only option. The local transit called the Dash is one of the least expensive of all the big cities. Full fare is $0.25 and yes, there is a senior’s discount available.

The Walk Of Fame

Walking along The Walk Of Fame between Hollywood Blvd and Vine is a must for the first time visitor. Along the walk is the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where stars such as Marilyn Monroe left imprints of their hands and feet. It remains a favorite location for movie premieres so the lucky traveler could have a star spotting.

Borrowing a bit of that Hollywood glamour in L.A. doesn’t have to be an expensive prospect. There are plenty free or frugal attractions, transportation, and food.