questionswhat are must-do, budget-friendly things to do…

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Walk out of the casino onto the strip. Go left. There is a bar with 2 for 1 24oz frosty cold beers. Now with frosty cold beers in hand walk the other way to Casino Royale. Cheap beer and $3 blackjack tables. Also try Stage Door Casino behind The Flamingo. Local hangout. Cheap beer and damn good hotdogs.

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Most of the big casinos have amazing lobbies, I remember being entertained just visiting a few of them and looking around.

The Luxor has a pretty cool recreation of King Tut's tomb (or did a while back) I can't say how much it cost since I last visited years ago and didn't pay for my ticket in the first place, but I can't imagine that it would be budget breaking.

I believe that most of the casinos have some sort of free or cheap "show" from time to time that fits into their theme. Circus Circus had some circus acts, and I remember Caesar's Palace having something or other going on as well.

Check the hotel websites. They should have a listing of their shows, both the free and the ticketed.

Edit: Not exactly "cheap" but I think the Titanic Exhibit is one of those really awesome, rare opportunities that are worth splurging over. http://www.luxor.com/entertainment/titanic.aspx

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Absolutely free: Bellagio fountains, TI Pirate Show, Coca-Cola and M&M Stores are fun even w/o purchasing anything, just walking the strip (Keep your hands at your side or in your pockets or you'll find them full of business cards for strippers.)

Pretty cheap: Mac King Magic Show (find someone with free coupons in the carnival area outside Harrah's. You'll stil have to pay $10 each for drinks, but it's worth it.)

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http://www.vegas.com/attractions/freeattractions.html

I used this link pretty much when I went to Vegas two months ago.

If you're looking for really cheap eats, go to TERRIBLE'S cafe (2nd floor) over at Flamingo and Paradise road. They'll serve you a steak dinner for only ten bucks and more! Like no kidding. http://www.terriblescasinos.com/din.php Just go at night though... like after 9-ish if you don't plan on waiting long. Their cafe is 24/7. Buffet is cheap too but didn't try it. This was pretty much the highlight of the stay, lol.

Other notable places (from first link)
1) Bellagios dancing fountain runs every hour on the hour.
2) Rios sky thingy parade I forgot what it was called, they're on the weekend evenings.
3) Circus Circus acts, all day acts every 45 minutes. I think there's like about six in total a day.. after that it's repeats.
4) Treasure island people singing I think
5) Mirage volcano in the evening

If you haven't yet, go ahead and pay to get on the stratosphere.

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And if you don't mind being under pressure and don't mind wasting a day, go for a time share thing.

It's a trap for sure, but if they say they'll give you free show tickets for something good.. I'd go for it.

Honestly though, I think Vegas has seen it's better days... so many casinos are closing/closed and so much homeless people are walking the streets.

OH YEAH! Do you watch Pawn Stars? Go down Las Vegas Blvd and it's the shop right after charelston to the right.

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Looking at other people's suggestions makes me remember a lot that I'd forgotten. Bellagio's fountains are amazing. The Mirage has a 20,000 gallon aquarium behind the front desk, as well as an impressive atrium.

Even if you don't have everything 100% preplanned, I think you'd have to try pretty hard to not be entertained in Vegas. Just wander around and be a tourist, you'll enjoy yourself.

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If you're looking for a budget friendly nature hike, Red Rock Canyon is 15 or 20 miles from the strip and it is awe inspiring. It is also very cheap--under $10 per car. We used to visit Vegas several times a year pre-kids and it was a nice way to take a vacation from our vacation.

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I'd emphazise the free outdoor stuff. The fountains at Bellagio are a wonderful attraction. The schedule and "playlist" can be found here:
http://www.bellagio.com/attractions/fountains-of-bellagio.aspx
I dont' think they announce what is going to play when (if you specifically wanted to hear something), so you take your chances.

Sirens of Treasure Island
http://www.treasureisland.com/shows/sirens_of_ti.aspx

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Thanks everyone! Lots of great information. I can't wait!

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If the Tropicana in las vegas still has their parrot colony in the lobby do check it out. Most of the birds are on open pearches and have caretakers who, when I visited, taught you how to interact with the tamer ones. Great for kids.