Saving Big in Sin City

Score a winning hand with these tips and tricks for your Las Vegas getaway.

By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

Thanks to its many casinos, restaurants and nightlife options, it’s no wonder Las Vegas has been dubbed the unofficial “Entertainment Capital of the World.” So you can make the most of all Vegas has to offer, we combed the city for fun activities that don’t cost a cent. So go on and hit the casinos, but leave your cash in your wallet, because these only-in-Vegas sights are totally free. How’s that for luck?

Art Through the Ages

For a dose of culture, check out the Marjorie Barrick Museum, on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In the permanent collection, you can surround yourself with centuries-old Central and North American artwork, such as Mesoamerican female figurines from 300 B.C. Mexico and 400 B.C. El Salvador. To view a more-modern installation, check out “Five,” an exhibit on view through September 10. The show features paintings, sculptures, videos and other pieces by New York– and Los Angeles–based talent who have participated in the university’s Artist-in-Residence Program. Highlights include an LED-lit plastic sculpture of the Seattle Space Needle, by Deborah Aschheim, and Lucky DeBellevue’s ink prints on cork panels.

Score a Sneak Peek

Long before TV shows appear on your screen, they’re watched, tested and edited to the hilt. You can be a part of the process—and get a glimpse of the next big thing before it airs—by joining a free focus group at Television City at the MGM Grand. If you can, opt for one of the home-environment sessions. You’ll get to kick back and watch a show in a simulated house, complete with a cozy living room and kitchen, instead of in a group screening room. There’s more to Television City than TV. You can also flip through magazines, listen to music, check out apps and play video games.

A Little More Action

If you’re looking for a spectacle, fireballs shoot 12 feet high over a waterfall-laden lagoon at the Mirage’s man-made volcano. Thousands of tropical fish, three species of stingrays and even a few costumed mermaids swim languidly around the Silverton Casino’s 117,000-gallon aquarium. And at the Fountains of Bellagio, water from more than a thousand fountains soars up to 460 feet high while dancing to tunes like Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon.” If you want to indulge in a classic Vegas pastime without having to bet big, many casinos offer gratis gaming lessons in everything from poker to blackjack using practice chips. After all, you’re in Sin City.

The Fountains of Bellagio
3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 888-987-6667;
Marjorie Barrick Museum
4504 S. Maryland Pkwy.; 702-895-3381;; admission, free
Silverton Casino
3333 Blue Diamond Rd.; 702-263-7777;
Television City at the MGM Grand
3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-891-5753;
The Mirage
3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-791-7111;
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: July 2016