Las Vegas for Free


Once upon a time, Las Vegas was synonymous with bargains. Then cheap buffets, lounge acts and inexpensive hotel rooms gave way to Michelin Guide star-rated restaurants,  extravaganzas and luxury suites. But all is not lost, even in these tough economic times when gas prices alone may make you reconsider a Vegas trip. These ideas show that Vegas is still the land of the cheap and home of the free, if you know where to look.

THE SUNBELT CLASSIC AND ANTIQUE AUTO MUSEUM

Jim Rogers, the owner of Sunbelt Communications, has more than 300 restored vehicles on display in his car barn. But he doesn’t advertise the collection, and tourists can see it only by appointment. Call (702) 649-0110 to arrange a time or join a scheduled tour. The museum opens at 6 a.m. weekdays, except holidays, at 1420 Gragson St. Go to www.sunbeltcars.com for details. Free.

FREE STUFF AT THE MALLS

The Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority offers the Shop Vegas Passport. Print out the coupon from www.visitlasvegas.com/vegas/pdf/shopping_passport.pdf and redeem it at one of the seven malls listed on the coupon. Free.

WIRELESS INTERNET

The lobbies and casino areas of the Palazzo and Venetian are among the few spots on the Strip where you can find unfettered access. Power up and log on. Free.

TOUR LAS VEGAS HISTORY

Las Vegas City Hall has a historic walking tour, displaying such items as Mayor Oscar Goodman bobbleheads, a 1959 map of the city and the 1923 city budget. Ask the city clerk for a brochure for the self-guided tour. City Hall is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except holidays, at 400 Stewart Ave. Free.

CASINO COLLECTIBLES ON THE CHEAP

To find great casino memorabilia, go to the Broadacres Swap Meet in North Las Vegas, a 20-acre, open-air market with 1,150 vendors. The meet runs 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fridays and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 2930 N. Las Vegas Blvd. Fridays, 50 cents; Saturdays and Sundays, $1; kids under 12, free.

BETTE MIDLER’S BAND

Instead of spending big bucks to see Midler’s “The Showgirl Must Go On,” you can hear six members of her 13-piece band performing as Santa Fe and the Fat City Horns, a weekly act at the Lounge at the Palms. The band performs at 10:30 p.m. Mondays. Free.

THE BIRDMAN COMETH

Joe Krathwohl, a.k.a. the Birdman of Las Vegas, does astonishing bird tricks with a menagerie that includes Hawaiian cockatoos, Amazon parrots and the endangered Andean condor at 1 and 3 p.m. Fridays through Sundays inside the 80,000-square-foot Hawaiian Marketplace, 3743 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Free.

WEEKLY BLUES CONCERTS

At 9 p.m. every Wednesday, the House Of Blues at the Madalay Bay offers “Nothing but the Blues” concerts inside the Crossroads room. Bands change weekly, and there’s no cover charge. To find out more, go to www.myspace.com/ nothingbuttheblues2007 or call (702) 632-7600. Free.

THE GAY DISCOUNT CARD

You don’t have to be gay or lesbian to get a Q VIP discount card. Q Vegas, the town’s major GLBT magazine, distributes the card, which provides discounts to the Atomic Testing Museum and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, among other places. Send an e-mail to vip@qvegas.com with your name, e-mail address, mailing address, phone number and birth date, and the mag will send the card to you. Free.

THE PINBALL HALL OF FAME

This 4,500-square-foot storefront is a hidden treasure where you can play 200 or so vintage pinball machines. It’s a nonprofit effort run by Tim Arnold, a former arcade chain owner with a collection that dates to the 1940s. The Pinball Hall of Fame is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily at 3330 E. Tropicana Ave. For more information, visit www.pinballmuseum.org. 25 cents to 50 cents per game.

SUNSET VIEW OF THE STRIP

Rather than pay up to $13.95 to see the Strip from the Stratosphere obervation deck, head to the bar at Mix atop THEhotel at Mandalay Bay before 10 p.m. for a better view. Free.

VISIT THE FISH

A major tourist draw in Vegas is the 50,000-gallon, horseshoe-shaped saltwater tank at the north end of Caesars Palace’s Forum Shops that houses more than 500 colorful fish, including zebra sharks and cownose rays. During educational tours, you can handle live starfish and observe other sea life. The tours start at 1:15 and 5:15 p.m. weekdays near the Tower Records side of the aquarium. Free.

GET INTO VEGAS NIGHTCLUBS FREE

Grab free passes to two of the Strip’s hottest nightclubs, the Bank at Bellagio and Jet at the Mirage, at such stores as Metro Park and Marciano at Fashion Show, Ted Baker and BeBe at Forum Shops and Marciano and BeBe at the Miracle Mile Shops. The passes can be worth $20 or more. Free.

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