Top 7 Best Cheap / Free Activities on the Las Vegas Strip
Headed to Sin City on a budget? These affordable activities on the Las Vegas Strip offer the most bang for your buck, not to mention prime location and plenty of upside.
The Las Vegas that most out-of-town visitors know is the one of sheer opulence, fast money, gluttonous excess, glitzy sensory overload, and high-stakes swings in fortune. Of course, the locals and insiders are happy to indulge all those “Sin City” stereotypes, because that’s the version that many tourists pay handsomely to witness – hey, there’s no business like show business!
And Las Vegans (hilarious, but yes that’s what they’re called) play the fiddle in tune because “a fool and his money are soon parted” as the old saying goes. Hey, there’s a reason why there’s no state income tax in Las Vegas: millions of visitors a year foot those locals’ tax bills via hotel taxes, entertainment taxes, sales taxes, and all other taxes on general debauchery (and stupidity).
That being said, having a blast in Las Vegas on a budget is actually much easier than you think. It starts with the right cheap hotel choice, and after that you can save A TON money for all the fun stuff: shows, attractions, and of course…. reasonably priced (aka “Ballin on a Budget”) bars and nightclubs. Take it from us experts: there are a plethora of entertainment options that offer loads of fun in the central location you want – right smack dab on The Strip – at ridiculously reasonable price points.
But, we know you’re here for a good time, not a long time… so you’ll need some expert guidance to help narrow down your choices. And that’s where we come in! Here in order of our highly experienced customer service staff’s preferences is our Discotech Top “Lucky 7” list of best cheap activities on the Las Vegas Strip – under $22 per person! – that you and our friends can give a whirl in those hours to kill between partying your face off at the dayclubs and nightclubs.
1) Fountains Water & Light Show
- Location: Bellagio Resort & Casino (Center Strip)
- Cost Per Person: Free
- Time Length of Activity: 20-30 minutes
- Best Time of Day to Go: 8:00PM-9:30PM (evening shows offer better views of colored lights)
There’s a clear-cut #1 thing to do on a budget while in Las Vegas, and IDGAF how “tourist-y” or “cliche” you think it is. The fountains at the Bellagio are a can’t-miss scene that defines the city itself, and the “Holy Sh*t, Vegas Baby!” buzz that jolts through you while witnessing this unforgettable spectacle IRL is the same whether it’s your first time or your thousandth time. As the Bellagio water jets dance along rhythmically to carefully coordinated background music and colorful light projections, you can’t help but feel relaxed, energized, awed, nostalgic, content, romantic, and at peace all at once. It’s a priceless experience…. that also happens to be free, photo-friendly, and super-convenient (the show repeats every half-hour). We suggest you finish your dinner early, take advantage of Sin City’s relaxed “open container” laws to tote your favorite adult beverage on a short jaunt over to center Strip, and post up at a coveted spot along Las Vegas Boulevard at the railing’s edge of Lake Bellagio for the picture-perfect mellow pregame activity to a night of intense partying.
2) Upscale Bowling
- Location: Brooklyn Bowl @ LINQ Promenade (Center Strip)
- Cost Per Person: $7.45 ($20.00 per lane per half hour, up to 8 guests per lane; $4.95 per person shoe rental)
- Time To Set Aside: 1-2 hours
- Best Time of Day to Go: 5:00PM-9:00PM (Happy Hour from 5-6pm, plus young / hip / lively crowd begins arriving for concerts beginning at 9pm)
Located on the LINQ Promenade just steps away from the High Roller Ferris wheel, Brooklyn Bowl is an ultra-hip upscale bowling alley, not to mention a well-loved restaurant by Vegas locals (their Blue Ribbon fried chicken is some of the best in the city). Brooklyn Bowl successfully transplanted the NYC hipster swagger into the desert – with swanky chesterfield sofas, fetching “Are they aspiring models or actors?” waiters and waitresses, and full-bodied craft beers and cocktails – but thankfully left the NYC prices on the East Coast. As an added bonus, Brooklyn Bowl shines as a “Vegas locals favorite” concert venue showcasing heavyweight names in reggae, alt-rock, and other lightweight music genres that have rabid followings. Concerts here are standing-room only, but guests can also reserve VIP sections to the left of the stage which come with leather sofas, food/beverage table service, and of course use of the bowling lanes in between music acts (or even during, if you’re not a fan) Brooklyn Bowl is one of the more affordable ways to catch live music on the Strip and thus always draws a crowd.
3) “Upscale” Beer Pong
- Location: O’Sheas Casino @ LINQ Promenade (Center Strip)
- Cost Per Person: $7.00 ($28.00 for one pitcher of beer plus server gratuity, 20 plastic cups, and 2 ping pong balls; use of beer pong tables is first-come, first-serve
- Time To Set Aside: 20-30 minutes
- Best Time of Day to Go: 8:00PM-11:00PM (cover band comes on around 9PM, plus post-dinner plus nightclub pregame crowds offer higher-energy scene)
With its brightly lit neon “O” sign beckoning thirsty patrons strolling down the prime location of retail and entertainment that is the LINQ Promenade, O’Sheas Casino has a fair share of tourist traffic wandering in and out at all hours of the day. As the sun goes down, that foot traffic tends to linger a bit longer… and the world-class beer pong tables – well-kept with glossy surfaces and eye-catching O’Sheas branding – are the key reason why. Sure, they’ve got a great Happy Hour specials, $5 table games, an Irish cover band slapping 90s and 2000s hits, and even a leprechaun pouring shooters down visitors’ throats. But let’s be honest: you came here specifically to take part in beer pong table after glorious beer pong table, and to take on the crowd of revelers lining up to stake claim to your “Best Ponger in Your Hometown” title. It’s a competitive but super-friendly and super inexpensive atmosphere… so get down to LINQ and shoot your shot, champ!
4) Shark Reef
- Location: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino (South Strip)
- Cost Per Person: $22
- Time To Set Aside: 2-3 hours
- Best Time of Day to Go: 9:00AM-1:00PM (less family crowds around, air-conditioned to help you beat the midday heat)
While this activity is the priciest one we’ve included on our list, we think this is well worth the extra money shelled out for the value you get, especially if you have a few animal lovers in your group. “Shark Week” is happening every day over at the Shark Reef Aquarium inside Mandalay Bay. The walk-through aquarium – a tube tunnel offers surreal up-close-and-personal vantage points – is home to more than 100 sharks from 15 different species swimming in a massive tank housing over 1.6 million gallons of water. If sharks aren’t your thing – they’re not ours, that’ for sure – then there are over 2,000 other marine species to check out plus a sunken pirate ship and various interactive exhibits to more than keep you afloat. Your entertainment dollar will stretch way past two hours…. or however long it takes you to kill the hangover from last night’s partying.
5) Big Apple Coaster & Arcade
- Location: New York, New York Resort & Casino (South Strip)
- Cost Per Person: $17 for ride ticket plus entry to arcade (cost to play games varies per game)
- Time To Set Aside: 1 hour
- Best Time of Day to Go: 6:00PM-9:00PM (Vegas Strip lights at twilight are more impressive)
Vegas is surely a playground for adults, but sometimes you just want to do something that makes you feel like a kid again. Head back in time to your childhood summers on the shore with boardwalks, cotton candy, and carnival games by hitting the New York, New York Casino. And without your parents holding your hand, you can now go on that big kid roller coaster as many times as you want… and you don’t even have to wait 20 minutes after eating. The Big Apple Roller Coaster at NYNY is just that, offering as much twisting and turning as being in the backseat of a Manhattan yellow cab. Punch down towering drops and whip through multiple loops at heart-pounding speeds, all while taking in insane birds-eye views from high above the Strip. It’s all over in a New York minute, but if you’ve got the stones to whip out your smartphone for a well-timed selfie, the Sin City thrill of your life can live on social media forever.
6) Mechanical Bull Ride
- Location: PBR Rockbar @ Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino (Center Strip)
- Cost Per Person: $10 for 1-2 rides (depending on demand at time of visit)
- Time To Set Aside: 20 minutes
- Best Time of Day to Go: 9:00PM-11:30PM (after-dinner crowds are larger, giving bar more energy)
Deep in the heart of Tex… – ahem, Vegas – is another rodeo-themed gem of a drinking post. Located on the highly trafficked Strip side of Planet Hollywood’s famed Miracle Mile Shops, PBR Rock Bar & Grill is a Professional Bull Riders affiliated mega-venue that truly epitomizes the phrase “a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.” Rock Bar is a sprawling, modern, 16,800 square-foot backyard barbecue featuring two DJ booths, and hundreds of big screen TVs lining the bar. However, its crown jewel – or is it its shiny, oversized belt buckle? – is its massive hydraulic mechanical bull at its center, mounted and ridden in constant rotation by buxom staff and ballsy tourists. Get on up, squeeze tight, pull the bull rope and lean back for the greatest ride of your life… getting bucked will never feel so good, especially if you’ve already had a few of PBR Rockbar’s signature frozen cocktails to work up that liquid cowboy courage. Giddy up!
7) Conservatory & Botanical Gardens Walk
- Location: Bellagio Resort & Casino (Center Strip)
- Cost Per Person: Free
- Time To Set Aside: 30 minutes
- Best Time of Day to Go: 1:00-4:00PM (perfect for post-lunch stroll, plus ambient midday light makes floral colors more vivid)
The best cure for that pounding headache of yours from the pulsating music last night – among other “contributing factors” – is an overload of peaceful zen. Drag your over to the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens for the fresh-air garden stroll to put all other walks in the park to shame. Five times a year – Chinese New Year, spring, summer, fall and winter – the Bellagio Conservatory team creates a brand-new 14,000 square-foot floral production that is to sense of sight and smell what gluttony is to the sense of taste. Most hotels have gardeners and landscapers on staff, but the Bellagio has 120 of them – and that’s not including the designers, engineers, and electricians who work behind the scenes to make all that magic happen – to ensure 10,000 potted plants are hand-watered and switched out with fresh ones every two weeks. Don’t stress though: those thousands of wilted flowers are never wasted; rather, they are converted to mulch and used to grow the plants and flowers for next season’s impressive displays. Everything about this amazing experience – including its zero cost to enjoy – will leave you feeling recycled and refreshed, like a budding spring flower ready to take on the Vegas summer heat.
Bonus Activity: Canyon Hiking
- Location: Red Rock Canyon (Off Strip, 25-minute drive from most Strip resorts)
- Cost Per Person: $5.00 park entry fee (parking $15 per car)
- Time To Set Aside: 4 hours
- Best Time of Day to Go: 5:00PM-8:00PM (avoid brutal midday heat, plus sunset skies are more colorful)
Located a few miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is not conveniently on the Strip, but it’s worth the travel and offers a variety of challenging hiking trails, world class climbing, biking, and even overnight camping in select areas. We know you came to Vegas for the views though, and Red Rock Canyon is the perfect day trip for nature/photography lovers and Instagram influencers alike. If you’re lucky, you might even see some wild burros or horses while you’re out on the trails while you’re getting your exercise and sweating out the night before (or preemptively burning calories for the night to come) . Make sure to check the weather and line up your visit during times of day where it’s not too hot or cold, because temperature shifts can be quite extreme out in the desert.
Bonus Activity: Neon Boneyard (Off Strip)
- Location: Neon Museum (Off Strip, 10-minute drive north of Strip center in Downtown Las Vegas)
- Cost Per Person: $20
- Time To Set Aside: 2 hours
- Best Time of Day to Go: 7:00PM-10:00PM (more of the signs are lit up at night)
Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. The Neon Museum campus includes the outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard Main Collection, the Neon Boneyard North Gallery, which houses additional rescued signs, and a Visitors’ Center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby. The Main Collection contains more than 200 unrestored signs which are, at sunset, illuminated with ground lighting as well as numerous restored signs which are switched on at all hours of the day. The Boneyard is also available for personal and commercial photo/video shoots. The Museum is open seven days a week; hours vary based on the season.
Las Vegas is definitely a place where things can escalate quickly in terms of expenses, especially with a few bad beats or unlucky turns of the wheels or reels. Nevertheless, it is still a magical landscape where fun can be had on the cheap if you know the lay of the land. Your friends and nightlife guides here at Discotech are an essential part of that equation – we help you browse and book free guest lists and cheap presale tickets or VIP bottle service for the hottest nightclubs and pool parties in Las Vegas. What are you waiting for? Download our app now – featured on BBC Travel and highly reviewed on Yelp! – in the App Store or Google Play.