8 Cheap Things to Do in Vegas

This post is originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog by Todd Herschberg, on March 29, 2017

things to do in vegas

1. Get a Cheap Hotel Room

Sure, you can live like a king and spend your life’s savings on a deluxe high-roller suite–but you don’t have to. Depending on when you go and where you stay, you can usually get a cheap hotel room in Las Vegas. After all, it’s Sin City. How much time do you actually plan on spending in the room?

cheap things to do in vegas

2. Have a Low-priced Drink (or 12)

If you hang out at the slots and/or gaming tables long enough (and gamble), eventually they’ll bring you free drinks. You’ll still want to tip at least a buck or two per drink, though (Pro advice: If you tip more, you’ll find that your drinks come a bit more often). Not a gambler? Check out some of the Downtown bars near the Golden Gate Hotel–you’ll find they’re a bit cheaper.

cheap things to do in vegas

3. Check Out Some Free Circus Acts

Gotten your drink on and feel like being a kid again? Head on over to Circus Circus for their free show every half hour from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.  The show only runs about 10 minutes, but hey, it’s free!

cheap things to do in vegas

4. Shape the Future of Television

Seriously, though: wander over to the MGM Grand and check out the CBS Television Research Center. You’ll get the opportunity to be part of a focus group for new TV shows. What’s really cool? Being part of the focus group and then seeing the same episode on TV a few months later–but with changes based on the feedback that you provided.

cheap things to do in vegas

5. Fill Up at a Budget Buffet

Gone are the days when you could gorge yourself on all-you-can-eat shrimp for under a buck; however, there are still a few buffets around for less than $10. Check out the Feast Buffet over at Palace Station–it’s only $8.99 for an all-you-can-eat meal of a fairly decent quality.

cheap things to do in vegas

6. Get a Massage for $20

Las Vegas is more than just the Strip. Head over to Chinatown (on and around Spring Mountain Road) and you’ll find a huge number of foot massage places where you can get a reflexology massage for about $20 an hour. After spending a day walking all over Vegas, you’ll be glad you did!

cheap things to do in vegas

7. Check Out the Free, Secret Light Show

OK, so it won’t be a secret much longer. Inside City Center, there is a shopping center. Inside that shopping center, there is a Louis Vuitton store. Inside the Louis Vuitton store, there is a fourth floor. On the fourth floor, there is a back room. In the back room, there is a permanent art installation by James Turrell called “Akhob”–an amazing light show. Absolutely free-of-charge, it’s effectively a private show: they only allow four people at a time. The tricky part? They require reservations about a month in advance and are only open 11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday. Call Louis Vuitton for a reservation.

cheap things to do in vegas

8. People-watch

One great spot to people-watch is the EastSide Lounge at the Encore at Wynn. If you stick around late enough, you’ll get to see all of the young, amazingly-drunk folks spilling out of the nightclub at closing–always good for an entertaining hour or so. Otherwise, plunk yourself down just about anywhere in Vegas on any given night, sit back, and watch the show.

Hipmunk Hotels: Off The California Tourist Path Yet Close To It All – Fresno, Riverside, And More

Off The California Tourist Path post was originally published on ‘This Life in Trips‘ blog by Shaun Robertson.

off the California tourist path, Riverside

When you’re planning a vacation in the Golden State, attractions like Disneyland, Hollywood, and the Golden Gate Bridge instantly come to mind. If you don’t want to deal with the large crowds or the high prices that those destinations tend to have, don’t hesitate to look further. When it comes to accommodations and value, California has a lot to offer outside its main centers. With that in mind, check out these off-the-beaten-path destinations and places to stay in California.

L.A. Connection – Inglewood

off-the-beaten-path in California, Inglewood

With its proximity to Los Angeles and the many attractions it has to offer, Inglewood is an affordable option for those looking to save in the LA area. Sandwiched between LAX airport and LA itself, hotels in Inglewood are perfect for those looking to be close to it all without being in the center.

Silicon Valley for Less – Sunnyvale

In between the homes of tech giants Intel and Google is the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale. Although the city is home to its share of big-name companies, hotels in Sunnyvale generally have lower rates than neighboring cities like Santa Clara and Mountain View. The Vagabond Inn Sunnyvale and Extended Stay America San Jose – Sunnyvale offer some of the lowest prices in the valley, yet they’re still close to attractions like Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. With commuter train service from Sunnyvale to downtown San Francisco, there’s plenty to see and do beyond Sunnyvale.

California Arts and Outdoors – Riverside

Although LA and all its excitement is just a short drive away, you’ll find plenty to see and do within Riverside’s borders. The Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, and the Mission Inn Museum are all within blocks of each other, and you can explore them on foot. If you’re looking to stretch your legs a little more, take a stroll through the California Citrus State Historic Park, birthplace of the navel orange. You’ll also find a good variety of hotels in Riverside, ranging from cozy inns to high-end resorts.

Gateway to the Great Outdoors – Fresno

California off-the-beaten-path destinations, El Capitan

Fresno is the perfect starting point for those looking to explore the best National Parks that California has to offer. Visit the ski areas of the Sierra Mountains in the winter months, or head to Yosemite in the summer to say hello to El Capitan, the park’s massive granite rock face. There are plenty of hotels in Fresno to choose from, but if you’re resting up between hikes, consider the DoubleTree by Hilton Fresno Convention Center for its pool and spa tubs. Your legs will thank you.

Celebrity Spotting – North Hollywood

Last up on this list of off-the-beaten-path cities in California is North Hollywood. As the name suggests, North Hollywood is located a short drive north of Hollywood. Hotels in North Hollywood are cheaper than those slightly to the south. Great value options include the Mikado Hotel and the Hollywood Inn Express North Hollywood. Visit nearby Studio City and take a tour behind the scenes of the Warner Bros. Studio, or continue on to Hollywood for a stroll down the Walk of Fame.

5 Top Sand Sculpting Festivals in the USA

best sand sculpting festivals, USA

Every year, there are numerous sand castle festivals across the United States that you won’t want to miss. The festivals generally feature live music, food booths and awe-inspiring sand creations that are sure to amaze you.

1. Headlands BeachFest

In July, the Headlands BeachFest is held at Ohio’s Headland Beach. The event brings master sand sculptors from around the world who compete to win the coveted title of “Ohio’s Master Sand Sculptor.” There is live entertainment, art booths and numerous food vendors. Best of all, admission to the event is free.

2. Blue Water SandFest

The Blue Water SandFest is three days of fun. The event takes place at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, alongside Lake Huron. Three sand sculpting competitions are held: the Master Sand Sculpting Contest, Advanced Amateur Contest and the Amateur Contest. You can also enjoy one of the event’s hands-on sand sculpting lessons. At the Kid Zone area, children can try their hand at sculpting sand. Tickets to the event are sold at the front gate.

If you are attending the festival, you might want to make advance lodging reservations because hotels in the area sell out quickly. The Quality Inn & Suites Port Huron is located close to the Fort Gratiot Lighhouse.

3. Long Beach Sand Sculpting Competition Extravaganza (Sandsations)

The Long Beach Sand Sculpting Competition Extravaganza, also known as Sandsations, is a festival that has taken place for over 30 years in Long Beach, Washington. The competition itself is held next to the Long Beach Boardwalk. Sand sculpting classes are held for all skill levels throughout the event. Even children are encouraged to try their hand at sand castle construction.

Hotels in the area tend to book up for the annual event, so you should consider reservations. The Cedars Ocean View Inn, for instance, is located within walking distance to the Long Beach Boardwalk.

4. Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest

For over 50 years, the Cannon Beach Sand Castle Contest has taken place on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. The contest is a race against time to see which sculptor can create the most awe-inspiring masterpiece before the ocean’s rising tide washes it away. There are competitions for all skill levels held throughout the day. The event is especially fun for the whole family with its mix of food, music and craft booths.

The Courtyard Hotel is located within walking distance to Cannon Beach. The concierge at the hotel will be happy to assist you with any local tours, tickets or transportation.

5. U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge

The U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge in San Diego takes place every year over Labor Day on the city’s B Street Cruise Terminal Pier, where 300 tons of sand is dumped so it can be crafted and molded into elaborate sculptures. The event features non-stop live music, vendors and a variety of carnival rides.

There are plenty of hotels in San Diego that are located close to the event. However, since many of them book up rapidly, reservations are recommended.

Building sand castles is fun for all ages. If you want to spend a weekend enjoying sand, music, food and fun look no further than one of these five top sand sculpting festivals.

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on Oct. 28th.