New York, New York on the Vegas Strip.
New York, New York on the Vegas Strip.

Vegas On A Budget
Great weekend getaway
By  L. Bremner @ DesertRoadTrippin

This summer has be a slow year for many resort destinations.  Las Vegas has felt it share of slow sales with the economy still in recovery.  The Excalibur Hotel and Casino had a great idea . . . offer $35 per night for rooms, right on the strip.  Your location could not get any better than this.  The Excalibur is located kitty corner to the MGM and across the street from the Tropicana and New York, New York.  The Luxor and Mandalay Bay are connected to the Excalibur via a free monorail ride or by walking through the forum shops that connect all three hotel/casinos.

The food and service was not very good at Excalibur, but the low price and convenience out weighed the negatives.  You can eat anywhere you want and just sleep at your VERY affordable room.  We were there for four nights and paid a total of $140. with taxes, one day of Internet and service fees.  Not bad for a 4 day vacation.

A male lion with his trainer in the black shirt.  Under the lion is the glass tunnel for easier viewing.
A male lion with his trainer in the black shirt. Under the lion is the glass tunnel for easier viewing.

If you are on a budget, try and avoid eating at the main restaurants.  The sports books normally have inexpensive deli’s or snack bars.  You can get a hot dog and beer for $2.50 at Excalibur or head over to MGM and get a sandwich (hot or cold) and side salad for $10 bucks or less. Every casino seems to have a food court where you can get a quick, inexpensive meal.  We tried the $18.99 Buffet at Excalibur and the food was horrible.  If you want a decent dinner buffet, try the Tropicana. They have a buffet for $14.99 per person and the food was better as well as the service.  There is a Dick’s Last Resort inside the Excalibur and the food was also mediocre and the drinks expensive.  Two of us got out of there for a total of $60.00.  If the food was good that would not have been that much money.  I just don’t like paying for a bad meal.

At the MGM, which is two skywalks away, The Rainforest Café has a very cool atmosphere and the breakfast menu won’t break your wallet.  The food was good too! You can also check out the lion exhibit while you are there.  It was fun to see these animals up close and personal.  There are always two trainers in the exhibit with them and there are two showings daily. They seemed very well kept and relaxed in their climate-controlled exhibit with water falls and toys.  You can walk under the lions in a glass tunnel to see them from a different perspective.

As for our luck . . . we had our best winning streak on the craps table at the Tropicana.  It is a weird casino as the lighting is too bright and it seems a bit retro.  Our luck didn’t seem to mind as we were up the most at this casino.  Most of the casinos had $5 minimum tables.  Some of the higher-end casinos have $10 minimums. The

A view from the clubhouse down towards the 18th hole on the Paiute Golf Course.
A view from the clubhouse down towards the 18th hole on the Paiute Golf Course.

Sahara has brought back their $1 days, but they are way at the north end of the strip and the last stop on the monorail. When we arrived at the Sahara they did have $1 minimums on the roulette and some of the card games, but the craps table had a $5 minimum on it. It was not worth our taxi ride there or the monorail ride home.  Bally’s had some fun craps tables going as did the MGM.  You just have to find your luck!

If you have a chance to get off the strip and adventure out check out Red Rock State Park or the Valley of Fire State ParkLake Mead and the Hoover Dam are not far away and there are many golf courses and sights to see.  I was in town for the PGA golf trade show, so I didn’t have time for any outdoor recreation.  I did visit the Paiute Golf Course on demo day.  It is a very scenic course with a dramatic desert back drop.

The scenic back route to Vegas.
The scenic back route to Vegas.

The Back Way To Vegas – From the Coachella Valley to Las Vegas there is a back route that takes less time and is very scenic.  From the 10 you take the 62 through Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree to Twentynine Palms.  IMG_1149You take a left on Adobe Road to Amboy Rd (right).  That will take you to the old Route 66 where you will see a little bit of American Culture along the way.  In Amboy you will cross the train tracks and the road becomes the National Trails Hwy. Which is a segment of the old Route 66.  You will see Amboy Crater, a black mass rising out of the earth to the west.  To the east you will see the small town of Amboy where Roy’s Café and Motel is located.  Just down the road from Roy’s on the right you will see the shoetree.  There is also an underwear-tree and bra-tree along the route.  You then head north or take a left on Kelbaker Rd. which takes you past the 40 to Mojave National Preserve.  You stay on this road to Kelso where there is a historic railroad depot and the Kelso Sand Dunes. At Kelso you take the Kelso Cima Road (right) which will take you up to Cima. At Cima go left on the Cima Road and that will take you Northwest to the 15.  Take route 15 into Las Vegas.  This route took us about 4 hours and 15 minutes from Indio, CA.

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Historic Route 66 after Amboy.
Historic Route 66 after Amboy.
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Lynn Bremner is the author of DesertRoadTrippin.com, a blog about desert road trips and tips. She started the blog after moving to Indio, CA where she now resides. Now a true desert dweller, Lynn has added in some of her own views on desert living. The heat does not keep her indoors in the summertime. She is out running, golfing or taking short day trips to some of the local points of interest. After years of traveling along the dusty, desert trails with her father, she has come to appreciate the beauty and solitude of the desert landscape. Her father’s passion for prospecting, desert lore and exploring the desert parks took their family to many interesting places, mostly in California, Nevada and Arizona. Lynn now writes about her desert road trips and intertwines a little bit of desert living into the mix. In addition to the DesertRoadTrippin’ blog, Lynn also writes articles and produces content for the DesertUSA.com, Empire Polo Lifestyle Magazine and PoloZONE.com.

3 COMMENTS

  1. When ever we go to Vegas and want an outstanding and inexpensive diner, the best place we’ve found in our many trips is the Bayside Buffet in the Mandalay Bay Hotel Casino. It was a little less than $25 each and the seafood, salads, and even the oriental food was great. The Cob salad is to die for, and of course the crab legs are too (3 different kinds) plus the jumbo steamed shrimp, just to mention a few items. Even their prime rib was the best! Try it next time. Nice side trip to get there too, thanks!
    Don….

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Good tip on the Mandalay buffet. I hear the Rio has the best seafood buffet in the city. It is priced around $35 per person. I didn’t get a chance to check it out . . . maybe next time!

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