Most everyone is watching their budget these days, and one of the first things that most of us eliminate is anything related to entertainment. If you live in Las Vegas, however, you can find plenty of things to do that cost little or nothing. The next time you're hanging out at home, feeling oh-so-bored, try a few of these tips to get out without busting your budget:
* First, check the gas prices at one of the cheap gas sites online, or use your points from frequent shopper's cards (Smith's Grocery, Rebel) to snag some fuel discounts.
* Eat before you leave, unless you're packing a picnic lunch. This will help you resist the yummy food smells emanating from the restaurants that display menus without prices. Remember that old saying, "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."
* Learn about some Las Vegas history at the Old Mormon Fort, the Clark County Museum, or the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. Admission at any of these is $2.00 or less.
* Check out downtown. Both the Fremont Street Experience and the Neon Museum are free. (Admission to the Neon Boneyard is not free, and requires an advance reservation for a tour.) First Friday, which is coming up this week, is also free.
* Get a schedule of events from the Clark County Library District. They regularly host speakers and workshops for free. Clark County and the City of Las Vegas also host many events that are free or low-cost.
* Take in the free spectacles on the Strip, like the Mirage's volcano, the MGM Lion exhibit, and the TI Sirens and Pirates show. Wander around the shopping-tainment places like the Venetian's Grand Shoppes, Caesar's Forum, or Miracle Mile--it costs nothing to watch the talking statues, the singing gondoliers, or the indoor rain storm.
* Ask about locals' discounts at Strip attractions. Places like the Shark Reef, the Bodies Exhibit, and CSI Experience are still on the pricey side, but more affordable if you flash your Nevada ID. This week, admission to the Mob Experience at the Tropicana is free; after Friday, it's almost $30.
* Experience the great outdoors. Even places that charge fees to get in charge by the car load, not the person. You can also find no-fee areas near many areas; at Red Rock, there's no charge at Calico Basin, the overlook, and First Creek.
* Use your Internet skills. Sign up with online discounters like Groupon and you'll get e-mails with deals. "Friend" your favorite places on Facebook or follow them on Twitter, and you'll learn about special promotions that you might miss otherwise. Check out what your other budget-minded buddies are saying and posting. Today I caught a FB post from a pal about Livingsocial, another site that offers discounts.
* Pick up a copy of Las Vegas Weekly, CityLife, or Seven--they're all free and carry listings of Vegas events and attractions. Keep an eye on the ads and you'll likely spot some coupons.
While my NileGuide Las Vegas page is aimed at tourists, I have lists of things to do that any local can use.
Photo of dollar courtesy of photosteve101 at http://www.planetofsuccess.com
Photos of Clark County Museum and Calico Basin by Terrisa Meeks