5 Ways to Drink Cheap in Las Vegas

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. This is L.A. Foodie. But I’m talking about drinking and dining in Vegas! What Angeleno hasn’t made a drunken, ill-advised jaunt to Vegas at the last minute? Some folks don’t realize that Vegas-on-the-cheap is still alive and well.

This post was originally published in 2009. But I’ve verified that all of the spots mentioned are alive and well, and the advice is still sound. You’re in Las Vegas for one reason only: to get drunk with nothing more than the change you found between the couch cushions. It can be done. Let’s get started…

5) Don’t book a hotel on the strip. Head downtown instead.

Carl "Safe-Sax" Ferris

You’re going to need a place to stay, and you don’t have a lot to spend. Stay on Fremont Street. Everything is within easy walking distance (see #4), even for the laziest of us. Room prices get down pretty low, especially on weekdays. We’re talking thirty to forty bucks a night if you’re lucky. Before you badmouth Fremont Street, I must tell you that these days (as opposed to the last few years), there is some darn good entertainment on the main stage, and The Fremont Street Experience is downright fun—especially after a few cocktails. Many hotels will give you a casino credit when you check in, so don’t forget to ask. Guess what you can do with that? Find the cheapest slot in the room and slowly burn your free credit until you get a free drink. But be careful because waitresses tend to avoid the cheap slots. Don’t be afraid to flag a waitress down, but be nice and give her a buck or two for the effort. So now that you have a little bit of cash left over in your pocket, let’s get going.

4) Don’t be afraid to walk.


Cabs burn money like crazy. Extra money means extra drinks. Everything on the Las Vegas strip seems like it’s nearby, but it’s not. Come on, you need the exercise anyway. And walking will give you plenty of time to finish your…

3) Gas station beers.


If you insist on taking a trip to see the decadence of the strip, take the Deuce Bus ($3 one way), or have a cab drop you at one of the many gas stations or gift shops on the north end. Buy yourself a 24-ounce can of something cheap and embark on a neon-lit tour of Sin City. Remember that Vegas has no open container laws, so you are more than welcome to walk around outside with a beer. Feel free to bring it right into a casino of your choice. Nobody is going to say anything. Plop down at a penny or nickel slot machine and hail a waitress for a free drink (don’t forget to tip her a buck or two). Finish your complimentary beer or cocktail and then move to the next casino. There are shops that sell beer, wine, and booze all the way up and down the strip, so take advantage.

2) Gift shops.

Las Vegas gift shop

Nearly every casino floor has a gift shop near the entrance or exit, and nearly every gift shop carries a variety of beers, and most have little bottles of booze. These beers aren’t going to cost you more than two or three bucks, and you don’t have to provide a tip, or wait for a waitress to see you waving your arms around like an idiot. Here’s a nice tip: Buy a Sprite and a little bottle of vodka. You’ve got a cocktail to go.

1) La Bayou.


This might just be Vegas’s best-kept secret for drinkers. I’m hesitant to share it, but here goes. There is a very small casino on Fremont Street called called La Bayou. It’s nothing more than slot machines with a frozen drinks bar in the back. The bathroom stinks, but the people that work there are awesome. The patron-to-waitress ratio is unmatched. Find a comfortable stool and pump some nickels into a slot machine. In no time, someone will ask you if you want a drink. The drinks will keep coming faster than you can drink them. This is not an exaggeration. I have tested it on many occasions, and I stumble out of that place every time.