Ellis Island Cafe: The Best Steak Special in Las Vegas

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Steak Special Receipt $8.82Ellis Island Casino and Microbrewery at 4178 Koval Lane is both as close (less than ½  a mile from Bally’s) and as far (it’s small, low brow, full of locals and attached to a Super 8) from the strip as you can be. They are known for their Italian style pizza joint (Metro), bbq, low limit gambling and the off-menu steak special in the cafe.

If you’re in the know (and now you will be,) you can get a soup or salad with rolls and butter, a steak, a vegetable and a starch, and a microbrewed beer for $7.99. That’s right. For $8.82 including tax, you can have a two course steak dinner with sides and a beer. Originally just an off menu special that you had to request, this special now requires a pair of coupons. To get yours you’ll need a (free) Ellis Island Players Club card. Play a minimum of $5 through the card and then bring to a kiosk to claim your coupons. See the Player’s Club for full details.

Steak Fries and Green BeansThe cafe is like a nicer version of Denny’s, with formica tables and paper placemats. The waitstaff is curt but efficient, and the food, especially the steak, is far better than expected. They give you a ten ounce cut of sirloin, at least an inch thick in the center, and cooked exactly to your order. My steak was lean and tender, with none of the gristle and fat that you need to cut away from the other steak specials in Las Vegas. I would have a hard time getting the meat alone at my local butcher shop for less than I paid for this whole meal.

Salad, Roll and BeerThe salad was average, mostly iceburg lettuce with a cherry tomato and a bunch of croutons. The rolls and butter were cold, but tasted okay. With my steak came green beans cooked with chunks of garlic – very good, and a good portion of steak fries. For my beer I chose their dark lager, which was brown and tasty and fresh. If you’ve ever had a Yuengling Black and Tan, then you’ve got the idea.

I have tried every steak special I can find in Vegas and this one tops them all. Ellis Island is practically giving away a fantastic steak dinner, just to get you in the door. This is one of the reasons I love Vegas. Don’t miss it!


  • This place can get busy on weekend nights. Expect a wait Thu-Sat.
  • If you prefer, you can substitute a craft brewed root beer for your beer.
  • Call ahead to book a free brewery tour. Details at the website below.

Website: www.ellisislandcasino.com
Ellis Island Brewery on Urbanspoon
Update: December 22, 2012
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Free Rum, Tomorrow! Frankie’s Tiki Room

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Frankies_Tiki_Room-hotrodThroughout the years, Las Vegas has been home to many a tiki destination: There was Don the Beachcomber at the Sahara, the Aku Aku at the Stardust, I used to enjoy 2 for 1 Mai Tais at Trader Vic’s outside the Planet Hollywood. Nowadays, authentic tiki is as scarce in Las Vegas as it is in most other cities – with one exception.

Frankie’s Tiki Room opened at 1712 West Charleston, near UNLV’s Shadow Lane Campus in 2008, and has been a destination tiki lounge ever since. While for some locals it’s just another neighborhood bar with video poker machines and unusual decor, those in the know come from miles around to drink their fill of tiki ambience and potent tiki drinks.

The whole concept of tiki is to create a place to get away. When you enter a tiki bar you leave behind the everyday world and enter a place where you can truly relax. Both the drinks and decor are exotic and fanciful, hand crafted art. Blowfish Lamp at Frankie's Tiki RoomThe stresses of everyday life that follow you into most bars: news, politics, even sports – are intentionally left at the door. Drinks are strong, typically rum based (a nod to the mid-20th century origins of tiki, and to its popularity in tropical climes), and are crafted from fresh exotic juices, spices and liquors. Menus are cryptic and intriguing – the exact recipes often closely guarded secrets. On all counts, Frankie’s delivers.

Frankie's Tiki RoomThe first thing you notice when you enter Frankie’s is that you cannot see. The lighting inside is so dim that I needed a special lens for my camera to photograph the lights themselves. Once your eyes adjust, you begin to see the decor. A floor to ceiling tiki with dice for eyes guards the front door. The room is lit by colorful hanging blowfish lanterns. There are carvings on the walls, and on the backs of chairs.

Free Rum, Tomorrow! sign at Frankies Tiki Room

Bamboo is everywhere and human sized hand carved tikis lurk in every corner. A collection of vintage tiki mugs decorates one wall. Behind the bar it’s wall to wall booze – and not just the standards, but hundreds of rums and liquors, many that you probably haven’t heard of. There are more tiki mugs (for sale) and t-shirts as well. A carved wooden sign taunts “Free Rum Tomorrow!”

Two televisions are perched behind the bar, but you will never see a conventional broadcast. The sound is muted and the video is made up of random clips from an eclectic mix of The Bar at Frankie's Tiki Roomb-grade horror and Gilligan’s Island meets vintage burlesque. A jukebox plays surf and exotica. There’s a carnival style coin-op vice-tester machine. The drink menu is divided between traditional and modern original tiki drinks, rated from two to five skulls for potency. The five skull traditional Zombie contains many rums including Lemon Hart 151 and has a two drink limit “for tradition’s sake.”

Drinks are $9, and worth every penny for both potency and flavor. For $25 you can get your drink in a souvenir tiki mug, which you can keep. I’ve somehow wound up with quite a collection of these unique mugs over the years. Bar staff is friendly and efficient, and the clientele is a mix of tikiphiles, rockabilly, and locals who don’t seem to mind sharing their quirky neighborhood bar.


  • Free rum, today! The paytables on the bar-top video poker machines aren’t that great, but if you pop in a 20 and play full coin your drinks are on the house.
  • Get a seat at the bar, if you can. The fancy carved seats at the tables are cool looking, but rather uncomfortable.
  • If you try the “Vice Tester” everyone will know it. The lights of the machine are far brighter than anything else in the bar.
  • If you go in late March/early April, this place is completely taken over by the Viva Las Vegas crowd, and will be packed to capacity throughout this annual rockabilly fest.
  • Finally, designate/hire a driver or take a cab. One five skull drink and you could be teetering on the edge of the legal limit, depending on your tolerance.

Website: www.frankiestikiroom.com
Frankie's Tiki Room on Urbanspoon
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Don’t Tell Mama: Where the Barkeep Will Blow You Away – On Stage!

Don't Tell Mama Las Vegas

Smack in the middle of Fremont East, at 517 Fremont Street, lies a dark door with a simple grey piano icon perched above it. While this makes it fairly obvious that inside the door lies a piano bar, it hardly prepares you for what’s inside.

Don’t Tell Mama is not your average piano bar. While the fun (but overdone) piano bar formula is to have two pianos, and two pianists dueling it out, there is only one piano here. Rather than have the pianists do all the singing, here patrons join in the action as well as the bar staff. Think of it as piano bar meets karaoke, but with better talent than karaoke typically draws. The action is on seven days a week, and if my visit on a Tuesday night is any indication, this place is a fantastic take any day of the week.

The highlight of my night at Don’t Tell Mama was a performance by Dre Whitt. Dre is one of the bartenders and also a crowd favorite performer. She has a strong stage presence, drawing in the crowd, getting everyone singing and clapping. During her rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”, which included a medley of other “four chord” songs ranging from John Denver to Lady Gaga, she challenged the crowd to sing loud enough that the people across the street at “Insert Coins” would hear them. I’m pretty sure we did.

Recalling Dre’s performance is what lead me to call this section of the blog “Vegas Has Talent.” Luckily, I had the forethought to bring along a camera with some quality microphones, so you won’t have to take my word for it – check out an excerpt from her performance below.

Reasonably priced drinks and high caliber entertainment with no cover charge on a Tuesday night make this place one of the many reasons I love Las Vegas!


  • Get there around 9-10pm and the party should already be swinging. (In fact, you might have trouble finding a seat.)
  • If you think you can sing (but you can’t) then don’t. There is no screen with words to hold your hand. Besides, with the talent that this bar draws – your out of tune, out of time, drunken crooning could be uncomfortably out of place.
  • The tip jar on the piano is for the pianist, many of the singers will accept tips on their person (and even if they say to tip the jugs – and some will, it’s not a strip club, so don’t get too fresh!)
  • Finally, if you don’t like the music, wait a few minutes, it’ll probably change. If the beer selection was as varied as the music, this could nearly be my favorite bar.

Don’t Tell Mama Las Vegas on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dont-Tell-Mama/177553105648460
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The Neon Museum: Las Vegas Unplugged

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Entrance of the Neon Boneyard ParkLas Vegas is a city of constant reinvention. Out with the old and in with the new. Keeping up with the times means taking down 50 year old buildings and complete remodels and redesigns every decade or so. There’s always something new and interesting in Las Vegas. But what about the old, and the historic? Casinos like The Sands, where the Rat Pack was born? The Stardust, former home of the famed Aku Aku tiki lounge?

Well, The Sands was imploded to make way for the Venetian and the Stardust was imploded to make way for the (now stalled) Echelon Place. Neon Sign from the Stardust HotelBut perhaps the most iconic part of these casinos, and many others, lives on at the Neon Museum.

Flashing lights and neon signs – there is nothing that is more quintessentially Las Vegas. All over the city, bright colors and flashy animations draw people into casinos, bars and restaurants. For over 18 years the Neon Museum has been collecting and showing (the first 15 years by appointment only) the signs that no longer light the skies of Las Vegas. The restored vintage signs displayed in the Fremont Street area are a small part of the Neon Museum’s collection.

Not too far from the Fremont Street Experience, the Neon Boneyard is a storage yard at 770 North Las Vegas Blvd. There is a small, park like meeting area with a few tables where visitors may gather before their tours, and a large fenced in yard that houses the many signs of their collection. A few years ago, the iconic lobby of La Concha was moved here and rebuilt to become the Museum’s visitor center and gift shop.

Neon Boneyard Pool Player and Assorted SignsIn the past, visitors were required to sign up and prepay for a tour at least two weeks ahead of their trip. Today, tours given every half hour with ticket sales available in their shiny new (yet historic) visitor center. Upon arrival you will be greeted by a passionate tour guide. The tour group must stay within sight of the guide, following them around a purposeful path through the haphazard piles of neon, lights and metal. Photographs are permitted, but you may only bring a camera, no bags, tripods, etc. are permitted. The guides know their signs and their Las Vegas history well, and will surely teach you something you didn’t already know about Sin City.

The signs here are, essentially, as found. Bulbs are broken, sockets are empty. Paint is peeling and surface rust is creeping in. There are bits of broken glass here and there and some signs have sharp metal edges and corners – please look, don’t touch. While some of the signs might still be operational, none are electrified. All of this, I think, adds to the charm and authenticity of the place. This is old Las Vegas – unplugged.

Tips:Neon Boneyard Arrow Sign

  • Bring a camera, sunscreen and water.
  • Wear comfortable closed toed shoes and make sure you’ve had your tetanus shots.
  • Walk-ins are allowed, however reservations are strongly recommended. Buy your tickets direct from the museum at the link below.

Website: www.neonmuseum.org
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The Fremont Street Music Festival: It’s on every night!

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Every year in my hometown (Boston) the city puts on a series of free concerts. On average there are probably two such shows each week during the only months that the weather allows: June through September. The bands span the spectrum from cover and tribute bands to once popular performers stumbling their way through their once popular songs. These make for exciting times in Boston, and those shows often draw quite a crowd.

I imagine most ordinary cities around the country are like this, putting on a few free concerts in public spaces each year to entertain the community. Las Vegas, however, is no ordinary city. Las Vegas has talent! Oh, and Las Vegas also has casinos – the great sponsors of free entertainment – who do everything they can to get people in the door – or at least near it. Thanks to the casinos of “Old Vegas” we have the Fremont Street Experience.

Alice and Ozzy's Frightmare performing at the Fremont Street Experience 2010

Alice and Ozzy’s Frightmare

There are lots of great attractions at and around the Fremont Street Experience, and I’ll be sure to tell you more about them in future posts, but this post is about one of my favorites – the free concerts on Fremont.
There are three stages under the canopy of the Fremont Street Experience, at the intersections of Third, First and Main. Almost every night of the year there are bands playing at each one. In the summertime, when there are often two to three shows on each stage every night, Fremont Street has more free concerts in any given week than many cities have all year. If you love live music and you love free, then this is the place to be!

What kind of bands do they get? Well, the same sort of bands that you might see at free shows in other cities; cover bands, tribute bands, and some of the big names of yesteryear – except the bands Vegas gets are better. Headliners in recent years have included Three Dog Night, Jefferson Starship, Blue Oyster Cult, Spin Doctors, Warrant, and Dropkick Murphys – just to name a few. The cover and tribute bands you can see for free almost any night on Fremont Street would cost $10-25 cover plus drinks in any other venue. The Classic Rock cover band Yellow Brick Road is a Fremont Street regular and is one of the best cover bands I’ve seen anywhere.

Just in case you thought that these shows were static, they’re not. The Fremont Street Experience changes up the lineup of bands each month and the performers themselves will change it up throughout the season based on the events of the moment. Each year they organize around a different theme. This year is Rock of Vegas – Your Summer Alternative, featuring classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s as well as alternative rockers from the 80’s and 90’s.

While most of the time the Fremont Street bands play rock n roll with a smattering of dance/pop, when the rodeo (or NASCAR) is in town the sound is predominantly country. Bike Week ups the ante on hard rock/southern rock and heavy metal, and then there’s October…

Frank and the Steins performing at the Fremont Street Experience 2010

Frank and the Steins

October 2015 brings special Halloween themed Viva Vision shows (after the regular shows at 7, 8 and 10pm nightly), haunted houses, and performances like Frank and the Steins, with classic horror dress and a repertoire of classic Halloween songs.

In past years I’ve seen the pop/rock cover band Venus Rising become “Zombie Rising” for October – dressing both themselves and the stage in the trappings of Halloween, and a fantastic Ozzy Osbourne/Alice Cooper tribute band (Alice and Ozzy’s Frightmare), complete with makeup, props and theatrics. Oh, and dancing girls. It wouldn’t be Vegas without dancing girls. The same lead singer plays the part of both Ozzy and Alice (with costume changes), and having seen the real Ozzy and Alice perform, I’d say this guy has it down. Check it out for yourself: (recorded Oct 2010)

To give you an idea of the quality and variety of shows on any given night at the Fremont Street stages, I took my camera for a walk on a random Wednesday night. I caught performances from the aforementioned Venus Rising – a four piece band with a female lead singer with a bluesy sound and a flirty rock girl stage presence, Rok of Ages – a hard rock cover band with a male lead singer that really hams it up on stage (he reminds me a bit of David Lee Roth), and Rock Candy Sticky Sweet – a stage performance with dancers, multiple singers and a rocking drummer and guitarist. I promise to share more on them in an upcoming post. For now, enjoy this taste of a single night on Fremont: (recorded Aug 2012)


  • The Fremont Street Experience “OktoberFRIGHTfest” runs October 4th through 31st in 2015. Check the website below for show dates and times.
  • Crowds can get large for headlining bands. Expect 5000+ people at the stage. Get there early for a good view.
  • Pay attention to the people around you. Alcohol/Drugs + music sometimes = clumsy dancing or other dangerous behaviors. The security force generally keeps a close eye on things, but it’s always best to stay alert.
  • If you want to know the name of the band you’re watching, check the canopy overhead. The signs on the stage often list all of the bands playing for the month, but the canopy will have a rotating image with the name of the current performer.
  • Bands start around 8pm most nights and run until 1 or 2am. If you like Jazz, catch Carl Ferris and his Sax most nights starting at 7 between the First and Third Street stages.

Website: www.vegasexperience.com
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Bachi Burger: Gourmet Burgers with Asian Flair

Updated on October 8, 2015.

Bachi Burger EntranceNow that you’ve got your rental car, it’s time for some eating adventures. The rental center will instruct you “three rights to the Strip and I-215.” I’ve got a better idea. It’s been a long, tiring day of flying and it’s about time you got something to eat that doesn’t come in a little foil packet. Off to Bachi Burger!

Less that 10 minutes drive from the McCarran Car Rental Center at 470 East Windmill Lane lies one of the best places to get a gourmet burger in Las Vegas. It’s in the corner of a strip mall, and I’m told it was once a Dunkin’ Donuts, but don’t let that put you off. Lots of great things in Vegas are found in strip malls, and lots of great things used to be something else. That’s how this city rolls.

Bachi Burger takes the pan-asian influences of Hawaii and inflicts them on the all american burger, using high quality ingredients. Meats are angus and wagyu. Buns are delicious fresh Taiwanese sweet buns – light and slightly sweet, but with a chewy crust strong enough that it won’t fall apart as you eat. Marinades and toppings from the varied cultures of Northeast and Southeast Asia take each burger to new heights.

I arrived at Bachi Burger at noon on a Tuesday afternoon and waited 15 minutes for a table. Service was good, but perhaps not quite as friendly and efficient as I am used to in Las Vegas. My first test of Bachi was my drink. I’m a big fan of Vietnamese iced coffee, but find that only Vietnamese restaurants tend to get it right, so I was a little surprised to see it on the menu here. Bachi delivered: a nice rich brew dripping onto a cup of sweetened condensed milk from a metal coffee press and a glass of ice – perfect.

For my main I went with the Ronin burger – angus beef, caramelized onions, Japanese coleslaw, miso goma dressing, katzu bbq, yuzu citrus aioli, topped with a fried egg. It’s big, it’s messy, and all the flavors mesh perfectly. Crispy truffle parmesan fries in a wax paper cone put the final touch on a fantastic meal for under 25 bucks including tip.

Ronin Burger

Yes, the Ronin burger is a little over the top, but that’s par for the course at Bachi. Other burgers on their menu include such ingredients as nuoc mam (fish sauce) [Banh Mi Burger], kim chee [Kalbi Burger], and enoki mushrooms [Kiki Burger]. All are $10 or less. For the big spenders there’s the Shogun Burger with wagyu beef, unagi (freshwater eel), foie gras, asian pear, miso butter and yamamomo peach for $25. It sounds just crazy enough that I might try it next time I’m there. I’ll be sure to write an update if I do.

Some other specialties of Bachi Burger include house made pickled vegetables, oxtail chili fries, and grilled cheese for the kids. To drink they offer wide selection of beers, sake, house made sodas, bubble and milk teas. Desserts include poached pears and malasadas.

Las Vegas has many Asian restaurants to satisfy your taste for eating adventure, however none that I have found does as good a job of fusing American fare with the varied cuisines of Northeast and Southeast Asia. Actually, my Ronin burger was not only the best Asian influenced burger that I’ve had in Las Vegas, it was simply the best.


  • Bachi Burger was featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Expect a wait.
  • Bachi Burger has two additional locations: 9410 West Sahara Avenue in Summerlin, and Bachi Kitchen at 6825 West Russell Rd in Spring Valley.

Website: www.bachiburger.com
Bachi Burger on Urbanspoon
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Las Vegas Car Rental Tips and Tricks

Updated on October 7, 2015.

McCarran Car Rental Center

Image: Clark County Department of Aviation

Before I get into all the great things you can do away from the strip in Las Vegas, it might help if you had a way of getting to them. Locals and those who drive themselves to Las Vegas are lucky. Keep reading anyway – some of these tips apply no matter where you travel.

Most of the travel guides that I have seen recommend that you don’t rent a car in Las Vegas. The bright lights and spectacles of Las Vegas are distracting. Las Vegas Blvd is often gridlocked. You can get everywhere you want to using shuttles, cabs, limos, buses, and your own two feet. Renting a car is a liability. You could get lost, waste time in traffic, or worse.

For the typical tourist to Las Vegas, staying in a mega resort on the strip, uninterested in anything beyond that 4.2 mile stretch of asphalt and neon – this is probably good advice. However, if you want to experience all that Las Vegas has to offer, and most of what this site is about; you’ll need your own transportation.

Renting a Car from McCarran Airport:

Bus to McCarran Car Rental Center

There are no “on airport” car rentals at McCarran. The major car rental companies all share an off-site car rental center at 7135 Gilespie Street, about 5-10 minutes from the airport itself. When you arrive at the airport, follow the signs for ground transportation. Look for the car rental shuttle pickup area and board the next shuttle. Once you arrive at the rental center go inside and find your car rental company. From there it works like any other airport. When you return the car, set your GPS for 7135 Gilespie Street.

Here’s my first money-saving tip: There is a gas station at the corner of Gilespie Street and East Warm Springs Road. Don’t prepay for your gas and don’t let the rental company get you for not returning the car full. Grab gas here right before you return the car. Make sure you get a receipt – you can use it to prove that you filled the car immediately before returning it. Some rental companies will automatically charge for gas even if the gauge reads FULL unless you produce a receipt.

I recommend sticking with one of the major agencies for your rental – Avis, National, Dollar, Enterprise, Alamo, Budget, Thrifty, or Hertz. Some of the lesser known agencies are off-site, requiring another shuttle to and from the rental center – wasting your valuable vacation time. The cars at these locations are not generally as nice, or as new. Besides, with a little research you can usually get a better price booking with a bigger national agency.

Getting the best rate:

This advice applies anywhere you travel, but maybe more so in Las Vegas – book early and book often. Car rental rates change with the wind. Start with an aggregator site like Kayak.com which will give you a baseline of available rates from most car rental agencies. Then go to each agency’s web site and look for deals. Try codes from any affiliations that you qualify for. Costco members get a healthy discount at a few agencies, check CostcoTravel.com. AAA members check AAA.com. Entertainment books and the American Casino Guide offer discounts. Check your credit card companies and airlines for discount codes as well. Once you’ve found the best rate (except prepaid) that you can, book it. Then, keep checking for lower rates as your travel dates approach. If you find something better, book it and cancel the first. As long as you don’t prepay you can cancel and re-book as often as you want with no penalty – even at the same agency. Keep checking rates. I once cut my rental rate in half by re-booking on the night before I left.

Bonus Tip: You can use this same strategy for hotel bookings as well. Just watch for cancellation fees as you approach your check-in date.

Pontiac Solstice at Red Rock CanyonUnless you have a need for a specific type of vehicle, book the cheapest car class you can find. Often upgrading is cheaper at the counter, and if they are out of your car class when you arrive you can often get an upgrade for free. Even when you get out to the garage, if you don’t like your car you can ask an agent if it’s okay to pick a different one. I’ve scored a couple interesting rides this way – a brand new Toyota Prius when they first came out, and more recently I chose a Fiat 500 over the Chevy Aveo I was assigned. Of course if you have your heart set on something specific, then pony up the cash and special order it in advance. I did this for the Pontiac Solstice above – well worth it. Just make sure your insurance will cover it.

Rental Insurance

Las Vegas car rental agencies are famous for the hard-sell on insurance. If you don’t already have insurance, or if your insurance at home won’t cover the car you are renting, then it’s probably a good idea to get some insurance to cover yourself, but you don’t have to get it from the rental agency. I use and recommend AMEX Premium Car Rental Insurance (this is not a paid endorsement, I am just a satisfied customer). They provide Primary insurance to cover your liability to the rental car agency for a flat fee per rental period. This is almost always cheaper than the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered by the rental agency.
All you have to do is sign up for the service and then charge the full amount of the rental on your AMEX card, then decline all of the optional insurance from the rental agency. Beware: This, like the rental agency’s CDW, will only cover the rental car itself. You will still need additional insurance to cover any damage or injuries to others. Check with your personal auto insurance agent if you have one – you might already have the coverage you need.

Getting around Las Vegas

Las Vegas, like most major American cities is essentially a grid. Streets run East and West of Las Vegas Blvd, and North and South of Fremont Street. While it is often fairly easy to navigate the city using this information and a decent sense of direction, it’s the 21st century – use a GPS. Set your destination while parked, use voice guidance and do not fiddle with your GPS while driving – even stopped at a traffic light. If you have a passenger, let them handle the GPS. Nevada Police can and will site people for distracted driving if they are seen operating electronics while at the wheel. That’s not the fine you’re looking for.

Drunk Bumps

Drunk BumpsLanes in Las Vegas are divided using small round white bumps. Hitting a lot of them is a pretty strong indication that you shouldn’t be driving – hence the term “drunk bumps.” If you can’t avoid these bumps, park the car and call a cab. You do not want to get a DUI in Sin City.

Single drunk bumps separate lanes of travel, double drunk bumps indicate a “turn-only” lane. If there are double drunk bumps on one side of your car and a shoulder on the other side, your lane is disappearing. Merge over the double drunk bumps unless you are planning to take the next turn/exit.


Look for signs that say “self-parking.” I would never hand over the keys to my rental car to a valet. Remember “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”? The valet is not an authorized driver of your rental car, and they do not take responsibility for any damage to your car. So, if there’s damage, your insurance won’t pay it because the driver wasn’t authorized, and the valet won’t take responsibility either. I’m not chancing it. Self-parking in most places in Las Vegas is free. Downtown, near Fremont Street there may be a nominal charge for parking. See if you can get your parking ticket validated at the hotel, casino and/or restaurant whose garage you are using. In large lots or garages it’s a good idea to take a picture of your car in the spot. You can use it to help find the car later.

In Summary

  • You’re a traveler, not a tourist. Get a rental car so you can get around.
  • Book early and book often for the best price.
  • Try to score a free upgrade at the rental center.
  • Let the drunk bumps (and a GPS) be your guide.
  • If you park at a garage that charges, try to get your ticket validated.
  • A rental car is your ticket to the best of Las Vegas, Off Strip. Enjoy the ride!

Website: www.mccarran.com/Go/RentalCars.aspx
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You’re In! Las Vegas Off Strip Launches Today!

"in" from the Moulin Rouge neon signYou’re in!

Today marks the launch of LasVegasOffStrip.com, a blog about what Las Vegas has to offer off the beaten path, i.e. off the strip. I have a lot to share with you. This is day one, and if you’re reading this on October 1, 2012, then congratulations, you’ve earned the right to claim you were here when it all began.

The Bellagio Fountains and Las Vegas Strip at nightSo, why LasVegasOffStrip? Although the Las Vegas Strip is loaded with sights and attractions (so much so that many tourists never leave it except to return to the airport), it is only one part of what makes Las Vegas great. Besides, there’s no shortage of information about where to get the best view of the Bellagio Fountains or what it’s like to dine at Gordon Ramsay’s steakhouse in the Paris.

Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse entrance, Paris Las VegasWhat I’m trying to accomplish is to create a travel guide for those interested in Las Vegas, and what it offers beyond the Strip. I want to build it one post at a time, and I want to inject some personality into it. I hope that you, too, will add some personality to it. Share your thoughts and tips in the comments; share my posts with your friends. Together we can share our experiences and build a resource for Las Vegas locals and adventurous travelers alike.

So my plan is to start with three posts in the first week (in addition to this one) to get things started, then settle into a post a week routine. I will share general travel advice, reviews of Las Vegas restaurants and bars, sights and attractions, shows and performances. I’m going to begin with some car rental advice, which I feel is essential to any visitor looking to experience Las Vegas beyond the Strip – how car rental works at McCarran, how to get the best rate, who to rent from and how to safely navigate Las Vegas. Stay tuned!

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