Let’s be frank: Unless you’re dating an accountant, the last thing you want to do on a date is look cheap. However, a Las Vegas vacation can be challenging to a traveler’s budget, and even the most romantic-minded might need to watch their wallet. Luckily amid all the fancy jewelry boutiques and world-renowned dining rooms, there is some romance on the Strip for the spendthrift.
Akhob by James Turrell at Crystals, City Center: One of the truly hidden gems on the Strip is this unique art installation which is entered into through the Louis Vuitton store. Only viewable in groups of two, by appointment, the color-changing tableau is hypnotic and all-encompassing. The experience takes about 20 minutes–but it is totally complimentary, and something your date will never forget (Mine didn’t realize for months afterward that it was free. She just assumed I had ‘made arrangements.’) You must call ahead to make an appointment during your visit… and carefully avoid buying something over your budget on the way out. For more info or to schedule an appointment to view Akhob at Louis Vuitton City Center call (702) 730-3150.
Drinks at Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Paris Las Vegas: Watching the iconic Bellagio fountains from the sidewalk can be a bit of a bustle. Several restaurants in nearby properties also offer stunning views of the nightly display, but of course that can get pricey. Instead, consider visiting one of the most romantic, Chef Jean Joho’s Eiffel Tower Restaurant–a short walk across the Strip from Crystals–just for a cocktail (and maybe a bite) with a view. Then, if you’re still hungry, suggest perhaps a slight change of scenery and adjourn downstairs to the less formal Mon Ami Gabi (also facing the fountains) for a more affordable steak frites.
Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Bellagio: Cross the street again and stroll through the Bellagio casino floor to the hotel lobby, and make a right turn. There you’ll find the truly awe-inspiring Bellagio Conservatory, a totally living indoor botanical garden with whimsical thematic displays that change seasonally. Feel free to stroll at your leisure–it never closes–and marvel at all the detail.
Depending on the season, certain resorts such as The Cosmopolitan and the Venetian offer “Dive-In Movies” (Summer) or–believe it or not–ice skating (Winter). The latter are double-features of classic films screened over the pool (The Cosmopolitan) where you can sit and soak, and enjoy an inexpensive cocktail, frozen alcoholic treats at their Neopolitan bar, or movie munchies. As for the ice skating, that happens on the same pool or a special rink constructed in front of the Venetian. Look for other seasonal events and festivals (Chinese New Year, July 4 Independence Day, Mexican Cinco de Mayo…) at all the larger resorts as well, many complimentary.
Now it’s time to party: head to a Las Vegas nightclub and let your hair down. Depending on your date, Bellagio’s Lily Bar, Mirage’s RhumBar, Aria’s Alibi Lounge and Venetian’s Dorsey Bar are all great choices to start the evening with very little cost involved.