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Mark Twain once opined that “to obtain the air that angels breathe, you must go to Lake Tahoe.” The stunning Alpine lake and nature lover’s paradise (straddling both California and Nevada) strangely enough pairs well with a few days in neon-tinged gambler’s paradise Reno, a mere 45 minutes away (hey, if maple and bacon can go together). Here are 8 cheap and awesome things to do in the region.

ALSO: 11 hotels that will blow up your Instagram feed

Shout BINGO!

These days, bingo is mostly a game played ironically at dive bars and earnestly at churches (for fundraising purposes). That’s because bingo halls take up a lot of space that casinos would rather fill with lucrative slot machines. But a cheap way to gamble wisely in Reno is to hit up downtown Reno’s Sands Regency Casino Hotel for a rousing afternoon of bingo. To be clear, you probably won’t win, but approximately $20 gets you a couple hours of solid thrills, one free cocktail and all the adorable seniors you could ever want to meet.

Get panned and roasted

If you’re a Vegas insider, you’ve probably already waited hours for the legendary pan roasts at Oyster Bar at Palace Station. To the unfamiliar, pan roasts are a spicy seafood stew that if prepared right, will make you sweat bullets while filling your belly for days to come. Reno has them, too. Head to Pearl Oyster Bar & Grill at Silver Legacy Resort Casino and order the Ultimate Pan Roast. For $22 you get a creamy and tasty seafood stew with a slab of bread on the side. Don’t bother with booze—you can get that on the casino floor for free.

Sand Harbor Beach

Dip into the blue

Tahoe is famous for its crystal clear water and indeed it’s so blue you will constantly hear comparisons to the Caribbean. For an ideal day, make a beeline for Nevada’s bohemian east side and plunk down at beaches like Sand Harbor, Whale Beach or Secret Cove (which is clothing optional). At each location you will be rewarded with large, granite boulders, snow-capped mountains and chilly, but refreshing turquoise blue water as far as the eye can see.

Drift away

Beware that South Lake Tahoe bursts at the seams with visitors much of the year (and especially in ski season), but it’s also a solid hub for accommodations, nightlife, restaurants and stocking up on sundries. One diamond in this tourist rough is the laid-back Driftwood Cafe. Rise and shine before everybody else does and come here for outrageous omelets (their words, not ours), loaded waffles and house specialties like potato pancakes topped with ham, eggs and country gravy. You won’t need another meal all day.

ALSO: Stake your fortunes in big savings by signing up for CheapCash today!

Trover photo by Ardilla Mexicano

Lose your Virginia-tity

The aptly named Silver State is not lacking in turn-of-the-century mining towns where prospectors once staked their fortunes. Many dried up long ago, but one fascinating (if touristy) town is Virginia City, which sits on a sloping hillside about 45 minutes southeast of Reno. C Street boasts about six blocks of refurbished storefronts, which these days are mostly tacky souvenir shops where you and your crew can dress like homesteaders and get a photo printed in sepia tones. But a sense of the Wild West lingers for sure and the Suicide Table at the Delta Saloon is worth checking out.

Trover photo by Stuart Jamieson

Make the fest of it

The Reno Arch may not replicate the glamour of the Las Vegas Strip, but Sin City could stand to take a cue from the ebullient celebrations happening right under Reno’s welcoming sign. Street Vibrations (a motorcycle parade), Biggest Little City Wing Fest, Northern Nevada Pride, Eldorado Great Italian Festival, Biggest Little Street Faire and many others happen right along Virginia Street and under the Arch. The crowds are often so intense that the clanging slot machines on the casino floor provide quiet sanctuary by comparison.

Lake before you leap

You came all this way to see the Lake, you better not just snap a selfie in front of it and call it a day. There are plenty of pricey ways to get out on Lake Tahoe, including jet ski tours, private charters and even photo tours, but it’s perfectly doable on the cheap. Consider old-fashioned paddleboarding for $44/person; a hearty workout via stand-up paddleboard rentals for as little as $28/person; or even a group kayak tour for a only $19/person. The lake is stunning and you’ll want to stare at it from as many vantage points as possible.

National Bowling Stadium | Trover photo by Bill Dillard

Have a bowl

If you expect Reno to be a city of slightly offbeat treasures, you are exactly right. Enter the National Bowling Stadium, a 363,000-square-foot stadium whose domed exterior resembles a giant bowling ball. We’ll—ahem—spare you the details, but suffice it to say this 78-lane, state-of-the-art alley (and only stadium of its kind in the world) is a must for pros and novices alike. It’s completely walkable from downtown (but not in bowling shoes).

Tagged: California, Destinations

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Atlantic City may never hold a card to the likes of Las Vegas, but that’s quite all right. Gambling isn’t the only reason to visit this hard hit Jersey Shore city. In fact, add these non-gaming attractions to your must-do list, and you’re sure to come away a winner.

RELATED: These are the best locals’ casinos in Las Vegas

Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Absecon Lighthouse | Photo courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Absecon Lighthouse
Although there may be prettier lighthouses, this one stacks up as the third-tallest in the country and still serves its original purpose. We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t make it up the 228 steps, but the views of the ocean and shore from the top are spectacular.

Atlantic City Aquarium
Part of Atlantic City’s charming Historic Gardner’s Basin, the aquarium opened in 1999 and has become the enclave’s star attraction. Check out the Ocean Oddities exhibit for unusual sea creatures; pet a shark in the Tropical Shark Touch Tank; and catch the Live Diver Feeding Show at the 25,000-gallon Fish of the Mid-Atlantic exhibit.

ALSO: Looking for a safe bet? Sign up today for CheapCash and start earning towards hotels!

Atlantic City Boardwalk, New Jersey

Atlantic City Boardwalk | Photo Courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Atlantic City Boardwalk
Of course, no trip to Atlantic City is complete without a stroll along its famous boardwalk, built in 1870 and still attracting throngs of visitors to its shops, restaurants and food stands. Get your smart phone out for photo ops including in the “heart” of the boardwalk at the award-winning “Heartwalk” heart-shaped sculpture, created from hundreds of wooden planks salvaged after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the shore; it’s illuminated every night.

Atlantic City Miniature Golf
Located right on the Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue, this family-owned, 18-hole course is pretty small, but not altogether easy. Try it at night when the lights and energy of the Boardwalk add to the appeal.

Sure, the casinos may tempt with big payouts, but at least the arcades reward almost every player with some kind of souvenir, and at a smaller, more family-friendly pace. Hit Central Pier Arcade for the games, as well as for the go-kart speedway. Also on the Boardwalk is Playcade Amusements, which claims to be the longest-established arcade in town and gets points for its enticing prize selection.

ALSO: Hit me! Get this week’s promo code and other travel deals right there

beach, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Photo courtesy of Do Atlantic City

Beach fun
Who needs slots when you’ve got surf? Three beaches allow surfing and offer lessons; at Jackson Avenue Beach, kayaking and windsurfing are popular; from Gardner’s Basin, Atlantic City Parasail offers dry take-off and landing parasailing; and beach volleyball, boogie boarding, jet-skiing and fishing are also available at various beaches. If you’re looking to soak up a cool, 1950s atmosphere, head to Wildwood Beach.

Storybook Land
Closed only in winter, this kiddie magnet opened in 1955 and prides itself on being clean and well-maintained. Admission includes access to play areas themed around stories like Mother Goose, Snow White and the Three Little Pigs, kid-sized coasters, a Santa Claus house (the jolly guy and the misses visit during Christmastime), shady picnic areas, and a popular train that loops the park.

Lucy the Elephant, Atlantic City

Lucy the elephant | Flickr photo courtesy of Jim McIntosh

Lucy the Elephant
Of all the quirky things about Atlantic City, you can’t miss this one—literally. Lucy, the larger-than-life wooden elephant, was built in 1881 in Margate (formerly South Atlantic City) and has served as a private home, a restaurant and, since she was restored in the 1970s, a museum. Take the stairs to the “howdah” (canopied pavilion) on Lucy’s back to get a panoramic view.

Boat cruises
Several ocean cruise outfits such as Atlantic City Cruises and Cape May Whale Watcher offer skyline tours, booze cruises and sightseeing boat tours that focus on getting you those Instagram-worthy pics of dolphins and whales.

Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, Atlantic City, hotels

Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club

More than 20 public golf courses dot the landscape within about a half hour’s drive of the Boardwalk. A few of the top courses include the Atlantic City Country Club, founded in 1897 and one of the country’s oldest golf clubs (it claims to have coined the terms “birdie” and “eagle”); the beautiful Ballamor Golf Club; and the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, which features both a links-styled course and a forest-lined course. Vineyard Golf at Renault Winery combines a championship course with the option to continue your day with a winery tour and tasting.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium
Along the Boardwalk and behind a façade that looks like it’s been cracked in half by a giant globe are oddities like the apropos roulette table made from 14,000 jelly beans, authentic shrunken heads and a wax replica of the world’s tallest man. Also here is a Laser Maze Challenge where would-be spies or thieves try to maneuver under, over and through a room crisscrossed with laser lights.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Family, Types of Travel

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Hotel Deals for Las Vegas
Stratosphere Hotel, Casino & Tower, BW Premier Collection
Dec 17 - Dec 17, 2018
per night from
$ 79.74
$ 27.91

The Las Vegas Strip is known for its larger-than-life buffets, blinding neon lights, topless pool parties and high rollers. But for those who love the thrill of gaming, but want a more affordable and less intimidating Las Vegas vacation, so-called “locals” casinos (those frequented by Nevada residents and visitors living within a few hour’s drive) are a great bet (no pun intended!). Known for lower table minimums and better slot machine odds—while also boasting live music, expansive pools, great restaurants and plenty of amenities—these 11 “locals” casinos are a great alternative to the Strip’s sensory overload.

ALSO: 15 totally incredible Florida hotel pools

Photo courtesy of Palace Station

Palace Station
With rooms as low as $25 a night, low-key Palace Station, originally built in 1976, is conveniently located just west of the Strip and offers free shuttle service for those who want to enjoy Strip action. This flagship property for the Station Casinos is known for freshly shucked oysters and killer seafood pan roasts at the Oyster Bar. Be prepared to wait in line for hours to pull up a stool at the 18-seat bar. This 1,001-room resort has a total of six restaurants and features a casino with a lively 307-seat bingo hall, a non-smoking poker lounge, keno lounge and an Asian table games area where guests can place bets on pai gow tiles, which is played using dominoes.

M Resort
M Resort Spa Casino is located on famous Las Vegas Boulevard—but is 13 miles away from the crowded Strip. The 390-room resort exudes modern luxury, including dark wood fixtures with red and gold accents and decorative lighting. The property offers seven on-site dining options and full casino with slots, video poker, table games, and a race and sports book. Take a break from gaming at the 23,000-square-foot spa featuring treatments such as the Tranquility Body Cocoon that utilizes vanilla and orange aromas or enjoy the 5,460-square-foot infinity edge pool with in-water lounge chairs and cabanas located in the center of the pool. M offers California and Nevada residents a locals discount and does not charge a resort fee.

Photo courtesy of D Hotel

The D Las Vegas
Located in downtown Las Vegas on the Fremont Street Experience, the D Las Vegas is a hot spot for those seeking a dynamic escape sans the Strip crowd. The two-level casino is popular for its dancing dealers and boasts vintage coin-operated machines and a Sigma Derby simulated horse-racing game. The hotel has 624 rooms and 14 suites, a pool and Jacuzzi and the longest bar in Nevada. This is an off-strip party place, so request earplugs and a top-floor room if you want to sleep.

Photo courtesy of California Hotel

California Hotel & Casino
Pull up a seat at a game table and mingle with the locals at the California Hotel & Casino where guests are greeted with Hawaiian hospitality. The island lifestyle can be seen throughout the resort including tropical floral arrangements and a Lucky Buddha statue and also at Polynesian-themes restaurants like Aloha Specialties restaurant, the Holo Holo Happy Bar and Hawaii-based Lappert’s Ice Cream. The resort also partners with Vacations Hawaii to offer Hawaii residents special discounted non-stop flights to Las Vegas, with reduced rates at California Hotel & Casino and other Boyd Gaming properties. When guests are done betting, they can enjoy R & R at the rooftop pool. The hotel does not charge resort fees.

Photo courtesy of Silver Sevens

Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino
A low-key, budget-friendly resort located three blocks east of the hustle and bustle of the Strip, the Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino offers free shuttle service to and from the Strip and the airport. However, you might not want to ever leave since the resort has a casino with more than 800 slot machines, video poker machines, table games, and a bingo room. There is also a tranquil swimming pool, fine, casual and fast dining options and a buffet with a wide assortment of international cuisine options, as well as a fitness center to work off the food you ate at the buffet.

ALSO: Odds are beyond good you’ll save big with CheapCash—here’s how

El Cortez Hotel & Casino
The longest continuously operating hotel and casino in Vegas, the family-run El Cortez Hotel & Casino, which opened in 1941, recently celebrated its 75th anniversary and was named to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the place for a true old-school Vegas experience. There are 364 rooms ranging from the basic Vintage rooms, to the retro, colorful Cabana suites, and the more luxurious Designer suites, each with a unique theme. Located in the hip Fremont East Entertainment District, this resort is a great place to while away the hours gambling on your favorite game. It offers tables with $1 minimum bets (so that hundred-dollar bill will last you a while), boasts the best blackjack odds in Vegas, and has game-side dining service, which means you don’t have to leave the table to get something to eat.

Photo courtesy of The Orleans Hotel and Casino

The Orleans Hotel & Casino
With Mardi Gras-themed décor and Louisiana cooking, the Orleans Hotel and Casino strives to bring a little N’awlins culture to Vegas. Although it’s located only a short drive from the Strip, some incentives for staying put are better slot machine odds, a 70-lane bowling alley, live entertainment in the 9,000-seat Orleans Arena, 140-seat Bourbon Street Cabaret, an 18-screen movie theater, 12 restaurants, an outdoor swimming pool and whirlpool. What more could you ask for?

Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino
Located just off Fremont Street, a vibrant pedestrian mall known for its overhead light show, the ultra-hip Downtown Grand brings a new swagger to downtown’s resurgence. The hotel’s industrial vibe includes a light color palette, bold red accents, and lots of shiny chandeliers. One of the most popular features of the 629-room resort is the rooftop Citrus Grand Pool Deck featuring an infinity pool and a mid-century vibe. Guest can also enjoy semi-private cabanas, dining at the rooftop restaurant and bar, cozying up to a fire pit, chilling in the grass seating area, or playing outdoors games such as foosball. Local residents can use the pool and facilities for free. The 25,000-square-foot casino includes slot machines, table games and sports book.

Photo courtesy of Red Rock

Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa
Looking to skip the Strip all together? The four-diamond Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa is a 20-minute drive west and trades flashing neon lights in favor of a red rock landscape. Located near the shopping and dining mecca of downtown Summerlin, this chic desert oasis offers much more than just a place to gamble and sleep. The 800-room property set on three acres features an amazing circular “pool backyard” with a main swimming pool with fountains encircled by eight wading pools, private pool areas, a beach, swim-up gaming, an island, a café, cabanas and room for concerts and private events. There’s also a 16-screen Regal Cinemas and IMAX complex, a 60-lane bowling alley, an arcade, outdoor recreation such as hiking, kayaking, rock climbing and biking, as well as a spa, an indoor recreation area for kids and nearly 20 dining options.

Photo courtesy of Aliante Casino Hotel and Spa

Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa
Also quite a ways off-Strip, the upscale Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa is situated on 40 acres and includes a hotel and casino that are connected, but each have their own independent space. The hotel, which has 202 rooms and suites, features upgraded amenities such as a well-equipped fitness center, e-concierge, and fully stocked gift shop, as well as a full-service spa, expansive pool area with cabanas, and plenty of dining options. This family-friendly resort includes a 16-screen multiplex including an IMAX theater, an arcade and a food court. Adults will enjoy live entertainment in the 650-seat Access Showroom, the nearby 18-hole course, the unique and thrilling all-paper, all-day bingo hall, and guest-friendly dealers willing to help novice gamblers learn the rules of table games.

Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino
Established in 1946, the Golden Nugget is a Vegas icon set in the center of the Fremont Street buzz. With 2,425 rooms, 171 luxury suites and 9 penthouses, this oldie but goodie offers everything from smaller, original rooms to larger, plush suites. One of the biggest attractions is The Tank, a 200,000-gallon, shark-filled aquarium located in the center of the pool and featuring a three-story clear tube water slide that goes right through it and can be seen from bot the reception area and also table side while dining at the Chart House restaurant that wraps around it. The resort also features 10 restaurants, eight bars, a spa, an arcade and live entertainment. And what would the Golden Nugget be without some gold? Check out the kitschy ATM that dispenses 24-carat gold bars or the largest gold nugget in existence weighing in at 61 pounds and known as the Hand of Faith.




Tagged: Las Vegas

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By Heather Leisman

The latest deal of the day is in Las Vegas, a favorite destination for gambling, entertainment and nightlife.

One of the Las Vegas hotels we’re featuring is the four-star Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, right on the Las Vegas Strip. Right now, the hotel is offering 20% off its regular rates when you stay three or more nights. I found rooms for $88 per night August 20-23.

Ultra-modern rooms, a nationally known nightclub and more than 150 shops are some of the reasons Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino is this week’s pick among Las Vegas hotels.

Heather Leisman is senior director of merchandising for CheapTickets.

CheapTickets resources:

Tagged: City, FREE!