Shopping on the cheap
The outlet malls, how far away from the Strip are they? Are they worth half a day away from the action? How the heck do you get there?
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There's no shortage of ways to spend money in Las Vegas. If gambling and shows aren't enough to fill your trip, you could do like the smart locals (and savvy tourists) and head to one of the area outlet centers, just don't expect your wild Vegas experience to continue in the stores. You'll find some good deals, but they're pretty much just like any other outlet mall you've ever visited. There's nothing stereotypically "Vegas-ey" about them.
But if cost-conscious shopping is on your agenda, the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, located 40 miles south in Primm, Nevada, contains many high-end retailers at up to 75 percent discount. That sounds like a great bargain, but don't forget to take into account that original prices were in the upper hundreds of dollars. A daily Shoppers' Shuttle is available from the Las Vegas Strip with departures from the MGM Grand, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and the Fashion Show Mall (by Treasure Island). The round-trip fare is $15 and includes a coupon book with more than $800 in savings at participating stores. The shuttles do fill up -- and these are full-sized motor coaches -- so reservations are recommended for this outing.
A little closer to the Strip are the Las Vegas Premium Outlets where you can find discounts of 25 to 65 percent. There is a city bus that drops off and picks up here, but a cab ride isn't going to be too bad. I really recommend skipping the hassle of a bus ride and spring for the taxi.
There really isn't much difference between the two outlets other than the stores they contain. If you're in the market for a particular brand you'll want to check each outlet's directory before making a decision on which to visit.
However, you don't have to travel off the Strip or leave the city altogether in order to spend good shopping money. Most of the larger, newer hotels contain a mall's worth of shops, ranging from the super-pricey (just check out any of the jewelry stores in ANY of the upscale casinos) to the moderately high-end (FCUK at the Venetian Shoppes). There aren't many great bargains to be found in these places, but the merchandise is top-notch.
My personal favorite place to browse and buy is the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. The interior has a canal running through it, as the gondoliers sing opera to passengers and sometimes passers-by. There's also Le Boulevard at Paris, where you can stroll on cobblestone streets while perusing all things Parisian. And if you tire of walking, take a trip up the Eiffel Tower replica to survey the scene. The faux skylines makes it feel as if you're outdoors... but you'll be thankful in the summertime that you're not, and that Las Vegas has some of the best climate control systems in the world.