So, start planning your winter getaway to the desert now. From December 3 to 12, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (NFR) rides into town, with bucking broncos, calf roping and more. Tickets (from $45) sell out fast, but as of today there were some available directly from UNLV Tickets. Even for sold-out shows, you can still purchase a "Mad Dash" ticket, which lets you sit in unclaimed seats after the performance starts. If you can't find a seat within 30 minutes, you're entitled to watch the action from the concourse -- or get a refund.
NFR week is always a riot in Las Vegas. Play Texas Hold 'em poker with Stetson-hatted ranchers downtown on Fremont Street at Binion's, then knock off your holiday shopping list at the huge Cowboy Christmas Gift Show.
Casino hotel rates for rodeo week have not been jacked up yet, so it's a good time to make a reservation (refundable, in case you find something better later).
- The Trump International Hotel, just off the Strip across from the Fashion Show mall, will rent you a studio apartment suite for $89/night, plus taxes and a $15/night resort fee. Sign up for their promotional emails, and you might get an e-coupon for an additional 25% off.
- The Kampgrounds of America (KOA) park, behind Circus Circus casino hotel, rents brand-new, vintage-style Airstream trailers with cool modern amenities like satellite radio and TV, plus outdoor BBQ grills. Rates are currently running at $159.95/night, plus tax. That's no bargain! But earlier in 2009 we stayed here for just $50/night. So keep checking the KOA website for "Hot Deals."