Friday, June 5, 2009

Las Vegas: Mad Dash to the Rodeo

These days the travel deals and discounts in Las Vegas are amazing. Seriously, hotel rates are the lowest I've seen in years. But summer -- when temperatures in the concrete jungle of the Strip skyrocket above 100 degrees Fahrenheit -- may not be the optimal time to visit Las Vegas (unless you're just looking for the sexy pool scene, baby).

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."
If you want to stay where the rodeo folks do (after all, who knows who you'll meet downstairs in the bar), click here. The steer wrestlers will be at Hooters -- 'nuff said.

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