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Old 12-26-2008, 12:58 PM   #21
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A few questions:
NYC- we would fly in (saw the comment about parking- I had heard that before), I assume using cabs is a good way around town?

I saw a train tour which started in Boston and stopped for a day in Boston, NYC, Philly and Wash DC. Has anyone done this before ? With or without kids? Use a hotel in each city, but the train takes you from city to city.

If we wanted to fly into NYC, then stay downtown, catch a show, good eats and maybe catch a site or two... how many days? weekend better than weekday or weekday better than weekend?

Can similar shows be caught in Chicago (broadway types)? I have been to Chicago suburbs for work before (Schaumburg and maybe one other). I know chicago has the L (I have seen it in movie Running Scared)- does this get to all parts of city?
Easiest is to fly to Newark and then you can take NJ Transit to the city. It is fast and cheap. Once in the city, take the subway to get where you need to go. Cabs are exorbitant and may not be any faster.

Train service in the BosNYWash corridor is frequesnt and usually pretty good. Should be real easy to book trains wherever you want to go. Heck, you could even take Amtrak from OH to NYC assuming you have the time.

I would say at least 3 days would be a good idea in NYC to do what you propose. Doesn't really matter what part of the week, although restaurants, etc. will be easier during the week.
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Old 12-26-2008, 01:43 PM   #22
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If you choose new york, one thing you might want to try is seeing
a jazz show if you are at all interested, there's many great jazz venues
there like the village vanguard, the blue note, smalls,
, the lincoln center, etc..



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There's plenty of hotel rooms at the $100 mark in NYC Manhattan that I see on Travelocity but don't forget the parking cost which is pretty steep by any standards. Staying near by around within public transportation to NYC will save you some bucks for a minimal hassle.

As for b-way shows, if you have to see the most popular of the shows then it'll be difficult to get tickets since they are booked way in advance. If you're flexible and don't mind waiting on line (we do that a lot here in NYC) then you can visit TKTS and pick up 1/2 price tickets for shows that day.
TKTS - half price theater tickets on Broadway

Not sure what your tastes are in terms of entertainment but there's plenty to see and do.
Popular tourist stops from my observation are:
-Empire states building (little Korea near by for great lunch/dinner)
-Rock center/Christmas tree/NBC studios/St Patrick's church/
-Times Square/Broadway
-many museums (Met of art, Natural Science, Guggenheim etc)
-Chinatown and little Italy (next to each other)
-Wall Street & financial district (go on the Federal Reserve bank of NY tour to see all the gold...ala Bruce willis in one of the die hard movies)

Good luck

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Old 12-26-2008, 02:26 PM   #23
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A few questions:
NYC- we would fly in (saw the comment about parking- I had heard that before), I assume using cabs is a good way around town?

I saw a train tour which started in Boston and stopped for a day in Boston, NYC, Philly and Wash DC. Has anyone done this before ? With or without kids? Use a hotel in each city, but the train takes you from city to city.

If we wanted to fly into NYC, then stay downtown, catch a show, good eats and maybe catch a site or two... how many days? weekend better than weekday or weekday better than weekend?
If you're taking the train then you'll be in Penn Station/midtown where there are a ton of subway/public transportion that will take you wherever you need to go. Cab is convenient but it usually is the most expensive and not always the quickest way to go. Having at least two days will allow you to cover some ground and it's always busy and crowded so it won't matter if you're coming on the wkend or midweek.

Flying in to airport is convenient but we're one of the last major cities without a well thoughtout public transit built to accomodate the visitors.
From Newark NJ, my advice is to take the Olympus bus ($15) to midtown.

Some mentioned 'smalls' jazz club before, one of my all time favorities.
Tiny tiny place where you BYOB and listen to great jazz up close and personal they way it was meant to.

Good luck and have fun.

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Old 12-26-2008, 09:19 PM   #24
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Can similar shows be caught in Chicago (broadway types)? I have been to Chicago suburbs for work before (Schaumburg and maybe one other). I know chicago has the L (I have seen it in movie Running Scared)- does this get to all parts of city?
a decent number of b-way type shows in Chicago. The 'L' and transfering to city buses go to most parts of the Chicago area that you would want to visit. If you are a 'neighborhood wanderer' then the L will get you there. Summer time is best for Chicago visits. Try the week before the 4th of July if you like crowds and want to experience 'taste of chicago' and the music fests.
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:27 PM   #25
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Seriously planning out my vegas trip now. Looks like airfare is running $134 round trip from my particular east coast airport (should be cheap from anywhere southwest flies). Rental cars $13 per day after taxes and everything??!! Looks like a good choice of hotels for ~$33 a night (luxor, nyny, etc). Only thing left is some cheap eats and I've got a LBYM vacation in heaven! So far everything but meals is running at $422 for two for 4 days. I think the deals I'm looking at must be booked by tomorrow though, so a little time pressure for planning.

Is the rumor true that most of the cheap eats in vegas are gone?

Also, is there free parking everywhere in vegas? I called the luxor and they confirmed all mgm brand hotels have free parking. How about other places?
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:37 PM   #26
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Here is some info on getting around in Vegas . You really do not need a car .

Shuttles - Guide to Free Las Vegas Shuttles Trams and Buses for the Vegas Visitor
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:43 AM   #27
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You dont need a car, but yes parking is free most places. Where did you find NYNY for $33 / night?

Yes, cheap food is pretty much gone in Vegas. The $3.99 buffets are no more.
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Old 12-31-2008, 08:46 AM   #28
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Yes, cheap food is pretty much gone in Vegas. The $3.99 buffets are no more.
Not $3.99, but there are still some pretty cheap buffets off the strip. I think there were some pretty cheap ones in the downtown Vegas area (Fremont Street). The buffets on the strip are, for the most part, considerably more expensive, especially at the fancier and newer casinos.
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Old 12-31-2008, 11:11 AM   #29
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You dont need a car, but yes parking is free most places. Where did you find NYNY for $33 / night?

Yes, cheap food is pretty much gone in Vegas. The $3.99 buffets are no more.
travelocity.com using code "Bonus75" without the quotes. Try dates 1/25-1/28 and I get $95 total. It is buy 2 nights, get one free plus $75 off using the coupon code. I think the buy 2 get one deal might be only Sun-Wed/Thurs or something. Deal also comes with $20 in casino credit and 20% off food and spa (prob stuff you can get anyway with their coupon books). Is $95 for 3 nts a smokin good deal at NYNY?

I'm also still looking at Flamingo for $78 for 3 nts (using same buy 2 get one and $75 off) plus a $30 resort credit for food, etc. But it is the basic rooms and some reviews were down on the basic, unrenovated, non-"GO" rooms. The wife doesn't seem to like reviews of rooms consisting of "I saw a mold spore in the bathtub and I think I saw a paint chip in the bathroom". Any recent experiences with the cheap rooms at Flamingo? I like the central location, but the upgraded rooms are 2x the price.

I'll probably go w/ NYNY unless I see something better. I'm seeing MGM and Mirage for under $200 for 3 nts, just not sure if it is 2x as good. Still looking into hotwire.com for potential good 4* and 5* deals that may work out cheaper.
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Old 12-31-2008, 11:37 AM   #30
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Just had to comment to say how funny it is that basically every hotel I've looked at has some sort of BS fee added to the quoted room rate plus taxes.

Ranging from $4-6 per night, variably called "energy surcharge usage fee" or telephone access fee or resort fee, or something similar. I thought those were usually included in the basic room charge. I may have to assess a "I'm gonna stick as many rolls of toilet paper from yo hotel as I can in my carry on luggage" fee. I would fill up another suitcase and check it in on the flight back, but it would cost me $15 in extra fees from the airline! Heck, how's a crook sposeda get by with all these fees?
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Old 12-31-2008, 11:49 AM   #31
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Just had to comment to say how funny it is that basically every hotel I've looked at has some sort of BS fee added to the quoted room rate plus taxes.
Pretty much everything in the travel industry does that now. They like to advertise "low prices" that wind up being 50% higher after all the nickel and diming with taxes and other fees.

My wife has sold cruises in the past and she's noted that the cruise lines are doing everything they can to fold any price increases into these nickel and dime fees rather than the base fare -- for one thing, they can advertise a lower price (with "plus taxes and fees" in the fine print), and for another, the other taxes and fees are not commissionable, so it's one way to avoid having to pay travel agents a commission on the price increase.
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Old 12-31-2008, 12:03 PM   #32
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Pretty much everything in the travel industry does that now. They like to advertise "low prices" that wind up being 50% higher after all the nickel and diming with taxes and other fees.

My wife has sold cruises in the past and she's noted that the cruise lines are doing everything they can to fold any price increases into these nickel and dime fees rather than the base fare -- for one thing, they can advertise a lower price (with "plus taxes and fees" in the fine print), and for another, the other taxes and fees are not commissionable, so it's one way to avoid having to pay travel agents a commission on the price increase.
This sort of thing seems to be happening everywhere now. It has even creeped into my industry (professional services). Clients already pay $80-$200 an hour for our professional services. A competitor likes to lowball, then charges for everything extra. Oh, you wanted hard copies of these reports? Sure, $50 each. You want _US_ to fedex them to you? Sure, $25 each for shipping. You want us to answer phone calls after we finish your report? $$$

I've noticed the same thing w/ cruises - Some are almost free, until you pay for taxes, fees, port charges, employees salaries (ie tips), fuel, etc. Our last one was quoted as ~$200 for a 7 day, then after all the taxes, fees, tips, etc were added in, it was closer to $500. An extra 150% surcharge!?!? Still cheap in the grand scheme of things.

At hotels, I may request that they bring extra soap, shampoo, toilet paper, tissues, showercaps, shoe shining kits, stationery, pens, disposable cups, coffee/tea/sugar packs etc to my room every day. Then TAKE THEM ALL!!! That'll show them. I'll call it a "stay enhancement contribution in lieu of fee".
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Old 12-31-2008, 12:51 PM   #33
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Not $3.99, but there are still some pretty cheap buffets off the strip. I think there were some pretty cheap ones in the downtown Vegas area (Fremont Street). The buffets on the strip are, for the most part, considerably more expensive, especially at the fancier and newer casinos.
Right off the strip is the Ellis Island Casino and Brewery, a short walk from Bally's. A favorite for the locals with a steak dinner special of $6.99 (10 oz steak, no less, with salad and sides) plus brew. (It's not on the menu so you have to ask for the deal.) The price went up from $3.99 when I first went there in 1996. Way off the strip at the Silverton Casino is a $3.99 steak breakfast deal.

There are plenty of cheap eats and plenty of world-class restaurants, as well, at expensive prices, in Vegas.
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Old 12-31-2008, 03:01 PM   #34
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Those sound like good meal deals. I never leave the strip so i didnt know about them.

If I had a choice of 3 nights at

NYNY for $95
Flamingo for $78
MGM or Mirage for close to $200

Thats a no brainer...NYNY every time. The rooms at NYNY, MGM or Mirage are virtually the same. I like the decor and theme of NYNY the best. No way I would pay double for MGM or Mirage.

Flamingo is a step down from any of the others and not worth trying to save $6 per night over NYNY.
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Old 01-01-2009, 05:43 PM   #35
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If I had a choice of 3 nights at

NYNY for $95
Flamingo for $78
MGM or Mirage for close to $200

Thats a no brainer...NYNY every time. The rooms at NYNY, MGM or Mirage are virtually the same. I like the decor and theme of NYNY the best. No way I would pay double for MGM or Mirage.

Flamingo is a step down from any of the others and not worth trying to save $6 per night over NYNY.
I booked it. I ended up choosing "none of the above" for hotels (although I almost went with NYNY based on similar reasoning - wife wanted MGM for double, but didn't really know why??). We decided to stretch the trip a day and added a 4th night. We went with Harrah's - $138 total for 4 nights. Flights ended up at $123 a head from my southeast US airport. Rental car in vegas - 4 days total $65. Parking at my home airport 5 days - $26. Total - under $500 for 5 days, 4 nts in Vegas!!! Yippee!!

Utrecht, so is Harrah's a decent choice (up there w/ NYNY at least)?

We are planning on the dam tour, and not sure what else. Grand Canyon got nixed I think. Not up for 8+ hrs of bus-riding/driving to see it this time around...

The one downside is that our flight leaves from our home airport at 5:30 am, although we will arrive in vegas before 10:00 am (over 2000 miles away).

I'm thinking about brushing up on my blackjack basic strategy and trying my hand at the tables. Any $5 min tables left on the strip for a newb to blow a few bucks?

I'll be out there Jan 24-28 (hoping it won't be too cold).

Edited to add: Thanks for all the help/input, guys. I'll probably be back to ask a few more Q's when I start looking at things a little closer. Any favorite vegas websites with deals/attractions/budget-oriented travel stuff? I've found vegas.com has an ok page for cheap eats, and an about.com page was good, too.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:55 PM   #36
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We went with Harrah's - $138 total for 4 nights. Flights ended up at $123 a head from my southeast US airport. Rental car in vegas - 4 days total $65. Parking at my home airport 5 days - $26. Total - under $500 for 5 days, 4 nts in Vegas!!! Yippee!!
Gee! It's a dirt cheap vacation. I have not been to Vegas in a few years, and this got me interested.

Lemme see... Driving from Phoenix to LV, 5 hrs. Substract out airfare, car rental, AP parking. Add in cost of gas at $1.40/gallon.

Hey, who says travel has to be expensive? But I've got to find something to do when I get there, not wanting to do any gambling.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:20 AM   #37
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I envy your 5 hour drive. I would definitely trade my long cross country flight for your drive any day! Flying seems to get worse every year.

Now the airline I'm on charges for a sip of water ($2) and a bag of peanuts ($3). Of course you can't take a bottle of water on board the plane (if it is bigger than 3 oz). I wonder if I could fill 5 or 6 travel shampoo bottles full of water and carry them onboard that way? Maybe not (is it really worth the full body cavity search for smuggling water on a plane??).

It used to be you would consider flying somewhere if the drive was more than 4-5 hours. I wonder what the threshold is now? 8 hours? 9 hours? That's probably about it for me. The length of the flight and hassle and uncomfortable nature of it almost made the trip a no go.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:27 AM   #38
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But I've got to find something to do when I get there, not wanting to do any gambling.
Vegas is one of the best "people watching" venues in the US. Low cost, highly entertaining, and infinitely variable.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:32 AM   #39
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Vegas is one of the best "people watching" venues in the US. Low cost, highly entertaining, and infinitely variable.
That's one thing we'll be doing plenty of. Maybe get up early (you know, around 9 am or so) and watch all the destitute losers* amble out of the casino after a night of hard playing.

*losers = no negative connotation intended, just saying that they lost money to the casino.
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Old 01-02-2009, 08:45 AM   #40
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Now the airline I'm on charges for a sip of water ($2) and a bag of peanuts ($3). Of course you can't take a bottle of water on board the plane (if it is bigger than 3 oz). I wonder if I could fill 5 or 6 travel shampoo bottles full of water and carry them onboard that way? Maybe not (is it really worth the full body cavity search for smuggling water on a plane??).
Actually, I usually just bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill it at a water fountain before I board the plane. And bring you own peanuts or whatever.
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