Bet on getting some freebies in Las Vegas
During your stay in Las Vegas, the time will come when you just can't gamble another dollar -- whether you have any or not.
Worry not, travelers. Vegas offers an array of free entertainment, provided a) you know where to look; and b) you expand your definition of entertainment.
Here are 10 penniless things worth your time:
Every 15 minutes, the lake in front of the Bellagio erupts into song. The fountains follow suit, moving in step with the song of the moment. Ask the concierge for a schedule of songs.
Ever wonder how some TV shows make it on air? There's no making up for "Smith" or "K-Ville," but at Television City and Research Center inside the MGM Grand, you can watch and rate potential future programming on CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon and other Viacom-owned stations. It's the closest most of us will ever get to starring in a pilot. Television City opens at 10 a.m. daily.
Sirens of TI
This outdoor show at Treasure Island begins with a 17th-century clash between the beautiful, tempting sirens and a band of pirates. Through song, the Sirens lure the pirates to their cove, whip up a powerful tempest and transform Sirens' Cove into a party. Experience it nightly at 5:30 p.m., 7, 8:30 and 10:00 p.m. in Sirens' Cove. Guests of TI can secure a VIP viewing area.
Hang around the gaming tables and slot machines while your friends with money left continue to gamble. Make them order drinks for you. Hey, they're free and they'll help take the pain away after folding your Kings to some chump who bluffed you off the pot.
Lion Habitat at MGM Grand
We've all heard and seen that lion roar at the start of a movie produced by MGM. That lion tradition continues with the Lion Habitat on the casino floor at MGM Grand. Watch and marvel as the kings of the jungle roam their habitat.
The circus at Circus Circus
The largest permanent circus in the world, it's also one of Vegas' oldest free shows. Aerialists, jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns do their thing in the big top, one level up from the casino floor. There is limited seating but standing room is available. The shows run every half-hour from 11 a.m to midnight every day and last 10 minutes.
Dueling pianos at Harrah's
Every night starting at 9, two pianists go head-to-head and play for your adoration. The shows are free inside the "piano bar," but the drinks aren't. However, you can stand just outside the bar, watch the show and be part of the screaming crowd that picks the winner each time. It's an amusing way to spend a few minutes of the night, whether it's pre- or post-partying. Also featured at New York New York.
Fremont Street Experience
Back in the day, the glitz of the Vegas Strip was Fremont Street. It's since moved to Las Vegas Boulevard. But if you want a taste of what it was like way back when, Fremont is the place to be. Walk along the five blocks and enjoy the live music and a nightly sound and light show on the overhead canopy.
Hello, Carnaval! OK, so no one will confuse Las Vegas with Brazil, but in this town, just about anything goes like, for example, the "Masquerade Show in the Sky." Every night at the Rio, colorful floats dance high above gamblers' heads. Costumed dancers and floats suspend from the ceiling above the casino floor. It's worth at least one viewing, especially if you don't plan on making it to Brazil anytime soon. Shows at 3, 4, 5, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. daily.Fremont Street Experience, 425 Fremont St.; (702) 678-5600.
Just next door to those swashbucklers is an erupting volcano in front of the Mirage. Don't stand too close or that lava will burn your skin to the bone. Relax, we're kidding. The volcano is 54 feet high and circulates 119,000 gallons of water per minute. Constructed in 1989, the volcano is being renovated and is expected to re-open later in 2008. When it does, be prepared. If there's one thing Vegas knows how to do (besides bankrupt you), it's how to put on an elaborate show.