Vancouver Nightlife Special Guide

Vancouver, in Western Canada, is a large and gorgeous metropolis where you can hope to both hike in the Coast Mountain Ranges and enjoy a whale watching tour in the Pacific Ocean, in just one exciting day. As such, it is known as one of the best cities to live in and is a prominent tourist destination for backpackers and luxury vacationers, in equal measure.

Vancouver Fast Facts

Vancouver is primarily served by the Vancouver International Airport that handles the bulk of domestic and cargo traffic in West Canada. You can also opt to fly in through the Abbotsford International Airport, located approximately 60 miles from the city center, the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (in the case of flyers from USA) and the various floatplane amenities available.

Tourists from USA can get in through the US-Canada border by car, bus, or train, and there are ferry and boat services available at the Port Metro Vancouver and its myriad terminals handling both international and American cruise traffic.

Vancouver has mild climate and enjoys a picturesque blooming season beginning late February unto late May, after which there are rain showers trickling in. You however, might want to carry in warm clothing if you visit the city during the winters.

Vancouver Nightlife Overview

Despite being an idyllically picturesque location, Vancouver is a thriving after-hours nightlife hub with several activities in queue after sun-down.

There are performing art avenues with the Orpheum Theatre and the Queen Elizabeth Complex being reputed Opera Houses. If you’re an open air cinema aficionado, Theatre Under the Stars at Stanley Park promises to be a wonderful experience.

Bars and water holes are abundant in Downtown Vancouver with the prime bar lounges located at Granville Street, Gas Town, and Yale Town amongst other places. If you’d like to soak in some of the splendid countryside views while sipping on vintage martini, visit Westin Bayshore and check out restaurant Lift for exotic views.

Granville Street, Water Street, and Pender Street in Vancouver are also known for their upscale discotheques and jazz festivities. Moreover, Vancouver is a wonderful tourist locale for gays and lesbians too.

Casino clubs in Vancouver

Vancouver is probably the best ever casino destination you’d encounter in Canada. There are enormous casino clubs, race courses, betting stations and much more. The locals here are vibrant and love to indulge in a good round of Roulette or two after they are done for the day. The tourists, on the other hand, are advised by their travel managers (or friends and acquaintances) to never come home without a casino trip.

Therefore, no matter which day of the week you chose to visit Vancouver’s casino spots, you’ll always find chaos and conundrum and healthy competition where you win some… you lose some… and the spirit goes on.

Out of the 100-odd casino jaunts in Vancouver, here are a few that are extremely high rated and deserve a visit.

River Rock Casino Resortis undoubtedly the grand-daddy of all the casino jaunts in Vancouver. There are more than 1000 slot games, a whole array of tables for you to wage money on, and VIP rooms for those who can afford them. Plus, the bright hues, the ambience, and the extravagance make gambling here a grand experience.

Located on Seawall, the Edgewater Casino is a subdued entertainment jaunt where you can play with panache, family in tow. With restrained flamboyance and the marvelous False Creek in the backdrop, you can play games from roulette to backgammon and dine in elegance before heading back to your resort/motel.

The Plaza of Nations, located in the World Exposition Center of Vancouver, is an extravagant skyscraper with a slew of entertainment businesses adorning its site. In addition to the restaurants, amphitheatres, concert halls and mesmerizing casinos, there also is a glittering Marina where you can enjoy cruises and boat paddling for a fee.

Hastings in Downtown Vancouver is an all-in-one gamble center with a huge gaming podium, a fully furnished casino, and a thriving race course where you can bet on horses. Moreover, there are lessons in gambling for rookies looking to make a quick buck. There is a lavish barbeque and buffet center located in campus too.

Tired of Vancouver? Looking for casinos elsewhere? You wouldn’t have to seek a faraway destination since there are many towns and cities situated in close proximity to Vancouver having fabulous nightlife and casino options for you to marvel at. For instance, the Grand Villa Casino and the Gateway Casino in Burnaby, the Starlight Casino in Westminster, and the River Rock Casino in Richmond are suave options to consider.

Other sightseeing ideas in Vancouver

Vancouver is aptly blessed with sophistication and the wilderness, making it a charming destination to visit. Once here, we recommend the following experiences in the city that you probably wouldn’t get to savor elsewhere.

Stanley Parkis one of Canada’s best forest preserves and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Burrard Inlet, rose orchards, and cricket grounds are a soulful retreat. The Vancouver Aquarium and the Museum of Anthropology are landmark sights in the city. Granville Street, West End and China Town are superb shopping destinations and you also get amazing seafood in the restaurants dotting the promenades here. The Capuano Suspension Bridge tour, kayaking in the Indian Arm wilderness water stretch, and visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery to gawk at the Emily Carr paintings therein complete the sojourn. Do not forget to shop around for antiques.

Stay Safe!

Vancouver is a child-friendly travel destination, so there are no huge problems you’d face during your exploration of the city’s highlights. We however, recommend sticking to the basics: never trust strangers with your money, hold onto your possessions tight, and travel in a group. You might, especially want to travel safe in the East Downtown area of Vancouver, since there are stray incidents of violence targeting tourists reported from time to time. Also, the casino centrals are best avoided on weekend nights since you may encounter drunken locals leering at you or worse, trying to extort money.

All said and done, Vancouver is a wonderful destination to travel to and gamble to your heart’s content.

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Mobsters – Big Bill Dwyer – King of the Rum Runners

He started off as a simple dockworker, segued into bootlegging on a large scale, and was known and the “King of the Rum Runners.” Big Bill Dwyer made so much money, he was partners with known gangsters in several swanky New York City nightclubs. Dwyer also owned two professional hockey teams, including the New York Americans, and was owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers football team. However, in the end, when Big Bill Dwyer passed away, he died out of the limelight, and flat broke.

William Vincent Dwyer was born in 1883 in the Hells Kitchen area on the west side of New York City. Two gangs, the Hudson Dusters and the Gophers, ruled Hell’s Kitchen at the time, but Dwyer avoided joining both gangs, and instead took a job on the docks as a stevedore for the International Longshoremen’s Union (ILU).

While working on the docks, Dwyer started his own bookmaking operation. After the Volstead Act was enacted in 1919, banning the distribution of alcohol, with the money he made from bookmaking, Dwyer branched out into the bootlegging business. Dwyer purchased a fleet of steel-plated speedboats, each with a mounted machine gun, in case crooks tried to hijack a shipment. Dwyer also purchased several large rum-running ships, which were needed to offload the illegal hootch from whatever boat was supplying it.

Dwyer traveled to Canada, England, and the Caribbean to establish ties with those who sold him the liquor he needed to smuggle into the United States. Then Dwyer set up a system whereby his ships would meet the ships, that were supplying him the liquor, many miles out at sea. There the booze was transferred to Dwyer’s ships, then quickly transported to Dwyer’s speedboats, which were closer to the shore of New York City.

The speedboats were unloaded at the docks, which were protected by Local 791 of the ILU, of which Dwyer was a charter member. From the docks, the liquor was moved to several warehouses in the New York area. When the time was right, trucks filed with illegal alcohol, and protected by convoys of teamster members, transported the booze all over the country: with heavy shipments going to Florida, St. Louis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and as far away as New Orleans.

Dwyer was able to smuggle large amounts of booze into New York City because he knew one simple fact: you had to bribe the police and the Coast Guard if you wanted to be successful in the bootlegging business. And that Dwyer did, handing over thousands of dollars to whomever needed to be greased.

Paying off New York City cops was easy. The cops who didn’t have their hands out for graft money were far and few between. However, Dwyer was especially skillful in recruiting Coast Guard members to look the other way, when his speedboats were entering New York waters.

Dwyer’s first contact was Coast Guard Petty Officer Olsen. Through Olsen, Dwyer met scores of Coast Guardsmen, “Guardies” he called them, who might be willing to take bribes. Dwyer would bring these Guardies into the bright lights of New York City, where he would feed them sumptuous meals, take them to Broadway shows, and even get them a swanky hotel room, occupied by the lady of their choice, whom Dwyer would pay for too. Once a Guardie took a bribe from Dwyer, he was informed that he could earn hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars more, if he could enlist other Guardies to help protect Dwyer’s shipments.

Soon, Dwyer was making so much money through bootlegging, he was considered the largest distributor of illegal alcohol in the entire United States of America. However, Dwyer had one huge problem, which he needed help in solving. Whenever one of his trucks left New York to distribute the booze to other parts of the country, they were vulnerable to being seized by the hundreds of hijackers who operated throughout the country. Dwyer knew to stop this from happening he had to take in partners – members of the Italian mobs, and the Jewish mobs. Since he was raking in millions in profits, Dwyer didn’t mind, and certainly could afford to share the wealth. The problem was, Dwyer considered himself no more than a businessman, and wasn’t a gangster himself. Dwyer needed someone in the underworld who could make the contacts Dwyer needed to continue to operate without fear of being hijacked.

Almost by accident, that person fell right into Dwyer’s lap. In 1924, two of Dwyer’s shipments were hijacked in upstate New York. Dwyer leaned on the cops on his payroll to find out who was responsible for the hijackings. Word soon came back to Dwyer that the perpetrator, who was arrested for the hijackings, was none other than Owney Madden, an Irishman himself, who grew up in Liverpool, England, before he emigrated to New York as a teenager. Madden was a vicious con nicknamed “The Killer” and had once ruled the murderous Gopher’s gang in Hell’s Kitchen.

Dwyer paid whomever needed to be paid to get the charges dropped against Madden, with the order, “Get me Owney Madden. I want to talk to him. I’ve got a business proposition we need to discuss.”

Madden got the word who his benefactor had been, and that a meeting with Dwyer was expected of him in return. The two men met at Dwyer’s office in the Loew’s State Building in Times Square. There is no recording, or transcript of this meeting, but T.J. English, in his masterpiece on Irish gangsters called Paddy Whacked, said the conversation between Madden and Dwyer might have gone something like this:

“You’ve got a problem,” Madden would have told Dwyer. “Gangsters have been picking off your trucks like sitting ducks and what are you going to do about it?”

“That’s why I called you here.”

“You gotta organize the shooters and the cherry-pickers, not to mention the bulls (cops) and the pols (politicians).”

“You’re right. I need the hijackings to stop. I need a place to make my own brew right here in the city. Protected by the Tiger and the coppers. And I need outlets – speakeasies, nightclubs, you name it.”

“You need a lot, my friend.

“Are you with me?”

“Give me one reason why.”

“I can make you rich.”

“Pal, you and me are two peas in a pod.”

And that was the start of the New York City Irish Mob, which would then unite with the Italian and Jewish mobs to control the bootlegging business throughout the United States of America. The grouping of the three ethnic mobs was known as the “Combine.”

With Dwyer’s millions, Madden oversaw the creation of the Phoenix Cereal Beverage Company, which was located on 26th Street and 10th Avenue, right in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, where both Madden and Dwyer had grown up. This red-brick building, which comprised the entire block, was originally the Clausen & Flanagan Brewery, which was created to produce and sell near-beer, which no true beer-drinker would ever let pass their lips. The beer produced at the Phoenix was called Madden’s No 1.

With Dwyer basically the money man behind the scenes, Madden became the architect who created and nurtured their empire. Madden brought in a former taxi business owner named Larry Fay as the front man for several high class establishments, that were needed to sell Madden No. 1, plus all the scotch, rum, vodka, Cognac and champagne that the Combine was smuggling into the city. One of these places was the El Fay at 107 West 54th Street.

The main attraction at the El Fay was Texas Guinan, a bawdy cabaret singer/comedienne, who was later copied by May West. To entice Guinan to work at the El Fay, Madden and Dwyer made Guinan a partner. Guinan was famous for her wisecracks, which she belted out between clacks from a clacker, or toots from a piercing whistle, while she was sitting on a tall stool in the main room. Guinan’s signature saying was “Hello Sucker,” which is how she greeted all the well-healed El Fay customers.

When a singer or a dancer finished their performance at the El Fey, Guinan would exhort the crowd to “Give the little lady a great big hand!”

One day, a prohibition agent, who couldn’t be bought by Madden or Dwyer, raided the El Fey. He marched over to Guinan, put his hand on her shoulder and said to his fellow agent, “Give the little lady a great big handcuff.”

Dwyer did what he did best, Guinan was released from prison, and the El Fey was soon hopping again, making everyone involved very rich indeed.

Madden and Dwyer also partnered with former bootlegger Sherman Billingsley at the very fashionable Stork Club on East 53rd Street. The two Irish gangsters spread their wings to the north part of Manhattan when they bought the Club De Luxe from former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Jack Johnson. They inserted Big Frenchy De Mange as their operating partner, and changed the name to the Cotton Club. At the Cotton Club, De Mange instituted a “Whites Only” admittance policy, despite the fact the waiters, dancers, and headline entertainers, like Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and the Nicholas Brothers, were all black.

Still, the Cotton Club was wildly successful with the big spenders from downtown, putting tons of cash into Dwyer and Madden’s pockets.

In 1925, Dwyer was arrested for attempting to bribe Coast Guard members during a sting operation headed by the Prohibition Bureau. Dwyer was sentenced to two years in prison, but he was released after 13 months for good behavior. With Dwyer in the can, Frank Costello took over Dwyer’s bootlegging business.

While he was in prison, a despondent Dwyer said to one of his cell mates. “I wish I had never seen a case of whiskey. I spent years in daily fear of my life, always expecting to be arrested, always dealing with crooks and double-crossers, and now look at me. My wife is heartbroken and I am worse than broke.”

As we shall see, that was not exactly the truth.

When Dwyer hit the streets again, he eased out of the bootlegging business, leaving the rum-running operation to Costello and Madden. To pass his time, Dwyer started investing in legitimate business, especially sports teams.

In 1926, boxing promoter Tex Rickard conned Dwyer into buying the Hamilton Tigers of the National Hockey League. Dwyer did so, and he moved his team into New York’s Madison Square Garden, and re-named them the New York Americans. As smart as Dwyer was in running the bootlegging business, he was just as dumb in running a hockey team. His pockets bursting with bootlegging cash, Dwyer’s strategy for winning was basically to over-pay everybody on his team. With the average hockey player making between $1500-$2000 a year, Dwyer gave Billy Burch a 3-year $25,000 contract. Shorty Green also got a huge raise, when Dwyer awarded him a $5000 a year contract.

Being an old crook at heart, Dwyer took an active part in running his team, even going so far as to try and rig the games. Dwyer paid off goal judges to rule his team had scored a goal if the puck just touched the goal line, instead of completely passing the goal line, which was the rule.

At a game in 1927 in Madison Square Garden, the goal judge, whom Dwyer had in his pocket, for some unknown reason started taunting Ottawa goalie Alex Connell. Connell responded by butt-ending his hockey stick into the goal judge’s nose. Dwyer became incensed at the Ottawa goalie’s actions (You don’t manhandle one of Dwyer’s employees), and Connell was told to leave town quickly after the game. A police detail took Connell to the train station, and protected him until the train was safely out of town. After the train left the station, a man asked Connell if he was the Ottawa goalie Alex Connell. Connell afraid for his life, told the stranger no. And, as a result, he lived to goalie other hockey games.

Bypassing a league rule that a person can’t own two hockey teams, in 1929, Dwyer, using ex-lightweight boxing champ Benny Leonard as his front man, purchased the NHL’s Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1930, Dwyer inserted his grubby fingers into the newly-formed National Football League too, by buying the Dayton Triangles for $2,500. Dwyer moved the team to Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, and renamed them the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In three years, Dwyer, again overpaying all his players, began losing so much money, he sold the Brooklyn Dodgers to two former New York Giant Football players: Chris Cagle and John Simms, for $25,000. Even though he sold the team for 10 times more than he had paid, Dwyer estimated he still lost $30,000 in the three years he owned the team.

In 1934, having his fill of America sports teams (he still owned the New York Americans, but they were bleeding money), Dwyer bought the famed Tropical Park Horse Racing Track in Miami, Florida.

However, the roof fell in on Dwyer, when in 1935, he was indicted on a gambling charge. Dwyer beat that case, but then the government did to him what they did to Al Capone: they hit him with tax evasion charges. Those charges stuck, and Dwyer was stripped of all his assets, except the New York Americans, and a house in Belle Harbor, Queens. Almost penniless, Dwyer no longer had the money to keep the New York Americans afloat.

In 1937, the National Hockey League temporarily took control of the New York Americans. To show the NHL that he was financially solvent, Dwyer borrowed $20,000 from Red Dutton. However, instead of paying his team’s salaries, Dwyer decided to try to multiply his money in a craps game. That didn’t go over too well, when Dwyer busted out, and lost the entire twenty grand. Unable to pay his team, and unable to raise any more capital, the NHL booted Dwyer out permanently, and took final control of the New York Americans. Broke and despondent, Dwyer retired to his Belle Harbor home.

On December 10, 1943, Big Bill Dwyer, the “King of the Rum Runners” died at the age of 63. Dwyer was reportedly penniless at the time of his death, his only asset being the roof over his head.

Enjoy Las Vegas on Next to Nothing – Eat and Drink For Less

Las Vegas is famous for its food specials. There was a time you could get a complete steak dinner for $2. Those days may be gone, but overall, the cost of dining in Las Vegas is still better than in many parts of the country. How long has it been since you’ve really had a blast? Is Las Vegas on your list of fun places to go? Learn what the locals know about having a good time on a budget. Their Staycation just may be your dream! Since there is a major difference between catching a bite to eat and fine dining, or finding a drink and clubbing, we will be looking at these subtitles: Breakfast Lunch and Snacks, All You Can Eat Buffets, Restaurant Dining, Where to Get Cheap Drinks, andNightclubs and Lounges With No Cover Charge.

Eat and Drink For Less

Free Comps are anything but free. The casino management will be glad to give you a meal, pay for your room, or get you some show tickets. All you have to do is win or lose a lot of money. They rate you by how long you gamble, and how much you gamble. You have to sign up for their slot club or their table games club, insert your Player’s Card into the machine or ask to be rated at the tables. Then after four hours you will likely qualify for some kind of Comp. After four hours of gambling, you will also have likely spent more than the Comps were worth!

Just the same, many of the specials require a Player’s Club Card. It’s not required that you use the card, only that you have one. And naturally, every casino has its own club. Fortunately, several of the clubs share an owner, and will honor cards from their affiliates. Club Cards are free, but for those of you who consider the Club Card thing just a little too much of a hassle, I will point out which specials require a card, and which ones don’t.

Locals also tend to frequent their neighborhood casinos rather than the touristy ones; and the neighborhood prices are lower across the board. But when you come to Las Vegas on vacation you’re not expected to spend an hour crossing town to find an obscure place to eat, so this list will focus on places within a mile of The Strip, and on Freemont Street (downtown.) If you were to do an exhaustive internet search you could find many of the same deals listed here, they do all advertise, but this will simplify matters for you. There is no way for me to cover all of the choices, as there are hundreds; and the establishments are not under my control, so they may change their specials; but this is where I’d go for specials on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy the variety and the prices.

Breakfast, Lunch and Snacks

Starting out the day, there are breakfast buffets in most casinos, some pricier than others. The Station Casinos tend to have better breakfast food at lower prices when compared to the big name casinos. Assuming you’d rather save the buffet for later in the day, here are a couple of alternatives that won’t wreck your wallet.

Early Breakfast is also known as the Graveyard Special, and there are quite a few choices for this one. As long as you’re done partying before 6 a.m. here are a few of the best places to catch a bite.

At The Burger Joint inside the Flamingo, between midnight and 6 a.m. they serve a Ribeye steak and eggs for $5.99, or a Burger and fries for $2.00. No matter what time you go, expect a 20 minute wait. They always cook the steak to a medium temperature without asking, and they throw in some hashbrowns and toast. If you go for the burger, the fries are fabulous if you like them steak cut and crispy. (In the center of The Strip by Flamingo Road.)

About a mile off The Strip to the west on Tropicana Avenue, the Orleans serves Steak and eggs with toast and hash browns for $3.99 at the Courtyard Café, between midnight and 6 a.m. Service is a little faster than at The Burger Joint above, and the steak is cheaper – but not a Ribeye. If you’re not in a steak mood, the Courtyard Café is one of the few remaining places to have a lot of graveyard breakfast choices for fabulous prices between $1.99 and $2.99. The Courtyard Café also has Asian and Pacific food on their menu at very reasonable prices.

SPOTLIGHT: Ellis Island Casino & Brewery

Don’t be put off by the outside appearance. This place is almost always busy because it draws both tourists and locals. Also plan to wait for a table, and service can be slow if you want to eat at traditional times. Fortunately, you can get a deal here at any time, 24 hours a day. And like the sign says, this is also a brewery, so you have the opportunity to try one of their several microbrews, or even their own root beer if you prefer. Next to the restaurant you’ll find the bar, which is a local’s favorite for karaoke. Ellis Island is located behind Bally’s on Koval Lane, by Flamingo Road.

For an early traditional breakfast (Two scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy and bacon or sausage,) Ellis Island only charges $1.95 between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. for the special.

Later in the morning, or at night before crashing, you might consider New Yorksteak and eggs for $3.45 at Ellis Island. They serve breakfast between 11 p.m. and 11 a.m.

In the 24 Hour Restaurant, [yes, that is what they actually call it,] you can also get a 10-ounce Steak Dinner for $6.99. The steak comes with green beans, potato, bread, and a Beer. Overall the meal is very tasty and may be the best value meal in town. This special is not always in the menu, but if you ask for it, it is always available.

Inside Tip:Down town every casino has specials on the marquis. These specials are sometimes for specific time frames, and are not always up to date – but usually good deals – so verify the price when ordering!

Lunch timemay require a sandwich special. One of the best deals is the $1.25 Hotdog, at the Gold Coast. It is available between 10 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. at the Sports Book – look for a vender’s cart. Expect a Chicago Style Beef Hotdog with the works. You don’t have to place any bets to take advantage of the Hotdog Vender, and there are usually plenty of seats with monitors everywhere for viewing the races or the games while enjoying your dog. (On Flamingo road, about a mile west of The Strip.)

If you’d rather not leave The Strip, O’sheas Casino in the middle of The Strip between the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo serves a Hot dog with a Beer for $3.00, 24 hours a day. For more information on Q’sheas Casino, read further down under Where to Get Cheap Drinks.

Downtown for lunch with a big appetite, Uncle Joes’s Pizza has one of the better deals. $3 will get you two oversized slices of Pizza and a Soda. Uncle Joe’s is a small authentic NY style pizza house; so expect a traditional crunchy crust, good sauce, plenty of cheese, and laid back friendly but not too fast service. (On Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard.)

Another choice would be to pick up a Hot dog and a Coke for $2.95 in the Fremont Club at the Lanai Express. Lanai Express is known for its reasonably priced Chinese dishes served cafeteria style, so you don’t have to wait for your meal. American food like Hamburgers, Hotdogs, and Shrimp Cocktail will give you more choices than you’d usually find at a Chinese place; so there’s something for everybody, even those who don’t want the Hotdog deal. (The Fremont Club is in the center of the Fremont Street Experience.)

SPOTLIGHT: Mermaids Casino and Lounge

Famous for vintage slots rather than glitz, this place is a funhouse for those who are not looking for quiet, high-end class. The brassy waitresses cater to the drinkers, slot players, drinkers, socializers, drinkers, eaters and drinkers. If you end up spending much time here, the waitresses will even remember what you like to drink; you’ll notice a personal touch. The strings of welcome beads you discover around your neck tend to be financed by the nickel slots, and the treats here are unique. Mermaids is between the Golden Gate and the Golden Nugget on Freemont Street, downtown.

Snacksat Mermaids Casino and Lounge include the 99 cent Fried Twinky. They also have Fried Oreos and a Chocolate Covered Banana on a stick. If that’s too radical, you can also get a Nathan’s hot dog for 99 cents at the Snack Bar.

Snacks in Las Vegas have traditionally included a Shrimp Cocktail Special. I believe that tradition started at the Golden Gate downtown on Fremont Street over forty years ago. Sometime their menu changes faster than their Marquis, so remember to verify the price. Nowadays just about everyone has some form of Shrimp Cocktail Special priced between 99 cents and $2.99, so look around for it, both downtown, and in many of the smaller casinos on The Strip.

All You Can Eat Buffets

If anywhere is famous for their buffets, it’s Las Vegas! Almost every casino has one, so we’ll only focus on a few of my favorites that have personality. There was a day when buffets represented the best deal in town. They are still a great deal for what you get; but with the Las Vegas transition into a family destination, the cost of food has gone up across the board to reflect the lack of gambling by minors.

In general, the lower priced buffets will charge an extra $5 for all you can eat crab legs and shrimp on Seafood Night (usually Friday), whereas the higher priced buffets will serve seafood every night. Another thing to note is that buffets generally charge the same price for Sunday Brunch as for their regular evening Dinner. Most buffets also present an assortment of Asian food in addition to any other international cuisine.

Breakfast buffets will run from $4 to as much as $10 less than the regular Dinner price. And Lunch buffets will usually cost between $3 and $7 less than Dinner. The listed price for the following buffets will be the regular Dinner amount unless noted otherwise.

Garden CourtBuffet

Located at Main Street Station, this international buffet is likely the best choice in the downtown area. The selection of Asian dishes is respectable here. Garden Court Buffet only charges $10.99 on most nights, and a Buy1 Get 1 coupon is usually available online. Their Friday Seafood Buffet runs $5 more, on Thursday they have a Filet Mignon & Scampi Buffet for only $3 more, and a T-Bone Buffet on Tuesday for $3 more. Dinner starts at 4 p.m. and lasts until 10 p.m. This has been one of my favorite places to eat downtown, for years. I also have to remember to save room for the deserts here. (Just one block north of the Fremont Street Experience on Main Street, and connected to the California Hotel by an over-the-street walkway.)

Le Village Buffet

I’m a sucker for French cuisine, and this buffet is probably my very favorite, anywhere in town. At Paris, Le Village Buffet only serves food from the different regions of France; it is not a world buffet. If the $24.99 price is too steep, you might consider going in for late lunch, which is served until 3:30 p.m. By arriving around 3 p.m. and casually enjoying a two hour meal with someone special, you will just be finishing around 5 p.m., and you will only have paid $17.99 a piece for a fabulous meal that would run north of $49 in any other city. Le Village Buffet serves the same selections for lunch as they do for dinner, except for the choices in shellfish, and they don’t close down between Lunch and Dinner. Be sure to find the made-to-order crapes for desert! The line at Le Village is always long, so plan for that too. (On The Strip across from the Bellagio, near Flamingo Road.)

French Market Buffet

If you are looking for more of a bargain, while still in The Strip area, the French Market Buffet is inside the Orleans. Don’t let the name fool you; for $13.99 you can enjoy this multi-national all you can eat treat between 4 and 9 p.m. Lunch is about half the price; but they clear the dining room between meals here, so you can’t stay through into dinner. They also offer Friday Seafood for $5 more, and Wednesday Steak for $2 more. This is another locals hang out, so the lines can get long; but they usually move pretty quickly, except on Senior Tuesdays when the lines seem to grow beyond expectation. (About a mile west of The Strip on Tropicana Avenue.)

Restaurant Dining

Most casinos also offer specials of some sort in their 24 hour cafés. Some specials are always available, and other specials are not on the menu, but are available by specific request! Here are a few of the many specials, starting with the Downtown area.

SPOTLIGHT: The California Hotel

The California Hotel seems like it could be renamed the Hawaiian Hotel, as they specialize in Pacific Island specialties. For example, this is one of the few places to find Spam on a menu. And their best lunch is in a place called Aloha Specialties. For cheap drinks The California offers Heineken and Corona for $2 in all of their casino bars, 24 hours a day. Located at Ogden and Main Street, it is one block north of Fremont St, and behind the Las Vegas Club. The California Hotel is also connected to Main Street Station by an over-the-street walkway.

Located inside the California, Aloha Specialties has an assortment of cash specials available between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Chicken Super Bowl for $2.85 is served over rice with either gravy or teriyaki sauce. You can enjoy a Hamburger with macaroni salad for $2.85, a Chicken Tofu Saimin Noodles or a Loco Moco for $4.75. Loco Moco is a bowl of rice with fried egg and a hamburger patty drenched in gravy. Or a Large Saimin Noodles dish for $5. The Market Street Café offers a Prime Rib Special for $7.95. The Prime Rib is served between 4 and 11 p.m. and comes with soup or salad, potato, vegetable, and a desert! Reservations are recommended at Pasta Pirate which is more than just a pasta house. They are offering what is likely the classiest dinner deal in town! Steak and Lobster Tail with a choice of pasta, potato or rice, plus a saladand a glass of Wine for only $16.

Magnolia’s Veranda

Four Queens is part of the Fremont Street Experience. Inside Four Queens, Magnolia’s Veranda offers a Prime Rib Dinner between 4 p.m. and midnight for $9.95. The special comes with soup or salad, choice of potato, vegetable of the day, and a roll.

Player’s Card holders get a $2 discount on the special. Magnolia’s also runs a Buy 1 Get 1 offer on line as part of the Fremont Street Experience. This 24 hour café is upstairs and overlooks the casino, so if you’d rather more of a restaurant feel, ask to be seated in the back room. (Located between Fitzgerald’s and the Golden Nugget.)

In The Strip area, most of the deals are a few blocks away. This is their bribe to get you off The Strip.

Bougainvillea Café

Bougainvillea Café, at Terrible’s Casino & Hotel offers two specials that are not on the menu; you have to ask your server for them specifically. The Half-Chicken Dinner is $5.99 and the T-bone Steak Dinner is $9.99. You can also find many other selections priced between $4.99 and $6.99. Located upstairs in the Mezzanine level, this 24 hour café has Mexican, Chinese and American selections. The Chinese food is better than you get in most casino buffets, and there is nothing terrible about these values! And for an even better deal, look for their Buy 1 Get 1 offers. Bougainvillea is also famous for their very large portions, so come hungry; you’ll find the food is better than it needs to be for the price. So if you’ve been down on your luck and want some good food for less, this is the spot. (On Paradise Road, about a mile east of The Strip, by Flamingo Road. Only a block away, the Hard Rock Hotel is within walking distance.)

Mr Lucky’s 24/7

The café at the Hard Rock Hotel offers a Gambler’s Special for $7.77 that is not on the menu. This is a Steak with three grilled Shrimp, salad, and a choice of broccoli or potato. The Gambler’s Special is available 24 hours a day, but you do have to remember to ask for it specifically. Mr Lucky’s 24/7 has large comfortable tables, generous portions, good service, reasonably short lines, and a nice selection of beer. (On Paradise Road, about a mile east of The Strip, by Harmon Avenue.)

Where to Get Cheap Drinks

First a little note of caution; the “free drinks” in the casinos for gamblers are not all that free. If you can stay on your budget while alcohol happy, go for it. But the casinos have found that alcohol happy gamblers spend much more than sober ones!

Many of the restaurants in Las Vegas offer Happy Hour Specials; often a two drinks for the price of one type of thing.

On The Strip, O’sheas Casino offers Domestic Draft Brews for $2. I’ve seen Beer Pong played here, and this is the only place I’ve ever seen Casino Backgammon. The crowd tends to be under thirty, and everything here is on the cheap. Try to imagine a Frat House Party with the Sorority Girls in attendance. O’sheas Casino is tucked in between the Imperial Palace and the Flamingo.

Benny’s Bullpen in Binion’s Horseshoe serves Miller Lite, Jack Daniels or Southern Comfort for $2. Next to the Sports Book, Benny’s Bullpen is a more comfortable place to kick back with a few drinks while watching your game. Benny’s Bullpen also runs a $10 Pizza and Pitcher special… best with friends. (Downtown in the middle of the Fremont Street Experience.)

If you prefer cheap mixed drinks, The Plaza serves Well Drinks for $2.50 all the time. The Plaza was once a fabulous new casino, but that was eons ago. Nowadays they tend to attract the cheapskates and low-life’s. To make this work for you just remember to generously tip your waitress and smile; she won’t be expecting it, so you’re likely to get better service than anyone else. If you’re looking for glitz, this is the wrong place; if not, the Sports Book may be the best place to hang out. The Plaza is on the Main Street side of The Fremont Street Experience.

Nightclubs and Lounges With No Cover Charge

Locals have free access almost everywhere, and most of the time. Seeing that sign can really irritate you if you happen to be from out of town. Ladies also get treated special at many of the Las Vegas clubs; on Ladies’ Night the drinks are often free until 11 p.m. – for ladies only.

Although the drinks may not be free for most of us, here are some of the clubs that usually have no cover charge – so you can regulate your expenses according to what you drink while dancing and having a blast.

Caramel Bar & Loungeat the Bellagio is a hybrid high energy dance club and smooth intimate ultra lounge combination. Chocolate oversized leather furniture under warm caramel lighting, accented by a marble topped center island, creates a warm and inviting ambience that delivers both comfort and sophistication. The dance floor is animated by local DJs turning Hip-hop and Top 40 hits. And a light appetizer menu is available between 5 and 9 p.m. to compliment the full service bar. Since proper club attire is required, bling is not out of place here. You’ll find that this is the perfect place to kick back with friends, or spend some intimate time with someone special.

Cleopatra’s Barge Nightclub atCaesar’s Palace has reinvented itself to attract a younger crowd than in the past. Cleopatra’s Barge has a floating dance floor with DJs turning R&B and Classic Rock hits through the night. This Egyptian themed dance club is served by a full bar, with tables scattered across the “dry land” and a few more tables “on deck” that are usually reserved. If you’re looking for a quiet romantic spot, this may not be it; but if you just want to have fun, this is the place for you.

Mist Bar & Loungeat Treasure Island is a fusion of two ideas. On the one hand Mist is very similar to the Caramel Bar & Lounge, just a little darker and bit more intimate. With Persian rugs, dark leather lounge style couches, warm ambient overhead panels, candle lit coffee tables, and potted plants, against dark burgundy walls, Mist is the perfect hotspot to mingle with close friends or unwind with a little romance in mind. DJs spin a tasteful blend of Hip-hop, Rock, and the popular current hits at a volume that allows a comfortable mixture of conversational privacy, intimacy, and people watching. On the other hand, Mist also sports an oversized plasma TV for game night and a few beers with the guys. This is like partying in a larger version of your own truly cool living room!

Level 107 Lounge, (formerly the Romance Lounge,) at the Stratosphere, located on the north end of the fabulous Las Vegas Strip, features the most spectacular views in town. Level 107 Lounge sits on a circular balcony high up in the Stratosphere Tower. Low lights and a deep red décor combined with great cocktails and incredible breathtaking views, make this a great place to unwind or to create a most memorable experience. Level 107 also overlooks the restaurant which makes appetizers available. Live music by Afterglow between 9 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. is a plus on Wednesday through Saturday nights. Afterglow has a unique sound that combines Jazz, Pop, and Contemporary music.

SPOTLIGHT: The Silverton Hotel

The Silverton Hotel is worth a mention here. It is no where near anything on the Las Vegas Strip, but if you just happen to have some extra time on the way in or out of Las Vegas from the Los Angeles direction, or if you simply want to get out of the traffic if your timing allows, there are several deals here. They have no choice but to bribe you since they are so out of the way from Las Vegas proper. Although, they do have easy freeway access at Highway 15 and Blue Diamond Road!

The Silverton Hotel has an aquarium as their major attraction. This is no ordinary aquarium as you can expect to see mermaids in addition to 4,000 tropical fish (including three species of stingray and three species of shark.) The room sized curved acrylic tank is located by the bar, and the mermaids put on a 15 minute show every half hour throughout the afternoon and evenings on Thursday through Sunday. During the day, everyday, you can also watch the sharks and stingrays being fed in the afternoon at 1:30 and 4:30 or in the evening at 7:30 p.m. There are also a few creatively lit small jellyfish aquariums in the bar.

At the bar they serve Miller Genuine Draft for $1, and the show is free. While you’re there, the Sundance Grill serves a sirloin steak, golden fried shrimp, soup or salad, and your choice of baked potato, rice, or fries for only $12.99.

Have a Lot of Fun for Less

With these tips it is possible to eat for under $20 a day, and still get as much as you want.

A few things to remember though: Most of the Las Vegas employees get paid next to nothing, and actually live off of their tips. Typical tips start at $1 to $2. If you happen to be a winner, you might tip a little more; you’ll be surprised at the increased quality of service when you do. So please remember to appreciate the service, especially when it is excellent.

For further savings and to avoid tipping situations, here are a few suggestions:

Avoid Room Service! Room Service always includes additional charges and requires a tip for your server. Most all of the hotels have a 24 hour Café that will cost you much less. Also refer to the deals mentioned above.

Watch Your Beverages! Soft Drink and Bottled Water prices are designed to make up for the food deals in Las Vegas. Beverage prices tend to run $4 and $5 a piece. So if you want water, just ask for a glass of water, (it’s free and it taste good here.) Wine is more affordable by the bottle than for a few glasses. And brewed Coffee or Tea tends to be priced more normally.

Things to Do in the Dominican Republic: Top 10 Most Unforgettable Dominican Resort Activities

Vacationing in the Dominican is not exactly like vacationing in other Caribbean locations. There are many things to do in the Dominican Republic that you just can’t do other places. And of course you can also do the things you love to do on any vacation as well.

Here are the top 10 most unforgettable Dominican Resort activities.

10. Sunbathe

You expect to sunbathe on any beach vacation, and you can do it in the Dominican too. The sun is hot and out all year round. The weather forecast for the Dominican can be deceiving. If the forecast says partly cloudy, expect sun. If the forecast calls for rain, do prepare for rain, and know that it will probably be sunny again within the hour.

9. Swim in the Ocean

The Dominican Republic is located on the East side of the Island of Hispaniola. Its Northern shore is on the Atlantic Ocean, and its Southern shore is on the Caribbean Sea. Many of the Dominican beaches are beautiful and easy to swim in. The surf is fun, but not rough.

8. Dance

Dancing is one of the most fun things to do in the Dominican Republic. The DR is the home to two fun and easy Latin dances: Merengue and Bachata. Most resorts have dance instruction and Latin-themed nights of entertainment so you can hone your skills.

7. Learn Spanish

The Dominican is a Spanish speaking country. Although the majority of resort staff speaks English, you can also take advantage of Spanish lessons offered as entertainment. Don’t expect to master the language on your vacation, and you can learn a few phrases and have fun practicing the sounds of the country.

6. Snorkel

The Dominican Republic, like many Caribbean destinations, is surrounded by beautiful ocean habitat, including natural and man-made reefs. Many independent companies hold snorkeling tours. These tours can show you the beautiful underwater world of reefs.

5. Eat and Drink

Eating and drinking is one thing you expect from any vacation, of course. And in the Dominican, you can do it in style. Many resorts in the Caribbean are all-inclusive, which is a great choice for someone who just wants to relax and not think about prices. In the Dominican, be sure to try local flavors like fried fish, conch fritters, and local desserts.

4. Gamble

Gambling is another activity which is common in some Caribbean locations, and it’s one of the best things to do in the Dominican Republic too. In fact, many resorts have a casino on resort grounds or very close by. If you’re a fan of slots or table games, the Dominican is a good choice. The atmosphere at the casinos in this country is friendly, open and fun.

3. Watch Shows

Shows are common at Caribbean resorts, but Dominican shows are special because of its history and culture. Dominican shows include elements of both traditional Dominican dance and modern day Merengue and Bachata movement, in addition to the usual Vegas-style spectacle.

2. Take a City Tour

Touring a city is another great thing to do in the Dominican Republic. Whether you’re touring the capital city of Santo Domingo, or the beautiful cities of Punta Cana or Puerto Plata, you can get a unique taste of the local culture and customs. Visit historical sites and appreciate the natural beauty of the country.

1. Visit Ocean World

Visiting Ocean World Adventure Park in Puerto Plata is one of the most memorable things to do in the Dominican Republic. Residents of the park include tigers, turtles, exotic birds, sea lions, sharks, and dolphins. Children and adults can enjoy shows and animal encounters they will never forget.

Take advantage of the Dominican’s unique aspects, as well as the things to do in the Dominican Republic that you like to do on any Caribbean vacation.