Trip Coach: September 25, 2007

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Bob Sehlinger, author of 'The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas,' answered your questions on Sin City.

Imissoula, Mont.: Regarding Las Vegas, I am coming in for a seminar at the MGM Grand in a couple of weeks. Should I stay there and if so, how should I go about it? If not there, then where and how since I don't want to drive while I am there. I haven't been to Vegas in 20-plus years, so I am a bit out of it. I will be there three or four days in October.

Bob Sehlinger: I'd recommend staying at the MGM Grand if it fits your budget. If you're looking for a less expensive room, try the Tropicana or Hooters, both located across the street from the MGM Grand.

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Tampa, Fla.: Is it possible to get any deals for accommodations and/or entertainment over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend?

Bob Sehlinger: There's always deals. Check out lasvegasadvisor.com, a great independent site that lists deals.

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Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada: Hi! A friend and I are going to be in Las Vegas at the end of November. Is there anything museum-ish going on then?

Bob Sehlinger: Try the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art or the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum at the Venetian. Two of my personal favorites are the Bodies Exhibition at the Tropicana (looks gross but isn't) and the Atomic Energy Museum at 755 E. Flamingo. Here you can hunker down in a bunker for a simulated nuclear bomb test detonation.

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Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Can you recommend a reasonably priced hotel with a pool that is clean, safe and located off the 'strip' but fairly close to the entertainment?

Bob Sehlinger: On the Strip, try the Sahara, Circus Circus, and Casino Royal. Just off the Strip, Hooters is usually a good buy.

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Brunswick, Maine: Why are the hotel prices so high on the weekends? I thought there was a surplus of hotel rooms.

Bob Sehlinger: In a word (OK two words) Southern California. Every weekend tens of thousands of Southern Californians head for Las Vegas. Also big sporting events, concerts, and other special entertainment is primarily scheduled for the weekend.

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Richmond, Va.: We are combining the Grand Canyon with Las Vegas the week of Dec. 15th, 2007 and plan to take the overnight mule trip down the canyon. What's the weather like?

Bob Sehlinger: You should be prepared for just about anything. The weather is all over the map in December. Average high temperature on the Canyon rim is about 50 degrees. Average low at river level is around 33 degrees.

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Ventura, Calif.: Regarding Las Vegas (Sin City), there are many of us attractive single senior ladies (perhaps men also) who would enjoy going to visit more ofter if we knew which is the best place to stay at with people in our age range. It would be nice to know a spot that has dancing and entertainment where one can mingle and enjoy ourselves. Also it would be nice to be able to get rooms at a single rate rather then double occupancies. Believe me there is a need to know and there is a demand for this type of information especially when we have the time to travel and enjoy life! Do consider this question. Many thanks.

Bob Sehlinger: There's really not a place that matches your description perfectly, but Harrah's, the Flamingo, and the Tropicana come close. Off the Strip, consider Sam's Town and the Gold Coast. Regarding rooms, most rates are the same in Las Vegas for single occupancy as for double occupancy.

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Bensalem, Pa.: I will be traveling to Las Vegas in December. I seem to remember someone telling me about a place in Vegas to purchase same day show tickets for half price. This would be similar to TKTS in New York. Do you have any information on this? Thank you.

Bob Sehlinger: There are 2 half-price ticket outlets, Tickets2Nite and Tix4Tonight with several locations around LV. You have to buy tickets the day of the show and tickets for the big shows like the Cirque du Soleil productions are rarely available, but otherwise there's a pretty good selection.

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Holden Beach, N.C.: Bob, my husband and I are planning to renew our wedding vows in Las Vegas next September 21. It will be our 40th anniversary and we are hoping to have a fun time with our family and friends. We're not looking for any thing serious; in fact we are considering an Elvis ceremony. About 20 people will be joining us and we'd like to have a cocktail party after the big event. We would also like to get a block of tickets for O and Bette Midler. Since we've never been to Las Vegas, we are at a loss as to where to begin our planning. We would appreciate any advice you could give us.

Thanks,

Pat

Bob Sehlinger: There are so many weddings in LV that most hotels have a dedicated wedding planner/coordinator who can handle all your needs.

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Toronto, Ontario: As first time visitors to Vegas this November, we're looking forward to lots of excitement. But can you recommend any quiet/ relaxing activities for couples, away from the hustle and bustle? My boyfriend and I will be participating in the Vegas marathon and will likely be craving some R&R afterwards. Thank you!

Bob Sehlinger: I'd stay outdoors. Try hiking or the scenic drive at Red Rock Canyon, Mountain Biking in Cottonwood Valley. Visiting the pine forests of the Spring Mountains (45 minute drive) or renting a houseboat on Lake Mead also come to mind.

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Barre, Vt.: I will be in Vegas for 4 days beginning Oct.25. Any pointers on which Cirque show to see? Best price? Should we go on a weeknight?

Bob Sehlinger: Mystere is my all time favorite Cirque show, followed by LOVE, Ka, Zumanity, and O. Weeknights are better.

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Yonkers, N.Y.: What's the best and most economical way to book different shows in Las Vegas for this coming December, 2007?

Bob Sehlinger: If it's a big show like Celine, Cirque shows, or major celebrity headliners or concerts, go ahead and book as soon as possible through the box office of the host hotel or through Ticket Master. For all other shows, but same day half price tickets at Tix4Tonight or Tickets2Nite.

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Santa Ana, Calif.: Could you recommend a good inexpensive restaurant in Las Vegas?

Bob Sehlinger: Try Lotus of Siam in the Commercial Center off Sahara Ave.

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Lowell, Mass.: Who has the best "Bingo" for the buck? Where can I find Bingos with worthwhile prizes while not having to spend $40 or more just to play a less than one hour session?

Bob Sehlinger: Red Rock Resort is the best casino for bingo. South Point is also excellent.

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Charleston, S.C.: My husband and I will be in Vegas the weekend of October 12th for my 25th high school reunion. Where would you suggest we go for a good Japanese lunch on the strip?

Bob Sehlinger: My favorite is Hyakumi at Caesars Palace.

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Shelby Twp, Mich.: We are going to Las Vegas 10/24-10/27/2007. We would like to play golf, at a reasonable rate,under $120/person? Any suggestions?

--Chris

Bob Sehlinger: The Siena Golf Club, the Highland Falls Golf Club, and the Las Vegas Golf Club all meet your requirements. Of the 3, Siena is the best course.

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New York, N.Y.: What is the best buffet in Las Vegas?

Bob Sehlinger: The Wynn Buffet, followed by the Bellagio Buffet, Paris Le Village Buffet, and the Mirage Cravings Buffet. A best buy is the Orleans French Market Buffet.

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Charleston, W.Va.: My husband and I are going to Vegas in December to celebrate our 5th anniversary (we also got married there). Which hotel would you recommend to help us celebrate this special occasion? Money is somewhat of an object, although we are considering the Bellagio. Thanks for your assistance.

Bob Sehlinger: Bellagio is fine but expensive. Others in the same class are Caesars and Wynn. Equal in quality but usually not as pricey is the Signature Condos and the MGM Grand. Because it's brand new, there are usually some good deals available. For romance, you can't beat the Red Rock Resort west of town by Red Rock Canyon.

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Houston, Tex.: We will be traveling to Las Vegas Nov. 29 for four nights. We are two "fifty-something" couples. We have traveled to LV many times, enjoying many casinos, shows, strip activities, but for this trip we are wanting to do the Grand Canyon air tour. I am not sure where to start! Best tour, best buy , best experience--thats what I am looking for--can you give some insight? Thanks.

Bob Sehlinger: Check out thanksbabs.com. Babs is the go to person for canyon trips and adventure activities.

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Raleigh, N.C.: How do you get the best prices on the big shows?

Bob Sehlinger: Some showrooms have lower prices for balcony seating or back of the house seats. Usually you can see just fine from these seats. Ticket discounts for the top shows are rare.

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Thornwood, N.Y.: My elderly, widowed mother has Alzheimer's and I have asthma. I also have two teenagers who I am raising alone. I love to travel and with the demands on my life, I need to escape when I can. However, since my mother lives with me (and I am her full-time caregiver), and I cannot afford to pay for care for her to take a vacation (it would put the cost of the vacation over my reach), I have to take her with me wherever I go.

So, my question is this, is there anywhere in Vegas where I could stay (non-casino hotel to avoid smokers--my asthma can't handle cigarettes) and that could entertain my teenagers plus take care of my mother (like a babysitter for the elderly)?

Plus, as more and more of our nation's seniors fall victim to Alzheimer's, and this disease lasts years so families try to live normal lives as much as possible, are our nations hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc. trying to accommodate us? Or I am expected to be a shut-in alongside my mother for possibly the next 15 years of my life and never travel anywhere because the travel industry can't handle this?

Bob Sehlinger: The new Signature Condos at the MGM Grand are situated away from the casino and have their own private entrance. Red Rock Resort would also be good, plus it's located near Red Rock Canyon and a lot of adventure activities for the teens.

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San Diego, Calif.: Where can I still find "old time Vegas" where I can play blackjack for a dollar, pai-gow poker for $5, have breakfast for 77 cents, enjoy a buffet for $5, and see a good show for the cost of 2 drinks?

Bob Sehlinger: Downtown Las Vegas.

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Fallston, MD: I have always heard that the slots are "looser" at the casinos off the strip. Is this a myth perpetrated by the older, less fashionable casinos? Is there any way to know whether there is any truth to this shiboleth?

Bob Sehlinger: Machines are programmed to return a certain % of the money played over the long term. Because off-Strip casinos compete for locals repeat clientele they often program their machines to give a higher return than Strip casinos.

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Bob Sehlinger: That's about it for today. Thanks so much for your good questions. My apologies for any questions that didn't get answered. Safe travels. Bob

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