There’s a ton of reasons to go to Vegas, but let’s be honest, they all seem to require deep pockets. Bottle service, limo rides, or a bad night at the casino can turn a sweet trip sour in a hurry. Everyone needs a weekend to let loose every once in a while, but not everyone can afford to break the bank. Luckily, we’ve got the low down on free things to do, cheap alternatives, and outside-the-box ideas.

If you look closely, Sin City has plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature, meet exotic animals, and take part in unique slices of Americana. Massive gardens, replicas of historic landmarks, cheap booze, and desert peaks—there’s something in Vegas for everyone.

Some of the best things in life are free, and Vegas is no exception. Whether you’re a broke college student, a family trying to stretch every dollar, or just someone who wants to add some variety to their next weekend getaway, take a look below for some of Vegas’s best-kept secrets. The fun in Sin City isn’t always good and clean, but it can be cheap!

1. Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay ($18).

1. <a href=Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay ($18).”/>

More than 2,000 different animals make the Shark Reef their home. Trek past golden crocodiles, feel a horseshoe crab’s hard shell, and inspect the razor-sharp teeth of freshwater piranhas. Oh yeah, there are sharks, too.

2. Mandarin Bar (free, sort of).

2. <a href=Mandarin Bar (free, sort of).”/>

This hidden gem on the renowned Mandarin Oriental’s 23rd floor is the perfect place to sip a cocktail while enjoying panoramic views of The Strip. Careful, though—some of the drinks are not cheap!

3. Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden ($20).

3. <a href=Siegfried and Roy Secret Garden ($20).”/>

Rare lions, leopards, and bottlenose dolphins make this research facility their home. Learn about Siegfried and Roy’s storied history with these breathtaking animals, and get up close with some of the world’s best beasts yourself.

4. Tao Nightclub Pass ($20).

4. <a href=Tao Nightclub Pass ($20).”/>

Long lines are the dirty little secret of Sin City’s nightlife. With this convenient (and cheap) pass, you can skip the line at some of Vegas’s most popular clubs and focus your attention on the city’s—ahem—other dirty little secrets.

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5. Fremont East.

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In the heart of downtown Vegas and easily accessible via public transportation, Fremont East is home to some of the city’s best hidden bars and eateries. Have a sip at The Laundry Room speakeasy or a pulled-pork sandwich at Big Ern’s BBQ.

6. Welcome to Vegas sign (free).

6. Welcome to Vegas sign (free).

This one’s a no-brainer. The famous introduction to all things Vegas, this iconic landmark sits at The Strip’s south end. It’s the ideal spot for a group photo. If you’re brave, do a “before-and-after” shoot—on the first and last day of your trip.

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7. Pawn Stars shop on Las Vegas Boulevard (free).

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The most accessible TV set you’ll ever tour. See the store made famous by hard bargains and lovable family dysfunction. If you’re lucky, see one of the famous employees in action.

8. Order a Fat Tuesday slushy and walk down The Strip ($18).

8. Order a Fat Tuesday slushy and walk down The Strip ($18).

We’re partial to the Hurricane and the Mango, but whichever you prefer, this is the ideal way to ease into the afternoon and get up close with the wildest and weirdest The Strip has to offer.

9. Go hiking at Red Rock Canyon ($3).

9. Go hiking at <a href=Red Rock Canyon ($3).”/>

Seriously! Taking an afternoon to get just outside the city totally transforms your experience—and you only pay the national park entrance fee (which includes a trail map). For an easy jaunt, we recommend the 2-mile Moenkopi Loop. For something more challenging, trek up to Turtlehead Peak.

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10. Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden (free).

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A fragrant oasis in the heart of the desert, this glass-enclosed area houses sweet-smelling flowers and detailed seasonal exhibits.

11. Put $21 in a slot machine.

11. Put $21 in a slot machine.

13. Ride the monorail ($12).

13. <a href=Ride the monorail ($12).”/>

You don’t need taxis! Monorail day passes are super cheap and a great way to get around The Strip.

14. Fountains of Bellagio (free).

14. <a href=Fountains of Bellagio (free). “/>

If you don’t want to see water shooting more than 400 feet into the sky to the music of Tom Jones, then what do you want?

15. Visit Mount Charleston.

15. Visit Mount Charleston.

“My trip to Vegas? Gambled a little, went skiing. Right. I literally went skiing in the desert. Yes, I do know all the cool things. Thank you.” – You if you go to Mount Charleston. Your cheaper options are sledding in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. Check out Matt Villano with the details.

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16. Mirage Volcano (free).

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Neon lights get plenty of pub, but make sure to catch the fiery glow of this volcano’s daily eruptions.

17. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art ($19).

17. <a href=Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art ($19). “/>

How about some high society in a city filled with glitz and glam? Blown glass from the famous Dale Chihuly and rotating exhibits from world-class artists make this the perfect low-key mid-day stop.

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18. Gondola Ride at the Venetian ($20).

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It’s called the Venetian for a reason. Let a singing gondolier guide you under stunning balconies and transport you to classic Italian waterways for a small fraction of the price.

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19. Springs Preserve® ($19).

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You know what Vegas is today, but how did it get to be this way? The Springs Preserve® has the answers in the form of museums, galleries, exhibits, and gardens.

20.tEiffel Tower Experience ($14).

20.t<a href=Eiffel Tower Experience ($14). “/>

This one’s an eye-full. Ascend 46 stories for a unique (and reasonably priced) story of your own.

21. Watch the Swarovski Starburst (free).

21. Watch the Swarovski Starburst (free).

This sound-and-light show happens every midnight. It’s gaudy, ridiculous, and really really bright. Are you not entertained?

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