How to Save in Expensive Cities

Las Vegas Pedro Szekely/Flickr
Just because a location is expensive doesn’t mean you should have to skip out on experiencing the place in full. You’ll be amazed to see what just $1.99 can get you in a city like Las Vegas—or London (pictured)!
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Sunbathers on beautiful Banzai Beach can watch the surfers take on notorious Pipeline curls. Marco Garcia
Best Wave: Arguably the most famous and deadliest break anywhere, the Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park, Pupukea) demonstrates the spectacular forces of the world's largest ocean releasing its fury on an offshore reef. When the forecast calls for big waves, be there with a towel, sunscreen, and a camera (unless your name is Laird Hamilton, entering the water isn't worth the risk).

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Photo Caption: Sunbathers on beautiful Banzai Beach can watch the surfers take on notorious Pipeline curls.
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Moose McGillycuddy's Pub & Cafe, Oahu. D'Arcy Norman
Best Investment of $3: Moose McGillycuddy's (310 Lewers St.; tel. 808/923-0751) offers $3 beers and cocktails from 4 to 7pm daily. The best part? This lively happy-hour hotspot is just a couple of blocks from the beach.

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Photo Caption: Moose McGillycuddy's Pub & Cafe, Oahu. Photo by D'Arcy Norman/Flickr.com
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Iolani is America's only royal palace and recently received a $7 million renovation to restore its former majesty. Marco Garcia
Best Free Concert: Honolulu has America's only official royal state residence. Iolani Palace (364 S. King St.; tel. 808/522-0822) offers a variety of activities which are either free—these include strolling the royal grounds and listening to the Royal Hawaiian Band's weekly concerts—or inexpensive (gallery tours start at $7).

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Photo Caption: Iolani Palace. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. to have a royal palace.
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Masala Zone restaurant, central London. Ged Carroll
Economical Indian: Good value Indian restaurants are rather thin on the ground in Central London. In fact the only really decent example is Masala Zone (48 Floral Street, Covent Garden; tel. 020/7379-0101; www.masalazone.com; plus other locations). For real value go for a thali, a beautifully presented tray of rice, curry (vegetable or meat), two vegetable dishes, a lentil dal, papadam, and chutney from £11.75 -- it's a two-course meal in itself.

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Photo Caption: Masala Zone restaurant, central London. Photo by Ged Carroll/Flickr.com
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A street performer in Covent Garden being watched by a crowd of people. Simon McBride
Best Entertainment on the Go: Covent Garden's piazza has long provided an alfresco stage for some of the capital's best street performers—jugglers, unicylists, fire-eaters etc. On weekends, large crowds gather at the adjacent Punch & Judy pub to offer encouragement, applause, and raucous beer-fuelled criticism. A pound is considered a fair donation in you like what you've seen.

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Photo Caption: A street performer in Covent Garden being watched by a crowd of people.
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Harrods at Night Kerwin Siy
Best Window-Shopping: With more than 150 years of trading experience, 330 departments and some extraordinary levels of luxury, Harrods (87-135 Brompton Road; tel. 020/3626-1234) is still a popular choice—so long as you keep your wallet firmly in your pocket, because it's overpriced. Highlights include its lavish food court, toy department (for the child who has everything except a working miniature Ferrari) and the Egyptian-style clothing department (complete with replica sphinxes).

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Photo Caption: Harrods at night
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Golden Gate Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas. Frommers.com Community
Best Investment of $1.99: History buffs will enjoy the Golden Gate Casino (1 Fremont St.; tel. 702/385-1906) and paying homage to a more than 40-year-old Vegas tradition: the original 99-cent shrimp cocktail. Only Club 1906 members get it at that price, but everyone else can have it for less than two bucks.

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Photo Caption: Golden Gate Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas. Photo by bas/Frommers.com Community
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Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, Nevada Nan Palmero/Flickr
Best Indoor/Outdoor Freebie: Roam the indoor floral gardens of the Bellagio Conservatory (3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 866/906-7171) at no cost before heading outside to the Bellagio Fountains for another free spectacle: the renowned choreographed water shows, which squirts water 460 feet into the air to the beat of whichever song is playing; the selection changes as the night goes on.

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Photo Caption: Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas, Nevada 
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The Hoover Dam Barry Ofringa
Best Place to Respect the Greatest Generation: Hoover Dam is a true marvel that dwarves any of the Strip's latest engineering feats. The fact is that Las Vegas, as well as most of the Southwest, owes its existence to America's largest reservoir and the hard work of Americans who saw our nation through the Great Depression. Visiting the dam without spending much is a bit tricky. Here's how to do it: Park on the Arizona side to avoid fees and try to resist the tour or gift shop. Two cost-effective exhibits that will satisfactorily inform you about the massive project are at Lake Mead's Alan Bible Visitor Center (601 Great Bason Hwy.; tel. 702/293-8990) and the Boulder City Hoover Dam Museum  (1305 Arizona St., Boulder City; tel. 702/294-1988).

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Photo Caption: The Hoover Dam
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L'As du Fallafel restaurant, Paris. Meg Zimbeck
Best Investment of under €5.50 (Falafel): For a scrumptious snack on the go (and garlicky sauce dripping down your chin) the Marais's Jewish take-outs can't be beat. L'As du Fallafel (34 rue des Rosiers; 4th; M° St. Paul; tel. 01 48 87 63 60) is still the best of the bunch, with sizzling shawarmas and lip-smacking falafels wrapped in doughy bread, salad, fried eggplant, humus and chili sauce.

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Photo Caption: L'As du Fallafel restaurant, Paris. Photo by Meg Zimbeck/Paris by Mouth/Flickr.com
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Le Sunset-Sunside jazz club, Paris. Luc Legay
Best Free Jazz Concerts: Le Sunset-Sunside (60 rue des Lombards; 1st; M° Chatelêt/RER Chatelêt-les-Halles; tel. 01 40 26 46 60; www.sunset-sunside.com) has seen more Great Jazz musicians pass through its door since 1983 than most Parisians have had hot croissants. Although you have to pay for concerts, jam sessions are free the first Tuesday of the month and Sunday night after 9pm at the upstairs Sunside.

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Photo Caption: Le Sunset-Sunside jazz club, Paris. Photo by Luc Legay/Flickr.com
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Paris-Musee Rodin Taylor Beidler
Best Romantic Garden for Canoodling: You're in the thick of touristy Paris near Les Invalides, then suddenly, an oasis of calm unfolds before your eyes, with tree-lined alleys and pristine lawns freckled with some of Rodin's most famous sculptures. The Musée Rodin's gardens (79 rue de Varenne; 7th; M° Invalides; tel. 01 44 18 61 10; www.musee-rodin.fr) can be accessed for just €2 and are arguably the most romantic spot in the city.

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Photo Caption: Paris-Musee Rodin
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Ben's Chili Bowl restaurant, Washington, D.C. Steve Snodgrass
Best Investment of $3.00: Ben's Chili Bowl (1213 U St. NW; tel. 202/667-0909; plus other locations) will get you going for breakfast with a filling egg sandwich. The eatery has been a D.C. fixture since 1958.

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Photo Caption: Ben's Chili Bowl restaurant, Washington, D.C. Photo by Steve Snodgrass/Flickr.com
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Historic Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth Craig Martin
Best Place to Feel History: Catch a show at America's most infamous showplace. The working Ford's Theatre (511 10th St. NW; tel. 202/347-4833) presents a number of performances, some of which are free, including the Living Lincoln series. Tours of the historic site are also free, though admission to the theater and the tours require tickets

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Photo Caption: Historic Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.
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The White House, home of the President of the U.S.A. Craig Martin
Best Real Estate Tour: If the buyer's market has you spending weekends at open houses, a stop at the world's most famous address should help you recognize quality architecture. If you've made advance reservations by requesting a tour through your Member of Congress, you can get a free tour at the White House (1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; tel. 202/456-7041).

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Photo Caption: The White House, home of the President of the U.S.A.
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The crowds at the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, California. Ian White
Best Investment of $2.00 (Salvadorean Pupusas): Lunching office workers and downtown secretaries, head over to the Grand Central Market to grab a bite at Sarita's Pupuseria (317 S. Broadway, #41; tel. 213/626-6320). Their pupusas are stuffed with pretty much any combination of cheese and pork, beans, potato, jalapeño, spinach, chicken and more. The sawdust floors and neon lights add to the charm.

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Photo Caption: The crowds at the Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles, California.
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Amoeba Music. Melissa Fargo
Best Free Rock Show: Why wrestle with the bouncers at Hollywood clubs when the best show in town can be seen from between rows of DVDS and CDs. Amoeba Records (6400 W Sunset Blvd; tel. 323/245-6400; plus other locations) continues in Hollywood the hippy traditions that were born in Berkeley. Their in-stores are legendary and since there's no age limit, you can prove to the kids how cool their folks are.

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Photo Caption: Amoeba Music on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
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The Griffith Observatory. Prisma/SuperStock
Best Look at the Stars, of the Celestial Variety: Since 1935, astronomy fans and field-tripping school children have made their way up to the now newly renovated Griffith Observatory (2800 East Observatory Rd; tel. 213/473-0800). Entrance to the grounds and the cheesy science displays are free. Visit on a clear day or at night to enjoy the expansive views of the L.A. basin.

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Photo Caption: The Griffith Observatory.
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View of Sydney Opera House from Doyle's Restaurant. Frommers.com Community
Best Fish and Chips: During the 1970s and '80s Doyles on the Wharf (Fishermans Wharf; tel. 02/9337 6214) was Sydney's most famous place to eat fish. But skip the dining room: the kiosk next door sells pretty much the same food at takeaway prices, making it some of the best fish and chips in Sydney.

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Photo Caption: View of Sydney Opera House from Doyle's Restaurant. Photo by NinaBambina/Frommers.com Community
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The RiverCat Ferry in Sydney Harbour. Kim Navarre
Best Dirt-Cheap Harbour Cruise: Ride the RiverCat (Circular Quay; tel. 131 500) to Rydalmere and back for a two-hour harbour cruise that costs A$15. Take the family on a Sunday and it will cost just A$2.50 each.

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Photo Caption: The RiverCat Ferry in Sydney Harbour. Photo by Kim Navarre/Flickr.com
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View of the Opera Bar's outdoor terrace and the Sydney skyline. Jason Clampet
Best Spot for Free Jazz: Drink in one of the most spectacular views in Sydney while imbibing some fine food and wine and listening to live jazz on a Sunday afternoon at the Opera Bar (Lower Concourse, Sydney Opera House; tel. 02/9247 1666).

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Photo Caption: View of the Opera Bar's outdoor terrace and the Sydney skyline.
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One of many Gray's Papaya restaurants, New York City. SpecialKRB
Best Investment of $1.25 (Hot Dog): For cheap protein and quick bursts of patriotic fervor, New York's dogs can't be beat. Gray's Papaya (2090 Broadway; tel. 212/799-0243; plus other locations) is the best of the fruit-drink-and-wiener purveyors, with flavorful, lightly charred links that'll only set you back a buck and a quarter.

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Photo Caption: One of many Gray's Papaya restaurants, New York City. Photo by SpecialKRB/Flickr.com
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Bryant Park during its annual summer outdoor music festival. Howard Brier
Best Movie Screenings Without a Roof: Forty-Second Street welcomes movie fans with an eclectic selection of classics during the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (tel. 212/512-5700). The lawn crowds up quickly, but that only enhances the festive atmosphere.

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Photo Caption: Bryant Park during its annual summer outdoor movie festival. Photo by Howard Brier/Flickr.com
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MoMA P.S. 1 museum, New York City. jarito
Best Art Museum: The MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave.; tel. 718/784-2084) puts on great art shows just a stop away from Manhattan in Long Island City. The museum is a beautiful conversion of a Renaissance Revival public school, and the interior spaces have been inventively redone to complement the cutting-edge art displayed here. Entrance is by suggested donation.

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Photo Caption: MoMA P.S. 1 Museum, New York City. Photo by jarito/Flickr.com
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