I was totally unprepared for the logistics. It’s not really navigable by foot, and it’s illegal to hail a cab from the sidewalk. But an afternoon trip to old Fremont Street is well worth it.

Just before Christmas, MGM MIRAGE unveiled CityCenter, their much-anticipated $9 billion, three hotel resort and casino on the Las Vegas strip.

Only the 4,000 room Aria is fully functioning at the moment.

But the Vdara and Harmon are due to open later this year.

Center’s completion has shifted the Vegas vacation dynamic in at least two significant ways:

LOWER COSTS

“When CityCenter was planned, room rates were going up and up. Occupancy rates were around 90-per cent. Everything pointed to a shortage of hotel rooms,” says Stephen Miller, an economist at UNLV. “But the financial crash adding those rooms was a riskier proposition than people thought.”

The result is that Vegas has more hotel rooms than they know what to do with. You can find a decent room mid-week for $30 per night. And with a little hunting, the deals come shockingly close to free.

INVASION OF CHIC

It used to be that vacationing in Las Vegas meant checking your good taste at the airport.

But you don’t go to Vegas for tasteful architecture.

Until now.

CityCenter provides an alternative for highbrows who aren’t excited by a gondola ride in a chlorine canal.

Designed by seven of the world’s most famous architects, Center is somewhat like a museum of contemporary architecture. (It slightly resembles the Frank Gehry designed concert hall from season 16 of The Simpsons.)

A LOW-COST, HIGH-CLASS EXPERIENCE

CityCenter’s Aria Hotel features all the gaming you’d expect, with over a dozen fine-dinning restaurants.

No buffets here, only the most erudite dinning in Vegas. Luxury suites are going for far less than MGM would like: About $200-per-night for a pretty swanky pad.

NO HAIL ZONE

Cabs must be procured at your hotel. It may be just two miles on the map but, trust us, you can’t walk it.

A TRAVEL ALTERNATIVE

The Deuce is a double-decker public transit bus that shuttles locals and tourists along the entire length of the strip — $3 one-way or $7 for a 24-hour pass. Make sure to have exact change.

GAMBLE AND DRINK FOR LESS

Missing some of that old-time Vegas vibe?

About a 15-minute ride from the main drag, the Fremont Street Experience still features the legendary casinos that made Vegas famous — The Golden Nugget, Binion's and that famous arm waiving neon cowboy.

It’s a bit like a trip back in time, and fortunately the prices are vintage, too.

Only on Fremont can you find $2 beers and blackjack.

Plenty of families are on hand during the day and early evening. Avoid after 10 p.m. or so, unless you’re looking for an alternative experience.