I hate gambling but I love Vegas. I love seeing the over the top hotels and attractions. Hotels for people on a budget would include something like Excalibur, New York New York, or Luxor. I found some good deals at the Mirage and Treasure Island which are more center strip. The Flamingo is also inexpensive and is in a great location, but some of the rooms and decor are in need of updating.
Whatever you do, stay away from Stratosphere, Sahara and Circus Circus. While their prices are appealing, they are dumps (Stratosphere is OK) and they are really long walks from everything else on the strip. Nice to visit, not to stay at. If you don't heed my warning, you can take the monorail to the main part of the strip which has a stop at the Sahara.
The Grand Canyon is a good couple hour ride. There are a ton of day tours you can take out there, but it will take literally all day. I think the tours are about 12 hours long. There's also tours to Laughlin which is an old western town, the Hoover Dam and also to various cities in California.
One of the greatest things about Vegas is the buffets. Take advantage of them. The food is good, they are huge and the prices are usually great. If buffets aren't your thing, I love Margaritaville at the Flamingo and the burger place in the Mirage. The name escapes me, but its the only burger place in the Mirage.
As far as attractions, these are some that keep me entertained:
-Sigfried & Roy's Secret Garden at the Mirage
-free pirate show at Treasure Island
-Fashion Show Mall, Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, Miracle Mile Mall at Planet Hollywood
-gondola rides & wax museum at Venetian
-dancing fountains at the Bellagio - see them at night
-Eiffel Tower at the Paris - go up in it at night
-free wildlife habitat at Flamingo
-free lion habitat at MGM Grand
-medieval times dinner at Excalibur
-shark reef at Mandalay Bay
-rides & observation tower at the top of the Stratosphere