Las Vegas is conference heaven (or hell). Such an attractive destination for large conventions and events, Vegas becomes a second home to many event planners and business professionals throughout the world. But Vegas can be expensive, hard to navigate and a bit overwhelming to manage, especially when you're there for only a 3 or 4 day stint. So, how can you make the best of Vegas while you're there? Here are a few things I've learned from my many trips and I'd love to hear your hacks too!
GET OFF THE STRIP
It's important to experience all that Vegas has to offer and that goes far beyond the strip. Sure, the lights are shining on the big strip, but there is much to see outside of that as well. You're already familiar with all the fancy restaurants and shows that happen on the strip so if that's what you're looking for, you don't have to do much research. Just head out and take in the sights as you walk up and down the strip. You'll find more to do than you could imagine. BUT - if you're a conference goer, you've probably done just about everything there is to see and do on the strip. If I know you, you're looking for a more unique experience that will really remind you of all that Vegas has to offer. Here are a few things you must add to your to-do list for your next trip!
Believe it or not, the strip is not the same as downtown Vegas. Ask any cabby to take you there and for about $20, you can see this once-abandoned area that is now being revitalized by arts, culture and startup communities. Recently fostered by Tony Hsieh of Zappos, this community has really come a long way in their revitalization process. Each year they host the Life Is Beautiful festival - an amazing gathering of music, food, art and learning - just a snapshot of what this community is trying to foster year round. And, while you're in downtown Vegas, you can't miss Heart Attack Grill. I suggest you stand outside and take pictures, but you're certainly welcome to head on in for some LARGE portions of super greasy, unhealthy food!
Zappos has an amazing company culture and is a trip all unto itself. You may not have known that if you arrange in advance, Zappos will pick you up from the airport, take you for a fun and informative tour through their campus and then drop you at your hotel. It's a really interesting site visit that will inspire your own company culture and give you a sneak peek into the world of one of America's most interesting companies!
Red Rock Canyon
If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, I highly recommend renting a car for a day (very cheap and easy through most hotels on the strip) and head to Red Rock Canyon. It's unique geologic features are breathtaking and there are plenty of places to pull off for picture taking or hiking. I once came here on the tail end of a very stressful trip and it was the perfect way to relax and find some peace.
The Neon Museum
If you love history and bright lights, you will LOVE the Neon Museum. This is best seen at night and it's very close to Zappos campus and downtown Vegas - something to consider if you're making a day of it. The Neon Museum curates some of the best-known and most-loved neon light displays from the strip over the past several years. Taking a tour here runs only $18/person during the day or $25/person at night and you'll get a great lesson on the history of the strip while taking in some pretty amazing photo opps.
Las Vegas Pinball Hall Of Fame
Alright, so this may be a bit farther off the beaten path and when you arrive here, you'll think I'm crazy. BUT - if you really enjoy seeing some vintage pinball machines (and getting in a few games), this is definitely worth the trip. A trip here will take you down memory lane to the dusty old days of arcade halls and pinging game machines. I only spent about an hour here, but I took a ton of pictures and reminded myself of how bad I am at video games. There are some vintage games here as well (not only pinball), but pinball is certainly the focus.
So - let me know if you try out any of these awesome places. And, I'll be headed to Vegas again soon for more conferences and I'd love to find your secret hideaways that make Vegas a great experience for you. What else should I try?!