This is the first in an ongoing series “My Top Five”
If you are travelling to Las Vegas for a convention, and the chances that you will go to Las Vegas for a convention are pretty high, much of your time will be filled with trade shows, workshops, networking events, etc. But not all of it. If you take the opportunity to tack on a couple of days at the beginning or end of your trip, you will want to find something to do that doesn’t centre on a casino.
Because let’s face it, if you’re not a big gambler, you probably don’t want to spend all your spare time gambling. If you’re not one of the 1% you probably can’t afford to spend that much time gambling anyway.
Although modern casinos offer other attractions, from swimming pools to yoga studios, restaurants, bars, shows, shopping, it’s good for the soul to get out of the casinos every once in a while.
America’s first indoor skydiving facility (formerly known as Flyaway) has been offering humans the closest thing to the ‘bird experience’ since 1982.
When: Walk-ins are welcome or you can make a reservation, open daily from
9:45 am – 8:00 pm.
Who: Check out the height, weight and health guidelines before you go
Where: 200 Convention Center Dr. Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
How much: It’s not cheap, but everyone I know who has done it has gone back for more, count on spending at least US$75.00
Fun factor: 11 out of 10
If you’re in town during basketball season local university (University of Las Vegas at Nevada, UNLV) men’s and women’s teams always put on a good show. http://www.unlvrebels.com/
Who: Basketball fans
Where: Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavillion
How much: Runnin Rebels (Men’s) games from ~US$15 to US$105 or more per person per game, the best seats at the premium games sell out in advance. Lady Rebels ~US$8 per person, general admission. Kids under 12 free.
Fun factor: High especially when they are on a winning streak
(Disclaimer, Kim Ortega, a close family friend is an assistant coach for the Lady Rebels)
There are a number of car rental operations in Vegas specialising in luxury or exotic rides: Aston Martin, Bentley, Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari. The sort of cars a ‘playa’ would drive.
Who: You will need a valid driver’s license and proof that you have ‘Full Coverage Insurance’ or purchase coverage. Virtually every one will require a major credit or debit card for reservation and at time of rental. And international drivers will usually have to provide a passport at the time of rental.
Some companies require a deposit. Charges for late return can also be high. Rental periods are generally in 4 or 6 hour blocks and include a mileage restriction. Late return or over mileage will usually result in additional charges. Off road driving, racing and smoking is almost always prohibited.
Each of these companies offers an impressive range of cars, each a little different, some offer by the hour, take the car and enjoy (within limits) some offer special packages with a sampling of cars in unique Vegas locals. All have their own policies, terms and conditions. Check the individual websites for details.
Where: Traditionally people like to cruise the strip, but as long as you comply with the specific terms and conditions, you can drive where you like
The last two include American muscle cars in their fleets along with the exotics.
- Exotics Racing: hire and drive an exotic car on a racetrack
When: Availability is pretty much 24/7, but minimum hiring blocks vary and holiday and weekend bookings may be more expensive
How much: Depends on the car, the duration of the booking, how much you drive the car and whether or not you need to purchase insurance coverage. It ain’t cheap, nevertheless car freaks (dare I say petrol heads) will spring for the experience. Count on a couple of hundred bucks at a minimum, and really the sky’s the limit.
Fun factor: Extreme
There are many shopping opportunities within casino complexes, and some of them are spectacular. There used to be a good range of local malls too, but the GFC put paid to a lot of them. My focus is going to be on outlet shopping, because everyone loves a bargain.
Whether you’re looking for a cocktail dress or yoga pants, high heel sneakers or thigh high boots, a new crock pot, a set of golf clubs or a spare suitcase to carry your finds home, you’ll find it and more at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets Mall (South). There is also a Premium Outlet Mall North, but I’ve haven’t been to that one.
Where: 7400 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89123. However don’t be fooled by the address, although Las Vegas Boulevard is better known as the ‘Strip’ this mall is about 2-3 miles (3.25 to 4.8 km) south of the Strip proper.
When: I can spend a half a day (or more) shopping here. So plan to come early, have lunch and leave late. This is Vegas, but the mall isn’t open 24/7. General hours are Monday to Saturday 9 am to 9 pm. Sunday 9 am to 8 pm. Hours on public holidays vary.
How much: That depends on your will power more than anything else. If you’re over 50, go on a Tuesday with a photo id and take advantage of the 50+ 10% savings at participating stores.
Fun factor: if you like shopping and saving money the fun factor is very high!
Bonus activity: Fry’s a fabulous discount electronics store (Geek Heaven) is almost diagonally across from this mall.
Allocate at least a day for a visit to Red Rock Canyon. The state park and national conservation area feature spectacular desert geography, flora and fauna, some of which is unique to the Mojave Desert. What to do there? Walks of different degrees of difficulty (easy to strenuous), a scenic drive, and other seasonal activities. Camping is allowed in the designated camp ground and back country camping is permitted for areas above 5,000 feet (~ 8 km) elevation.
Who: A whole family experience.
Where: Red Rock Canyon State Park and National Conservation Area, about 25 miles (40.25 km) west of the Las Vegas Strip
When: Year round, but weather is variable so check the local weather before you venture out to the canyon.
How much: Fees and passes vary with the size and type of vehicle and the length of your stay, daily entry fee is about US$7 for cars and trucks, US$3 for motorcycles and bicycles.
Fun factor: Serenity now
There is a resort (with casino) in Red Rock, but it’s outside the scope of this article.