Cheap Thrills in Vegas – Part I

April 4th, 2012   •   no comments   


So. You’ve spent six plus hours on the Vegas tradeshow floor or walking miles between breakout sessions. Or worse, you’ve been stuck at your booth for eight plus hours. All the noise and hustle are about to drive you stark raving mad. And now you know you’ll have to thread your way through miles of casino, with all the bells, whistles, loud people and constantly blinking lights, to get to your room at the end of the endless hotel hallway.  There you’ll have a minute to relax before you start to think about that night’s client dinner and the requisite Cirque show you’ll see afterwards.  Again, only after making your way through all the noise and lights on the casino floor.

This is fun, right?  I mean, it’s Vegas, you should be enjoying all the buzz, at least according to their catchy commercials.  But what if you’re tired of all that excess?  Not to mention tired of laying out a ton of coin for a steak and a show.  You may think that those are the only games in town (no pun intended!), but they’re not.  Here’s a list of some fun, inexpensive, not-so-Vegas things to do while you’re at your convention:

Photo Credit: Las Vegas News Bureau

Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop ( – If you rented a car (which I highly recommend; valet parking is free in Vegas, taxis are not), take an afternoon or morning off and head north on Charleston Blvd.  Within twenty minutes you’ll be in one of the prettiest places in all of Nevada, Red Rock Canyon.  There is a scenic loop with amazing views of the canyon, petroglyphs and cliffs of red rock.  There are lots of places to stop and gawk at the beautiful scenery or have a picnic.  If you happen to be staying at Mandalay Bay, stop by Red, White & Blue’s to go counter and pick up some sandwiches and decadent pastries for your trip.  Or better yet, hit In-N-Out on your way up for a double-double, fries & a shake!

Lake Mead Cruise (  –  If you can sneak away mid-day, a sightseeing cruise on Lake Mead will only set you back $25.  And April through October, you can also take a brunch cruise on Sundays or dinner cruises on Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday.

Photo Credit: Las Vegas News Bureau

Hoover Dam Tours ( – I sent clients on this tour for years without doing it myself.  As far as I was concerned, the Dam was just a big traffic jam I had to deal with when driving to Phoenix!  When I finally did take the tour, I was truly amazed!  The Hoover Dam is considered a wonder of the modern world and this tour really shows you why.  The feats of engineering that were achieved in its building back in the 1930’s are truly awe-inspiring.  In addition to Dam Tours, the Hoover Dam Tour Company provides many other desert adventures.  Like a mine tour.  Or a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon.  Or a float trip down the Colorado.  All of these activities will highlight Vegas in a new light.  And it’s not neon!To ease you back into the sounds of the casino, stop by one of the little known museums of Las Vegas…

Pinball Hall of Fame ( – Unleash your inner “Tommy” in 10,000 square feet of wall to wall pinball machines.  This amazing facility has hundreds of working pinball machines dating from the 50’s through the 90’s.  And they are all playable!  At a quarter to fifty cents each game, it’s the best deal in town for feeding coins to a machine.  And look around you:  the people playing pinball look a lot happier than the ones sitting at the slot machines like zombies!  (Note to fellow meeting planners:  Theere is a private party area and then your guests can wander through the machines and play.  Buyouts are only available before or after regular hours.)