More Than Sin City: Las Vegas is a Business City With Plenty of Fun

The idea that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas might apply to some activities, but the truth is that this town remains a premier destination for some of the world’s largest trade shows and conventions. In 2017 Las Vegas welcomed a record-breaking 6.6 million convention attendees for nearly 22,000 events in 2017, while total visitation for the year reached 42.2 million.

“Las Vegas is not only the entertainment capital of the world, but also the world’s leading destination for meetings and conventions, which is a win-win for the business traveler,” said Chris Meyer, Las Vegas Convention and Visitor vice president of Sales.

Fountains of Bellagio Las Vegas
Bellagio and Fountains of Bellagio
Sam Morris / Las Vegas News Bureau

Simply put, Las Vegas is the place to attend a trade show because when you spend the day at meetings, product demonstrations and other work-related events you’re going to want to blow off some steam. So if you’re heading to iFLEX at The Car Wash Show later this month, there are plenty of activities to enjoy not far from the Las Vegas Convention Center.

“After a busy day on the trade show floor, attendees can explore our destination’s countless amenities, including fine dining, entertainment and adventure experiences you won’t find anywhere else,” Meyer said.

Take in the Sights

Whether it is the canals of Venice, a pyramid bigger than any in Egypt, a faux Eiffel Tower or minute Statue of Liberty, the Las Vegas Strip has it all. It is the city where the fountains dance to music, volcanoes erupt year round and pirates do nightly battles on a miniature lake. Like Rome, Las Vegas wasn’t built in a day, but it has a palace — or at least a hotel — fit for a Caesar.

The 4.2-mile Strip has been designated an All-American Road, and for good reason. It offers high-end dining, specialty retail and more nightclubs than just about anyplace else on earth. Yet, just a stone’s throw away there is even a golf course!

Mob Museum Las Vegas
Mob Museum Las Vegas
Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau

Las Vegas isn’t just the Strip, however. There is also Downtown Las Vegas, the historic center and original town, which today features historic buildings, art galleries and many popular stores. While overshadowed by the Strip, this is a district that includes the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum and The Las Vegas Natural History Museum — all proving there is more than casinos in this city.

The Fremont Street Experience is a sight in itself and one best enjoyed at night when the five blocks along the famous drag is lit up in all its glory! Also known as “Glitter Gulch” for its neon signs, this section of Old Vegas is permanently closed to traffic while nightly free entertainment is provided on three stages. Visitors need not worry about the weather, either, as an LED canopy runs from Main Street to Fourth Street and features more than 12 million LED lamps making this the real “City of Lights.” Move over Paris.

Where to Stay

The great thing about Las Vegas is that it has hotels that truly cater to every budget. The Bellagio, The Venetian and The Cosmopolitan offer luxury rooms, while there are still plenty of choices for those with more modest resources.

Linq with High Roller Las Vegas
The Linq with the High Roller
Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

Those heading to town in April can be among the first to take in the Park MGM, formerly the Monte Carlo, which underwent a billion-dollar makeover. No two rooms are meant to feel exactly alike, and that is completely by design.

The Linq is another old hotel with a new name. What began as the Flamingo Capri later became the Imperial Palace to the Quad and is now the Linq. The old hotel was always a bit of a dive, no matter the upscale name, but with this recent renovation, it is now a hip boutique hotel that won’t mean breaking the bank to stay there!

Those who hate the smoke-filled casino vibe of Vegas need not think the only option is to “not stay in Vegas.” There is Delano, part of the Mandalay Bay complex that is smoke-free and gaming-free. Every room is a suite, but the rates are still reasonable.

Thrill Seeker Delights

After a day on the show floor, you may want to blow off some steam but this doesn’t have to mean blowing your savings at a casino. There are other ways to experience some thrills in a way only Las Vegas can provide.

Insanity at Stratosphere Hotel Las Vegas
Insanity at the Stratosphere Hotel
Brian Jones/Las Vegas News Bureau

The Stratosphere Las Vegas should be a thrill seekers’ first destination. Located on the northernmost end of the Strip, it features two observation decks, as well as a revolving restaurant called Top of the World. Wait to eat until you’ve tried the four thrill rides. These include Big Shot, the highest type ride in North America and second only to another in Canton, China. This is a pneumatically powered tower ride that literally launches those brave enough to try up to more than 150 feet at 45 miles per hour, generating 4Gs!

If Big Shot doesn’t sound crazy enough, there is also Insanity, which rises 68 feet over the edge of the 1,149-foot Stratosphere tower and spins passengers at up to 3Gs! And for those who want to take the ultimate leap of faith, the hotel also offers SkyJump, a controlled free fall that allows visitors to take a vertical zipline dive 855 feet down from the 108th floor of the tower, where they can reach up to 40mph. The hotel also offers X-Scream, a teeter-totter that is 900 feet above the ground that will have you screaming — either for dear life or more thrills.

After taking in those Stratosphere rides, the coasters on the Strip may seem tame at first glance, but The Manhattan Express Coaster at New York-New York and the Canyon Blaster at Circus Circus Hotel’s Adventuredome will each throw you for some loops. The former will let you zip around a Vegas version of the Big Apple in a cab-shaped coaster car; while the latter reaches 55mph in the town’s biggest indoor amusement park.

 

For those who want a little less intensity, there is one of the Strip’s newest attractions: High Roller, a 550-foot observation wheel. Located behind Harrah’s, it travels at one foot per second — completing a full revolution in 30 minutes, providing time to take in the Strip.

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau

Other thrill seeker-worthy attractions on the Strip include the Voodoo Zipline between the Rio Hotel’s two towers and Vegas Indoor Skydiving. Then, there is the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where you can take in sharks, fish and sea turtles from behind glass — or certified divers can swim with the sharks inside the aquarium.

If you have time to head a little further afield, you can head over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where you can either ride shotgun in a drift-ready Corvette Z06 or get behind the wheel of an exotic racecar for some laps on the course. And if that still isn’t daring enough, there is the Sky Combat Ace in nearby Henderson, which practically allows you to feel like a top gun in an actual airplane.

Fine Dining

With more than 2,000 restaurants, Las Vegas could easily be called food city. While there is no shortage of fast food options, for foodies, the city has it all – from steak houses to vegetarian eateries. For those wanting some more ethnic tastes, Las Vegas has it all!

Newly opened options include The Black Sheep: a Vietnamese-American restaurant a bit off the Strip that is truly east meets west in food, drinks and music. Food prep reportedly begins at 8 am, but the doors don’t even open until 5 pm.

Closer to the strip is Zuma, which offers contemporary Japanese cuisine at The Cosmopolitan; it features ingredients flown in daily from Japan. In addition to fresh fish from halfway around the world, this restaurant offers a selection of Japanese whiskies, as well as a specialty gin and tonic served in a plastic bag.

Meraki serves traditional Greek dishes, but this is no diner — daily specials include lamb chops, charred octopus and even a whole roasted branzino.

Must-See Shows

No other foodie playground has countless options for shows like Vegas does. Regular mainstays include Cirque du Soleil, which has several offerings, currently including O, Mystere, KÀ, Zumanity, La Reve, The Beatles Love and Michael Jackson’s One; as well as Criss Angel Mindfreak and Blue Man Group.

For those landing in Las Vegas in April, you’ll be in time to take in the Tony- and Grammy-winning The Color Purple, which arrives fresh from Broadway for the production’s first US tour. Plus, this could be your last chance to see Elton John on The Million Dollar Piano for his April 28 performance. Other notable performances you could take in while in town for iFLEX include Jennifer Lopez, Tiffany Haddish, Pitbull and ZZ Top.

If you venture to Vegas to do a little business at iFLEX, you would be amiss to not enjoy a little food, adventure, a show or concert while you’re in town, too.