People sometimes ask me, “What is there to do when I’m in town for SAS Global Forum when I’m NOT attending the conference? After getting over the shock of finding these people in my house, emptying out my fridge, I realize they are simply offering me positive reinforcement based on my post on the subject from last year.
With this year’s conference in Las Vegas, I could simply say “Stop by the casinos, catch a show or two, and enjoy the many dining options,” but they COULD have figured THAT out on their own. Instead, I started looking for things that are a little non-traditional, and Las Vegas does “non-traditional” so well. (For the record, unless stated otherwise, I’ve not visited the locations or been a customer of the services.)
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is the only facility in Nevada accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. Located in the back of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, this Aquarium features numerous species, including piranha, a Komodo Dragon, Golden Crocodiles, and of course, sharks. (If you’re a Certified Diver, you can even sign up to swim with the sharks.) Call before visiting though, especially during evening hours – as I discovered the last time SAS Global Forum was in Las Vegas, this attraction has been known to close early to rent the facility to private parties.
If you’re on a budget, consider visiting the Flamingo Hotel’s Wildlife Habitat, which includes pelicans, turtles, parrots, and, of course, flamingos; The MGM Grand’s Lion Habitat; the 117,000 gallon Silverton Aquarium and nearby Bass Pro Shop freshwater exhibits; and the 50,000 gallon Atlantis Aquarium at the Forum Shoppes in Caesars Palace. All these attractions are free.
If you’re around my age, you may remember the flamboyant pianist Liberace; unfortunately, his long-running museum has closed down his wardrobe and candelabra collection sold off. However, Las Vegas IS the obvious place for something called “The Mob Museum.” Located downtown, this relatively new facility has garnered praise from those who have visited. You could also consider visiting the National Pinball Hall of Fame, which is across the street from the old Liberace museum.
Unfortunately, the UNLV Running Rebels are done playing basketball for the year, and the NHL has yet to announce their anticipated expansion into the city. And baseball fans will have to be flexible; the Las Vegas 51s will be on the road between April 15th and 22nd. But, if you’re coming into town early or staying late, consider taking the short trip north of town to watch the AAA affiliate of the New York Mets play at Cashman Field. Most seats are under $20 – many well under! (I HAVE been to a game here, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.)
Many movies and television shows have been shot in Las Vegas. The famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is an American icon and been featured in so many movies. You can find it in the median at 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South, or you can get your photo with a replica at the airport if you prefer. “Vegas Vic,” another famous sign featuring a cowboy, still exists and can be found on Fremont Street. (His arm no longer moves, and the speech has been turned off, but the landmark itself is still there.)
The “World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop” featured in the reality TV show Pawn Stars is about 3.5 miles north on Las Vegas Blvd. Some have advised me that “it’s just another little pawn shop” and “the TV people are almost never there”, but this is a chance to wander in and see something you recognize from theTV show, orbuy a T-shirt commemorating your visit. . On a related note, the director of the Clark County Museum, Mark Hall-Patton, often appears on the show; the museum itself is located about 30 minutes outside of town in Henderson, Nevada. (1830 S. Boulder Hwy, $2 admission). Danny “The Count” Koker, who rolled into his own show “Counting Cars,” offers **FREE** tours of “Count’s Kustoms,” which is located a couple of blocks behind Circus Circus. Rick’s Restorations, site of Pawn Stars now cancelled spin-off “American Restorations,” can also be found in Las Vegas, but I cannot find any reference that their Mesquite Ave. location offers tours.
“Rehab” may have been canceled, but the namesake pool and “beach” club can still be found at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
If you’d like to get out of town, several tour companies offer hotel pick-up / drop-off coach trips to sites like Hoover Dam / Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Area 51 (allegedly), and even the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks.
Check with concierge or perform some web research; companies I found include http://www.viator.com/Las-Vegas-tours/Day-Trips-and-Excursions/d684-g5, http://www.bestlasvegastours.com/, and http://www.touropia.com/day-trips-from-las-vegas/ (prices and availabilities vary).
If you want to see a show, but are not concerned with getting in to see any particular act may be interested in obtaining day-of-show tickets at a substantial discount off list price. Tix4Tonight updates their prices and availability at 9:30am each day; there may even be some names you’ll recognize on their daily roster.
For those that want to stay on the property and will be coming into town early, the spring tour of ABC’s “Nashville” will be stopping at the Venetian Theater on the evening Friday, April 15th.
Pick and choose how you want to spend your free time while in Las Vegas –remember, of course, that attending the conference events is your number one priority while you’re at SAS Global Forum! See you there.
Places to visit while in Las Vegas for SAS Global Forum 2016 was published on SAS Users.