Smith Culp Consulting

Las Vegas Resources – The Strip And Downtown And More

Las Vegas Skyline

So you’re coming to Las Vegas! So much to see and do, so little time to do it. Where do you start? We have lived in Las Vegas and run our business here since 1998 so here are some resources and tips based on our experiences. First of all, there are two distinct entertainment areas comprising Las Vegas – The Strip and Downtown (sometimes also known as Old Las Vegas). The biggest hotels with the most glitz and glamor (and highest prices) are on The Strip but there has been amazing development of downtown in the last few years and more is being developed every day.

Downtown Las Vegas

“Las Vegas” is not just happening on The Strip. There are events and concerts happening downtown every week (see Downtown Project). There are many new restaurants and shops on or near Fremont Street. The Container Park is downtown and has shops and restaurants in converted shipping containers. The Park entrance is guarded by a fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture which is pretty amazing at night! The Slotzilla zip line is an experience to try under the overhead canopy light show that is the Fremont Experience. Most of the action is on The Strip but don’t overlook downtown.

Show information

What’s On

Vegas.com/shows

Desert Companion (What’s coming for all forms of entertainment.)

The Smith Center

All of the several Cirque du Soleil shows at the various hotel/casinos are unique and spectacular. “O” at the Bellagio is probably the most popular and hence harder to get discount tickets for. “O” features some amazing water acrobatics. Don’t sit too close to the stage at “O”, Mystere or Zarkana because you will miss a full view of the aerialists performing above the audience. They will bombard your senses. If you love the Beatles, you will love “Love” at the Mirage and you can see a different show each time depending on where you sit. The one Cirque show we suggest you skip is the Criss Angel “Believe” show at the Luxor – it is long on self-promotion, short on magic and Cirque involvement is hardly noticeable. If you are looking for magic and magicians that connect with the audience, Penn and Teller at the Rio are great! They always come out and meet and greet the audience after the show and their magic will blow you mind. Terry Fator at the Mirage is an amazing comedian/ventriloquist show. There is a constant selection of great shows, far too many to discuss here. Give us a call if there is a specific show you are interested in – we may have seen it or know someone who has. You can look for current show information and discount tickets at: Tix 4 Tonight (discounted day of show tickets)

Showtickets.com (discount anytime tickets)

Best of Vegas (description of shows)

In addition to the great shows at the hotel/casinos, Broadway shows and other great individual entertainers play at The Smith Center, a new beautiful performing arts center located in downtown Las Vegas. The Smith Center is rated as one of the top such venues in the world.

Outside Show – Vegas at Night from the High Roller

The High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel and is located on The Strip at the LINQ shopping/dining outdoor promenade. The tickets are a little more costly for rides after dark but it is worth it – be sure to ride after dark as you will get a great view of the iconic lights of The Strip. The rides are in enclosed pods that hold up to 40 people so even a large family can ride together. You can usually find discount tickets online.

Museums

The Neon Museum

The Mob Museum

Springs Preserve

National Atomic Testing Museum

Discovery Children’s Museum

Clark County Museum

Yes, there is more to see in Las Vegas than slot machines and Cirque’s acrobats. There are some great museums. The Clark County museum is on a 30-acre site and includes a collection of restored historic buildings from different decades. And, if you are lucky, you may get a chance to visit with Mark Patton, the museum director, who has greater fame from the “Pawn Stars” television show. Mark is the guy the pawnshop calls in to determine the authenticity of historic items brought into the shop. He is easy to spot with his distinctive broad rim hat and full beard and he loves to talk with visitors. The Neon Museum has a great collection of iconic Las Vegas signs (mostly casino signs) from the past. The Mob Museum traces the mob from its formation, its peak and its eventual fall in Vegas. It is housed in a restored federal building where the court room where Federal organized crime hearings were held in the 1950s still intact. If you are bringing your kids, there are some great places to go as a family. The Springs Preserve has interactive exhibits on Las Vegas Valley history, live animal shows and a multi-acre site with gardens and hiking trails. It is very child friendly and has been rated as one of the best family attractions in Las Vegas. Another “must see” for children is the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum next to the Smith Center which has three floors filled with interactive exhibits. We have taken our family there and enjoyed getting into the activities with them – including getting a bit wet at one of the water exhibits!

The best free art exhibit is at the City Center. Download the Aria Fine Art Collection Tour App (iTunes or Google Play) and enjoy a walking tour of the $100m Art by famous artists including Maya Lin and Henry Moore.

Golf

Golf Now (list of Las Vegas courses, rates and reviews)

Golfnow.com/lasvegas (discount rates, includes some courses in nearby parts of Utah and Arizona)

Wolf Creek Golf Course (describes the Wolf Creek course in Mesquite)

There are about 40 golf courses in the Las Vegas area ranging from modest cost to very expensive. If you can take the heat (and we mean really hot), there are some great rates for golf in the summer afternoons. Courses are open year-round although some shut for a couple of weeks in early September to overseed with grass that grows all winter. If you are planning a golf trip, be aware it will surely be very hot in June-August and early morning tee times are advisable. There can be some cold and sometimes windy days in December-March but golf is playable all year for the hardy golfer. We get about one day of snow every 10 years so the odds are good you won’t get snowed out. One of the most spectacular courses in the country, Wolf Creek, is located about 50 miles east of Las Vegas in Mesquite. The views are spectacular on every hole and you can get a feel for them from the Wolf Creek website. It is worth the drive.

Restaurants

Las Vegas has become one of the top restaurant cities in the world. Restaurants run by world famous chefs abound on The Strip but be prepared for an expensive meal at their restaurants. There are a lot of very good restaurants at off-strip locations at more reasonable prices. There are many restaurants in Las Vegas (the Trip Advisor website lists 3,877) offering all types of ethnic food. We have tried a small percentage of them but will be glad to offer suggestions if you let us know what kind of food you are looking for.

Hotels/Meeting Rooms

Vegas Means Business

The popular websites for searching for hotel rooms such as Expedia, Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, etc. provide information on Las Vegas hotels. There are over 100,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas and several of the largest hotels in the world are along the Las Vegas Strip. So, there is plenty of choice. There are also several large conference centers with exhibition halls as large as 1,000,000 square feet. If you are planning a meeting and want to get a more tranquil environment by putting some space between your meeting participants and casinos, there are several non-gaming hotels with good meeting space listed on the vegasmeansbusiness.com website.

Shopping

There are a lot of high end shopping malls attached to the large hotel/casinos on The Strip such as the Forum Shops attached to Caesars and other malls attached to the Wynn and Bellagio. The large Fashion Show Mall is located across from the Wynn with Saks, Nordstrom, and many other major stores. If you want designer clothes at outlet store prices, head over to the Premium Outlets in downtown Las Vegas. Best to go to the outlet mall early (9 AM) in the summer because it is an outdoor mall with very little shade. Town Square south of The Strip is a large outdoor mall with mixed retail, entertainment and restaurants. You can download an app to guide you around Town Square- iTunes

Scenic Day Trips

Las Vegas is close to so many scenic wonders – bring your camera! If you want to get away from the bright lights, you can have a great day trip to numerous national or state parks by car or take one of many bus or helicopter tours that are available.

Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and new bridge at the dam. Worth the drive (less than an hour) for the photos alone. There is a museum at the dam that chronicles the amazing construction of the dam. A Hoover Dam tour takes you inside the dam and power plant. The tour inside the dam is well worth it unless you happen to be claustrophobic! You have to buy tour tickets at the dam, first come first served. The new bridge just downstream of the dam connects Nevada and Arizona and is an impressive sight as it spans a very wide and very deep canyon.

There are several national parks and national monuments that are good day trips. Among them are the Grand Canyon’s west rim in Arizona or the north rim in Utah; Zion National Park, Utah; Bryce Canyon, Utah; Red Rock National Conservation Area just a few miles west of Las Vegas and the Valley of Fire just a few miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Other Tips

  1. Drink lots of water, you are in the desert!
  2. Think twice about walking The Strip in the summer, a block between major streets is about a mile long.
  3. If you get a taxi from the airport to The Strip, tell the cabbie you want to take surface streets or you may get “long-hauled” via the freeways.
  4. If you want a photo at the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign on the South Strip, go early as the line gets long during the day. There is a small parking lot at the sign.
  5. If you are flying out of Las Vegas on a Sunday morning or holiday weekend, allow plenty of time to check in as these are the busiest times.