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January 4, 2019

Things to Do When Visiting Las Vegas on Work

I know all too well that when one travels for work, it sometimes feels too hectic to do local travel in addition to the client meetings, conferences, and tradeshows. However, coming to Las Vegas may be a different ballgame altogether, especially if you can add a few extra leisure day- categorizing your travel as bleisure! While there is plenty to see on The Las Vegas Strip that can last a lifetime, there is so much more to the area than The Strip in case you have a few weekend days. I have had the opportunity to visit Vegas about four times since July 2017, and would like to share a few cool things to see on The Strip and Off The Strip.

Tips On The Strip
Almost everyone goes to see the Vegas sign. We have not yet done this, as it’s a bit too touristy for us. The closest we have got to a photo of a sign is what you see above. This was not the official Vegas sign, but somewhere near the other end of The Strip from the official Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign.

Taking the Bus
One tip is to get a bus pass to ride it up and down the Strip depending on what you want to see. What you want to see may be in the next hotel, but each hotel is like a mini city and it could be a mile walk to the next hotel! Of course walking on the Strip is a unique experience, but it is fun to ride the double decker bus at night from the top deck from the Stratosphere to Mandalay Bay just to see all the sights.

Resort Fees
Most likely if your company is sponsoring your trip, you are not seeing the hotel bill. Vegas has a unique feature when it comes to hotel pricing. Just about all hotels in Vegas, and especially on the Strip appear to have a nightly fee that seems affordable depending on the time of the year: from about $49 dollars a night plus tax. But this will not be the fee you actually pay. They use this fee to draw you in. In addition to the room fee, you will be charged a resort fee for each night you are there, so a room that was published at $49 could easily be over $100 per night. Every hotel has these fees on the Strip from my guess (if I am wrong let me know in the comments). When you are on The Strip you can walk in and out of any hotel you want, with no security guards to check in to assure if you are staying there or not. Each hotel seems to have some unique feature, like an indoor garden, flower displays, malls, unique architecture inside, and other unique sites in addition to the casinos. I will share a few of these sites I have seen, but there are many more you can research. Most of these will be free, which I assume means covered under that resort fee.

Some Fun Things on the Strip 

Bellagio Fountains and Gardens
Almost everyone goes to see the fountains which are water displays set to music. Whenever we’ve been there we could see them every 15 or 30 minutes between 8pm and midnight. You can research online to find out exactly the schedule for your visit. In addition to the fountains, if you can make your way inside (a good 15-20 minute walk), you can see awesome flower displays that I think change on a quarterly basis. Below are a few pictures of some we have seen. Both of these attractions are free.


Bellagio Fountains
 

Volcano at The Mirage
In front of the Mirage, they erupt a faux volcano at 8pm and I think 9pm every night, with additional times on the weekends depending on the time of the year. Google it to see when it erupts. We have seen it as you can see in the very exciting (yes, I am being sarcastic, it’s more interesting in person) video below.


Flamingo Display
The Flamingo Hotel lives up to it’s name with a nice little Flamingo display. We have seen this at various times of the day, and it’s always a welcome diversion.

Other Things to See
There are loads of other things to see and experience: the cool architecture in Caesar’s Palace, gondola rides (may not be free) at The Venetian, the High Roller Ferris wheel (this is very popular, some people buy their tickets well in advance of their trip), The Stratosphere revolving restaurant, and so much more. If you want to buy some affordable trinkets, there are an endless amount of stores. If you want to shop in some affordable American stores for clothes without Las Vegas written on it, check out Fashion Place Mall.

Food
Unlike most other hotels you may visit in the US on business, I don’t think any hotel on The Strip comes with a free breakfast buffet. This means you will spend a decent amount of money on food. My experience has been you can eat at very costly places or very affordable places. So, there are a range of prices if you look out for it. There are also a wide range of types of food from many different regions of the US and the world. You may also find some restaurants from famous celebrity chefs. Of course those are on the expensive side. Keep in mind that it’s always best to call in advance for reservations for dinner if you want to go to a sit down restaurant. I just Googled reserve a table in Vegas and got some sites to do that on or it may be better to Google ‘reserve a table at restaurant name.’

Also anytime you can, buy water bottles and carry them with you. If there are water bottles in the room, they may not be free. We have been in some hotels where small water bottles in rooms cost anywhere between $2 - $5. A liter bottle can be bought out on the Strip for one or two dollars.

Another note, if you are staying for a week or so, assure you have enough change of clothes. Finding your own self-serve laundry may not be so easy, and having the hotel do your laundry will be very costly. 

Off The Strip
We actually prefer to see the natural wonders around Vegas. For these suggestions, you will need to have one person in your group that can drive in the US and rent a car. Depending on how you plan it, keep in mind that parking at any hotel on The Strip will incur extra charges.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
About 20 miles NW of The Strip
This is a one-way scenic loop through amazing Technicolor red rocks. It costs $15 for one trip through. Though if you buy the America The Beautiful Pass, and go to a few other places I list in this article, you may actually save a little money. You could spend an hour or so to just drive through and stop a the few view points, or if you have more time, you can spend several hours going on hikes. Don’t forget to take a LOT of water. It’s dry heat here, so you will get dried out fast. This particular park also does tend to get windy, so keep that in mind. And, don’t forget to stop in the visitor center. The photo below is of the view of the park through a long window in the visitor’s center.

Panoramic view of the redrocks from the visitor's center

The rocks look different colors at different times of the day!


Redstone Picnic Area and Hike
About 50 miles east of The Strip
To get here, you will have to take the Lake Mead Scenic Byway. This falls under the America the Beautiful Pass, or about $25 for a 7-day pass (see this link). You can also take this entire byway to the Valley of Fire State Park. It’s a longer route, at 72 miles (it will also take longer as you will want to stop here and there and take photos), but very scenic. We have taken this route. Just take note it’s quite desolate most of the time, and you may feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. Assure your tank is full of gas and you have lots of water and food. There are also places along this road there is limited to no cell phone service. If you are lucky like we were, we saw wild horses!
 
Redstone Picnic Area Hike



Wild Horses



Valley of Fire State Park
About 50 miles NE of the Strip
If you have ever seen the video for Hairat (Anjaana Anjaani), they actually drove through a part of this iconic landscape in that song! To enter this Nevada state park, it costs $10. It’s always better to have cash on hand for these park entry fees. You could spend about 1.5 hours driving through the park and stopping at a few viewpoints or longer if you want to do a hike. Below is a video of a short hike we did in the park. It’s an amazing place to explore. If you have time, look for the Fire Wave.


We camped at Valley of Fire
 
A few hikes we did at the Valley of Fire 
Rainbow Vista Trail
 
White Domes Trail



A Guided Hike



Hoover Dam
40 miles East of The Strip
Actually I have not been here, but I know it’s a popular tourist spot, so I have added it. Do map out all these points- Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire and Redstone Picnic Area/Lake Mead Scenic Byway are all kind of in the same area, but you would still need an entire day at least to drive through all these areas to really enjoy them. I am not sure if there are entry fees into the dam area.

A few cool places in Utah
If you happen to have a full Saturday and/or Sunday, go up to the southwestern part of Utah for either of these two gems.

Zion National Park
160 miles NE of The Strip
Fees for entry into Zion are posted on their site. If you do go to Zion, Lake Mead Scenic Byway and Red Rock Canyon do get the America the Beautiful Pass. Zion can be seen by driving through in about 2-3 hours. However, if it is a busy summer day, you may have to take the shuttle to some areas of the park, which will increase the time you will need to see the park.

Snow Canyon State Park
130 miles NE of The Strip
We have extensively explored this park, though there is so much more to see. There is a short slot canyon (Jenny’s Canyon), which you can walk in about 30 minutes. There are lava tubes to see, a redstone arch, and much more. It costs about $10 per car. This is a Utah State Park, which is a different state park system than Valley of Fire. You could spend 3 hours here and see many of the features.

Arch at Snow Canyon


White Rocks Amphitheater (a 1.5 mile trek, through some sand)

 
Scenic Drive through Snow Canyon State Park



Yearly Average Weather
Vegas is in a desert landscape. It is often dry and hot. Winters are mild in that snow is probably rare. However, you would probably want a coat. When the wind blows there, it does feel pretty cold. In the day as long as the sun is out, it will feel warm. Once the sun sets, the weather suddenly feels degrees colder.

See this page for temperatures in Fahrenheit and Celsius.

Wrap Up
I hope you have a great time in Vegas. I am sure you will. I hope your business ventures are a success, you meet a lot of interesting people and see a lot of interesting things! Feel free to share anything you’d recommend someone to see that’s not listed here in the comments!

Note: The mention of any tourist attraction, business, or hotel is for informational purposes only. Authentic Journeys has no partnership with any listing in this post, nor does Authentic Journeys receive any advertising from these companies, businesses, etc.

Author, Jennifer Kumar helps prepare expats like you for successful business trips to the US.  

All photos and videos taken by Jennifer Kumar or Krishna Kumar. To see Jennifer's hiking trail guides, recorded trails and more check out her Alltrails profile.

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.