Vegas: not just gambling and shows

As many of you may know, I spend a decent amount of time in Vegas every year as a result of covering CES every January. I really enjoy it, but know that it’s not really for some people…and with tens of thousands of librarians descending on Vegas for ALA Annual, it’s likely that a lot of us won’t enjoy the ever-present gambling or the overly-expensive shows that make Vegas so popular. So I thought I’d point out a few things that I really like about Vegas that don’t revolve around the typical Vegas activities.

Thrill Seekers
If you’re a fan of thrill rides, amusement park style, Vegas has a couple of things for you.

  • The Fremont Street Zipline: A zipline that takes you down the length of the original Vegas Strip, Fremont Street. You can fly above the crowd, surrounded by the neon and LEDs of Freemont Street.
  • Thrill Rides at the Stratosphere: On the top of the Stratosphere hotel, you can ride a rollercoaster that takes you over the edge of the 866 foot tall tower, get shot over 1000 feet into the air, or simply jump off the Tower entirely. Whatever level your adrenaline need, this should take care of it.
  • World Largest Observation Wheel: at 550 feet tall, the newly opened Linq High Roller is the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Each of the “cars” (actually massive observation pods) can hold 40 people, and the trip all the way around takes over half an hour.

Museum Lovers
Vegas has some of the most unusual museums that you will find anywhere, guaranteed.

  • Pinball Hall of Fame: My favorite place in Vegas, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a non-descript building that has pinball games going back to the 1950s and even earlier, along with modern pinball machines. All the machines are 25-50 cents, and all are playable. The museum is a non-profit, and dedicated to just giving people the opportunity to experience these games as they were designed to be played. Fantastic place, and I highly recommend if you are even remotely into pinball.
  • The Neon Museum: More of a graveyard than museum, still a fascinating look at the art of the neon sign from Vegas past. Beautiful and if you love design and typography, you can take enough pics here for inspiration the rest of your life.
  • The National Atomic Testing Museum: Just what it says on the tin, a museum that is dedicated to the nuclear programs that took place in the desert southwest. Another of my favorite Vegas museums, it’s incredibly well done and full of cool exhibits.

Other Things to See or Do
Here’s a few very random suggestions for other activities. :-)

Other tips for a positive Annual experience: Use the monorail to get around, remember that everything is much farther apart than you think (just navigating the casino inside the hotels can take 10-15 minutes), and be careful in the heat. Have a great time, and I hope to see you in Vegas!