Anxiety About Vegas
October 11, 2019 11:49 PM   Subscribe

I have a conference starting on Wednesday, in Vegas. I will be there for about three days. I have autism, and pretty severe anxiety.

I travel a fair amount, maybe four or five times a year, often alone. I usually go to cities which have good public transportation, a lot of art and culture, and which are heavily walkable. (My favourite cities in the States are Seattle, Pittsburgh, Philly, Chicago, Cincinnati)

One of my favourite things, is just going to a big public museum, and then wandering around afterwards---even Los Angeles this year had the ability to do a little bit of that. I also really like live music, in small bars (there must be like excellent honky tonks), and genial clubs more than big shows. I don't have a lot of money, either, and everything I see in Vegas seems really expensive. I don't drive, I don't want to gamble.

I have been very anxious about this trip. The conference is at the Westgate--which seems out of the way, and a bit resort like? So I am worried that nothing is walkable, that the sensory noise will be overwhelming, that the Westgate itself will be completely isolating. I am also reading stories about being ripped off, in all kinds of ways, or being upsold, or being forced to do stuff that one doesn't, directly or via social pressure.

I think this is mostly work, but I will have times in the evening. Some things I have been thinking about is going to the Writer's Block bookstore, The Majorie Barrick musuem, but I am not sure what else to do? I kind of want a low key, culture heavy, inexpensive, walkable, non gaming, trip to this city?

Also, are there tours to places like Ugo Rondinone’s “Seven Magic Mountains” or Michael Heizer's "Double Negative" or Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels?
posted by PinkMoose to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would not recommend walking near Westgate, particularly at night. Westgate itself is very nice though.

There is a monorail from Westgate to the strip so you won’t be completely isolated. The strip itself is pretty overwhelming, but there are museums (the Natural History Museum among others) that are walkable from there.

The casino floors will be completely overwhelming for you, as they are meant to be completely overwhelming for everyone. At Westgatte they abut the hotel lobby, which makes for a noisy backdrop when checking in. The rooms however are far away and provide a calm oasis.

In truth if I were you I might skip Las Vegas as a travel destination entirely. Enjoy your conference, bring a good book and relax instead. There is a nice pool.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:36 AM on October 12, 2019 [11 favorites]

Seconding treating your hotel as an oasis of calm.

I am a neurotypical person who grew up in a Major World City and oof, the only thing I really enjoy about Vegas is watching my friends or colleagues enjoy it. I’ve stayed on and off the strip for work, and tend to treat it as an opportunity to hang out alone in my hotel room. (I do drink, but I don’t smoke or enjoy gambling).

I know I’ve missed a few interesting things but I just never have the energy on top of work.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:22 AM on October 12, 2019

Best answer: Vegas is generally designed to keep you in your hotel to spend money there or at least in other hotels/casinos to spend money. And the monorail just connects the casinos with each other. It takes effort to get outside that space.

Vegas is also surrounded by amazing nature. So if you can finish work/conference participation early enough you could head out to Red Rock Canyon or the Hoover dam. You’d want a car to do that though. If you can manage a half day you could head out as far as Valley of Fire. If you do have to work full days I’d consider walking down the strip one evening (if you’ve never been, consider wearing ear plugs if noise is too overwhelming) because the only time it looks good is lit lit up at night and enjoy your resort amenities and a good book the rest of the time.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:31 AM on October 12, 2019

It’s true that the Westgate is more isolated than some other Strip casinos, being towards the northern end, but I doubt you’d enjoy walking the densest part of the Strip, anyway. And if you feel like trying it, Westgate has a monorail stop.

Downtown Las Vegas is the most walkable part of the area. If I were you, I’d take the bus that runs to downtown from the Strip. I’ve been to Vegas a bunch and a couple times without a car, so just be prepared that public transportation there is SLOW.

Another thing you might enjoy is the Neon Museum—it’s outside and when I went it was solely guided tours, so you need an advance ticket—but it’s very peaceful and quiet and it’s nice to be outside looking at interesting signage from Vegas’s past. It’s accessible via public transportation if you don’t mind a less-than-scenic walk—which basically means walking down wide roads and crossing under highways. I probably wouldn’t attempt this walk at night.
posted by Automocar at 6:48 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As someone with sensory issues, I actually found Las Vegas to be okay as long as I had one beer in me, and went in expecting to be overwhelmed. The biggest issue I had by far were the people on the street trying to give me stripper/escort cards. With them you either want to decide to take one and move on, or completely ignore them. Do not talk to anyone giving you things on the street, you're not being rude because everyone does this

If I was at the Westgate and wanted to see "real Vegas" I would probably walk to the Stratosphere and back, which is about 20 minutes. That way you can see a bit of the strip and decide if you want to explore more, or just stay in your hotel. If you go in the evening (7 to 10) the weather should be nice and things should be totally safe.
posted by JZig at 7:40 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Two things I found helpful to avoid being overwhelmed by Vegas (I'm mostly neurotypical, with anxiety, fwwiw):

1. I did the Baby Driver thing and basically had headphones in playing music everywhere I went. Super helpful to drown out the chaos, and helps to not engage with people trying to sell you stuff.

2. Every morning, I went and had some coffee and read in the Eataly by the Park MGM. It was the only quiet place I found on the strip.
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:40 AM on October 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

I think we may be going to the same conference, or at least the same hotel! If so, no one I know who is going is that excited about being in Vegas, and I know a lot of people who are planning lots of quality in-room quiet time. I have sensory issues, and am planning on bringing my noise-cancelling headphones with me as much as possible to deal with casino noises.
posted by heurtebise at 11:08 AM on October 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I went to Vegas for a conference last year and it was hell. The strip is a truly unbearable place to have to exist. It's all chain restaurants and TV screens, everything is 3x the price you're used to paying, and if you talk to the wrong person on the sidewalk they'll start shoving merchandise into your hands and demanding money, until you literally have to drop it on the ground and walk away. The hotels are basically your local mall with slot machines. If you can escape the strip, I'm sure there are other parts of Vegas that are fun and cool, but I was too depressed find them.
posted by mammal at 1:09 AM on October 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

This might be the last thing you'd think of, but perhaps the Pinball Museum? Yah, sure, clangy bits, but I found it comforting to touch some old friends (Hey, Fireball! Lookin' good, Black Knight!). Just touching these old machines reminded me of how alive I am.
posted by SPrintF at 11:25 AM on October 13, 2019

Response by poster: I tried really hard, and I had some fun. I really enjoyed the Writer's Block bookstore, and i walked thru the strip a little bit, and found some calm there. I didn't get pushed to buy things as much, though one of the people trying to give me a strippers card was a little homophobic when i turned it down. I felt nickle and dimed for everything, everything was incredibly expensive, it was loud, and just frustrating. I had a really hard time figuring out cabs, and other transportation systems.

didn't have a melt down, but I wasn't happy. Also, the food was really bad, but most likely my fault. Thanks so much for everyone's help.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:09 PM on October 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

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