Vegas aaaaall by myself
January 2, 2020 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations for how to enjoy Vegas and CES solo next week?

Feeling a bit bummed I’ll be doing Vegas and CES by myself next week. Recs for food, bars, and activities that would work for a young-ish woman going solo? Advice on dealing with crowds? I’m staying near Mandalay.

I have some sessions and exhibits ear marked for CES, but I’ll take recs there too.
posted by inevitability to Travel & Transportation around Las Vegas, NV (27 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I went solo for work once and really enjoyed The Golden Tiki, tiki bars are few and far between on the east coast so I really enjoyed just soaking up the ambiance. I ran out of time on my trip, but I have heard great things about the Neon Museum.
posted by cakelite at 11:05 AM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a nondrinking, nongambling, monagamously inclined married person that grew up in Vegas and visits it now and again, so my activity ideas are based on that.

Mandalay Bay has a fancy aquarium with sharks in it.

Any Cirque du Soleil show is gonna be stunning if pricey, and you'll have several to chose from in that area.

The Bellagio has a fancy arboretum they change out four times a year that doesn't have an entry fee, ditto with the fountain show out front, and it looks like their fine art gallery has a Japanese exhibit at the moment.

The Cosmopolitan has repurposed cigarette vending machines into tiny $5 art vending machines, at least when I was there a few years back, and I had a hoot finding them and getting tiny weird arts.

The Venetian does gondola rides. Ceasar's Place has an animatronic statue show that involves fire free for view in their shop section, and a bunch of aquariums.

If you're not squeamish, Bally's has an exhibit called Read Bodies that has plasticized human specimens displayed in ways that let you view the insides of human bodies.

There's an archery range called Impact Archery not too far away from those hotels. Ditto with the Pinball Hall of Fame--I think that might be a thing you could easily socialize other people at CES into going with you to, it's super cool and you can play so many different pinball machines, no entrance fees you just exchange dollars into quarters and pay for your plays.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:06 AM on January 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

Oh--there's also the National Atomic Testing Museum a 15 minute ride away, which despite a weirdly grafted on 9/11 exhibit and such is very interesting.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:07 AM on January 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

Most of the fun stuff these days seems to be around the City Center/Aria area or the Venetian. There's a ton of great food at the Cosmopolitan including a few small grab and go places in the food court area. I'm a big fan of Jose Andres places like Jaleo in the Cosmo.

At the convention center itself your food options are going to be pretty bleak.

It looks like this year is going to be a zoo. See if your hotel or a neighboring one has badge pickup. Assume cab lines are going to be 30+ minutes so bus shuttles are best for getting around and give yourself extra time to travel if you've got meetings at the hotels.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:07 AM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

i'm not someone who has a problem doing most things by myself, and in fact find it preferable for the most part.

if you at all enjoy lazy rivers, check out MGM Grand's lazy river.

Ceasar's buffet was much better than others (the breakfast buffet at MGM was NOT GOOD).

i thought the Venetian was pretty cool just to wander around, and that's not something i usually enjoy.

i have not yet gone to the neon museum, but it's on my list.

the cirque's are a good bet, though the "sexy one" was....not sexy.

edit: most of the casinos, if not all, had designated areas for uber/lyft/ride share that were different from the standard cab lines. that's just a tip, as i had not really encountered that in other cities.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 11:08 AM on January 2, 2020

Any Cirque du Soleil show is gonna be stunning if pricey

Note this is generally true but I've heard mixed reviews on the Beatles show... the Michael Jackson one too.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:09 AM on January 2, 2020

I saw Penn & Teller there, because it felt like something one should do, and it was fun. I was with people but I would've felt fine alone -- there's no mingling or anything, it's just a show in a theater.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:23 AM on January 2, 2020

There are some outrageously amazing hikes not far outside of Vegas. That's what I'd be doing for sure- get away into the desert away from everything.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 12:04 PM on January 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

Any Cirque du Soleil show is gonna be stunning if pricey...

I loved loved loved O at the Bellagio. You'll see nothing like it anywhere else in the world. In part, 'cause it needs a special theater. You might want to get tickets before you leave town as it's a big seller. I think attendance at CES would up the demand.

I've always enjoyed Penn and Teller who are at the RIO.

Probably because it's just after the Christmas/NY holidays, there are few music acts that week.

This may not apply to you unless you make friends as CES but on a trip with a few friends we rented a convertible and drove the strip the first night. The second day we drove to Red Rock Canyon and had a memorable day with Native American artifacts.
posted by tmdonahue at 12:10 PM on January 2, 2020

I've heard very good things about the spa at Cesars. Looks like you can get a pass to just the wet areas (i.e., no massage or other treatment, just the hot tubs, saunas, steam, etc....) for $50-$60.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:12 PM on January 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'll be there too. We'll be doing a chill meetup on the night of the 8th if you want to come by. Memail me if you like!

Seconding the neon museum - I haven't been myself, but only heard good things about it. If you like old games (arcade, pinball, etc) the Pinball Hall of Fame is amazing - super old stuff, all playable, and some real characters running the joint. That's east on Flamingo a bit.

A lot of the fun places are actually in old vegas/fremont near there - the Griffin is a fantastic cozy bar and the others are lively and non-casino-y.

Personally I just like to get away from the Strip whenever at all possible. And the convention center! Mandalay has the disadvantage of being on the far side from ALL the stuff I've recommended, but it's pretty easy to get around.

As for CES itself, if you haven't been... well, allow a huge amount of time to get from place to place. Take the monorail rather than a taxi if you can. And usually you can avoid the crush of foot traffic by creative routing in the large halls. I can't stand shuffling along like penguins with a bunch of people spray germs everywhere so I would rather walk twice as far to get there in half the time.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:44 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

As a former Vegas local, another vote for: Neon Museum, Pinball Hall of Fame, The Golden Tiki, and wandering in old Downtown Vegas to the Fremont Street area.

Neon museum has a new Tim Burton exhibit that I haven't seen but looks promising, Pinball Hall of Fame has all types of old arcade games, not just pinball. The Golden Tiki has tons of great drinks. Downtown Fremont area is a cool and weird part of Vegas that gets more charming as it ages and stays the same while the Strip constantly reinvents itself. National Atomic Testing Museum is funded to be very pro-atomic testing. I had a teacher that was banned from there due to her activism. That bias was probably obvious, but it's good to know the museum is not objective at all.
posted by Become A Silhouette at 1:17 PM on January 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding that the Neon Museum is really great, as is the Pinball Hall of Fame (I went to both with someone else but would have felt 100% fine on my own at both).

I've seen a couple of Cirque shows and found them kind of underwhelming (and the Beatles one is actually problematic -- the black characters are stereotyped in a way none of the other characters are), but La Reve (not actually Cirque but the same kind of concept) amazed me. So, if you can swing a ticket to that, I'd recommend it.

The Cosmopolitan also has an art tour you can take by text -- you text a number and they send you messages directing you to their art installations and sharing curatorial tidbits.

Do you like basketball? If so, going to a game at UNLV is fun. I've gone and wound up sitting in the alumni section, which was pretty awesome and people were friendly if you were cheering for their side. It's easy and cheap to buy tickets online and it's a quick cab ride from the South end of the strip. It's also pretty close to the pinball hall of fame (technically walkable, but, practically speaking, you might be happier taking a cab).
posted by snaw at 2:02 PM on January 2, 2020

I went to go see Penn and Teller alone because all the people I was with had seen their show already - it was great! Also, if you go to Freemont Street and you like 80s music even a little I highly recommend checking out Spandex Nation. They play outside for like four hours and are super fun (and free).
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:20 PM on January 2, 2020

I (solo woman) did Vegas by myself (staying at The Delano) around last NYE and had a blast. I loved the Neon Museum and the Mandalay Bay Aquarium, and wanted to go to the Pinball Hall of Fame but ran out of time. Saw a Golden Knights hockey game. Hung out in the Bellagio/Mirage/Venetian and enjoyed just people-watching. Ate all kinds of fancy food just using the Yelp app wherever I happened to be when I got hungry. If you are crazy like me, I enjoyed jumping off the Stratosphere so much I did it twice (the jump is the only scary part, the actually falling part is rather sedate). Best part was renting a car and driving into the desert for a day, getting some wonderful photos. My trip was just awesome, and I highly recommend doing Vegas alone - nobody to keep up with in the crowds, faster seating at fancy restaurants and at the bar, and not having to worry about pleasing someone else. Bring good walking shoes and have fun!
posted by gemmy at 6:52 PM on January 2, 2020

There's a Banksy exhibition at Immersion.
posted by sacrifix at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2020

My favorite underrated thing in Vegas is Sigma Derby at the D, a creaky old mechanical horse-racing betting game. It's very sustainable gambling (runs on quarters) and there's kind of a festival atmosphere surrounding it, much lighter and less intense than most casino games. Go there to feel like you're surrounded by friends even though you're flying solo. It's downtown, not on the strip, so you'll want to take a cab, but as a bonus you can see the Fremont Street Experience which is... surreal. The Neon Museum is also downtown and as good as everyone says.

On the Strip, the botanical garden at the Bellagio is always a fever dream, and often much easier to navigate if you're by yourself (it can get crowded). I also just love walking around Tiny Venice, Tiny Ancient Rome, Tiny Paris, etc., but I am just endlessly amused by simulacra.
posted by babelfish at 10:21 PM on January 2, 2020

Sigma Derby is super fun. I enjoy downtown in general for walking around by myself because everything is so much closer together and while it can be crowded you can duck into a casino easily unlike the strip where everything is so massive. We have enjoyed Le Thai downtown and love the El Cortez for cheap gambling.

"O" at Bellagio is awesome - the engineering on the stage design alone is just crazy.
posted by domino at 6:56 AM on January 3, 2020

I'm a pinball junkie, so the Pinball Hall of Fame is always a must for me.
posted by slogger at 8:33 AM on January 3, 2020

I went to the Cirque du Soleil Beatles show and loved every second.

My friends like to gamble. I don't. I found lists.
Fairly large list
Atlas Obscura
Time Out
US News

wifi is not ubiquitous, but the library has it and libraries are always my refuge. My hotel had a pool, the weather was nice and I swam most days. You don't have to do the super-touristy expensive stuff.
posted by theora55 at 9:44 AM on January 3, 2020

Response by poster: Thanks all! Great recs! Penn and Teller looks great, but they don’t seem to have a show next week. Womp.

Have people used the monorail? Is that a better bet with the crowds?
posted by inevitability at 12:30 PM on January 3, 2020

The monorail is helpful if you're on that side of the strip. I was staying at the Luxor, and crossing LV Blvd and going through MGM to find the monorail station took forever. It would have been easier to just grab a cab to get to Paris, my ultimate destination.
posted by hydra77 at 1:03 PM on January 3, 2020

There's also a tram that runs between Mandalay Bay / Luxor / Excalibur. That's quite helpful - you just have to learn where the tram 'stations' are at within each hotel. The trams are crowded because they're free, but they're quite helpful for saving a few steps.
posted by hydra77 at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2020

re:monorail and walking...It can't be emphasized enough how enormous each of the casinos are and how long it takes to walk inside from the front entrance (on the strip) to the back of the casino (where the monorail is). Whether it will be easier to tram from Mandalay to Excalibur, walk across the street to the MGM, walk through the MGM, then monorail it to the Convention Center or just take a cab, it is hard to say.
posted by mmascolino at 1:58 PM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

At Dig This Vegas, you can learn how to drive a backhoe for a couple hours. It’s *extremely fun*.
posted by wowenthusiast at 3:19 PM on January 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmm good to know, thanks for the tips! Yeah google does show far walking distances between entrances, I’m glad y’all warned me.
posted by inevitability at 10:32 AM on January 4, 2020

I'm someone who tends to scoff at Google's walking time estimates, but the thing about Vegas is it's so freaking crowded that you really do end up walking at a snail's pace.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:47 AM on January 5, 2020

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