SPJ 2020 Journalism Conference • Sept. 12-13, 2020



Things to do in Las Vegas if…

By Billy O'Keefe

Las Vegas has something for everyone. Whether you’re over 21 or not, a high roller or inches away from the poor house, there are myriad ways for you to have fun during your time here.
Under 21:
Let’s face it; Las Vegas is a town made for the over-21 crowd. But don’t fret, minors, we’ve got you covered. Check out these fun activities and be sure to bring your camera everywhere you go. Just because you can’t waste quarters in the slot machines doesn’t mean you can’t venture outside the hotel and soak in the spectacular sights.

Where to Eat
By Fletcher Babb
RA Sushi
Fashion Show Mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Cuisine: Pan-Asian sushi
Cost: Lunch $7-9, Entreés $11-16, Signature sushi $7-14
RA Sushi provides an array of Pacific Rim dishes, from fresh sushi to spicy noodle dishes. If you’re craving something different at lunchtime, grab a Bento Box.
El Segundo Sol
Fashion Show Mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Cuisine: Mexican
Cost: Appetizers $3-10, Entrees $9-18
A new taqueria and bar featuring Mexican classics and a few North-of-the-border favorites. If you’re in a hurry, you can grab 3 “street tacos” for $6.95 or a burrito for $5.95.
Olives
Bellagio 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Cuisine: Modern Mediterranean
Cost: Á la carte, but diners can expect to pay $50-55 each.
Celebrity chef Todd English’s Olives boasts pastas, steaks, rotisserie dishes, brick oven-fired pizzas paired with wines recommended by world-class sommeliers. The restaurant also features a view of Lake Bellagio – perfect for the nighttime fountain shows. Dress code is business casual.
Provençal
Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Cuisine: French-Italian
Cost: Entrées $15-25
Like Provence itself, this restaurant offers regional French cuisine in an Old World village-style setting. Murals of rural France line the walls as the wait staff sings traditional songs in peasant attire.
Lotus of Siam
953 E. Sahara Ave.
Cuisine: Thai
Cost: Appetizers $6-10, Entrees $13-20, Specials $8-15
Located about three miles from the convention, this place has been hailed “the single best Thai restaurant in America” by Gourmet Magazine.
Serendipity 3
Caesar’s Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Cuisine: American Traditional, Café/Dessert
Cost: Appetizers $4-9, Entrees $15-23, Desserts $7-10
Despite its attractive, classic menu, Serendipity 3 is best known for its dessert menu, featuring pies, cobblers and the fabled Frrrozen Hot Chocolate.

Rides, rides and more rides! – The Roller Coaster at New York-New York surrounds a model New York City skyline complete with a replica Statue of Liberty and a 144-foot drop, topping out at 67 mph. Sahara has two high speed attractions: Cyber Speedway and Speed – The Ride (clever, right?). Cyber Speedway is simulated racecar driving with speeds reaching 220 mph. Speed – The Ride reaches speeds of 70 mph, includes a trip through an underground tunnel and goes as high as 224 feet. These are nothing compared to the thrill rides at the top of the Space Needle-esque Stratosphere, which offer the highest controlled jump in the world from the 108th floor called the SkyJump. They also have rides called Insanity, X-Scream and Big Shot, all of which take place more than 850 feet in the air. Look for all-day passes at these attractions.
Circus Circus – This place is swarming with those under 21 … and their parents. Circus Circus is, well, a circus inside a casino. There are acrobats, jugglers and tightrope walkers. Best of all, though, the shows are FREE. There are also carnival-style game booths all around where you can take your shot at winning a Las Vegas teddy bear!

Pinball Hall of Fame – If you grew up spending your quarters on pinball machines, this place will send you down memory lane with the world’s largest collection of pinball machines (152 of them). The machines go as far back as 1947 and all of them are available to play for 25 or 50 cents. There’s not a whole lot else inside the Hall of Fame, but with 152 machines to choose from, what else could you possibly need?
Atomic Testing Museum – From 1951-1992, the Department of Energy operated the Nevada Test Site 65 miles outside Las Vegas, to test atomic bombs. This 10,000-square-foot museum contains several artifacts and gadgets from the site, as well as a few short films and high-speed photography exhibits. The museum is meant to educate visitors about the impact of the site on our world’s history.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum – Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal to Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Wayne Newton or Shaquille O’Neal? Okay, so the star figures at the wax museum aren’t actually real, but they’ll make you look twice just to make sure. Snap some photos with the figures and your friends will never know the difference! Unless you choose of the many deceased stars at the museum … quick minds might see through that one. Tickets are $25 for adults, but there are discounts for those under 18.
Over 21+ college crowd/young professionals:

There is no better city to celebrate being of age than Las Vegas, which offers the best in all things adult related. Whether you just turned 21 or if it’s your first time in Vegas since reaching that magical number, take advantage by making time for these activities.
Sports betting at Las Vegas Hilton – Go place a $5 bet on your favorite college football or basketball team to win the national championship, no matter how lousy they are. It’s no fun rooting against your team and you’d have a pretty great story to tell if they come anywhere close to winning. The best place for sports betting is definitely the Las Vegas Hilton, which is the largest sports book in the world at over 30,000 square feet. Take in all the action on one of their 28 large televisions.
Poker Tournaments – If you have never played poker against anyone but your buddies, make sure you watch a few hands first to get a feel for how things are done in Vegas. Then, skip the regular tables where you’ll have to play with your own money and sign up for a buy-in poker tournament, where for around $50 you’ll receive about $4,000 in chips to play with. That way you’ll feel more comfortable calling that shady looking guy’s $1,000 raise.
Hang out by the pool – Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the 80s and 90s, meaning it’s perfect weather for the pool, especially for those of you who have been walking around in your fall sweaters back home. Las Vegas offers some of the most exotic pools you’ll ever see, many of which also offer poolside bars and gaming. Check out the Pleasure Pool at Planet Hollywood or if you want to venture out in your swimsuit, be sure to visit the pool at MGM Grand, which has a 1,000-foot-long lazy river ride. Or head downtown to the Golden Nugget and go down the waterslide that takes you through a 200,000-gallon saltwater tank with sharks and other fish. Don’t worry; the slide is covered.
Clubs – It wouldn’t be Las Vegas if it weren’t for the nightlife scene. Before you cough up the cover charge (which can easily cost $40 if you’re a guy) and skip the long lines, you might want to check out a few different places. Several clubs are only open Friday and Saturday, but here’s some places to check out the rest of the week: On Sundays, check out Tabu at MGM Grand. On Monday night, check out VooDoo Rooftop Nightclub at the top of the Rio or XS at Encore. On Tuesdays, one of the best spots on the Strip is inside Palms Casino Resort where you can buy an all-access pass for the Ghostbar, Moon Nightclub and the Playboy Clubs for $25. Other Tuesday hot spots include Blush at the Wynn, Pure at Caesars Palace and Tao at Venetian, which is holding a Prom Party! Be sure to dress up for the nightclubs since many of them have strict dress codes.
“Other” – Sin City obviously has a multitude of shows and venues, but we’re going to keep this PG and let you figure out those for yourselves. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, unless there’s photo evidence. Then it’s likely to end up on Facebook.
On a budget:

Whether you’re a poor college kid, still paying off those student loans, or just looking to have a little fun on the cheap, it’s still possible to get by in Vegas without emptying the bank account. Check out these FREE activities. That’s right, FREE, in Las Vegas.
Outdoor shows – There are three great outdoor shows that are a must see in Vegas and the best part about them is that they’re FREE! First there’s the Sirens of TI at Treasure Island. Then there’s the Volcano Show at the Mirage where every hour from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. the volcano erupts, shooting flames 100 feet into the air. Finally, there’s the Water Show at the Bellagio, where the famous choreographed fountains are sure to amaze you.
Lions, oh my! – At MGM Grand, only an inch-and-a-half piece of glass separates you from real live lions! Thirty-one lions are rotated in and out of the habitat from a ranch 12 miles away, with just a few on hand at a time. Watch the lions play, eat and mostly sleep (lions sleep about 18 to 20 hours a day). If animals are your thing, then also check out the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay and the Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage. However, the lion exhibit is the only one that’s FREE.
M & M’s World – It’s hard not to get that kid-in-the-candy-store feeling as you walk in M&M’s World and are greeted by walking M&M mascots and four floors of every piece of merchandise with an M&M logo on it that you could imagine. There’s even a 3-D movie and an M&M academy. The best part is that you can create your own bag of M&M’s by selecting from dozens of different colors. Mmm … & M.
City Center – The 76-acre city center located right on the strip opened in December 2009 after four years of construction. While there are plenty of hotels, spas, restaurants and shops to spend your money on here, the amazing architecture is what makes the City Center worth seeing. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything to just look around.

Fremont Street Experience – Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience will light up your night – literally. A canopy of more than 2 million lights with 550,000 watts of sound and special effects covers the five-block area and aids in an amazing light and sound show.  There’s also free entertainment and retail carts along the street.
Looking to splurge:
Hey, big spender! If you have a few extra bucks that you’ve been saving up to spend in Vegas, here are some recommendations on how to lighten that wallet.
Shopping at Fashion Show Mall – If you enjoy fashionable things from high-end retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Dillard’s, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s Home, then head down to Fashion Show Mall where you can find these and other stores and restaurants.
Cirque du Soleil shows – Las Vegas offers seven of the famous Cirque du Soleil shows which feature circus acts and street-like entertainment, all of which center around a central plot or theme (good luck figuring it out though). “O” at the Bellagio is the most expensive show (more than $100 a ticket), but is often rated as the best.  The Beatles-themed “Love” show at the Mirage is also popular. For a similar show, check out “Le Reve” at the Wynn.

Cabana by the pool – Most pool-goers will just be looking to get some sun or cool off in the water, but if you’re looking to splurge, go all out on renting a cabana. They’ll run you a pretty penny, but they typically come with some alcoholic beverages and a television.

David Copperfield – Like the Cirque du Soleil shows (and most shows on the Strip for that matter), David’s magic show at MGM Grand is fairly pricey, ($67, or $97.25) but it’s well worth the price of admission to watch him make a car appear out of nowhere and audience members disappear.

Play one of the $100 slots – Anyone can play the penny slots, but it takes a true high roller to have the guts to drop $100 on one chance at fortune that takes all of five seconds. Be sure to bring a photographer along on the off chance that you hit the jackpot. We’d probably even stick it on the front page of The Working Press. Oh, and I get 10 percent of any winnings for recommending this to you.
First time in Vegas:
If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you’re here for the Society of Professional Journalists’ convention (if not, I have no idea where you found this publication). Obviously you should go to the great sessions and workshops offered, but if this is your first time in Las Vegas be sure to make some time for these must-dos before leaving.
Photo by the Las Vegas sign – Don’t leave Vegas without taking a photo by the old ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign. Then make sure you TwitPic it and put it on Facebook for all your friends and colleagues to see!
Caesars Palace – This one’s easy. Step 1: Walk up to the front desk. Step 2: Ask if the real Caesar lived there. Step 3: Give the unamused clerk a smile and proceed to walk around the famous hotel.
Take some gaming classes – If this is your first time in Vegas, chances are you’re going to want to spend a little money at the gaming tables. Don’t resign to accepting the fact that you’ll lose money though! Many casinos offer free instruction on craps, blackjack and poker.
Eat at a buffet just once – Nothing goes together better than buffets and casinos. Steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes, please. Just about every hotel casino offers a buffet-style restaurant to entice people to come in and gamble. Despite the relatively low cost for the meal, the food is usually scrumptious.
Go to the top of the Stratosphere – Even If you’re not brave enough to ride the thrill rides at the top, you should still pay the $15.95 to take the elevator up to the observation deck. At 108 stories high, it’s the best way to get a perspective of the entire Strip lit up at night. Make sure you bring a camera!




The EIJ News