Neon Museum, Las Vegas
Las Vegas boasts a plethora of unusual, overlooked attractions
Boasting fabulous hotels, dazzling shows, dozens of world-class restaurants and every type of gaming imaginable, it’s easy to see why Las Vegas is often referred to as the Entertainment Capital of the World.
Some of the top attractions, such as the Cirque du Soleil shows and unique building facades, are famous worldwide. Las Vegas also features many lesser-known but fascinating options, including unusual and engaging activities.
“If you can dream it, you can do it in Las Vegas,” says Chris Meyer, vice president of business sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “With the presence and proliferation of social media, business visitors want to experience something new and different, and it’s a bonus if they can share with their colleagues and friends through the various social media channels.”
Most of the attractions are located along Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as The Strip, which is divided into north, mid and south sections. Captivating experiences are available throughout the city, however. By taking a look at under-the-radar attractions along and beyond The Strip, groups will be able to easily access those closest to where they are meeting and staying.
Canyon Blaster, Circus Circus Las Vegas
Not for the faint of heart, Sky Jump Las Vegas at Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel & Casino offers participants the opportunity to plummet 855 feet at a scream-inducing 40 mph while enjoying breathtaking views of The Strip. The jump, which is similar to sky diving and base jumping, is a free fall from the hotel’s 108th floor and is available day and night.
Participants in Sky Jump Las Vegas are given a short safety lesson and then don custom jump suits. Guide wires keep them from straying off course during the dive. A group rate is available for parties of eight or more.
The Adventuredome at Circus Circus Las Vegas features Canyon Blaster, the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster. It reaches speeds of 55 mph as it zooms through sharp twists and turns. Group discounts are offered at The Adventuredome, which includes several other rides, and customized special events can be arranged for up to 5,000.
Vdara Hotel & Spa at Aria Las Vegas
Caesars Palace Las Vegas features animatronic, 9-foot-tall Roman statues that suddenly come to life. They’re located at the Festival Fountain, and move and talk during a seven-minute, free mini-play that includes special lighting effects, heat, sound waves and smoke.
The costumes and props, which feature a 20-foot winged dragon, were created by the same special effects experts who worked on the movies Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean. The show takes place every hour on the hour, starting at 11 a.m.
Groups interested in dining in an unusual, elevated environment head straight for Mastro’s Ocean Club Las Vegas, where the main dining room is situated in the 80-foot-tall sculptural Tree House. Mastro’s, which serves up top steak and seafood options, also boasts three elegant private dining rooms overlooking the architecturally stunning Tree House. The rooms each seat 12 to 30 and are equipped with audio and video options. Mastro’s Ocean Club is also available for exclusive buyouts seating up to 300 guests.
Vdara Hotel & Spa at Aria Las Vegas doesn’t feature any strange attractions or activities—or many of the standard Sin City offerings—but that’s what makes it such an unusual property. It’s a nongaming, smoke-free, eco-friendly, all-suite boutique hotel situated between Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas and Bellagio Hotel and Casino. The AAA Four Diamond, Forbes Four Star property simply offers outstanding services and a host of attractive amenities, including an 18,000 square-foot, two-level spa and healthy but sumptuous dining options.
Dive with Sharks, Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas
Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas is home to more than 2,000 animals including saw fish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, jellyfish and rare golden crocodiles. Its main tank holds 1.3 million gallons, making it among the largest in North America.
If that isn’t enough, the aquarium offers plenty of activity options, including Dive with Sharks, in which participants dive with a higher concentration of exotic sharks than could ever be found in the wild. All divers must be certified and at least 18 years old. The activity is available to Mandalay Bay guests, M Life Gold and above reward program members, and annual-pass guests who are open-water certified divers.
After the dive, head to Aureole at Mandalay Bay restaurant, which features fine dining and a four-story wine tower with its very own flying Wine Angel Stewards, who gracefully ascend the tower to retrieve bottles for guests.
CSI, The Experience, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino features CSI: The Experience, which allows participants to play the roles of crime scene investigators in a hands-on activity that includes two state-of-the-art forensic crime labs and dazzling special effects.
Based on the hit TV show and guided by videos of cast members and real-life forensic scientists, participants perform realistic CSI tests such as matching DNA, examining bullet casings and identifying single strands of hair.
Blue Man Group, Luxor Las Vegas
Groups seeking an unusual show often opt for Blue Man Group at Luxor Las Vegas. Performed by a blue-painted cast, it’s a comedy, theater, rock concert and dance party all rolled into one. The current show features new music, design, technology and a finale that brings the entire audience together for a euphoric celebration.
Discounts are given to groups of 10 or more. Customized performances can be arranged for groups and a 75-minute behind-the-scenes tour is available prior to the first performance of the night.
Another Luxor attraction, Bodies…the Exhibition, showcases actual full-bodies and organs, providing a detailed, three-dimensional vision of the human form rarely seen outside of anatomy labs. The exhibition showcases 13 actual human bodies that have been dissected and preserved. More than 260 organs and partial body specimens can be viewed. Group discounts can be arranged.
Neon Museum consists of nearly 150 pieces that colorfully depict changes and trends in sign design from the 1930s to present. The museum provides the unique story of each sign, including who created it, what inspired it, where and when it was made, and the role it played in Las Vegas’ history.
The museum’s campus includes Neon Boneyard, an outdoor exhibition space; a visitor’s center located inside the former La Concha Motel lobby; and Neon Boneyard North Gallery, which houses additional rescued signs. The Neon Boneyard can be accessed only through an hour-long guided tour.
Neon Museum offers 6,600 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor meeting space.
Just a block away from The Strip, El Cortez Hotel & Casino is ideal for groups that want to take a step back in time. This is very appropriate, since it’s the longest continuously running hotel in Las Vegas. Siegel’s 1941 restaurant and The Parlour Bar & Lounge capture the atmosphere and intimacy of old Vegas with a modern sensibility. And it’s one of the few places left that has coin-operated penny and nickel gaming machines.
More Vegas Options
Ideal for team building, Countdown Las Vegas Westwood—located west of The Strip, off Interstate 15—offers Countdown Live Escape Games, interactive entertainment experiences in which a team is locked in a room and given the task to escape before time runs out. Participants must use their intellect and intuition to solve puzzles and decipher clues in order to find the key to unlock the door.
Teams can choose from three games, varying in difficulty and each lasting one hour. The games accommodate eight to 10 people.
The retro-chic Palms Casino Resort, located just west of the Center Strip area, is known for its unusual suites. The 4,500-square-foot Kingpin Suite features two fully functional bowling lanes, a spacious lounge and a theater-sized television. The Real World Suite was the actual setting for MTV’s Real World Las Vegas, from the bedrooms to the communal bathroom. Basketball fans love the 10,000-square-foot Hardwood Suite, featuring an indoor basketball court, professional locker room and NBA-sized fold-out beds that allow guests to sleep right on the court.
Dinner in the Sky Las Vegas
Billed as the most unique aerial dining experience in the United States, Dinner in the Sky Las Vegas is now under construction and is expected to open this spring at an undisclosed location on The Strip. It will feature a 200-foot-high permanent steel tower outfitted with two lifts capable of raising two 22-seat dinner tables 180 feet up in the air, suspending diners high above the famous Las Vegas skyline.
Guests will be served by a maitre d’, offered gourmet cuisine by a professional team of chefs and treated to fine spirits by a master mixologist. The tables will offer stunning views of the famous Las Vegas Strip, majestic Red Rock Canyon and surrounding areas.
Customized group events will be offered. Dinners can include a wide variety of additional options, from roses to champagne and chocolates.
Henderson & Summerlin
Lion Habitat Ranch, Henderson
Lion Habitat Ranch, which has cared for exotic animals since 1989, opened to the general public in 2012. The ranch, located in Henderson, is home to lions that were previously at MGM Lion Habitat. Visitors are welcome Friday through Monday, and are given the unique opportunity to feed a lion and a giraffe. Behind the scenes tours are available that show the feeding, cleaning, watering and bathing of the animals. Customized group tours and events can be arranged.
Sky Combat Ace in Henderson is an extreme adventurer’s paradise. Participants can choose between Aerobatics, in which they can flip, turn, tumble and cartwheel their plane; Air Combat, in which they learn the art of aerial dogfighting; Extreme Sightseeing, which enables them to fly over scenic areas; and Combination, offering a blend of the three other options.
Sky Combat Ace flies every day and has amassed a perfect safety record since opening in 2011. All of the pilots that accompany participants are chosen for their maturity, experience and unique qualifications.
Much More Than a Destination
All of these unusual attractions are ideal for attendees, who increasingly want to have memorable experiences that stimulate their engagement during trips and provide long-lasting memories.
“We are finding that groups want to get out of the traditional meeting room and have more experiences, which is great for us since Las Vegas is more than a destination—it is an experience,” Meyer says.
The experience is constantly evolving. In the spring, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino will welcome Topgolf Las Vegas, a 105,000-square-foot golfing complex with 108 hitting bays, VIP areas, water features, a concert stage and 3,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Hike of a Different Sort
CityCenter, situated in the Center Strip, boasts one of the world’s largest and most ambitious corporate art collections, the first major permanent collection of art to be integrated into a public space in Las Vegas. It features works by acclaimed artists, sculptors and visionaries including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Frank Stella, Henry Moore and Richard Long.
Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas, which opened at CityCenter in 2009, offers a 50-minute indoor hike that includes a tour of the collection. Certified trainer Rocket Rosen, who leads the hike, provides participants with the title and creator—as well as details—about each piece of artwork.
Hikes are tailored to each group’s fitness level, and can include climbing several flights of stairs, squats, push-ups, step-ups, lunges, crunches, leg lifts and planks. The hikes are available every day and can accommodate groups of up to 50.
Pinball Wizard’s Haven
Pinball wizards and others who want to relive or be introduced to the joy of the game can’t get enough of the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Street.
It houses 10,000 sq. ft. of pinball machines, one of the largest collections in the world. The games, which range from the 1950s to the 1990s, are owned by Tim Arnold, a member of the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club. All of the machines have been restored to like-new playing condition.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is not just a museum, though: All of the machines are available for play, with the older ones costing 25 cents and the 1990s models set at 50 cents. It’s a nonprofit venue, so after operating expenses, insurance and endowment savings are covered, all revenues are given to the Las Vegas branch of the Salvation Army.
Groups visiting the museum shouldn’t expect to find the typical glamour and glitter of Las Vegas. It has a rough and tumble feel, including a carpet that was used at a Las Vegas Convention Center weekend show and change machines that came straight from Golden Nugget’s trash dock. This is exactly what Arnold wants—a no-frills environment that focuses solely on the games.
Arnold has been in the pinball business since 1976, when he and his brother opened Pinball Pete’s in Lansing, Michigan. It became a local hot spot as well as a successful financial venture. Arnold sold his part of the business in 1990 and moved to Las Vegas, where he opened the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Shortly after he arrived, he picked up the phone and spoke with Midge Arthur, an administrative assistant at the Salvation Army in Las Vegas. “If I had money to give, what would you do with it?” he asked. They then had a long discussion about the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation programs, and it became clear that Arnold wanted to make sure that the money was going to help people. Shortly after the conversation, Arthur started receiving thousands of dollars in checks from Arnold.
Major Meeting Venues
Trump Hotel Las Vegas
Situated in 64-story, golden glass tower; 1,232 guest rooms, which boast panoramic views of the city set against a majestic backdrop of the surrounding mountains; 12,518 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Wynn/Encore Las Vegas
Mega resort property near the Center Strip; 4,750 guest rooms; three popular nightclubs; 260,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including many areas that boast floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views overlooking the pools and gardens.
Aria Resort & Casino Las Vegas
Located in the CityCenter complex; AAA Five Diamond, Forbes Five Star rating; 4,004 guest rooms; Zarkana, an acclaimed Cirque du Soleil show, features exotic creatures; fitness center; pool; 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Spacious resort with an ancient Roman motif; 3,960 guest rooms; 13 restaurants; elegant Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis; ongoing world-class shows; Qua Baths & Spa; 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
Skylofts and The Signature hotels onsite; 5,044 guest rooms; 13 dining options; Hakkasan nightclub features world-class DJs; Wet Republic Ultra Pool combines an exclusive nightlife vibe with poolside relaxation; 602,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino
AAA Four Diamond property in the heart of The Strip; 2,992 guest rooms; Hotel32 on top floor; nine restaurants; Street of Dreams shopping area; spa; four pools; 400-foot-long lazy river; 30,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Sands Expo & Convention Center
Across from The Venetian; 2.3 million sq. ft. of show-floor and meeting space; six exhibit halls, with largest providing 380,000 sq. ft.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Situated within CityCenter; 2,959 guest rooms; 17 restaurants; shopping; pools and cabanas; spa; 150,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Mirage Las Vegas
3,044 guest rooms; 13 restaurants; Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat; several nightlife options; spa; pools with waterfalls and lagoons; 170,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
The Venetian/The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino
Huge Center Strip resort; connected to Sands Expo & Convention Center; 7,093 guest rooms; rides in an authentic Venetian gondola; more than 2.25 million sq. ft. of meeting space.
Vdara Hotel & Spa at Aria Las Vegas
CityCenter property; AAA Four Diamond award-winner; all-suite, no gaming property; 1,495 suites; four dining options; top-rated spa ESPA at Vdara; 16,500 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas
Delano Las Vegas and Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas operate onsite; 3,300 guest rooms; spa; health club; direct access to Mandalay Beach; 2.1 million sq. ft. of meeting space.
South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa
More than 2,100 guest rooms, with all-suites top floor; rooms offer views of Las Vegas Strip or surrounding mountains; 11 restaurants; 64-lane bowling center; 165,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Tropicana Las Vegas
Casually elegant, newly renovated property on the Las Vegas Strip; just minutes from airport and convention centers; 1,658 guest rooms; 100,000-square-foot convention facility.
Las Vegas Convention Center
Adjacent to The Strip; one of the busiest convention centers in the world; encompasses approximately 3.2 million sq. ft.; 2 million sq. ft. of exhibit space; 250,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Palms Casino Resort
Just off the Center Strip; 1,200 guest rooms; 95,000-square-foot casino; 2,500-seat Pearl Theater; popular nightclubs, Moon and Rain; Ghostbar, on the 55th floor, offers excellent views; 60,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
Tuscany Suites & Casino
Located one block from the Center Strip; 716 suites; four restaurants; business center; Piazza Room features live entertainment most nights; fitness center; two pools; spa; more than 37,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; second-floor conference center contains a large ballroom.
Henderson & Summerlin
JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort & Spa
Situated west of The Strip, in Summerlin; 469 guest rooms; 50 acres of gardens, pools and waterfalls; 10 restaurants and lounges; casino; TPC Las Vegas golf course; spa; 135,359 sq. ft. of meeting space, divided among 38 rooms.
The M Resort Spa Casino Las Vegas
Located in Henderson, 8 miles from The Strip; 390 guest rooms; 92,000 sq. ft. of gaming; eight restaurants; five bars; Spa Mio; fitness center; pool; 92,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including 25,000-square-foot M Pavilion.
The Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa
3,600-acre lakefront resort in Henderson; health and wellness emphasized throughout property; 493 guest rooms; six dining options; 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course; spa; private beach; 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.