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Las Vegas is known for a city of decadence and sometimes debauchery, but if you’re traveling for work, chances are you’re here for a conference. There’s no shortage of things to see and do after 5:00 pm – in fact, the city doesn’t really open up until noon anyway!
You have to see the Fremont Street Experience of downtown Las Vegas, pictured above. Only a short Lyft ride from The Strip, downtown Las Vegas is sometimes known as the “old” Vegas, before The Strip’s newer, gigantic hotel-casinos existed. While downtown Las Vegas is a little less glitzy than The Strip, it’s a must-see because of the Fremont Street Experience, an outdoor light-show in the middle of old downtown. Beginning around dusk every night, you’ll see street performers and light shows amidst all the casinos. And while you’re downtown, check out some of these other great activities too!
How to Get to Las Vegas
The Las Vegas McCarran airport is a short drive from The Strip, which is where you’ll probably be staying. Even if you’re staying off The Strip or elsewhere in the city, the airport is pretty centrally located. While there are public transport options, you’ll save a significant amount of time by simply taking a cab or ride-share service from the airport to your hotel.
Don’t rent a car. Most hotels and venues have outrageous valet parking fees, usually upwards of $50 per day. Besides that, ride-sharing is readily available, with dedicated pickup and drop-off areas at most locations. Additionally, many hotels have complimentary shuttles between neighboring and partnering properties, such as the Aria Express Tram that connects the Bellagio, Vdara, ARIA, and Park MGM.
Where to Eat Dinner in Las Vegas
Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres // This restaurant, located off The Strip, earns its description as a “groundbreaking culinary experience.” It’s not cheap, and it’s not for vegetarians, but it’s spectacular for meat lovers. Expect top-notch, traditional steaks, and also less traditional meat-focused dishes; shown below is the “super-giant pork-skin chicharron,” which melts in your mouth.
Block 16 Urban Food Hall // The Cosmpolitan hotel, in the center of The Strip, is centrally located and has some excellent restaurants all next to each other in its modern food hall. You can order some excellent sushi hand rolls and eat them alongside Nashville-style hot chicken, then have some New Orleans donuts. Feel free to walk around and sample everything.
Nobu Las Vegas at Caesars Palace // If you’re planning a client dinner, Nobu is a good option, with excellent Japanese dishes and service that will accommodate fussy eaters. It’s also in the center of The Strip and pretty pricey. However, if you have some advance notice before your trip to Vegas, there is a way to use hotel status matches to get $100 off your dinner.
Downtown Cocktail Room // Serious cocktail lovers, go here. It’s an understated cocktail bar in downtown Las Vegas, hence the name, where they make every cocktail carefully by hand. And if you can come right after 5, everything is half off from 5-7p Tuesday-Saturday. Vegas has a well-earned reputation of the $20 vodka-soda that you’ll typically get at a club on The Strip. For $14, or $7 during happy hour, DCR will serve you an “autumn in DTLV,” with rye, spices, coconut milk, and a gingersnap cookie garnish, among other ingredients. Just don’t expect speedy service with all of that creativity; handmade cocktails take time.
Holstein’s Shakes and Buns // This is another recommendation inside the Cosmopolitan hotel, and it has a huge beer list, lots of burgers, and beautiful boozy milkshakes too. Save room for dessert.
Things to Do in Las Vegas at Night
Go to a show // Las Vegas is known for all forms of entertainment – from magic shows, to acrobatic shows, to pop stars’ concerts, and beyond. On any given night, you’ll have more shows and venues than you can possibly choose from. If you’re unsure of what you want to see, either check with your hotel’s concierge, or check out Tix4Tonight to see what’s on sale. I’ve snagged last-minute tickets to excellent magic shows for about $10 apiece before.
Walk through The Bellagio’s garden // The Bellagio is one of the most iconic center-Strip hotels, and its “gardens” are a huge (free) draw to get people inside the casino. They change themes constantly, but they’re always elaborate and ornate displays with tens of thousands of flowers. (Considering staying at The Bellagio? Check out my experience as a hotel guest here.)
Catch a fountain show // Speaking of The Bellagio, they have an iconic, free outdoor show at night too! The fountains spout big geysers of water into the air in time to music, drawing passersby multiple times per day. In the afternoons, the shows happen every 30 minutes; once nighttime hits, you’ll see a show every 15 minutes.
Visit Container Park // After catching happy hour at Downtown Cocktail Room, take a 10-minute walk over to Container Park, a big group of businesses made out of…shipping containers. Various shops and restaurants surround a grassy park area, where shoppers can eat and drink and visit together. Presiding over Container Park is the mantis, a preying mantis sculpture made of reclaimed material.
Gamble! // Even if you’re not a gambler, you should at least watch the experience, and maybe attend a free lesson to try to understand what some of the games are all about. Gambling is a 24-hour affair, and if you’re seated at a table or slot machine, the cocktails are free (just tip the cocktail waitress).
Also check out:
- San Jose, CA After 5:00 pm
- Huntsville, Alabama After 5:00 pm
- Walnut Creek, CA After 5:00 pm
- Culver City, Los Angeles After 5:00 pm
- Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles After 5:00 pm
- Duluth, Minnesota After 5:00 pm