Oh goody! It’s CES. The one time of year when Las Vegas stops being a place San Francisco residents can fly to in order to avoid startup idiots wearing Google Glass and braying about their phones. Or, in my case, the one time of year when living here no longer enables me to do that.
But, still, now you’re all here: welcome! I’m thrilled to see so many of you here! Cool phone!
I’m sure you’ve already got your trip all planned: some party with the Counting Crows or Matchbox 20 or Green Day or whatever, a keynote by the guy who did that thing once, a free Twitter bar and then off to Marquee or Pure or (huhr huhr) Sapphire… or — if you’re a trailblazer — a place on Fremont Street you heard about, to see what the scene is like off the Strip.
These are all great ideas.
But if, in the unlikely event that you find yourself wanting to escape the razzle-dazzle of big screen TVs, ten grand table service (“Don’t worry, bro, my investors got this!”), booth babes (and booth boys) and cocktails with plastic LED ice-cubes, there are still a few places in town that should remain relatively lanyard-free this week.
Vegas is, after all, an actual city where real people live. Real people who will likely kill me for recommending the following ten local attractions…
1) The Atomic Testing Museum and the Pinball Hall of Fame
The NATM and THAF are comfortably the best museums in Vegas since the demise of the Liberace museum and Elvis-A-Rama. Also worth a look, but less guaranteed to be CES-free as it’s right in the heart of Tonyville, is the reasonably new Mob Museum.
2) Red Rock Canyon
For some reason, everyone who lives here raves about the Red Rock hotel and spa. Maybe because there’s bowling (although if you want bowling, you really need to go to Drink and Drag.) What the hotel is good for, however, is its proximity to Red Rock Canyon, the closest hiking to the Strip. Too lazy for hiking? Rent a car and drive the loop.
3) Town Square
It may not have the best Apple Store in town (that’s either the new one at Fashion Show Mall or the late night one at Caesars) but it’s certainly likely to be the emptiest this week. There’s also a Fry’s across the street, a Whole Foods and a pretty decent movie theater.
Best sushi in town. Nicolas Cage goes there.
5) The Omelet House
Best eggs in town. Cage free.
6) The Velveteen Rabbit
The only bar this week that won’t be full of people like you.
7) Ethel M Chocolate Factory Tour and Cactus Garden
Because even Willy Wonka didn’t have a fucking cactus garden.
8) Circus Circus
If you can’t bear to leave the strip, at the very least venture as far as Circus Circus and give yourself the Hunter S Thompson tour of the, largely un-modernized, mezzanine level, including a free trapeeze show.
9) The Peppermill
Across the street(ish) from Circus Circus, the Peppermill is a 24 hour diner and bar, replete with fire-pits and portion sizes that will actually kill you.
10) Symphony Park
If, for some unfathomable reason, you’ve brought your children with you to CES, be sure to take them to the Discovery Children’s Museum in the (somewhat) newly completed Symphony Park. Grown-ups will likely prefer the genuinely splendid Smith Center concert hall which unfortunately this week is playing Mamma Mia, the ABBA musical.
[Photo: Velveteen Rabbit]