If Las Vegas Boulevard were a box of crayons, it would be the box with 120 different colors in it. Need a place to stay? It’s got both big gaming resorts and small, non-gaming boutique hotels. Hungry? Both casual eateries and fancy restaurants abound, serving virtually every variety of cuisine imaginable at virtually every possible price point. For shopping there are affordable shops as well as luxury boutiques, and for entertainment there are concerts, comedians, sporting events, and even theatre. The “Strip” has a shade for practically everyone.
Still, there are many more colors left to discover. And to repeat visitors, especially, the most interesting hues in Las Vegas lie beyond the bounds of Las Vegas Boulevard. For meeting planners who want to paint their next Las Vegas meeting with a different palette, these off-the-Strip spots shine especially bright:
Thanks to its cavernous casinos and bountiful indoor entertainment options, Vegas isn’t exactly known as a spot for outdoor meetings and events. Groups with a hankering for fresh air will therefore appreciate Springs Preserve (pictured), a 180-acre nature preserve that’s located just three miles from the Strip. A historical landmark that features museums, walking trails, and animal habitats — all dedicated to preserving and promoting local history and habitat — highlights include Boomtown 1905, a re-created historical streetscape that depicts Las Vegas’s humble beginnings; the seasonal butterfly habitat; the trackless train; and the Botanical Garden at Springs Preserve, which features thousands of Mojave Desert and desert-adapted plants. Groups can take advantage of the Preserve’s many indoor and outdoor event spaces, as well as its vast menu of programming, including teambuilding activities that incorporate its unique exhibits and environments.
Downtown Container Park
Downtown Las Vegas is in the midst of a major renaissance. The perfect embodiment of its transformation is Downtown Container Park. Opened in 2013 at the corner of 7th and Fremont Streets, the open-air shopping center and entertainment venue features 39 shops, restaurants, and bars built from 43 re-purposed shipping containers and 41 locally manufactured Xtreme cubes. Like Downtown Vegas itself, it’s a rebirth of something old into something new. Groups can congregate outside, where there’s a stage for performances and presentations; in one of the resident bars or restaurants; or at The Dome, where viewers in reclining seats enjoy a series of ultra-HD, 360-degree animated imagery set to music by the likes of U2, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin.
There’s no shortage of great restaurants at which to dine on the Strip. To experience the flavors that locals are most excited about, however, groups should venture two blocks east to Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina, a Latin-American cantina that has had Vegas foodies buzzing since its opening in June 2017. Located in a surprising place — the Hughes Center office complex — the restaurant serves creative south-of-the-border cuisine and innovative cocktails with a side of industrial-chic decor. Groups can reserve the stunning High Roller Patio for an al fresco event or the semi-private Bandito Dining Room for an indoor experience. The former includes outdoor seating for groups of up to 75 guests while the latter — known for its hand-painted mural and floor-to-ceiling windows — has room for groups of up to 40. Groups of up to 150 can take over both spaces at once. Or, there’s also a chef’s table for parties of 36 to 42, a non-private patio for groups of up to 40, and buyouts for groups of 200 to 250.
Herbs & Rye
Speaking of awesome local restaurants: The best way to find a hidden gem is to follow local chefs to their favorite after-work eatery. In Las Vegas, that’s Herbs & Rye, a sophisticated spot for spirits and steaks two miles west of Las Vegas Boulevard. A popular hangout for chefs who work on the Strip, it’s known for its extensive list of handmade classic and modern cocktails, its vintage atmosphere, and its succulent steakhouse fare. Between the luscious libations and the “Old Vegas” vibe, it’s the ideal spot for a private event with a local feel.
The Official SAW Escape
Escape Rooms are all the rage, and Las Vegas has plenty to choose from. The newest among them, however, is The Official SAW Escape, an immersive, multi-room escape experience based on the SAW franchise of horror films. Created by Jason Egan — founder of the 250,000-square-foot Fright Dome Halloween theme park at Circus Circus — in partnership with “SAW” production company Lionsgate Films, the progressive escape experience is located just a block from the Strip in a former casino chip factory. The premise: Guests arrive at a historic meat packing plant for an after hours tour and end up as players in an elaborate game devised by the “SAW” movies’ Jigsaw killer. Reads the game’s website: “By working together to combat their fears, venture far out of their comfort zones, and solve intricate puzzles, guests will have the opportunity to win their freedom as they traverse the twists and turns of an entire factory of Jigsaw’s games — one of the largest escape experiences in the world.” The experience is designed for groups of up to 12 people.