Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#NGS2013 Downside of Vegas

Don’t forget, today’s the last day to register for the Early Bird price. Register at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/conference_info.

The Las Vegas Paris Hotel by nightWhile I’m excited to go to Las Vegas for the 2013 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, I’m not so excited about Vegas itself. Twenty years ago I could have given you lots of advice about Vegas because I annually attended a technology conference there. But it has been that long since I’ve been in downtown Vegas, so my information is no longer current. Keep in mind, also, that I have very conservative moral values. Vegas may not be as offensive to you as it is to me.

There was cigarette smoke everywhere. There were more slot machines than there were people. Billboards, particularly on the taxis, included severely undressed individuals. Ill kept individuals hung out on street corners handing out advertisements for providers of sexual entertainment. I learned not to accept anything extended my direction.

However, most of the inappropriate sides of Vegas were easy to avoid if you didn’t go seeking them. 

The Las Vegas Hilton (now the LVH) was off the strip and didn’t offer any offensive entertainment. Since it is the site of all conference sessions, I think it makes sense to stay there. The conference rate of $119 single/double seems very competitive. (Advertised rates for $69 are never going to apply to the nights you wish to stay. Neither do AAA or senior discounts.)

There were no fast food within quick walking distance of the Hilton back then. The LVH offers 13 restaurants and eateries, from Pizza Hut Express to Benihana. If you can afford the food, you could spend the whole conference there and avoid everything Vegas has to offer. 

But why would you want to? Even with my very conservative morals, Vegas has something to offer.

There are world class restaurants. There are fun shopping areas like the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and the indoor version of Venice at The Grand Canal Shoppes. There are shows like Cirque du Soleil (avoid the adult version), Blue Man Group, and (if your timing is good) performers like David Copperfield, Celine Dion, and Donny and Marie. (I avoid the comedians, as I don’t know which ones tell dirty jokes.)

Back in the day, my coworkers and I bent over backwards to see the shortest, but free entertainment. The Mirage Volcano was just new. There was a short pirate ship show in front of Treasure Island. There was the Luxor laser light show. There were the flashing lights and neon of the Strip at night. Now there is the Fountains at Bellagio. Are there other such free mini-spectaculars?

Check out the conservative, convenient Las Vegas area tours that NGS has put together for Tuesday, the day before the show begins.

For more information, check out Frommer’s online guide to Las Vegas.

Help me out. Tell me what’s changed. Are there more freebies like the Mirage Volcano? Is smoking still prevalent? How do I tell if a show will be offensive? What is this new monorail? What role can it play for the NGS conference? Leave me a comment.


  1. I was in Vegas 2 years ago; it really had not changed that much from my previous visits. Like most cities these days, smoking is generally not allowed in most public indoor places such as hotel lobbies, theaters, restaurants, etc. The big exception is casinos, but it sounds like you won't be spending a lot of time there.

    I didn't use the monorail, but it seemed to be just one more public transportation system. It runs north and south near the strip and does not have very many stops - 7, I think. It seemed a bit pricey to me - $5 per ride, with all-day passes available if you plan to ride multiple times. If the stops are near where you are going, it will be cheaper than taxicabs.

  2. I seem to spend time in Las Vegas every two or three years whether I need to or not. My career in Silicon Valley marketing meant it used to be CES or COMDEX. Sometimes an absence of a year meant I hardly recognized the place. I was never into the whole "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" thing so probably missed what some folks enjoyed. These days I sense things are moving a lot slower in LV and that's OK with me. I'm looking forward to a trip to the conference in May where I can spend time doing what I love vs. just doing my job. I went to Cincinnati last year and it was a great experience but Vegas is closer to home, a lot less expensive and will work just fine. I think there is a way for everyone to get a lot out of the Las Vegas conference.


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