By Michelle Graff
The Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada, is about an hour outside Las Vegas and costs $10 per vehicle to enter. It is one of our budget-friendly suggestions for getting outside. (Photo credit: Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau)
It happens every year, to National Jeweler’s editors and everyone else, we suspect.

Market19 Article Page 315x258We all fly out to Vegas, run the crazy gamut of breakfasts, appointments and cocktail parties and, before we know it, it’s time to leave.

When we get home, we bemoan the fact that, after a half-dozen (or several dozen!) Vegas visits, we’ve hardly seen anything outside the couple of hotels that house the jewelry trade shows.
Will that change this year? It remains to be seen, but we hope that at least you, our readers—or your family members, friends or significant others who tag along—will find the time for the fun activities we list here.

For this what-to-do-in-Vegas guide, National Jeweler owes a huge thank you to the Las Vegas-based staff of the American Gem Society, as well as AGS’s former president and CEO Ruth Batson, for their input.

We combined their suggestions with our research to put together a list of activities at both the high and low ends of the budget spectrum, eschewing anything we felt was obvious in favor of discovering activities that even the most Vegas-weary veterans might not know about.

Enjoy, and see you in Vegas.

Grab a Drink and Unwind
Why not start with the category that’s likely to see the most action—where to grab an adult beverage or a non-alcoholic drink after show hours.
The most budget-friendly suggestion would be, of course, to take advantage of the free drinks they hand out on the casino floors but, then again, that can get expensive quickly if you’re not winning. And we know there are many of you who loathe the casinos.

So, we’re going to suggest establishments that appeal to a wide range of tastes, from those who make it their business to sample the local IPAs in every city they visit, to those whose standard order is a Maker’s Mark Manhattan up (like me).

20190510 Atomic LiquorsAtomic Liquors is the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas. Scenes for “The Twilight Zone,” “Casino,” and “The Hangover” were filmed there.
On the budget end of the spectrum, there’s Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street and Velveteen Rabbit in the Arts District.

Atomic Liquors lays claim to the title of “oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas.” It has been in operation since 1952 and has notched a not-insignificant amount of screen time over the decades.

Scenes for 1995’s “Casino” were filmed there, as was an episode of the original “The Twilight Zone” series. More recently, the bar can be seen in the background of the car crash scene in “The Hangover.”

Despite its name, Atomic Liquors has a healthy rotating selection of tap beers that, as of press time, include local brews from Nevada beer-makers like Big Dog’s Brewing Company and Joseph James, as well as drafts from breweries in Missouri, California and Oregon, among others.

The Velveteen Rabbit, meanwhile, also has a selection of beers rotating around its dozen taps and does seasonal craft cocktails.

Among the selections from the winter menu that caught our eye was the “Almond Joy Boilermaker:” dark-cocoa infused bourbon, almond and coconut flakes combined with Black Butte Porter.

20190510 Chandelier drink copyOne of the cocktails available at The Chandelier is “Video Killed the Radio Star,” which is cachaça with bergamot and passion fruit liqueurs. (Photo credit: Anthony Mair)
On the higher end of the budget spectrum, there’s The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan Hotel.

National Jeweler’s editors visited this spot a few years back, and we can promise that people who like sparkly things will love The Chandelier.

A couple fun facts about this tri-level hangout spot designed to give visitors the effect of sitting inside a high-end light fixture: There are 2 million crystals, and it takes a full year to clean all of them.

Guests can sit at the bottom, in the middle or at the top of The Chandelier, and each level has a slightly different drink menu.

Cocktails start at $16, and beer, wine, champagne and “mocktails” are available too.

Get Outside
In the desert outside Las Vegas, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone has erected seven 30- to 35-foot high boulder towers painted in Day-Glo shades of red, blue, green, pink, black and silver.

Called “Seven Magic Mountains” and opened in May 2016, the outdoor art installation was originally scheduled to come down in May 2018 but has been extended through the end of 2021 due to its popularity, says Amanda Horn, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Museum of Art.

There is no admission fee, and Seven Magic Mountains is open from sunrise to sunset.

Our suggestion: Go in the morning, when it’s still relatively cool, enjoy, be present. Don’t do it just for the ‘Gram.

Seven Magic Mountains is approximately a 25-minute drive from The Strip, and Horn says Vegas visitors often use ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber to get there.

(Following publication of this story in the Market Issue, it was announced that access to Seven Magic Mountains will be limited because the installation is being repainted. Horn said during the repainting, Seven Magic Mountains will be surrounded by an orange- fence barricade. Visitors will be able to walk up to the barricade, but won’t be able to walk through the individual sculptures or pose next to one for a photo.)

20190510 Seven Magic MountainsSeven Magic Mountains, artist Ugo Rondinone’s colorful art installation that opened in the desert outside Las Vegas in May 2016, is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission is free. (Photo credit: Gianfranco Gorgoni. Courtesy of Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art.)
Our next suggestion has both a cheap and a costly component and is probably best for someone who has a little bit more time either before or after the shows.

It is the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada, a 55-minute drive from Las Vegas.

The 40,000-acre park has bright-red Aztec sandstone outcroppings, petroglyphs that date back more than 2,000 years and ancient, petrified trees. Visitors can hike on their own, take guided tours or learn about the history and geology of the area in the (air-conditioned) visitors’ center.
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and it is $10 per vehicle to enter.

For those who prefer a more high-touch public park experience, there’s the Valley of Fire HeliYoga, billed as “the world’s most exclusive yoga experience.”

For $3,499, up to six people can take a 45-minute roundtrip helicopter ride from a Las Vegas Strip terminal to the top of the Valley of Fire, where a yoga instructor will lead a 75-minute session adoptable to all skill levels.

Maverick Helicopters works with Silent Savasana, a company that specializes in unique events involving yoga and meditation, to offer HeliYoga.

See a Show
There’s no shortage of shows to suggest, given how many high-profile stars have, or have had, residencies in Las Vegas in recent years—Celine Dion,
Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears (who was on an indefinite break as of press time) and now Spears’ fellow Mouseketeer, Christina Aguilera.

Aguilera, who once served as both muse and model for British jewelry designer Stephen Webster, confirmed at the beginning of the year that she will be headlining a show at Planet Hollywood’s Zappos Theater called “Christina Aguilera: The Xperience.”

As of press time, it was scheduled to kick off May 31, with shows on June 1, 5 and 8 as well. Show time is 9 p.m.

Tickets start at $60, which seems like a huge bargain to see a six-time Grammy winner and powerhouse vocalist like Aguilera.

20190510 Lady GagaLady Gaga performing on the opening night of her residency at Park MGM in December. (Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Park MGM)
Then there’s Lady Gaga.

The six-time Grammy and one-time Oscar winner serves up two distinct shows in Las Vegas, both at the new Park MGM.

In “Lady Gaga Enigma,” she does hits like “Just Dance,” “Telephone,” and “Bad Romance,” while “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano” features the “Shallow” singer performing selections from the Great American Songbook alongside stripped-down versions of her own songs.

Lady Gaga performs at the Park Theater inside the Park MGM Las Vegas and is scheduled to do her Enigma show on May 30, and June 1, 6 and 8. The Jazz & Piano show will go on June 2 and 9.

All shows start at 8 p.m.

Tickets for “Lady Gaga Jazz & Piano” start at $431, while the lowest-price ticket for Enigma as of press time was $850.

Get the Adrenaline Going
There are a couple rollercoasters in Las Vegas, but the thrill rides that garner the best reviews are all on top of the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, which, at 1,149 feet, bills itself as the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.

At one point, the Stratosphere had a rollercoaster called the High Roller but it was taken down in 2005. (The name has since been repurposed for the city’s 11-story-high Ferris wheel.)

In its place are four rides, the scariest of which are said to be “Insanity,” the “XScream” and “SkyJump,” which described as “probably the single most nerve-rattling ride experience on Earth.”

Jumpers leap from a platform outside the tower’s 108th floor (that’s 855 feet up, for anyone who was wondering) and hurtle toward Earth at speeds between 40-50 miles per hour before (hopefully) landing on the target below. It holds the Guinness World Record for highest commercial decelerator descent.

Those wanting to SkyJump must be at least 14 years old, and parental permission is required for those under 18. Pricing starts at $120 per jump, with price reductions for locals and those staying in the hotel.

Looking for something a little less costly that will also let you vent your frustrations about co-workers and colleagues? Try ax throwing.

Originally debuting as a leisure activity in Canada, ax-throwing bars have migrated south and are debuting all over the United States, from New York to Detroit to Los Angeles and, of course, Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas ax-throwing experience is under the operation of a company called Axe Monkeys, and prices start at $25 for adults for one hour or $40 for two hours.

The Axe Monkeys facility also has what’s described as the “Rage Room,” where people pay to enter and break stuff, either items they bring or purchase there. Prices start at $15 for a 20-minute session.

“Come in and rage your troubles away!” the website states. No judgment here.

Editor’s note: This story was updated post-publication to include new information about Seven Magic Mountains.

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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.