Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Geek's Guide to Things to See At AWS re:Invent 2016

NOTE: I have received ZERO compensation for any of the businesses listed here, nor are they “officially” recommended by anyone else besides myself. Also, I originally wrote a very similar blog for another conference earlier this year. But the recommendations are still very valid, and worth sharing again.

I know that you are likely at AWS re:Invent next week, and it is about time to finalize your conference schedule and what to do when you are not at the conference (when you are not visiting the Cryptzone booth, of course!). If you are looking for something apart from computers and conferences to do, Vegas has it all. You can always look to the free “What to Do In Las Vegas” magazines for shows and other attractions, but I thought I would recommend a few things off the beaten path and more tailored to the crowd that will be attending the re:Invent conference – things that don’t require taking out a second mortgage or testing your luck with a one armed bandit.

Obligatory Free Stuff: Fountains, Gardens, Water Shows, and Volcanos.

The Strip can overwhelm the senses – from lights to smells to sounds. And the casinos have to pull you in somehow, so many offer free shows and attractions that are worth seeing. If you make your way down to the Bellagio, the Dancing Fountains are a Vegas “must see” attraction. While you are there, my wonderful wife would have me tell you to pop in and visit the Bellagio Conservatory, which rotates several times a year with the seasons. Next to the Venetian is the Wynn Las Vegas, and behind that man-made mountain of pine trees is actually a pretty cool water show at the Lake of Dreams. Lastly, across the Strip at the Mirage, the Volcano erupts several times every evening, usually on the hour. While not quite Yellowstone, it doesn’t have the sulfur smell that you have to put up with to see the real thing…

Get Your Geek On: The Toy Shack and Antiquities

If you make your way to Downtown Las Vegas (the Deuce bus picks up right in front of the Venetian, and I think it is $8 for a 24 hour pass), make certain to check out the Toy Shack. They specialize in sci-fi and vintage toys, especially from the 80s. Very cool Star Wars and GI Joe selection. But bring $$$.You will need it. A little closer to the Venetian at the Caesar’s Forum Shops is Antiquities. They have an awesome selection of exclusive memorabilia such as signed movie posters, but also have a good selection of loose action figures in the back of the store.

Serious Reading: Bauman Rare Books

On the second floor of the Palazzo shopping mall is my favorite store / museum in all of Las Vegas: Bauman Rare Books. This is not Barnes and Noble. This is where you come to find that signed first edition or extremely rare copy. They also have one-of-a-kind historical artifacts (I don’t know what else to call them) for sale – they had an original copy of the Declaration of Independence for sale there at one point, and currently have a copy of the Nuremburg Chronicles on display (printed in 1493). If you hit it big (and I mean real big) on the tables or slots, you might be able to afford something from this store. But it is free to have a look, and Rebecca Romney (store manager) will be happy to show you around.

Pinball Wizard: The Pinball Hall of Fame and Museum

I have no idea why this place doesn’t receive more exposure, but the Pinball Hall of Fame (PHoF) is maybe one of the coolest things in Las Vegas. They have over 150 playable pinball games – all in one place! Entrance to the PHoF is free, and all of the proceeds from the game play go to charity. Even if you are not a Pinball Wizard, this place is worth a look. It is a little ways from the conference, but the website has a decent map and bus routes.

Old School Vegas: The Neon Museum and Fremont Street Experience

Make your way back to Downtown Las Vegas in the evening – the table game minimums are much more reasonable and the slots are far looser (if that is your thing). The canopy that hangs over Fremont Street downtown is part of the Fremont Street Experience – a 5-8 minute show that starts on the hour after dark, and synchronizes to really good music. Worth seeing if you never have. While you are down there, a block off of Fremont Street is the Neon Museum. This is the place all the old casino neon signage comes to rest, and it is especially cool at night when it’s all lit up.

I hope these suggestions help you journey out on the town. There are sooooo many more things to do in Vegas that I didn’t have space to list - look me up at the Cryptzone booth (Booth #1918) while you are at the conference and we can compare notes!

See ya there!


Post a Comment