Take Five With Tom Fenton

Take Five with Tom Fenton: Five (Other) Things to Do in Vegas at VMware Explore 2023

VMware Explore will be held at the Venetian Convention Center in Las Vegas on Aug. 21-24, 2023. For end-user computing (EUC) I've already shared my must-see EUC sessions and non-EUC sessions. While Las Vegas is well known for its gambling and spectacular shows, there is so much more than that to see and do while you are there. If it is your first time in Vegas, or you have only been to conventions on the Strip, you'll want to extend your stay and set aside some of your free time to explore the city and surrounding area.

[Click on image for larger view.]

Of course, there are some well-known sites and activities that show up on most "must-do in Las Vegas" lists, such as walking around the Strip to eat and drink, and shopping in the magnificent casinos and hotels. But the area around Vegas has so much more to offer. In this column, I wanted to share five of the lesser-known places I've enjoyed while visiting Vegas. Please note that I did not include location visiting hours or admission fees, as they may change.

Take 1: The Great Outdoors
When you fly into Las Vegas, you will notice that it is situated in a basin on the floor of the Mojave Desert and is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Outside the city, the landscape is rocky and arid, with desert vegetation and wildlife. I have found that the outdoors around Vegas is more spectacular than the city, and you can rent a car at a reasonable rate or catch a tour to visit it. About 25 miles west of town is Red Rock Canyon, with some fantastic scenery and hiking trails. An hour west of town is Valley of Fire State Park. Due to its distance, it is not as visited as frequently as other parks, and some hiking trails are closed during the summer, but it has some fantastic desert scenery. East of town is the Hoover Dam, which has a great tour that takes you inside -- the dam's size is awe-inspiring. A little-known site on the way to the dam is a 1930s railroad tunnel you can hike through. However, you don't need to go miles out of town to get to the great outdoors. Lone Mountain Trail is inside the city limits and is only a 20-minute ride from the Venetian Hotel. From the top of the 550-foot mountain (mound), you can get a really nice view of the city.

[Click on image for larger view.]

If you are going on a hike, make sure to go early and bring water, as it will be hot in Vegas in August.

Take 2: Fremont Street
The Strip is fun to wander up and down, but the Strip is "new "Las Vegas. Originally, the casinos were on Freemont Street; many are still there today. Freemont Street is much more laid back than the strip and has free street concerts, excellent restaurants, and a cool nightly light show.

[Click on image for larger view.]

Take 3: TV Show Sites
Many reality TV shows are based in Vegas. What you might not know is that you can visit some of these filming locations. If you hit it big on the tables, you can go to Count Kustoms, home of Counting Cars, and pick up a car. If your luck isn't so good, you can visit the shop or the world-famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop from Pawn Stars -- and see if they will give you anything for your vintage VMworld t-shirt or backpack. I find American Restoration amazing, and I really enjoyed it, but it looks like they moved and are no longer taking tours.

[Click on image for larger view.]

While not really a TV show site, just down the strip and worth is a visit is the Shelby automobile shop. You used to be able to walk around the cars for free, but now I see that they have paid tours. I am not sure if you need to go on the tour to see the cars or not, so you may want to call ahead and check.

[Click on image for larger view.]

Take 4: Davidoff
One of my favorite places to hang out and have a beverage is the Davidoff Cigar Bar, which is right across the street from the Venetian! It has outdoor seating, so you can sit and watch the rich kids in Lambos and Harleys throwing revs up and down the Strip.

[Click on image for larger view.]

Take 5: Double Down Saloon
Whereas Davidoff's can be a little bit on the spendy side and classy, the Double Down Saloon is unabashedly not. It is a small punkish bar with cheap drinks, a friendly crowd, and live bands. It is an 11-minute ride or a 45-minute walk from the Venetian and usually where I can be found after the Explore Party.

[Click on image for larger view.]

Of course, the main thrust of coming to Vegas is Explore, but if you haven't been to Vegas before or are traveling a long distance, you should set aside some time to recover from jet lag and recuperate after the event and see some of the other attractions that Vegas has to offer. Hopefully these five suggestions will help you explore the area.

Hope to see you in Vegas, Baby, Vegas!

To register for VMware Explore, click here; for the complete catalog, click here.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 30 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 20 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He currently works as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He previously worked at VMware in Staff and Senior level positions. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on X @vDoppler.


Subscribe on YouTube