Trip Diary: Las Vegas

Why the American Library Association saw fit to drag 13,000 librarians to Las Vegas in June is beyond me, but that’s where we were for this year’s conference. It had been 30 years since the last time ALA rotated through Vegas, and I heard many people say they hoped it was at least 30 more.

Conferences are draining enough, and being in Vegas made this easily 3x worse. The heat and dryness kept everyone dehydrated (I saw a fellow conference-goer collapse inside the convention center on day one). This conference is large enough that it’s normally spread out across several hotels, and that was the case with Vegas. I don’t think getting to the hotels took that much more time than it usually would, the problem was mostly with finding the room you were looking for once you made it inside these hotels, which all have casinos and are all designed to keep you on the casino floor. Signage is either incomplete, cleverly blended into the surroundings, or just plan nonexistent. I got lost in Caesars Palace, where I stayed, three or four times in the first day and a half I was there. 

Slept At: Caesars Palace, which was a co-headquarters hotel despite being at the opposite end of the strip from the convention center. The room was fine, overlarge (it had a sitting area and the bathroom was huge) but clean and comfortable. I lucked out and had quiet neighbors. Staff I interacted with were friendly and efficient.

Ate At: 

  • Public House – Fantastic gastropub inside The Venetian. Easily my favorite place of this whole list.
  • Peppermill Restaurant & Lounge – Awesome, old-Vegas style restaurant. Open 24 hours with insanely large portions. Definitely worth checking out if you’re nearby.
  • 888 Noodle Bar – Inside the LVH, in the area that later turns into Benihaha at dinner, this was a great option for lunch. Food came up very fast, though I should note that there were not many people there at the time.
  • Canonita – A fine dining restaurant billing itself as Mexico City soul food, situated alongside the canal inside the Venetian. Those things don’t really go together, but the food was quite good.
  • Burger Bistro – Also inside the LVH. Not particularly good but served the purpose of getting me fed. The day I went they were understaffed at lunch, which seems dumb given that it’s a restaurant inside a giant hotel attached to a convention center.
  • Trattoria del Lupo – Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant at Mandalay Bay. Quite delicious and a nice atmosphere. Another I’d recommend.
  • Eiffel Tower Restaurant – We had a fun dinner, and I’m glad I went, though you’re mostly paying for the view (or lack thereof) of the fountains at the Bellagio.
  • Payard Patisserie – Cafe inside Caesars – this is a good bet for breakfast, assuming the line isn’t huge. It’s hard to tell what they have from outside, but they have a wide variety of pastries, including quiche and some breakfast sandwiches.
  • Triple 7 Brewery – Just off Fremont Street. Food was nothing special (basically straight out of a Sysco truck from what I could tell) but this place was so cheap compared to restaurants on the strip, we didn’t even care. My friend picked up the entire check for all of three us since the menu said they wouldn’t split checks.

I had a couple of lunches from the convention center amenities, which were fine. The self-serve salad bar was great, and a yogurt parfait hit the spot one day. I also had a bagel one day from a sandwich stand inside Caesars that I think must only be doing breakfast while they build a Starbucks next door. About all I can say is that it got food and coffee in my stomach and I was able to find it in the morning.

Getting Around: If I couldn’t walk, I took a cab or the conference shuttle to wherever I was going. Many people were also taking the monorail, but I was on the wrong side of the strip for that to be particularly convenient. It’s important to note two things about cabs in Vegas – some don’t take credit cards (though I believe I only encountered one in all the cabs I took) and there’s a $3 surcharge to pay by credit card.