So, you’re making the trek to Las Vegas for CES. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a veteran it’s always good to get some pointers and tips about CES and Las Vegas, and that’s why we’re here to help…why us? Because we are a company based in Las Vegas and we have plenty of experience with CES.
So here’s some of our tips about both CES and Las Vegas itself.
CES Badge Pickup:
You would think picking up your badge would be a simple in-and-out process…but you couldn’t be more wrong. Depending on where/when you go it can be a miserably long wait. Based on our experience here are 3 tips to make the badge pickup a pain-free process.
- Try to get it as early in the show as possible. While the show doesn’t kick off until January 5, the badge pickup can be done as early as January 5. The sooner in the week you go the less lineups you will encounter.
- Go early in the day. Yes, your mom was right…the early bird gets the worm. Or in this case the early bird beats the traffic and gets their badge in 2 minutes. Most of the badge pickup options open at 8:00 am and we recommend you getting there at 8:00 am to avoid any lines.
- What does your real estate agent say? Location, location, location. A good location is very important in real estate…however, when it comes to picking up your CES badge it’s better to go to a bad location. Wait, what? Yes, we said bad location. See most people will make the mistake of getting their badge at the airport or the convention center, and for good reason. Those are the most convenient location for CES attendees…but that’s also why the badge lines are crowded there. In our experience it’s the best to go to one of the more low-key badge pickup locations such as the Wynn, Westin, or Circus Circus.
Getting around CES can become overwhelming to say the least. There are multiple locations that host the exhibits and they seem to go on for hours on end. While there is some joy in randomly walking around and discovering new tech, that can become exhausting. Our recommendation is to plot out your plan before you arrive.
Take a look at the exhibitors map and make sure you check out the ones you absolutely must see. It’s best to choose one location per day and stay there all day, so check out everything at the Venetian one day, the South Hall the next day, etc. The more you plan the less draining CES will be on you.
Here are some of our other tips from years of going to CES:
- Wear comfortable shoes: It sounds silly but you will likely walk a few miles each day going around the CES exhibits so wearing comfortable shoes is important so you aren’t dying by the end of day 1. Don’t get us wrong, we understand that if you have to meet with a client or go to a business meeting you need to dress up, but other than that do yourself a favor and wear flat comfortable shoes, preferably sneakers.
- Plan according to security restrictions: Read up on the CES security restrictions and plan accordingly. As an example there are restrictions on bag sizes you can bring into the CES show floor and luggage is not permitted. Plan accordingly.
- Use the free shuttle service: Know the shuttle schedule and which shuttle takes you to the location you need. Parking is not free (and it’s usually crowded) so taking the shuttle is the most efficient and affordable way of getting to and from CES.
- WiFi and Hotspot issues: Be prepared that everyone that comes to CES is trying to use WiFi or personal hotspots, and these services rarely end up working because of all the interference. In our experience if you have a need for Internet usage it’s best to go away from the CES show floor where there would be less interference and a better chance of connecting to WiFi. Plan any meetings accordingly.
- Pricy food/coffee: If you plan on eating at a CES location be prepared to pay a lot of money for some terrible food. It’s always better to try and get your food/coffee off-premises whenever possible.
Getting Around Town:
The strip is chaotic at the best of times, but during CES it can be an absolute nightmare. While most hotels offer a free shuttle service to the main CES locations, what about those times where you want to explore the city on your own? You have a few options and we’ll lay them out for you.
Taxis: This is an obvious choice…and also a pretty bad choice. If we’re being honest, taking a taxi in Las Vegas is a ripoff. It was recently revealed that Las Vegas has the fourth highest taxi rates in the country. Taking a taxi only makes sense if you’re sharing with a group, otherwise this should be a last resort option.
Uber/Lyft: For sheer value this is your best option. Although prices tend to be a bit higher during high-volume times like CES, it still beats taking a taxi hands-down.
One quick note, whether you’re taking a taxi or using a lift-sharing service make sure you tell the driver to avoid Las Vegas Blvd. NO MATTER WHAT. Unless you enjoy the idea of taking an hour to drive ¼ mile then our recommendation is to avoid the strip. Especially in a taxi that takes money by the minute. Good alternatives to using the strip include Frank Sinatra Drive or Koval Lane, each run parallel to the strip so you can get to where you need while avoiding the chaos of the strip.
Monorail: This is the last option for getting around town. The pros of using the monorail include avoiding the chaos of the strip we mentioned above. The cons are that the monorail can be crowded and it only covers a specific 4 miles of track. It can also be somewhat expensive, especially for a single trip ticket. However if you plan to stick to just moving around the strip, it can be a good option and there are reduced rates for CES users. Our recommendation is to go for one of the multi-day ticket options.
Dining – On the Strip
Eating on the strip can unfortunately be not only very expensive, but also somewhat of a letdown. Sure Las Vegas does have restaurants of some of the most renowned chefs all around town but unless you like your meals to cost as much as a car payment you need to find dining options that are both reasonably priced and have good quality. One thing to always consider is how busy restaurants get during CES so it’s recommended to either make reservations or get there well in advance of when you want to actually eat.
These are the options that will leave you satisfied without burning a hole in your pocket:
Mon Ami Gabi: Excellent French restaurant located in the Paris hotel. One of the few places in the city where you can find a reasonably priced steak. We recommend going with one of the Steak Frites options. As an added bonus if you sit outside you’ll get a wonderful view of the Bellagio fountain show.
Holsteins: Some people may be put off by the gourmet burger trend but Holsteins is one of the better options out there. Located in the Cosmopolitan hotel it’s both reasonably priced and great quality. You can’t go wrong with their Gold Standard or The Rising Sun burger options…not to mention one of their awesome shakes.
House of Blues: This might be common in many cities, but we’re just a sucker for good southern cooking. Located in Mandalay Bay, it has some of the best southern food we’ve tried…and the Lobster Mac & Cheese is one of the best comfort dishes you can have in this city.
At this point you’re probably wondering when we’re going to get to one of the famous buffet options…well, I hate to break it to you but we’re not. Unfortunately the majority of the buffets are really overpriced with subpar quality food.
Yes you get a lot of food, but most of the time you’ll be lucky if you find 1 or 2 truly good items. You end up waiting in a long line and paying a ton of money for a lot of not-great food.
However we do have a recommendation if you want to stuff your face. Fogo de Chao is unquestionably the best bargain in the city. Between the stocked salad bar and the 13 types of meat (including filet mignon) that come to your table you can eat until you pass out and the quality is top-notch. It’s slightly off-strip on Flamingo Road but worth the trip. As an added bonus Fogo de Chao has some great drink options including the Caipirinha and the Caramelized Pineapple Old Fashioned.
Dining – Off Strip
Most people come to Las Vegas, go to the strip, and never venture out. It’s understandable but it’s too bad, especially when it comes to the dining experience. For those that are willing to be adventurous there are some amazing dining experiences to be had away from the strip. Some of these are a bit of a journey (aka don’t take a taxi) but well worth it.
Ventano Italian: Great Italian food along with a nice strip view. Reasonably priced and healthy portions. The Veal Prosciutto is one of our favorites.
Naga Thai: Lovers of Thai food will not be let down with Naga. The Rama Noodles, Tom Yum soup, and Pad Thai are highly recommended. Spice levels can be customized to accommodate those that can’t handle spicy foods too well (or the adventurous ones that want their spice in overdrive).
Pizza Rock: When a pizza place is featured on the Food Network then you know you have a good option. With two locations in Las Vegas you can choose which one works best for you. Their New York Pizza is one of the best in the city.
Wendy’s Noodle Café: A great Asian-fusion restaurant located near Chinatown. The Honey Glazed Eggplant is one of our favorite dishes in Las Vegas.
Marche Bacchus: A favorite of locals with a stellar wine selection and the best gourmet food off strip but with reasonable prices. It sits in a neighborhood about 12 miles off the strip, but you dine outside next to a lake (yes a lake in the desert).
For a city that has so much alcohol flowing, Las Vegas surprisingly does not have many places to get a well-crafted cocktail. These are some of the places that are worth getting a drink:
Boiler Room: Located in Mandalay Bay this place has not only a good selection of unique cocktails but it’s also a great place to grab some appetizers or bar food.
Mandarin Oriental Bar: Located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel this bar has floor-to-ceiling windows offering amazing views of the strip.
Monkey Bar: Located in the SLS hotel this place is your classic hotel lobby bar, but unlike many other lobby bars in Las Vegas the drinks are well-crafted.
Hexx: Located at Paris, this would be a great option to check out after your dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. If you enjoy cool bartenders ask for Tom, he knows his craft and is pretty great at making conversation.
Vesper Bar: Located in the lobby of the Cosmopolitan hotel this is both a classy and relaxing place to grab a quick drink. Yes, it’s named after the James Bond love interest (and drink).
For those of you that prefer a place with a good selection of beers we can recommend The Public House in the Venetian.
As an added tip, if you want to still keep the buzz about town but don’t want to bankrupt yourself with Strip prices – try Downtown Las Vegas. Wander around Freemont Street and hit some of the more trendy bars frequented by locals.
Finally, Remember to Enjoy Yourself
Going to CES can be such a chaotic and overwhelming experience that visitors tend to forget they’re in Las Vegas, a city just begging you to have fun. So don’t let CES stop you from having some fun in Sin City. Do your thing at CES and then come right back and explore the city, there is so much it offers and it’s important that when you leave you feel like you’ve enjoyed the experience and look forward to returning.