Sitecore Symposium 2017: Vegas Tips
Sitecore Symposium 2017 is a little over a month away. The excitement is building. The best minds in the Sitecore industry will converge under the sunny skies of Las Vegas, Nevada for a week of all things Sitecore. Unlike the mantra of "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," I hope everyone that attends Symposium (myself included) can come back with great stories to tell and knowledge to share.
Las Vegas can be an exhausting city. To get the most out of Symposium, it is important to balance fulls days at the conference with the long nights out on The Strip. Here are a few Vegas tips for newcomers and veterans alike.
Walking - There's Lots of Walking
The Las Vegas Strip is the main drag of casino-hotels that span about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) along Las Vegas Boulevard, from the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign near McCarran International Airport in the south to The Wynn Las Vegas in the north. While 3.5 miles isn't a lot to walk, remember that there are very few direct paths on The Strip. Sidewalks zig and zag, most streets are crossed via pedsestrian bridges, and construction and crowds create detours. Three miles on the map can easily become six miles on foot.
My advice? Know your destination and have some idea of the best route there, whether it's walking, a bus, a taxi, or a monorail.
Cabs are plentiful in Vegas, and every casino has a taxi stand. This is one of the best ways to get from Point A to Point B if you're traveling down The Strip. It's arguably the best way to go south to see the famous "Welome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign.
For cheaper rides, the monorail and various trams will be useful. If you're traveling between casinos on the east side of the strip, the Las Vegas Monorail is a great option for hopping between the north and south ends of The Strip. Day passes aren't too expensive and allow for unlimited rides.
If you're hanging out near the south end, there are two free trams that shuttle between the following casinos:
- Mandalay Bay – Luxor – Excalibur
- Monte Carlo – Aria – Bellagio
There is some footwork required to get to these trams inside each respective casino, but the overall walking saved is worth the trouble.
There is a third free tram between Mirage and Treasure Island, so keep an eye out for it after Symposium sessions.
The Fremont Street Experience
While Las Vegas Boulevard has everything you could ask for, going downtown to "old" Vegas has its perks, namely the awesome Fremont Street Experience. Featuring historic casinos, a covered street with a music show, The Mob Museum, and SlotZilla zipline, there's plenty to do. The people tend to get weirder downtown, so brace yourself.
A bus is the easiest and cheapest way to get to Fremont Street. There are two main routes. The Deuce stops at almost every major casino and hotel on The Strip and also goes downtown. For quick trips downtown, however, The SDX ("Strip and Downtown Express") is the preferred route. 24-hour passes for both busses can be purchased from kiosk at most major bus stops. If you're staying out after midnight, The Deuce will be your only bus ride back to The Strip.
The Mirage & Nearby Casinos
Symposium is centered in The Mirage casino and hotel, located on the north end of The Strip. The Mirage has a ton of great games, entertainment, and food (protip: Cravings buffet serves free beer and wine - don't forget to ask for a to-go cup when you're done eating). If you have family with you, a big draw at The Mirage is Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (although it's not really a secret).
When you're ready to explore, some of Vegas' best casinos are nearby. Immediately to the south are The Forum Shops at Caesars (seriously, check it out just for the spectacle) and the famous Caesars Palace casino. The beautiful Bellagio Hotel and Casino is next, and it is a premium experience throughout. Of note at the Bellagio: a record-setting chocolate fountain at Jean Philippe and the seasonal displays in the Conservatory & Botanical Garden.
To the east of The Mirage, across Las Vegas Boulevard, The Venetian features gondola rides and a huge selection of slots. The nostalgic Flamingo to the south features an outdoor garden and mini zoo featuring the namesake birds. Further south, Paris Las Vegas has a great buffet in Le Village Buffet, featuring a miniature French village complete with a night sky. Between all these casinos - on the sidwalks of Las Vegas Boulevard - are a variety of small shops, stands, restaurants, and vendors to explore.
Embrace the Community
There is a lot of fun to be had in Vegas, but let's not forget what we are going for in the first place. Don't forget to attend all the great sessions at Symposium! The Pre-Conference seminars focus on integrations, Sitecore as a headless CMS, and lots of Sitecore 101-level material. The breakout sessions will focus on what's coming: more SXA, more Azure, lots of marketing tips, and Sitecore 9 features.
Vegas is full of bright lights, endless drinks, and long nights. After all this, my best advice for attendees of Symposium has nothing to do with Vegas. Come to learn, share knowledge, and meet peers. While we are meeting as developers, we are coming together as people. Network, make friends, laugh, and celebrate the diversity of our amazing industry and our unique Sitecore community.
BONUS EXPERIENCE: Haven't had the West Coast famous In-N-Out Burger yet? Walk or ride a mile west of New York New York to grab a bite.
BONUS FACT: The Las Vegas Strip is "Vegas" in name only - it's actually located in Paradise, NV, about a mile south of the city of Las Vegas.
Do you have questions, comments, or corrections for this post? Find me on Twitter: @BrandonMBruno