Where Startup Crews and Techies Play in Vegas

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The Women 2.0 Conference -- Las Vegas Edition isn't your typical Vegas experience, so here are some suggestions to get you off the beaten path during your down time. 

By Janet Choi (Chief Creative Officer, iDoneThis)

The upcoming Women 2.0 Conference will be a jam-packed weekend of pitches and panels, networking, and merriment. And this year, it’s taking place in Vegas, a city famous for its glitz, glam, and gambling and becoming known as a growing startup hub with a small but passionate tech community.

Thanks in large part to the efforts of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, a $350 million revitalization of Vegas’s downtown — where the original casinos of Vegas used to be located — much of the new entrepreneurial magic is happening only a mere fifteen minutes away from the Strip. Extend your awesomely atypical Vegas weekend, and come a few days early to experience the renaissance of creativity and community energy that downtown Vegas is cooking.

Here are some activities and places in downtown Vegas where Zapponians, Vegas startup employees, and artists work and play to add to your innovation itinerary.

Zappos Tour

Zappos recently moved from the more suburban Henderson into its new corporate headquarters downtown in the former City Hall. Sign up for an hour-long tour to be among the earliest visitors to see Zappos’s famous culture of happiness at work in their new digs.

Downtown Project Tour

Get an insider’s look at what’s going with the Downtown Project by taking an hour-long Downtown Tour, which includes a stroll through Tony Hsieh’s apartment just a few blocks away from the new headquarters.

Downtown Podcast

RSVP to attend a live Thursday filming of the Downtown Podcast, a weekly video interview by host Dylan Jorgensen (in his living room!) delivering the inside scoop on what’s happening in the Vegas tech community.

Tech Jelly

Another regular Thursday night option is Tech Jelly, a casual coworking session that takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Beat Coffeehouse. Everyone is welcome to stop in and work on a project but more importantly, connect with people in an informal, friendly atmosphere. Stop by to practice a pitch, warm up on your networking chops, and get a glimpse of what the locals are brewing.

Work in Progress

Need a place to work that’s not inside a casino? Check out Work in Progress, a buzzing co-working space with everything you’d ever need to hang your hat and plug in your laptop, with lots of natural light streaming in through the windows, meeting rooms and fast internet galore, and lots of startups hard at work. You can get a day pass for $25.

Don’t forget to check their calendar to find a Vegas tech event that strikes your fancy. There’s almost always something going on.

Gold Spike

Need a place to work that’s not inside a casino but used to be one? Check out the unique twist brought to you by Gold Spike, a multipurpose space in a former house of gambling. During the day, it’s a casual place to get some work done with free wifi and tons of tables. And all other hours, it’s a grown-up’s playspace to hang out and take part in drinks and giant-sized games.

Downtown Container Park

Announced as a new bustling city center of shopping, galleries, food, and drinks, over forty new small businesses will settle into a collection of repurposed shipping containers. The Container Park should be open and running before November!

Downtown Cocktail Room

If you’re thirsting for a drink downtown, check out the mellow, loungy vibe and fancy, delightful cocktails that are a far cry from the booze people are carrying as they walk along the Strip.

EAT

Don’t leave Vegas without eating breakfast or lunch at EAT, (EAT isn’t open for dinner!) Opened by Natalie Young, a fine dining chef who’d been on the verge of leaving Vegas until her restaurant became one of the Downtown Project’s first small business investments, EAT serves delicious, homey food, feeding the growing, evolving community with care.

Have any other recommendations for people to get to know Vegas outside of the Strip? Let us know in the comments!

Photo via Downtown Container Park.

125x125_Janet_ChoiAbout the blogger: Janet Choi is the Chief Creative Officer at iDoneThis and keeps the wheels of the iDoneThis blog and newsletter turning. She is not a morning person. Follow her tweets at @lethargarian.