Every year, over 175,000 people journey to Las Vegas to witness the Super Bowl of the rodeo world, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Anyone who has ever been to Sin City knows that there is an unlimited number of things to do and it can be overwhelming! I set out to discover the top 10 things to do while you are in town for the NFR!
#10 Party Down, Vegas Style
Gambling, bars, clubs (some with poles and some without). I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I don’t know some pretty rowdy cowboys and cowgirls! That realization was confirmed when I sought out the help of my friends on Facebook by asking them what their FAVORITE things were to do in Vegas during the NFR. Knowing my friends, I’m not quite sure why I expected them to potentially give family-friendly answers.
“Party” was the #1 response. It is called the “City That Never Sleeps” and “Sin City” for a reason! While in Vegas, you will find the best gambling, the hottest nightclubs, the biggest drinks, and the weirdest people watching! Vegas is often used as an outlet…an opportunity for adult fun. There is nothing wrong with that just so long as it is done RESPONSIBLY! In other words, try not to act like those guys that you saw on the Hangover! Always have a sober driver, walk if possible, or take a cab (no promises that your cab ride won’t feel like that boat scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory). And remember, they do have a jail there and they will throw you in it!
Let’s move on to a more family friendly option, shall we? We understand that a lot of you may travel to the NFR with your kids and families. Just because Vegas is known as Sin City, doesn’t mean that you can’t still find things to do that are appropriate for the whole family, and let’s face it, kids are completely awed by the lights of Las Vegas alone!
Vegas is a mecca for sightseeing. It is a short drive to points of interest such as the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Take a stroll down Las Vegas Blvd. Zip line above Freemont Street. Ride the roller coaster in New York, New York. Watch the sun rise or set over Las Vegas from the top of the Stratosphere and if you are feeling froggy, you can even bungee jump off that sucker! Catch the fountains at Bellagio or the pirate show at Treasure Island. Check out one of the hundreds of shows and exhibits featured there…everything from Blue Man Group to Britney Spears, Cirque du Soleil to the Titanic! There is literally an endless supply of things to see there, many which are FAMILY FRIENDLY!
I wanted to put this one right after sightseeing because along with your regular shows and exhibits, during the NFR you will also be able to see a lot of really good concerts…many of them are even FREE! Some of the top names in music play there regularly and this year you can even see the King of Country Music himself, Mr. George Strait! Just a note, I am silently screaming and jumping up and down inside while typing this out. The sheer mention of George gets me giddy as a schoolgirl! For more information on Las Vegas concerts, events, and exhibits, check out LasVegas.com or Vegas.com.
#7 Benny Binion’s Bucking Horse and Bull Sale
This is a fun and entertaining way to kill some time in Las Vegas and it is also family friendly. I’ve been to this event several times and it is always pretty neat. Here you will get to see some of the best upcoming talent as far as bucking stock is concerned, and if you feel like making an investment in the future of rodeo, you can even bid on and purchase your very own bucking horse or bull!
The sale is held at the South Point Arena on December 1st starting at 9 am and 1 pm, December 2nd at 1 pm, and December 3rd at 9 am. Please note that on December 3rd, they also have a PRCA bullriding along with their bucking horse and bull sale. For more information or tickets to this event, please contact the South Point Box Office!
#6 World Series of Team Roping
I am sure that 90% of you were wondering when I was going to mention the WSTR Finale! Don’t worry, I didn’t forget! Some of you will be roping there and to those that are, from all of us at Roping.com, we wish you the very best of luck! For those that didn’t qualify, even if you think that watching team roping is boring, you won’t be bored when you watch a bunch of “regular joe’s” rope for over $10 MILLION DOLLARS in cash and prizes! This event is also located at the South Point Hotel and Casino and will be running the 5th through the 11th. It is FREE to attend. Did I mention that the Roping.com crew will be there?
Not only can you watch great team roping and hang out with us, but you can also get a little Christmas shopping squared away while you are there. There will be plenty of vendors to keep you occupied and if you get hungry, the South Point is home to some awesome restaurants (I suggest the Oyster Bar)!
#5 The Match Roping
This year, some of you may be missing some of your favorite ropers at the NFR. Have no fear, for they are still competing in Las Vegas! You heard me right! On Sunday, December 4th and Tuesday, December 6th there will be a match roping between team ropers Derrick Begay/Clay O’Brien Cooper, Aaron Tsinigine/Ryan Motes, and Clay Tryan/Jade Corkill. Each team will run 5 steers the first day, followed by 3 steers the second day. On December 6th, in conjunction with the match roping, tie-down ropers Tuf Cooper and Cody Ohl will have a 12-head match roping as well. This will take place at the Stetson Cowboy Christmas in Downtown Las Vegas at 6 pm and with those names in the house, it is sure to be good watching!
#4 Buckle Ceremonies and After-Parties
The NFR Go-Round Buckle Ceremony is also held at the South Point Hotel and Casino. It takes place nightly at the Dance Hall starting at 11 pm and is hosted by Flint Rasmussen and Randy Corley. Make sure to arrive early as it is always a packed house! After the ceremony is over, you can stay and enjoy the free entertainment provided by top musicians.
If you are burned out from being at the South Point too long and are feeling like experiencing a little more of what Las Vegas has to offer, you can roll on down to the MGM Grand’s Gold Buckle Zone or Rodeo Vegas at the Mirage where you will also find top-notch, FREE entertainment! Trust me when I say these are not the only NFR after parties! For more information and options of where to go after the NFR is over, check out the NFR Fan Guide at NFRExperience.com!
#3 The Junior NFR
We’ve already told you where you can see the future champions when it comes to bucking stock. But, at the Junior NFR you can actually see the future as it applies to rodeo contestants! This is obviously a family friendly event and it takes place December 1st through December 4th at the NFR Experience Official Cowboy Christmas in the Wrangler Arena. Here, you will also be able to catch the Mini Bareback Riding Championships and Mini Bull Riding Championships, and trust me when I tell you that these are GOOD watching!
#2 Cowboy Christmas
After the Junior NFR is over, you may want to do a little shopping. Make sure that you have on a comfy pair of boots because if you want to see all of what Cowboy Christmas has to offer in Las Vegas, you are going to do A LOT of walking! You are sure to find a great deal or two at The Cowboy Christmas Gift Show (LV Convention Center), Roper Cowboy Marketplace (Mandalay Bay), The Stetson Country Christmas Western Gift Expo (Sands), NFR Shopping Experience (MGM Grand), and the South Point Hotel Western Gift Show (South Point), just to name a few! Keep your checkbook handy! For more information on where to shop, check out the NFR Fan Guide at NFRExperience.com.
#1 The Big Show!
If you are in Vegas for the NFR, the number one thing to do is GO TO THE RODEO! It is a rodeo experience like no other and something that you are sure to remember for the rest of your life! From the National Anthem to the light shows, to the contestants and livestock, you are sure to catch an amazing show! Watch as the top cowboy’s in the world compete for the gold buckle and World Champion title!
Try to get your tickets in advance as many of the performances may be sold out! If they do sell out and you can’t get tickets, have no fear! Almost every major hotel and casino will be showing the rodeo live. I know, I know…it’s not the same as seeing it in person and you are 100% right about that. But do not let that ruin your good time. There is no place like Las Vegas during the NFR. Whether you go for one day or all ten, you are bound to have some fun and make some fantastic memories!
Notable suggestions for NFR activities:
The Santa Run: Actually, the suggestion was to try to avoid it! However, if you are a runner who just so happens to be in Las Vegas during the NFR and you just so happened to have packed your Santa suit, then this is right up your alley. The race takes place at 10 am on December 3rd in Downtown Las Vegas and is $45 to register for adults and $25 to register for kids.
Bob Tallman’s Charity Bowling Tournament: Takes place at the Gold Coast Casino on December 3rd, from 10 am to 2 pm. Teams of 4 may sign up for a donation of $160 and will receive 2 games, shoe rental, a goodie bag, t-shirt and lunch for each member. Singles may register for $50.
Fashion Shows: There will be a multitude of fashion shows taking place during the NFR. For more information, talk to your favorite booths at Cowboy Christmas!
Autograph Sessions: There will be autograph sessions at all of the Cowboy Christmas venues. Bring the kiddos and meet your favorite rodeo contestants!
Restaurants: Las Vegas is home to some of the world’s best restaurants! Check out Vegas.com or LasVegas.com for more information on where to eat!
Hooey Party: Takes place December 2nd and December 9th at Brooklyn Bowl in the LINQ. Must be 21 to enter. Doors open at 9. Features musical talents Randy Rogers Band and Sam Riggs and Turnpike Troubadours and Red Shahan. Book a table at Getyourhooey.com/party.
For more information on where to stay and play, please visit NFRExperience.com, Vegas.com, or LasVegas.com
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