Alien-Spotting in Las Vegas
You don’t have to go all the way to Area 51 to naruto-run into some alien life forms: We have plenty right here in Vegas! And we’re not talking about the, um…interesting folks you’ll meet on a Saturday night on Fremont Street, but those could certainly count, too.
Look, we all know that the whole “Storm Area 51” thing is a joke…right??? But that doesn’t mean we can’t still have some fun with the theme! You can head all the way out to the Armagosa Valley, or you can stay right here in Vegas to observe some fabulous otherworldliness starring intergalactic-loving Las Vegas locals and your favorite out-of-this-world beings from popular culture and beyond. Let your nerd flag fly high and remember: the truth is out there!
If it’s Area 51 you want and you will settle for nothing less, then check out this day tour by Adventure Photo Tours to the top-secret military facility (NOT inside of it, but you can wave to the armed guards stationed along the perimeter) as well as several other extraterrestrial points of interest, including the Extraterrestrial Highway, the Little A’Le’Inn motel and gift shop, a forest of otherworldly Joshua Trees, ancient Native American petroglyphs depicting six-foot-tall aliens, and more. And you’ll still be back in Vegas for dinner!
Spiegelworld’s adults-only show OPIUM follows the crew of the OPM 73 on a journey from Uranus to Las Vegas, and that should give you a good indication of where the humor of this show is going. OPIUM is, at its core, a variety show, but calling it just another variety show seems a disservice: Born of the Sputnik era and inspired by Star Trek (as well as countless other outer space adventure shows and movies), but delivered through the lens of Rocky Horror and raunchy vaudeville, OPIUM is, truly, out of this world entertainment!
The Sci Fi Center is a comic book shop, collectible toy store, and fandom art gallery, yes, but it is SO MUCH MORE than that, too. This long-time passion project of Vegas local William Powell is a celebration of “geek” culture and a gathering space for many different kinds of fandoms. There are movie screenings, TV show watch parties (the whole final season of Game of Thrones was screened here), and live theatre performances like “B-Movie Burlesque.” This place is a gem for science fiction and horror fans alike!
Star Trek conventions are no joke, but the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention is one of the best. It was at last year’s convention that CBS revealed Sir Patrick Stewart would be reprising his iconic role as Jean-Luc Picard in the new series Star Trek: Picard—not at San Diego Comic Con just two weeks prior, but here, in Las Vegas, at this convention. For Trekkies, this con is a sacred pilgrimage (or “trek,” if you will). This year’s event is coming up July 31-August 4!
If you want to go to a place where it’s San Diego Comic Con all the time and the dress code is cosplay-chic, then the Millennium Fandom Bar is the place for you. This place looks like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland and it celebrates all kinds of fandom in all kinds of ways, from fandom karaoke to cosplay contests, themed events and movie nights, game nights, trivia nights, book clubs, and more. They just celebrated founder Alex Pusineri’s 50th birthday with a space travel/moon landing-themed party (he was born the same day as the moon landing), and on Friday, August 2, they’re throwing a “Starfleet Voyage to MFB” pre-con meetup party for Star Trek Convention weekend. (Seriously, it’s a big deal.)
Another fandom bar, located in a massive second-floor space tucked away off of Fremont Street in Neonopolis, this place has bowling lanes, massive projector screens and lots of couches for watch parties, pinball machines, cage matches and wrestling, drag shows, and trivia nights, all focused on different forms of fandom, and you can bet things like Star Wars play prominently. They’re hosting a “Storm Area 51 Meet Up Party” on Friday, August 2 at 10 p.m. with $2,000 in prizes for the best alien, UFO, or space-themed costume and $500 in cash prizes for best alien, UFO, or space-themed art. Plus all Star Trek convention attendees get free entry!
Grouchy John’s is a comfy local coffee shop with two locations, one on Charleston and the original on Maryland. It is the Maryland location that Star Wars fans will want to visit. Co-founder “Grouchy John” is a big Star Wars fan (original trilogy only, he specifies), and this location is filled with his personal collection of Star Wars toys and other memorabilia. The walls are also covered in pop culture artwork (Star Wars, Dr. Who, Rick & Morty, Pokemon) for sale, and there’s a ton of books and board games, so stop in, hang out, and take a ton of pictures!
With all of the attention already paid to the Star Trek Convention, I want to make sure I give the other cons some love, like Sabakon, the annual anime, video gaming, and pop culture convention held in Las Vegas. If you have a love of Sailor Moon cosplay, then naruto-run your way over to this convention September 6-8!
The next Amazing! Las Vegas Comic Con isn’t coming up until June 2020, so that should give you plenty of time to get your cosplay ready! This is a more conventional, er, convention, focused primarily on the world of comics and related properties with plenty of toys and ‘toons. This year’s con featured actor Asher Angel from the movie Shazam! as well as actors from the original ’90s live-action Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series—you know, just your typical stories of humans imbued with celestial superpowers to protect the Earth from evil aliens!
Bad Owl Coffee is primarily about that Harry Potter life, BUT the original Henderson location also pays homage to your favorite time-traveling alien Doctor Who with a T.A.R.D.I.S. replica (alas, this one is not bigger on the inside) for Whovians to take selfies with. Added bonus: this place has excellent food and coffee, too!
To be fair, the only thing outwardly otherworldly about Mothership Coffee Roasters is the name, but this is also one of my fave local coffee roasters, and they’re about to open a third location this fall at fabulously funky Fergusons Downtown!
And coming soon………
You may have already noticed the industrial-looking building with the massive AREA15 logo appear like a crop circle off the side of southbound I-15 just north of the Spring Mountain exit. This experiential art, entertainment, and retail complex will soon be home to art installations, live events, and immersive attractions, including the first permanent location from the Meow Wolf art collective outside of Santa Fe’s House of Eternal Returns, a trippy immersive experience with portals to new, magical worlds that has become an international sensation (and the stuff of Instagram dreams) in just a few short years.