Beyond its slot machines, hotels, and neon lights, “Sin City” has the same amenities as more “virtuous” ones: Places to shop, eat, see a movie, go hiking, etc. The main difference is the probability of running into Elvis getting coffee or sharing an Uber with a showgirl.
Living in Vegas and visiting Vegas couldn’t be farther removed from one another. Chances are high you’ve experienced the party side of Las Vegas, either through the lens of a bachelor/bachelorette party, or general debauchery with friends. While the strip will still figure into your party plans, there is much more to discover as a newly cemented local. The sprawling city has plenty of ‘burbs and ‘hoods with affordable renting options that are within close proximity to downtown and the strip.
There are nearly 2 million people that call the world-famous getaway destination home: here are 10 things you should know as you prepare to join the fun.
Subtropical Hot Desert Climate
The Mojave desert is one hot mother. But it’s a DRY heat! Most of the year, you’ll be thankful for the 300+ days of sunshine–because without humidity 120 degrees doesn’t feel like you might imagine. In the winter, the average daytime highs are in the low 60’s and high 50’s. If you didn’t grow up near a desert you might not realize how chilly it gets at night. In fact, it’s not unusual for winter nighttime temps to hover around freezing, though it is very rare for it to snow.
Life Doesn’t Happen On The Strip
Technically, The Strip isn’t even in Vegas; it’s actually in Paradise, Nevada. While the four-mile Las Vegas Boulevard corridor is home to world-class food and top-notch entertainment, it’s also crowded, expensive, and has mad traffic. As a Vegas local you’ll almost never visit the tourist trap (until all your long lost friends decide to come crash on your couch ). Instead, check out the restaurants and entertainment in areas like Summerlin, Downtown Vegas, and Town Square.
Outside the Strip and downtown areas, Las Vegas is a sprawling suburban region. It’s about a 40-minute drive from one end of the city to the other, so you will need a car. Public transit is nothing to write home about, but the city is very easy to familiarize yourself with. The traffic pales in comparison to larger metros like Los Angeles and Houston, but these are high congestion areas. The worst traffic in Vegas centers around the Strip, as well as the infamous “spaghetti junction”, a highway intersection near downtown.
*Hot* tip: Park your car in the shade, and definitely invest in a windshield sunshade.
Things to Do in Las Vegas
Almost every tourist spot has local deals. Residents can score tix to a plethora of amazing shows, but “The Entertainment Capital of the World” also has cultural venues like the new art deco Smith Center, The Neon Museum (which houses signs from Las Vegas’s mid-20th century heyday), The Mob Museum, Burlesque Hall of Fame, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, and the Downtown Arts District.
With 37 golf courses, its worth your while to invest in lessons unless your handicap is in the single digits. Aside from actually playing sports, ‘gaming’ and spectator sports are where it’s at. Catch the incredible, brand new NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights, and the WNBA’ Las Vegas Aces. The Oakland Raiders are moving to Vegas in 2020, but until then, there’s always the World Series of Bowling, and the city’s unofficial official sport: poker.
Need a Break from the Neon?
The stunning Valley of Fire State Park and the majestic Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offer hiking with incredible views, only minutes out of town. You can also hike Lake Mead National Recreation Area, but the water sports are really where it’s at. Take a 30 minute trip to Mt. Charleston ski resort to escape the valley’s summer heat and mountain bike, hike, horseback ride, or ski. Or head down to Boulder City for more of a small town feel. Drive out to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, San Diego, LA, or Utah in under a handful of hours. Flying is super easy too. Since Vegas attracts so many visitors, flights are abundant and cheap.
Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
In 2016, 44 percent of the total Vegas workforce was supported by tourism. Hospitality gigs are a dime a dozen, and lucrative too-bartenders can make up to $100k annually! Nevada has no state income tax, so it’s a great place for entrepreneurs too. Job creators will find it is one of the easiest places in the country to open a business—lots of companies have taken advantage of the favorable tax situation and moved to Vegas recently. Online retailer Zappos is headquartered in downtown Las Vegas, and founder Tony Hseih invested $350 million directly into downtowns revitalization.
Low Cost of Living
For a major city, everything from groceries to rent prices (the current median rent for a one bedroom apartment is $910) is surprisingly affordable, comparatively. Not only does it have the aforementioned ‘no income tax’, it also has the lowest taxes in the nation. Basically, the 40 million tourists visiting Sin City annually fund most of the state’s needs, from roads to schools.
Whatever your vice is—whether it’s shopping, food, gambling—Vegas will be a welcome paradise. Otherwise, it’s a mostly normal (heck, underrated) town with incredible food, entertainment, and outdoor recreation.
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