Yes, Las Vegas is a real city, with nearly 2.2 million residents in the greater metropolitan area who live and work in the city. Nearly 80 percent of Las Vegas residents work in the entertainment industry, true, but the majority spend their time off the Strip enjoying the dry climate, grid-like streets, and 300-plus days of sunshine every year. Exploring the neighborhoods of Las Vegas takes visitors on a journey through a fun collection of Asian businesses in Chinatown, the largest master-planned community in the U.S. in Summerlin, a downtown replete with an arts district, entertainment, and local restaurants, and a suburb with its own personality and brewery district. Use this list to narrow down your visit, and maybe even explore some of the fun neighborhoods in Las Vegas.
The 4.4-mile stretch of the gaming corridor starts at the north end of Las Vegas Boulevard, where most of the new construction is taking place. SLS, Wynn Las Vegas, Fashion Show Mall, the Venetian and Palazzo, Treasure Island, Harrah’s Las Vegas, and the Mirage make up the major resorts along the Las Vegas Strip. Check out the volcano eruptions at the Mirage for the feel of Hawaii. Dine on langoustines flown in daily from the coast of Italy at Costa di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas. Ride on a gondola at the Venetian. Or even check in with Marvel superheroes at M.A.R.V.E.L. Avengers Station at Treasure Island. For shows, “The Beatles Love” at the Mirage and “Mystere” at Treasure Island offer some of the best of Cirque du Soleil, while Diana Ross and Lionel Richie have resident shows at Wynn.
The intersection of Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard is not only the busiest corner in the state but the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. Caesars Palace and the Forum Shops at Caesars, The Cromwell, The Linq, and the Linq Promenade, Bally’s and the Grand Bazaar Shops, the Bellagio, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas and Planet Hollywood Resort make up the heavy hitters here. That means flying backward on a zip line at The Linq Promenade or eating television personalities’ food at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace, Giada De Laurentiis’ Italian fare at The Cromwell, or Guy Fieri’s crazy concoctions at the Linq. For shows, “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace brings the naughty vaudeville shenanigans while Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani offer resident acts at Planet Hollywood Resort. You can never go wrong with a visit to the Fountains at Bellagio or the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens with its ever-changing floral displays that mark the seasons.
At Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, the south end of the Strip starts, close to McCarran International Airport. Aria, the Park MGM and the Park, New York-New York, the MGM Grand, Tropicana, Excalibur, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay fill in the Las Vegas Strip at this end of the Las Vegas Strip. Hit up the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay to walk through a tunnel in the middle of the aquarium with 30 predators swimming overhead. Laugh with Carrot Top and his trunks full of hilarious props at Luxor. Dine on Chef of the Century Joel Robuchon’s French fare at one of his restaurants at the MGM Grand. Check out the public art that surrounds City Center. Or even head to the Park MGM for a shopping spree through Eataly.
The 18 blocks north of the Strip make up the Arts District, an area bound by Charleston Boulevard and Main Street. On the first Friday of the month, an arts festival takes over, opening galleries to the masses as they wander the streets. Clever cocktail lounge Velveteen Rabbit is a perfect place to stop for a libation, while sandwiches at The Goodwich can fill your belly during the afternoon.
This entertainment district east of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas has come a long way in the past seven years. Now local restaurants call this area home, many offering live entertainment to the mix. Fuel up for breakfast at Natalie Young’s Eat, one of the darling’s of the neighborhood that helped the neighborhood take hold, or stop by Carson Kitchen, one of the final restaurants from rock-n-roll chef Kerry Simon for a rooftop lunch or dinner complete with fried chicken skins. The Downtown Container Park keeps shoppers busy with stores nestled inside former shipping containers and a playground for the kids. Stop by Oak & Ivy for whiskeys or Bin 702 for wines while the children play. El Cortez offers a feel for Bugsy Siegel, the mob boss who once owned the casino.
The oldest neighborhood in Las Vegas is where the gaming got started in the state. Golden Gate sports one of the first telephones in Las Vegas, while the Plaza brings dining in a rotunda overlooking the Fremont Street Experience, the canopied LED screen that dazzles with concerts and shows. Stop by the corridor on weekends for free concerts on Saturday nights, or ride the Slotzilla zip line over the crowds that always offer some of the best people watching in the city. For a look at the history of the mob in Las Vegas, and countrywide, take an afternoon to explore the Mob Museum with its numerous exhibits, then stick around for a cocktail at The Underground, the speakeasy in the basement.
Just west of the Las Vegas Strip, Chinatown is situated along a three-mile stretch of Spring Mountain Road and offers a bevy of Asian restaurants worth the diversion. Start at Chinatown Plaza, marked by a dragon-adorned, Tang Dynasty gate and architecture housing dozens of Asian businesses on two levels. The Asian grocery store Ranch 99 anchors this mall filled with eateries such as Takopa with Japanese street food, Diamond Bakery with its Chinese baked goods, and 888 Korean BBQ with its dishes cooked right at the table. Seoul Plaza downtown the road offers the drive-worthy Japanese robata dishes of Raku and desserts at its sister restaurant Sweet Raku, while Kabuto brings some of the best sushi in town. Around the corner, Mountain View Plaza offers a taste of Vietnamese pho at District One Kitchen & Bar while conveyor belts deliver Mongolian hot pots at Chubby Cattle.
The largest master-planned community in the United States sits on the western side of Las Vegas, created from land owned by billionaire businessman Howard Hughes and named for his mother. While a majority of the neighborhood contains houses, downtown Summerlin and Red Rock Resort offer opportunities to explore. The massive open-air downtown Summerlin shopping center sprawls from Sahara Avenue to nearly Charleston Boulevard along the 215 Beltway. On the southern end, Nordstrom Rack draws the crowds, while the center features streets filled with Sephora, Michael Kors, Banana Republic, and Dave & Buster’s. On the north end, a Crate & Barrel and little restaurants such as Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Shake Shack, and a local’s favorite, Andiron Steak & Sea, anchor this section. Just to the east of the shopping center sits Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators baseball team, which more fans than some Major League teams. The Vegas Golden Knights have their practice facility here, too, and fans can drop in to watch a practice season with the NHL team that made the Stanley Cup Finals in its first season. North of Downtown Summerlin sits Red Rock Resort, filled with a bowling alley, movie theaters and restaurants such as T-Bones Steakhouse and Lucille’s Bar-B-Que.
Henderson makes up the third largest city in Nevada, just to the southeast of Las Vegas. The sprawling suburb wraps around the south end of Las Vegas like a "C." The District at Green Valley Ranch, anchored by Green Valley Ranch resort, features shopping and dining options such as Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana, with pies meant to be torn apart, and Me Gusta Tacos with its Mexican fare. Historic Water Street, the main thoroughfare for the business district of the city, features a monthly festival, Just Add Water, while a beer district houses at Warm Spring Road and the 515 Beltway hosts three breweries, a winery, and a chocolate shop. To the east of Water Street, Lake Las Vegas offers a charming and walkable shopping district.