People visiting Las Vegas think the city starts and ends on the Strip; but there’s so much more happening in Sin City than tourists ever see. While Las Vegans do enjoy a trip to the stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard that’s home to some of the most famous casinos and resorts in the world, there’s much to be experienced outside the Strip. Call Lyft or rent a car, and venture to other parts of the entertainment capital of the world. Here’s how to do Las Vegas like a local.
One of the (many) great things about Las Vegas is all the different kind of foods you can find without having to travel all that far. One place you can’t miss is Simply Pure, which is located downtown in Container Park. Their food is to die for — the nachos, the chili cheese fries, the grilled cheese… And here’s the surprising part: it’s all vegan. But make no mistake: even carnivores will love this food. We promise you can do without bacon for one meal. The food is so mouthwatering, you won’t care there’s no meat.
Borracha Mexican Cantina at Green Valley Ranch is another winner. You’ll be tempted to make a meal out of the fresh chips and salsa; but if you save room, the slow roasted pork carnitas and flaming tequila fajitas are a guaranteed good time. Pair it with a mango margarita and you’ve got a party in your mouth.
Don’t forget that every delicious meal is topped off with dessert; and when you want incredible baked goods, there’s only one place you need to go: Freed’s Bakery. You can’t go wrong here. From the cookies to the cake to the cupcakes, Freed’s gets it right every time. You can order for a whole party or just pop in for a little snack (or order for a whole party, but really for yourself). Every bite is made with love, and they offer an incredible variety of desserts.
While many who travel to Vegas take part in glamorous, high-end shopping sprees at such venues as the Forum Shoppes at Ceasar’s Palace or the Shops at Crystals, locals do most of their shopping off the Strip. Regardless of what part of Sin City you’re in, there are a number of outdoor shopping and entertainment spaces to choose from full of restaurants and retail and boutique shops to suit your needs.
Tivoli Village, located west and slightly north of the strip, is an outdoor shopping center complete with a selection of bars and restaurants, many of which also feature patio seating. (Yes, sometimes even in the desert heat it can be really nice to sit on the patio to eat, drink, and mingle!)
Just south of here lies Las Vegas’ newest shopping center, Downtown Summerlin, covering 400 acres and featuring over 125 shops and restaurants, including department stores like Dillard’s and Macy’s, as well as many specialty stores like Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, Attic Salt, and Fabletics. Plenty of fun events are hosted at Downtown Summerlin year-round, including Trufusion’s Yoga on the Lawn in the spring and summer seasons and an ice-skating rink in the winter, to name just a few.
Closer to the strip is Town Square, a shopping and dining center that many find to be centrally located: if you’re meeting a friend from the opposite side of town, this shopping center can often be the perfect midway meeting point. In addition to retail shops like Express, Sephora, and Bebe, visitors can stop for happy hour tropical libations at the Tommy Bahama bar, located inside the Tommy Bahama store, do some organic produce shopping and dining at Whole Foods, or get organized at the Container Store. While you’re here, catch a movie at the AMC Town Square 18 or play some games at Gameworks (you’re never too old for Skee-Ball!), located just downstairs from there.
Many locals frequent bars and restaurants found at any of the outdoor shopping centers, such as Downtown Summerlin (Public School 702, Lazy Dog Café), Town Square (Double Helix Wine and Whiskey Lounge, Blue Martini), Tivoli Village (PKWY Tavern, View Wine Bar and Kitchen), or The District at Green Valley (Due & Proper, Whist Stove and Spirits).
Another favorite locals area for going out is in Downtown Vegas at the Fremont East District. Here, you’ll find trendy and fun bars and restaurants that are more casual (and thankfully, easier on the wallet) than the vast majority of bars and restaurants on the strip. Some locals’ favorites are Park on Fremont, where you’ll find uniquely delicious food creations and a variety of must-try mules, and Commonwealth, a cocktail bar that describes itself as a ‘collision of art and architectural influences inspired by pre-Prohibition era design and libations’.
While in this area, make sure to check out Carson Kitchen, a favorite of ours here at Beyond Words, where you’ll find distinctly memorable cocktails and food (like crispy chicken skins and bacon jam) that will make this one of your favorite places ever ever ever, whether you live in Vegas or not.
Some other locals’ favorites for a mellow night out include: Herbs and Rye on Sahara that features handcrafted cocktails in a loungey setting, and two – yep, TWO – happy hours; Born and Raised, located in the southwest (other locations available) which is truly a locals spot, as the name suggests, and is a reliable casual place to grab a bite, a beer, and watch a game; John Cutter Grill and Bar in Summerlin, a locals ‘saloon’ with great food and drink and a fun laid-back atmosphere; and The Golden Tiki in Chinatown on Spring Mountain, where the Hawaiian theme and flowing rum drinks will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to a boozy island retreat.
Vegas isn’t all about the Strip; and despite what some may believe, there are plenty of exciting outdoor adventures in the desert. Red Rock and Mount Charleston provide the most gorgeous scenery for all levels of hiking, as well as camping, skiing, and more. The Mount Charleston Lodge offers the most darling cabins that make for a memorable escape from city life. It’s such a different environment that you’ll forget you’re in Vegas. Mount Charleston in particular is covered in lush greenery — a welcomed change from the arid desert.
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Lake Las Vegas is another must-see. Lake activities include paddle boarding and peddle boating, or you can head to the adjacent pool for a little R&R. The Hilton at Lake Las Vegas is home to Spa Ravella, which has an outdoor pool and jacuzzi and is especially enjoyable before pool season really hits and it’s still fairly quiet. Walk around MonteLago Village, grab a bite to eat, and pop into Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a little nibble. If you go in the dead of summer, don’t forget your SPF, or your skin will absolutely fry.