If you’re anything like I was before I moved here, you have a certain view of Las Vegas, and it may not be that great. Oh, we all know that Las Vegas has great shows and that the Strip is an experience like none other. But people who don’t live here also tend to think it must be a den of iniquity what with all the gambling and drinking and general carrying-on.
Well there is of course more than a little truth to the cliche. Las Vegas publicizes itself as “Sin City” and promotes slogans like “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” (although Prince Harry might have something to say about that…). While it’s true that we do have more than our share of problem drinkers and problem gamblers, there is more, so much more to be found here!
For one thing, the surrounding desert is beautiful even though it is stark. Well, it’s a desert! But deserts have their own beauty. In spring, the desert blooms — all kinds of wild flowers and cacti bloom and there are profusions of color to be found in the most unexpected places. Red Rock Canyon is a 30 minute drive (or less, depending on where you live) into a spectacularly wild and scenic area. There’s the Hoover Dam, and Lake Mead and the Lake Mead Recreational Area, and the Valley of Fire, all wonderful scenic sites. About an hour’s drive out of town is Mount Charleston, a mountain that is nearly 12,000 feet high and is an alpine environment and a favorite getaway of Las Vegans in the summer months.
For another thing, there are many great shops off the beaten path. Oh, there are a lot of truly wonderful shops on the Strip, including many of the biggest luxury brands on the planet. But going around town, off the Strip, there is a wealth of wonderful places to be found.
Also, Las Vegas is on the map when it comes to restaurants. Sometimes it’s a little place tucked away in a nondescript strip mall; other times it’s a more established venue. But there are many hidden treasures to be found.
A large swan is part of the spring decor in the Atrium at the Bellagio.
And culture, we’ve got it! Well more accurately, we’re getting it! Now that the Smith Center has opened, there are first-rate performances to be seen, outside of the confines of the huge casinos and mega-resorts. Not that we haven’t always had great shows. Some of the biggest names in show business come here to perform; and now some of the biggest names in classical music and jazz do, as well.
So let’s raise a glass to Las Vegas. It’s a desert mecca. There are few sights as impressive as driving over the rise at night when you first see the expanse of lights that is Las Vegas in the middle of the desert. The population of the city stands at nearly 600,000 in 2013, while the population of the metro area (including Henderson) is closer to 2,000,000. It’s the 31st largest city in the U.S. But it is not 31st in name recognition: just ask almost anyone, in any country, if they’ve heard of Las Vegas, and you will get an affirmative answer! People flock here from all parts of country and all parts of the the globe to see the magic.
Well enough for this time. We’ll talk more next week. Until then,
Good luck to ya!