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Las Vegas Neighborhoods

Las Vegas divides into six areas: South Strip, North Strip, East Side, West Side, Henderson and Downtown.

Downtown

Call it kitschy, call it sleazy, but do not call it boring or underestimate the adventurous potential of Downtown Las Vegas. While Downtown usually means the Fremont Street corridor from Main Street to Seventh Street moving west to east, if you include the cool bars and rehabbed neon sign sculptures of Fremont Street East, it is much more. Main Street is a jumble of great junk shops where you can pick up a bag of musket ammo (Ray’s Beaver Bag is a few blocks from Main) or a deck of cards from the long-gone Desert Inn at Main Street Antiques. Buy showgirl boas and peacock hats at Rainbow Feathers or check out the Arts District that runs from Wyoming Ave. north to Fremont between Main and Third Streets for galleries, antiques and pure funkiness. Downtown is Las Vegas's neighborhood most awash in history and hotels. Nightlife brings free block party concerts along the pedestrian corridors as well as hourly animated video extravaganzas under the incandescent canopy of the Fremont Street Viva Vision. Elvises stroll the street offering free photo opps and handshakes and the requisite “Thank you very much.” Wagon kiosks sell cigars and psychic readings; casino hawkers hand out 2-fors for deep-fried Oreos and Twinkies, and private dancers inveigle for their clubs. You can still get a 50-cent beer in these parts, a $7 steak dinner and double down privileges on any two cards you want.

Henderson

Once an incorporated community of two-room cottages and trailer parks dotting Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Boulevard to the east, this dust patch took off in the 1990s in the rush for tract mansions and places to park the boat. Vegas real estate was still cheap by LA standards and money was cheap, too. Californians poured in to claim their paradise in the desert. And then came the strip malls and shopping centers, the resorts and the attractions and, eventually Lake Las Vegas. The 300-acre lake created by siphoning off the flow from Lake Mead has luxury hotels and condo hotels around its edges as well as an artistic hamlet called MonteLago Village with wine shops, galleries, boutiques and fine restaurants overlooking the water. Although celebrities including Celine Dion own some of the many mansions around the lake, the area has not been able to escape the foreclosure plague. Closer to the Strip find Green Valley Ranch and Spa, a favorite with those who would rather not mix with the crowds on the Strip. The hotel sells large and affordable rooms with high thread count sheets and operates multiple dining options, a stand-alone spa, and an Irish  pub. An attached outdoor shopping mall and candy-colored views of the Strip skyline are good reasons to drive the extra 17 miles to this exclusive Las Vegas neighborhood.

North Strip

While the South end of the Strip has its Vegas Grand Dames, the north side, which runs from Treasure Island to the Stratosphere, has its own major markers. The Mirage and Treasure Island are connected by tram. Walk across the street to the Venetian and meander through the faux-Venice Shoppes that lead to ritzy corridors of the Palazzo. Going north, you’ll encounter the eponymous Wynn Las Vegas and its whimsical floral and carnival décor that blends in seamlessly with the Asian fusion interior of Encore, Wynn’s latest statement on the Strip that opened in late 2008. That complex connects by bridge to the Fashion Show mall. To the north, the Strip tapers into unfinished projects, time share towers and strip malls, punctuated by the Sahara Hotel and further on by the Stratosphere Tower. This Las Vegas neighborhood is great for those who want variety, but also want to be able to walk to their destinations.

West Side

The West Side is where you find much of the newer Vegas in stucco and concrete neighborhoods whipped up in the 1980s. Although you'd be wandering one of Las Vegas's neighborhoods, the tract house sameness ensures you could be in Barstow, Fontana or any number of cookie-cutter communities in LA’s Inland Empire. West Side refers to West of the Strip and to that end, you’ll find the Rio, the Orleans, the Gold Coast, the Palms and Palms Place leading into the sunset along Flamingo Road and Tropicana Avenue. Later developments in the 1990s and early part of this decade brought the JW Marriott Resort and Spa (a Scottsdale style experience with a casino) and also Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa, which rises up against the blazing outcroppings of nearby Red Rock Canyon as a stunning property of glass and stone and a hip vibe to make it all work. Golfers love the TPC Las Vegas run by the PGA, but plan ahead—it’s a private course unless you arrange a tee time with the golf concierge at one of these hotels.

East Side

Yes, people do live in Las Vegas and up until the 1980s most of them lived on the East Side on one of Las Vegas's neighborhoods. Find the 1960s “Italian ranch” houses of Casino vintage around the Las Vegas Country Club and Las Vegas National Golf Club, two of the oldest golf courses in the city. The homes around them still sport the Roman statuary, the padded pool bars and the secret closets. Travelers who want to see how the other half lives—and gambles—can check out the “locals” casinos: Boulder Station, Sam’s Town, and Sunset Station, where the odds are better, the machines looser, the service more friendly, the buffets more affordable and the entertainment free.

South Strip

Driving in from Los Angeles on Interstate 15, the South Strip brings the first glimpse of Vegas whether rising cherry red in the glass reflection of M Resort or closer in with the commanding gold presence of Mandalay Bay. Either way, the glint of the western sun on the upcoming canyon of glass and neon might be the first stirring of the constant stimulation waiting in this 24-hour town. If there is a new Las Vegas neighborhood it is rising along this southern stretch. Mandalay Bay, THEHotel, Four Seasons, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Bally’s, Bellagio, Luxor, New York-New York, Excalibur, Caesars Palace and Flamingo are here. You’ll also find CityCenter, a history-making masterwork in architecture, engineering and art. Walking between hotels is aided by various walkways and trams and many of the hotels connect. There’s plenty of shopping in this area as well with The Forum Shops at Caesars, the Shops at Mandalay Bay, Crystals, Miracle Mile, Premium Outlets and Town Square all within a few blocks.

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