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Sin City Secrets: Tips from a Vegas Local

“Oh my god! You’re from Vegas?! What casino do you live in? Do you learn poker in school?” These are the classic questions everyone and anyone from Vegas gets when meeting someone from outside the Valley. Believe it or not, the majority of Vegas is actually suburban neighborhoods and amazing food joints; however, most people believe that the city is simply the casinos. Yet, as someone from here, there is so much more to Vegas than seen on TV. 


Now don’t get me wrong, the Las Vegas strip is nice and truly iconic. However, locals only go down there for a handful of reasons like work or to see a concert. A lot of people have this conception that people who live in Vegas frolic downtown to Caesars Palace often.. Honestly, locals go to people watch or take prom photos, but there isn’t much down there that appeals to us. It’s a money trap and a tourist destination, which is why we work there rather than vacation there. Tourists to us are people who help us pay the bills, and interesting people to talk to because we get individuals from all over the world. From celebrities to the average joe, you can find people from all sides when walking down the strip. 


Tourists who travel beyond the scope of the casinos and try to see our more hidden attractions are special in our hearts (And I am NOT talking about the Seven Magic Mountains. Call me uncultured, but I don’t see a pile of painted rocks as “fun”) 


The real hidden gems everyone should visit are much cooler and historical than the Bellagio. For example, right on Fremont is the fascinating Mob Museum which many people miss because they are too busy walking down the Fremont experience. You can learn about Vegas’ ties and notorious history with the mob. If crime isn’t your cup of tea and are more into art, then the Neon Museum is the graveyard of old casino signs. If you love classic movies about old time Vegas, you’ll probably find a classic sign there and take all some of the best photos. Another place I highly recommend is the Atomic Bomb Museum! Vegas is not that far from the desert locations where the US Army practiced blowing up things, so there are a lot of interesting historical artifacts. From pictures of the high school students watching the atomic blast from the steps of the school to actual debris from practice fall out shelters, there is so much to see. Lastly, a place I hold very dear to my heart is Springs Preserve. I loved going there as a kid and it's amazing even as an adult. The Preserve  teaches its visitors about Vegas and the desert in an interactive and engaging way. It includes the State Museum and animal exhibits, which I think are the best parts. The strip, in reality, is for those party animals and there aren't a lot of things for families to do. However, these places are great family and daytime activities. 


Another thing visitors should know about the Vegas Valley is that Vegas is actually comprised of three (technically 4) different cities! For instance, I live in North Las Vegas, but I only live 5 minutes from Vegas and there aren’t any borders really. Plus forty minute drive from my home through Vegas gets me to Henderson. Then of course, Boulder City is included, but there is a clear distinction between them and the rest of the Vegas Valley. The three cities coincide within a huge Valley surrounded by the most gorgeous lined mountains of plain shades. Not a single tree in sight on those mountains, but ridges that catch the amazing glimpse of sunlight and create the best sunsets that the pacific coast sunsets pale in comparison. 


The sun is a very important thing I should touch upon aside from the enchanting sunsets. The summer here in Las Vegas is no joke. I would often laugh at my classmates when they would complain when it was hotter than 75 degrees in SF, but then again they don’t have air conditioning. Starting in May and lasting till October, the weather never drops below 100 degrees. Stories of tourists getting heat stroke, especially during EDC season, is quite common. A local saying here in the Valley is that if you don’t hydrate, then you diedrate. Then in the winter, it's cold here in southwestern terms. At night, it can get to 20 degrees and the daytime it can be a high of 40 degrees. Every so often, we get one day of “snow”, which anyone from the north would cackle at but here the whole city panics and is on pause.


Growing up here, I swore I would never come back and that I hated this city more than anything. I claimed there was nothing to do and it was too hot. But after being forced back home due to COVID after two years, I have found things I love about the city. Sometimes the 120 degree day hits just right and the never ending light pollution sorta helps when driving in the dark. I like where I’ve come from and I hope I helped shed some light on the true side of Las Vegas. (And yes the odds are very much against you in the casinos, don’t even try.)

Becca is a graduating senior Communication Studies major with a focus in Public Relations from the University of San Francisco. She is currently located in Las Vegas, Nevada due to the pandemic and enjoys consuming too many true crime shows and obsessing over her dog. She aspires to be a public relations professional specializing in political campaigns as a speech writer or campaign manager in the future. For now, she is enjoying finishing school and figuring out what all she wants to do in life besides work.
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