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Going local in Las Vegas

For visitors to Sin City, it can be hard to conceive of a Las Vegas beyond the Strip. And yet, there is much more to this Western city than the casinos and the neon lights. From the North Strip to Downtown and what lies just past city limits, here are all the areas you should be sure to visit during your next trip to Las Vegas.

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The Strip

Just as out-of-towners will instantly think of downtown Manhattan when New York is called to mind, so non-natives associate Las Vegas with The Strip. This four-mile stretch is the beating heart of Sin City, and where most of its best-known landmarks — from the themed casinos to the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign — can be found. It’s pretty much guaranteed that every trip to Las Vegas will include plenty of adventures here, from nightclub outings and shopping excursions to LGBT parties and indulgent dinners out.

A guide to LGBT Vegas

The North Strip

Beyond the Strip’s frenetic activity, the North Strip was, for decades, neglected and gritty, with little to tempt visitors beyond Convention Center Drive. But these days, Las Vegas is booming, and the North Strip is a newly flourishing part of town. From the SLS Las Vegas and a number of other colossal casinos-in-progress to events like the Rock in Rio festival, this once-forgotten part of town is now drawing crowds.

Vegas reborn: The revitalisation of the North Strip

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Downtown Las Vegas

A little bit grungy, a little bit trendy, and more likely to attract locals than the Strip, varied Downtown Las Vegas is one of the more interesting parts of town to poke around. Located north of the Strip, it’s also undergone a renaissance of late, expressed through stylish restaurants, cool cocktail lounges, and other spots where you’re likely to rub shoulders with Vegas natives. That said, there are still plenty of draws for out-of-towners, from the Mob Museum and Neon Museum to starchitect-designed buildings and the Fremont Street Experience.

Las Vegas: Where architects run free

The 18b Arts District

Named because it stretches across 18 blocks, this thriving little neighbourhood — carved out of Downtown, and officially established in 1998 — is where you’re likely to find the city’s most bohemian addresses. 18b is a trendy nexus of cool galleries, host to monthly First Friday art walks, and full of hipster coffee shops and other hangout spots. Have a wander to see different murals and public artworks, and otherwise soak up the scene.

The booming arts scene of Las Vegas

The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam may be just beyond city limits, but this world-famous landmark is so close, it’s become an essential part of Sin City’s personality. Built during the Great Depression, the gravity-defying dam is a marvel of modern-day engineering (and has had a starring role in a number of blockbuster flicks, from Viva Las Vegas to Michael Bay’s Transformer movies). Motor over for the views…and stay for the chance to splash around in neighbouring Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir by volume.

Las Vegas at the movies

Image credits:

18b Arts District © Ryan Reason

North Strip © SLS Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas © Emily Wilson

All other imagery © iStock