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Ahhh, Vegas. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It attracts every type of person you can imagine, and even those you only thought existed in The Hangover. There are slot machines in the airport and casinos everywhere else. It’s literally lit, and it’s covered in gold and neon lights to prove it. It’s been dubbed Sin City for good reason—every time you go to Vegas, you cement that love-hate relationship with both your liver and your wallet.

But unbeknownst to many, Vegas isn’t all party, party, party and gamble, gamble, gamble. Like any city, Vegas can be anything you want it to be. From easy access points to the great outdoors, a funky arts district, desert landscapes and flashy shows, to award-winning restaurants, low-key family neighborhoods, zip lines and even dirty dive bars, Vegas has it all.

Looking to discover the other side of Vegas? Here are six cool areas to explore—none of which are The Strip!—during your next Sin City trip.

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Trover photo by Sharon Regalado


When you hear people talk about Downtown Las Vegas, they’re most likely talking about Fremont Street. Dubbed “Old Vegas,” it’s here where you’ll find original Las Vegas casinos like El Cortez and Golden Nugget (where the locals go to place their bets) and where you can still get a vodka soda for under $10. Drive down South Las Vegas Boulevard and you can’t miss it—just look for the pedestrian-only street with endless bars and casinos, an electric-red Fremont sign, a 1,500-foot canopy of neon lights, and (because why not make it weirder?) a zip line made to resemble a slot machine.

Hit these spots for…

Creative American fare: Carson Kitchen, where they serve crispy chicken skins with smoked honey and bacon jam with baked brie and toasted baguette.
Vintage boozing: Atomic Liquors, which has a rotating menu of 500-plus craft beers on tap.
Cool shopping: Container Park, where 40 local boutiques and artist shops operate out of repurposed shipping containers.
Classic gaming: El Cortez
When drinking gets boring: The Fremont Experience, where you can zip down the Slotzilla Zip Line, right over all the party-goers on Fremont Street, through two million neon lights.

Photo courtesy of the District at  Green Valley Ranch


Surprising to many, people raise families in Vegas and those families live in more residential suburbs, like Henderson. In fact, so many folks live here that this cozy suburb has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the entire U.S. (and second largest in Nevada). An industrial town turned legit destination, today’s Henderson sits just south of The Strip and manages to balance the Vegas high-life with a small-town feel. Expect to stumble on neighborhood-wide street festivals, car shows and art walks.

Hit these spots for…

A gambling dinner: Pizza Rock, an award-winning pizza spot with 7,000 square feet of TV’s, semi-trucks and (in true Vegas fashion) a dining table with a roulette wheel.
A night in England: Shakespeare’s Grille & Pub, because it’s a British gastropub with all-day bottomless mimosas and five kinds of French fries.
Cute shops: The District at Green Valley Ranch
High rollers: Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa & Casino
Something different: Water Street District, which is packed with early Las Vegas history.

Arts District

Also dubbed “18b” because of the 18 city blocks it occupies, the Arts District is where Vegas hides its more conventional culture… but still in an incredibly unconventional Vegas way. Like the rest of Sin City, it’s packed with great dining and drinking spots, but is most known for its art galleries, artist studios, boutique shops, funky vibes, monthly art walks and—as if Vegas didn’t have enough already—an avenue for locals to express themselves.

Hit these spots for…

Really good Mexican food: El Sombrero Mexican Bistro, a Las Vegas institution that has been around since 1950.
Bohemian bar vibes: Artifice
Gallery shopping: Arts Factory
Something different: First Friday, a free monthly art walk-turned-street party with thousands of locals, art vendors, live performances, local galleries and food trucks.

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Trover photo by Brett Steele


Head west in Las Vegas and you’ll find yourself in Summerlin, a piece of suburbia with Nevada’s desert in mind. Here, locals come in and out of well-manicured gated communities, play golf, hike through Red Rock Canyon, ride bikes, stroll through parks and take it all in as they bask in the scorching desert sun. It’s such a nice place to live that, compared to the rest of Vegas, it feels a little more like normal America… except for the sprawling deserts and can’t-miss casinos, naturally.

Hit these spots for…

A healthy to-go meal: SkinnyFATS, a fast-casual chain with “happy” and “healthy” menus, delicious “Avocatoast” with a fried egg, and house-made green juices!
Good shopping: Summerlin Centre
Gambling: Red Rock Canyon Casino, Resort & Spa
The Great Outdoors: Sin City is actually within driving distance of plenty of parks. Make Summerlin your home base and you can drive through Red Rock Canyon, which is just minutes away. Or in under an hour, you can road trip to Mount Charleston and grab a beer at Charleston Lodge, where you can take in thick forest pines, rocky-green landscapes and crisp mountain air from 8,000 feet.


Sin City might not be the first place you expect to find a Chinatown, but it actually has a pretty great one. If you’re a fan of Asian food, head just two miles from The Strip to Spring Mountain Road, and you’ll find a huge district of tasty Asian restaurants. It all starts with Chinatown Plaza, which is ornately decorated in colorful dragons, Tang Dynasty-inspired architecture and even a giant statue of the Monkey King. You can’t miss it—and once you try some of Chinatown’s 150-plus restaurants, you won’t be able to forget it, either.

Hit these spots for…

Really good ramen: Monta
An alcoholic Dole Whip at any hour: The Golden Tiki
The largest Asian supermarket in Sin City: 99 Ranch Market
A cool festival: Chinatown Plaza, which hosts the annual Asian Food Festival every Chinese New Year.

University District

Surrounding the University of Las Vegas and just steps from The Strip, the University District gives you a dose of normalcy. Once just a college neighborhood, this part of town has blossomed into a sophisticated area where anyone can hang. While it might seem weird to spend your time in Vegas on a college campus, think again: This one is anything but average. From a famous desert garden and plenty of tree-lined walking paths, to a fine art gallery, a natural history museum, cool coffeehouses and popular tattoo shops, this laidback part of town might be just the break your Vegas vacation needs.

Hit these spots for…

A local lunch: Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Market
A solid college bar: Double Down Saloon, because they have Bacon Martinis.
A really cool show: Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery
Impeccable mid-century architecture: The Flora Dungan Humanities Building at UNLV.
A garden in a desert: Xeric Gardens

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Tagged: Las Vegas

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Jennifer Agress

Jennifer Agress

Jennifer is a Miami-based writer and editor who loves good food, a better martini and traveling every chance she gets. She writes about luxury travel, dining and lifestyle for Travel Weekly, Private Air Luxury Homes, Preferred Travel, Modern Luxury Weddings, INDULGE Miami, Thrillist, NUVO Magazine and more. When she’s not on a plane, she’s likely plotting her next adventure—follow @JenniferAgress on Instagram to see where she lands.

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