The Other Vegas – My love lettre to this great city.
It’s already been two months now since my big move from Las Vegas back to Canada; and although I am happy to be back home, the past three and a half years there were a great adventure!
A common reaction when people find out that you live or lived in Las Vegas is always; oh I could never live there. Or, it’s fun for 3 days, but I couldn’t handle living there.
Yes it’s a party city if you’re visiting and staying on the strip; but for those who live there it’s a normal town with lovely people…ok, sort of normal.
In this post, I would like to give you an insight of what it’s like to live there and what makes Las Vegas so special; aside from the casinos, amazing entertainment and world class restaurants. But before we get started, let me just say one thing; I didn’t leave because I didn’t like living in Las Vegas. My master plan was always to stay 3 to 5 years. I came for an adventure and to further my career; done and done!!! I am very much a Canadian and a Maritimer down to my soul, so there was never any question in my mind that I would stay in the US permanently.
Where will you live?
Ok, let’s move on! When you decide to move here all the locals want to know if you will be living in Henderson or Summerline? It’s very serious business; each side tries to convince you to move to their area.
Driving from one area to the other is maybe 25 to 35 minutes? Which doesn’t seem very far right? But the weird truth is that once you move to one area, you rarely venture to the other side; and when you do, it’s a big deal, lol.
Las Vegas is the most convenient city ever! It doesn’t matter what area you move to, everything you need can be found within a 5 mile radius; everything!!! Your hairdresser, doctors, grocery store, pharmacy….most everything you need is literally a 3 min drive; so there is no need to leave your hood.
Full disclosure, once I settled in and had a friend from Moncton moving to Las Vegas; I too became one of those people who tries to convince new people to move to their area. I believe my exact words to my friend Sean were; “you can move to Summerline if you want, but I won’t go visit you; you’ll have to come to me in Henderson!”
Get back to nature!
When you think of Vegas, I bet that enjoying nature isn’t the first thing that comes to mind? But there are amazing, like freakishly amazing, things to see and do there. Most people that visit and stay on the strip don’t even notice that Las Vegas is in a valley; it’s surrounded by mountains on all sides, which means that there are lots and lots of hiking trails!
The hills are not exactly alive with the sound of music, but they are beautifully colorful! There’s plenty of reds, whites and sometimes pinks and purpleS. Red Rock is a 20 minutes ish drive from the strip; it has amazing trails for hiking and rock climbing.
But my personal favorite spot to bring friends when visiting was The Valley of Fire; which is approximately 50 minutes from the strip. It really feels like you’re on another planet. There is a zen vibe that you will feel as soon as you arrive. You can even see petroglyphs; how many of you have seen petroglyphs??
Henderson, where I chose to live because it’s way cooler than Summerline, 🤣😆, is 20 to 25 minutes from the Arizona boarder. My friend and I discovered some amazing and really challenging trails on the Arizona side of the boarder.
Our first hike was to Liberty Bell, truth be told, we got lost on that first hike so it took us a bit longer than planned. It’s amazing to walk up and down, and up and down the trails to eventually happen upon this enormous rock formation!
The main trail eventually splits into two; one leads to the Libert Bell and the other leads you to the hot springs. Again as you walk these trails, you feel like you’re on another planet; especially if you’re from the east coast where everything is green.
I am from Atlantic Canada, my house was a 15 minute drive from the beach. When I moved to the desert I never imagined that I would be buying my very first kayak there…in the desert.
Like most of my activities, I discovered Willow Beach via Pinterest; I would search fun things to do in and around Las Vegas and go do them.
Willow Beach is less than an hour’s drive from Henderson; and like The Liberty Bell, its on the Arizona side and it’s the most amazing place that I’ve ever experienced.
Full disclosure the water is cold, that being said, it’s never stopped me from jumping in! It’s in a valley surrounded by mountains; so while kayaking we’ve seen grazing mountain goats and bald eagles flying overhead. The water is so crystal clear that you can see fish swimming under your kayak; pretty big fish.
There’s an area called Emerald Cove where the water is the prettiest color of green. There are a few areas that you can beach your kayak and enjoy a picnic and swim.
I bought a kayak, but you can also rent them; it’s actually easier to rent them. You can also rent pontoon boats, which I haven’t done yet, but it’s on my list.
No kayak? No problem! In July and August, it’s actually too hot for a lot of physical activities. But if you leave early in the morning before it gets too hot, you can float.
In honor of my Canadian heritage; I bought an inflatable beaver instead of a unicorn or swan. If I am being honest, the main reason I got it was to be able to say that my beaver and I went to the lake, when asked what I did on the weekend. Come on, that’s pretty funny!!
Anything is possible in Vegas!
A few years ago, I made a bucket list; one of the items on my list was to ride a camel. Since Las Vegas is in the desert, I figured there should be a place nearby where you could ride camels? And I was right!! An hour and twenty minutes from the strip is a place called Camel Safari.
I brought my nephew with me and we had so much fun! I had heard that camels can be assholes, so I was a tiny bit apprehensive; but the camels at Camel Safari were very well behaved. Now I am not a camel expert, but I think that they were so chill because they are happy and well taken care of; they have lots of room to roam with their camel friends when not on safari.
Funny story, some of my coworkers, who have lived in Vegas for a long time, would see my Facebook posts and ask me on Monday morning; where the hell were you this weekend? Lol, I did a lot more activities in my first year there than most locals have done ever.
Another activity on my bucket list was to go up in a hot air balloon, and guess what? You can do that there too! Please note that they don’t go up during the heat or the summer because of the crazy winds; Las Vegas is freakishly windy…who knew??
I was a bit nervous that this would be scary, but the feeling of floating was very peaceful and the views were spectacular!
Don’t bet against Las Vegas!
I feel that Las Vegas is like your friend who has super high self esteem and thinks that he/she can do anything; so they basically figure out a way to do everything!
Outdoor skating in the desert sounds ridiculous right? Well never bet against Las Vegas, because they will figure it out.
My friend Lynn asked me if I knew how to skate one cool day in November? Hello! I am Canadian, of course I know how to skate. We ended up skating on the roof top of the Cosmopolitan Hotel overlooking the strip.
And Vegas doesn’t do anything half assed, the skating rink included fire pits for roasting marshmallows and for making s’mores; chocolate martinis, mini grilled cheese sandwiches with hot tomato soup and snow!! It was pretty magical!
Turns out there are outdoor winter wonderland villages throughout the city that pop up in November and stay open until January.
People laughed when Vegas announced that they would be getting their own NHL hockey team; yeah, they didn’t laugh for long!
I attended the second home game and it was wild! I’ve seen NHL games in Montreal, Boston and Florida; I also spent most of my childhood in rinks, so not to brag, but I know hockey. Believe me when I say that there is nothing like seeing a game in Las Vegas!!!
Can the opening “show” be a bit tacky? Yes, but it needs to be, it’s Las Vegas Baby! Each game is a party! As mentioned above; I attended the second home game against Detroit and I would say that 65% of the fans were Red Wings.
People come to Vegas to see their team play against the Knights; they actually plan their trip around the hockey schedule; and just a warning that every game ends up being pretty much sold out, so plan accordingly.
As that first season progressed, more and more of the locals began showing up in their Knights jerseys, myself included. But it’s still very normal to see a lot of visitor team jerseys in the stands; and what I love is that there are no crazy cat calls or rude behavior between fans. If you don’t know what I am talking about, try wearing a Habs Jersey to a Bruins game! Let me know how that works out for you, lol.
That first season the Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. I had to remind some of my friends that expansion teams don’t make it to the finals their first season…like ever! It’s like Vegas didn’t know that it was hard? Lol.
It was an amazing thing to see and experience everyone embrace the Good Ol’ Hockey Game…in the desert.
Hockey’s not the only winter game in town; do you ski?? Guess what? There is a ski hill 50 minutes from the strip. You can ski Mount Charleston in the morning and sit by the pool in the afternoon…ok the only ones sitting by the pool in the « winter » are Canadians.
You name it, you can do it!
Can you partake in a fancy high tea in Las Vegas? Yup! How about some dim sum in Chinatown? Not a problem!
I seriously don’t think there is one thing that I’ve googled that hasn’t been doable in Las Vegas. It’s like each activity you search, Las Vegas says; yes, challenge accepted!!
The very best part!!
The absolute best thing about Las Vegas, by far, are the people who call it home.
I’ve never experienced a community so inclusive and inviting. Maybe it’s because the majority of residents aren’t from here? So they know what it feels like to move here and get settled? Or maybe it’s because a vast majority of locals work in the hospitality industry? Whatever the reason is, they are as friendly as the people back home!
I knew a handful of people there when I moved, but not that many; two of my now closest Vegas friends worked at the same company as me, but I didn’t know them prior to moving there.
Lynn W invited me out for dinner my first week there and flat out told me that we were going to be friends; turns out she was right!
I met Shondra during a dinner with a bunch of service technicians; she also pretty much decided we would be friends forever; and I am blessed that she did!
My friend Staci and her husband, Aaron, took care of me as soon as I landed. They helped me get my huge king size bed home and quickly became my family away from home.
I had one close friend there when I moved; Claudia and I had been work partners for over 10 years prior to my big move. Who knew our bond could get even stronger? We got promoted together, visited NY and Paris together and celebrated our birthdays together.
And then there is Travis, Lynn D and Barney who I love and miss already!
Thank you Las Vegas for welcoming a Maritime girl from the other side of the continent and making her feel right at home in the desert!!
And for those who visit and wonder who would want to live there? Awesome, fabulous people live there; that’s who! ❤️
I really enjoyed this read Liette. Everytime I think that I have read the best one, you come back with a better one. You’re a great and very interesting writer.