Whether it’s the quiet tree-lined streets of the suburbs or the contagious energy of downtown, Las Vegas offers a little something for everyone. If you’re planning on making this beautiful and laidback city home, then read on to discover which of the Vegas Valley neighborhoods locals like best.
Downtown Las Vegas
Perfect Neighborhood for: Millennials, artists and startups
If you’re looking for a neighborhood with a “real city” feel, Downtown Las Vegas may be your best bet. Closer to an actual “walk-able neighborhood” than elsewhere in the city, DTLV, as it is sometimes known, is where to go if you want to be within staggering distance of the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants.
Drew Cohen, co-founder of the independent bookstore The Writers Block, says he likes downtown because it reminds him a little of New York City.
“I spent my adult life — prior to moving to Vegas — living in New York City, where a combination of geographic density and robust mass transit made it possible to live without a car. I was able to walk or take the subway, almost everywhere. Part of what I like about downtown Vegas is that it approaches this quality more than any other neighborhood in the Valley. I’m able to walk from home to work, and to local restaurants and other amenities. That’s an enormous factor, for me, in what makes a neighborhood livable.”
Until the 1970s, Downtown was THE town; it was the center for tourism. That all changed, however, after the Strip was built and tourists traded the city’s historic casinos for the newer, shinier models further south. The neighborhood’s original casinos, like the El Cortez and The 109-year-old Golden Gate Casino (the oldest in Vegas), remain as evidence of Vegas’s century-long history. They also add a vintage vibe to the neighborhood that has yet to fully recover from an economic slump.
Although revitalization projects are underway, the neighborhood remains in a transition period, which, in a way, adds to the appeal. Hipster bars and bohemian cafes sit alongside bail bond businesses and pawn shops. Lawyers drifting in and out of the downtown courthouse mingle with startup techies walking their dogs on their lunch breaks. It’s an interesting point in time to live in Downtown Vegas, as there’s a sense that you’re on the edge of a huge sea change.
· The Smith Center—an art deco-style world-class performing arts center
· Several eclectic restaurants—Eat, Rachel’s Kitchen, MTO Café and Luv-It Frozen Custard are neighborhood favorites.
· Zappos—The online shoe retailer is a big employer and its owner, Tony Hsieh
is the man behind the revitalization of downtown, otherwise known as the Downtown Project
Perfect Neighborhood for: Outdoorsy people, families, empty nesters
Summerlin is a great option for families and young professionals looking to reap the benefits of Vegas living without actually feeling like they live in Las Vegas. Indeed, when you’re watching the sun set over the red sandstone cliffs at Red Rock Canyon or jogging through one of Summerlin’s large community parks, The Strip––with it’s noisy casinos and drunken tourists––will feel very far away.
Summerlin is known for being one of the more upscale neighborhoods in town. This perhaps isn’t surprising, considering the man behind the masterplan community––one of the largest in the U.S.––was none other than movie mogul Howard Hughes.
Don’t let the dozen luxury golf courses and European-style shopping centers fool you, however. Though there are a number of multi-million dollar mansions in the area, many of the homes are surprisingly affordable. In fact, the average selling price of a home in Summerlin, according to trulia.com, is $215,000, with one-bedrooms renting for an average of $874 a month, says realtor.com.
Though Summerlin is not for everyone – critics say it’s situated too far from the action at around a 30 minute drive from the strip – it’s popularity won’t likely diminish any time soon. In 2014, Money named Summerlin one of the “best places to live in America”.
Jared Fisher, owner of Escape Adventures and Las Vegas Cyclery says “Summerlin is a well-groomed neighborhood! It’s safe to ride bikes, run, walk, and feel at home. It’s really well-managed.”
Fun fact: Summerlin loves its outdoor spaces! There are approximately 150 parks in the area.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area—Over 30 miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails make up Summerlin’s “backyard”
Downtown Summerlin—A recently opened 1.6 million-square-foot outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment center.
Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa—The casino offers a number of amenities for locals, including a movie theatre, bowling alley and a concert venue.
Perfect Neighborhood for: Families
Ironically, one of the best places to live in Las Vegas isn’t technically in Las Vegas. Though once upon a time, the City of Henderson was completely separate from Las Vegas, because both cities have expanded enormously over the last few decades, they now overlap one another; you can no longer tell where one city ends and the other begins.
Henderson has won a number of “best of” accolades over the years, including “the second safest city in America” (Forbes), “one of the best cities to live in (in) America” (Bloomberg Business) and “one of the best places to retire if you hate taxes” (Money). It’s easy to see why. Henderson—Green Valley in particular—is known for it’s pretty tree-lined streets, walking and hiking trails (there are 80 miles of them) and close proximity to Lake Mead Recreational Area.
Stefanie E., who moved to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 1993, loves Henderson’s convenient location. “There’s easy access to the freeway and it’s only 30 minutes to the lake, 30 minutes to Red Rock and 10 to 15 minutes to the airport.” She’s also a fan of the fact that everything a person could need—parks, schools, pools, libraries, shopping centers and restaurants—are only a few minutes drive away. “I pretty much made my brother and his family move there for all those reasons,” she says jokingly, although she’s half serious. “Plus, Vanderberg Elementary School is one of the top 50 public schools in the nation.”
Though Henderson clearly has a lot going for it, a 2011 Forbes list also found Henderson to be one of the 10 most boring cities in America (ouch!). Although with the Entertainment Capital of the World only 10 minutes away, perhaps Henderson can afford to be a little mundane.
Melissa Maida, hairstylist and owner of That Hair Girl in Henderson says, “Over the years I’ve lived and worked in several different areas of the valley and the sense of community in Henderson is unmatched. This translated into my business as well where my clientele became my family. With this network in place it only made sense to start my business in Henderson. Henderson is home.”
Fun fact: U.S. Senator Harry Reid grew up in Henderson. He played on Basic High’s football team.
Lake Mead Recreational Area—The nation’s largest man-made reservoir and is great for hiking, camping, biking and a myriad of water sports.
Green Valley Ranch—This shopping complex is a pedestrian-only stretch of shops, bars and restaurants that runs perpendicular to the Green Valley Ranch Hotel and Casino. It’s a popular place for a family outing or romantic date night.
The Water Street District—Old Henderson is currently trying to capture some of the revitalization success experienced by Downtown Las Vegas with a number of new businesses opening on Water Street, the city’s original “Main Street.”
South and Southwest Las Vegas
Perfect Neighborhood for: Millennials, singles and families
Though not on many tourists’ radars, the neighborhoods in South and Southwest Las Vegas have become popular among college students, young professionals and young families. Single-family “starter” homes, condos and townhouses are new yet reasonably priced and the area is conveniently located close to two major freeways as well as only a 15-minute drive from the airport and the Strip. Also located in this region, perched high on the hills overlooking the Vegas Valley is Anthem, a master planned community. This is the best place to live for anyone looking for a home with a view, as the sunset views of the Strip below are spectacular. Far West of Anthem is Mountain’s Edge, another affluent area with mountain views and miles of open space.
What makes this area unique is its relative newness. Prior to the recent population explosion, this area was mostly “cowboy country” and largely uninhabited. Evidence of this still exists, as nestled between the strip malls and gated communities are horse ranches and patches of open, undeveloped desert land. Every once in a while, you’ll see a horseback rider trotting down the street from the Taco Bell or a big-horned sheep wandering the hillside behind the middle school.
Max Jacobson-Fried, owner of Freed’s Bakery, says “South Las Vegas is great because we’re a short drive from the 215, which gives quick access to the 515/95, the I-15, as well as the 215 itself which loops all around Vegas. No matter where you’re coming from, it’s a relatively short drive. And only a 15 minute drive from the strip! We’re in a wonderful section of the community with close access to Green Valley, Anthem, Seven Hills, Southern Highlands, and everything in between. There are tons of awesome local dining options in the area and a very supportive community.”
Town Square—A pedestrian-friendly, open-air shopping complex modeled after a city center. Town Square is a popular weekend hangout for locals.
Family-owned restaurants and shops—Though chain stores are still in abundance, there are a number of local ‘mom and pop’ restaurants and small businesses, which sets this region apart from more touristy areas of the city. Popular restaurants include Crepe Expectations, Freed’s Bakery and Grouchy John’s Coffee Shop.