Doing Vegas off the Strip

Though the Las Vegas Strip is the epicenter of the modern casino resort universe, there's another side of Sin City. Off the Strip and sometimes on the outskirts of town, these resorts bring an entirely new spin to the Las Vegas experience. The Red Rock Mountains in Las Vegas

Don't panic. Being away from the mega resorts doesn't mean you'll have to sacrifice. Like their Strip brethren, the latest generation of local casino resorts are packed with great amenities, gorgeous design and comfortable accom- modations. And as an added bonus, these properties are more affordable too.

Since they're built predominantly for people who live and play in the neighborhood, these properties are more family friendly. Food courts, arcades and movie theaters are almost standard, and other amenities such as bowling alleys are gaining traction.

But these hotels are also packed to the rafters with great restaurants, nightclubs, bars, spas and more! Oh, yeah, and there are plenty of ways to test Lady Luck. Sun Coast Golfing offers a relaxing alternative to the energy of a casino

Take Red Rock Las Vegas. This amazing resort opened a couple of years ago at the cost of more than $1 billion. Near the resort's namesake mountains, this casino meshes a sophisticated, modern design with great fun-filled features. Probably the most upscale of the local resorts, this property is so sexy it could be on the Strip. It's got the DNA of the Palms or Hard Rock, yet is away from the fray. It's also the gateway to many activities suited for active travelers.

Other high-quality resorts worth noting include Green Valley Ranch, Sam's Town and Sun Coast. Each of these properties has a similar array of offerings, such as a variety of restaurant styles, spas, swimming pools and large casinos. And because these properties are off the Strip, table game minimums are typically lower. That means if you're a novice you can risk just a few bucks to experience casino gaming excitement without feeling like you're in over your head.

Chances are you'll want to get out and explore several of these properties, so renting a car is a good idea. Getting a cab is simply too expensive, time consuming and not practical when visiting off-Strip resorts. The price of a cab rental from the airport to Red Rock and back, for example, would cover several days of the car's rental price. The Golden Nugget's Spa Tower Suite

Additionally, a car will also give you the opportunity to check out some new shopping, such as Town Square Las Vegas. It's a 1.5 million-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment destination that opened this past fall. There are 22 buildings with more than 60 different façades that mesh Old World and contemporary architectural styles.

Meanwhile, downtown Las Vegas has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance during the past few years. The heart of this classic Vegas area is also known as the Freemont Street Experience. Here you'll find a completely renovated Golden Nugget as well as a host of other properties along a four-block canopy-covered stretch. From here there is direct access to casinos, more than 60 restaurants, specialty retail stores and a wide variety of free entertainment. The highlight of the entertainment options is an amazing light show that takes place on the canopy throughout the evenings. Named "Viva Vision," this display has approximately 16 million lights, making it one of the largest LED screens in the world. There are also live bands, street performers and a palpable energy that's more casual than at the mega resorts on the Strip.

Taking a trip to the other side of Las Vegas is a great way to still have a memorable Las Vegas experience that is not only relaxing and fun, but you can enjoy it at a price that can be as little as half the one found center-Strip.


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