It’s not hard to find oneself overwhelmed by the hoards of tourists, lights and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip, the sweltering heat and the daunting price tags attached to most of the tourist-heavy eateries and bars. Fortunately, there are tons of unique dining and drinking locales to be explored mere blocks away from the crowds. Cozy microbreweries and a few nostalgia-laced theme bars, karaoke and rock shows – go where the locals go for a taste of that old Las Vegas charm.
If Las Vegas is Sin City (and it is widely conceded that it is), then surely the original sinner was Bugsy Siegel, who erected the first Flamingo Hotel and Casino in 1946 to exploit legalized gambling in Nevada. He paid the ultimate penance and was gunned down in Beverly Hills before the Flamingo had a chance to hit the jackpot; the money he had skimmed off the top couldn’t be reproduced for his initial investors.
While Las Vegas may be more famous for its urban activities, it also has a whole has a lot to offer those outdoorsy types. From sprawling national parks to beautiful lakes and hot springs, there are a diverse array of activities for those who like their trips to Las Vegas with a side of fresh air. There are boating, fishing, hiking, photography, picnicking and camping opportunities in many areas across Southern Nevada. Exploring stunning rock formations makes for amazing photographs and memorable family adventures, and there are also historically important places to visit, such as the Hoover Dam. And what’s more, the fun doesn’t have to stop when it’s cold, as Mount Charleston offers snow activities for winter travelers.
Travelers are always seeking out a local experience wherever they go. They’re looking for the non-tourist trap restaurants where they can sample the local cuisine at local prices, as opposed to at exorbitant, tourist-inflated prices. And that’s where we come in, because Hopper knows everything – well, not everything, but certainly an awful lot. In Las Vegas it’s very easy to get drawn in by the big bright lights of the overpriced chains and casinos like moths to a flame, but if you avert your eyes for a moment or two, you’ll find some great hidden gems that can often get overshadowed. So follow this guide, the inside scoop and eat like a local in Las Vegas.
It might not beat Mt. Washington in terms of elevation (but then again, who can?), but Wildcat Mountain’s 4,422 feet is nothing to scoff at, either. Part of the Carter-Moriah Range of the White Mountains, this well-known New Hampshire ski area faces Carter Dome to the northeast and mighty Mount Washington to the west. So those five summits are pretty scenic. Aside from its many trails and terrain parks for skiers and riders, its premise also contains the Wildcat Valley Trail, an ungroomed cross-country trail that snakes from the summit all the way down to Jackson, New Hampshire.
Wild Mountain Resort on its own is a relatively formidable and amenable ski area with all of the details that make a family ski trip an ever-golden memory: classic Midwest hospitality, short lift lines, the longest ski season of any resort in the area, certified professional instructors, the kind of multi-lane tubing park that inspires gleeful squeals all the way down the mountain, and a truly striking 360 degree view of the St. Croix River’s forested bluffs from its mighty peaks. But in addition to all of that, a scenic drive around the town will reveal gorgeous forests of maple and birch, douglas firs, country style diners and 19th century cottages and mom and pop shops.
Voted “Best Terrain in the Midwest” by visitors of On The Snow, Crystal Mountain in Michigan seems to be a local family go-to for skiing – and in this case, “local” extends to visitors from Detroit (a four-hour drive away), Grand Rapids (two hours), and Chicago (five hours away). Despite its popularity, however, Crystal Mountain never seems to lose its intimate atmosphere – their snow sports school targets each kid’s specific needs, it offers tons of family oriented activities that engage large groups, and its lodgings are all cozy, large, and well attended to. The staff is friendly, attentive and know the premises like its their home – and for many, it is. This family run and operated spot was established nearly 60 years ago, and there’s no signs of it slowing down.
Vail is not just a stop on a tour, Vail is a final destination. Vail is a lifestyle. Vail is one of the most well-known and luxurious skiing destinations in the United States, if not the world. Modeled after the Swiss town of Zermatt, Vail Village, the ski-in-ski-out epicenter of Vail’s shopping and restaurant scene, is conveniently located a short ski away from Golden Peak and the beginner school and ski lift. Like everything else in Vail, it is large and impeccably appointed. Once at Vail, visitors can park their cars in the garage and hop on the local, free public shuttles to get around the large expanse of Vail’s bases. Ensconced by the majestic peaks of the Rockies, Vail is not merely a skier/rider’s white dream, it’s also a cultural hub with tons of activities for kids, fine dining restaurants, European-inspired luxury accommodations, alpine-chic shopping, nature discovery center and museums.
Blue Mountain is Ontario’s largest ski resort, with a total of 42 ski runs. Much of the resort’s popularity comes from what it has to offer away from the slopes, both in the resort village and in the nearby town of Collingwood: a great range of hotels, spas, restaurants and other family and apres-ski activities. But the snowsports are, of course, the main draw, particularly for beginner and intermediate skiers, and the mountains boasts Ontario’s highest vertical.