Monthly Archives: January 2010

Living in Las Vegas

“The night before I left Las Vegas, I walked out in the desert to look at the moon. There was a jeweled city on the horizon, spires rising in the night, but the jewels were diadems of electric and the spires were the neon of signs ten stories high.” – Norman Mailer

So you’ve just visited, or maybe you’re looking at one of the jobs we’ve got listed at Jet Set, and you wonder… how is life on a daily basis out there in Las Vegas, what is it like to actually live in the city? As most tourists rarely travel beyond the gilded embrace of the Strip, it’s a valid question. Let me tell you about our town.

If you come from back east, or another continent, chances are that your house has been around longer. While Las Vegas was originally founded (and soon abandoned) in the 1850s by Mormon missionaries, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that folks started moving in — first with the railroad, then the building of Hoover Dam, legalized gambling, and the military. These days, the oldest homes, mostly in the heart of downtown, tend to be from the 1940’s, while the majority of dwellings hail from the building booms of the last several decades.

Fun Fact: Remnants of the Old Mormon Fort still exist, you can visit it at Heritage Park, located in Cashman Field just north of the Strip.

Right then, so there’s your quick history lesson. What about Las Vegas now? What does Las Vegas have to offer you?

Let’s begin with a big one: there’s no state income tax in Nevada. Right off the bat you’ve given yourself a raise. Not a bad start, eh?

It’s also a good time to get a house, cheap. Yeah okay, that’s the case in a lot of places, but it’s especially true here. We had ourselves a serious housing bubble and the industry went bananas on home construction for a few years, and as a result there are some great finds to be had. There are also plenty of nice apartments, and local rent is very reasonable.

Despite the summer heat, we’ve got a fantastic outdoor scene. There’s year-round hiking in Mount Charleston, and Red Rock and Valley of Fire are beautiful in the spring and fall. Both the Las Vegas Ski Resort and Lake Mead are less than 45 minutes away, and Zion and Brian Head are within a three hour drive.

Fun Fact: There is a WWII-era bomber viewable locally by those with enough dedication to reach it. A B-29 was ditched in 1948, and still sits at the bottom of Lake Mead.

Thanks to the casino industry, we’ve found ourselves with some spectacular shows and concerts. Several Broadway productions have played for a time, or call Las Vegas home. Cirque du Soleil is a Las Vegas staple. The local music scene is strong, and national acts are always passing through.

We’re one of the best cities in the country to find someplace good to eat, with a huge variety of both celebrity chef and mom ‘n pop establishments in the valley. A lot of the high end restaurants are within the resorts, but there are plenty of stunning eateries off-Strip, too.

Las Vegas has a burgeoning art scene. We’ve got a lot of galleries (including a new one founded by our own Brett Sperry), and some amazing local collections. A chunk of downtown has become known as the 18b Arts District, and every month it transforms into a lively night-time art festival known as First Friday.

You’ll find sports here, too. There’s the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with NASCAR, touring events, and local opportunities for drag racing and autocross. Our ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Wranglers, is one of the strongest in the league, and UNLV’s Division I teams always put on a good show.

For the particularly geek-friendly, we’ve got Tim Arnold’s Pinball Hall of Fame, a huge (and playable) collection of pinball and arcade machines, the Atomic Testing Museum, the Hoover Dam internals Tour, CineVegas (one of the fastest growing film festivals in the world) and one of the best comic book shops on this side of the country. Additionally, CES, DICE Summit, Defcon, Classic Gaming Expo, and the Evo Championships all take in Las Vegas.

Fun Fact: It’s pronounced Nevada.

I’ve just skimmed the surface, but that should be enough to keep ya covered for a bit, so let’s call this post done. Wanna know anything else about living in Las Vegas? Ask away!

Parrot’s AR.Drone at CES

Heading between halls, I stopped by the Parrot tent to see the AR.Drone, their iPhone-piloted quadricopter that’s been building buzz all through CES.

Flying the copter is really easy — you’ll hear the demoer (a member of the drone’s dev team) explain the controls in the video below — and while I didn’t get to try any of the augmented reality games, the piloting app and craft’s movements were fluid and responsive.

I do wish they’d had two drones up and running to allow folks to duel, as I wonder how difficult it’s going to be for players to maintain the drone’s orientation while flying aggressively and constantly looking up and down from the craft (and opposing drones) to the iPhone.

Inquired about gaining a seat in Parrot’s dev program, as the AR.Drone would be a blast to design for, but not sure if we’d want to throw down the $1200 entry fee for an entirely unproven device just yet.

Still, as long as Parrot can price the AR.Drone reasonably for retail, this thing is gonna be a hit.

CES: Places to get hammered that aren’t casinos.

Just thought I’d share. You know, for the kids.

Downtown Cocktail Room (map)

Right across from the Fremont St Experience, near the corner of Fremont and Las Vegas Blvd. Modern decor, moody lighting, and often a DJ spinning house or downtempo. DCR has fancy drinks, by an actual mixologist, and their Bloody Mary is supposed to be damn good, if you’re the sort that likes salad in your alcohol.

The Griffin (map)

More cozy to DCR’s swanky, but often catering to similar crowds. Brick and leather interior, a nice firepit, and good music. On Fremont St just east of the Fremont St Experience.

Beauty Bar (map)

Yep, we’ve got one here too. Right around the corner from the others listed above, on Fremont. Mmm, hipsters.

Double Down Saloon (map)

Happiest place on earth! On Paradise nuzzled right within the closest thing Vegas has to a gay district… kick ass jukebox, and an excellent alternative during CES if the downtown bars are slammed. Always a good vibe, even with Alfonzo and the midget porn gone.

Frankie’s Tiki Room (map)

A new bar by P Moss (owner of the Double Down), Frank’s Tiki Room is a tiny place just west of Las Vegas Blvd, on Charleston. As the name suggests, it’s wall to wall tiki, with a menu full of custom drinks. Possibly enchanted.

Peppermill Fireside Lounge (map)

It’s the Peppermill, been here for years and years. It has a fountain that is also on fire. Due to it’s Strip location, expect it to be crazy busy over CES, unless you go around 3am (which, to be honest, is really the best time to visit the Peppermill).