Las Vegas from a different point of view

Las Vegas from a different point of viewLas Vegas may have a reputation for fun, frivolity and excess, but if you think the two million people who live here only stay for the glitzy casinos and 24-hour nightclubs, think again. Behind the tourist glamour lies a culture-rich city with a deep understanding of its humble beginnings. Avert your eyes from the temptations of the Strip for just a few hours, and you’ll uncover a wealth of attractions that will challenge all your preconceptions.

Before the legalisation of gambling led developers to build what would become America’s premier entertainment resort, Las Vegas was a quiet outpost on the Pioneer trail, home to a large community of Pauite Native Americans. Although you could be forgiven for thinking that this history has been completely wiped out, you can still get a sense of what the original settlement looked like at the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. Set in 180 acres that cover both desert and wetlands, the Preserve is a beautiful oasis of gardens, nature walks and exhibitions: a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Downtown, just six kilometres away. In the same area you’ll find the Nevada State Museum, which takes you through the fascinating story of how Las Vegas was developed, from prehistoric times to present day.

If you’re new to the city, take a glider flight to get your bearings and enjoy a bird’s eye view of this desert metropolis. One highlight is the spectacular Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a heaven for hikers, bird-watchers and climbers. The huge red granite cliffs and standing stones that give the park its name create a magical otherworldly landscape that’s the perfect antidote to a night of Vegas indulgence.

Once you’ve taken in the natural wonder of Red Rock, it’s time to drive just 30 minutes southeast of Las Vegas to admire the man-made Hoover Dam. Completed in 1938 at a modern-day cost of $833m, it’s an awesome example of American engineering. The reservoir formed by the dam, Lake Mead, is the largest in the country. Once you’ve filled your camera up with photos from every viewpoint on this 220 metre-high structure, head to one of the many undisturbed beaches surrounding Lake Mead. Formed by the Dam, Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the country and is an ideal place for boating, swimming, fishing or water skiing.

When it comes to property, the Las Vegas valley has something for everyone in its 600 square miles. High-rise and mid-rise condominiums with full service concierge and first class amenities are highly desirable, as are private guard-gated golf course communities with facilities including dining, tennis, gyms and social clubs. Extremely prestigious properties with top amenities can frequently reach top prices in the double-digit million range as well. The southeastern suburban city of Henderson was voted the country’s second safest city by Forbes magazine in 2011, and is notable for its thriving arts and culture scene. To the west is Summerlin, one of Las Vegas’ most affluent communities, where two championship golf courses and 200 miles of walking and cycling trails add to the high quality of living. Southern Highlands is particularly popular with young families, while the exclusive Lake Las Vegas area is home to both Celine Dion and Chris Tucker.

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