Where to Play:
The just-completed, 180-acre (73-hectare) Springs Preserve (www.springspreserve.org) in downtown Las Vegas has botanical gardens, trails, amphitheaters, and a sustainable living center. Consider it Vegas's version of New York City's Central Park. Just 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon—a 3,000-foot (914-meter) escarpment of twisting red stone that offers world-class climbing, biking, and hiking ($5; www.redrockcanyonlv.org). Only 45 miles (72 kilometers) from the Strip, 11,918-foot (3,633-meter) Mount Charleston (www.fs.fed.us/r4/htnf) is usually about 25 degrees cooler than the city, and an hour northeast the Valley of Fire State Park (http://parks.nv.gov/vf.htm) is filled with hidden canyons and Native American petroglyphs. To the southwest, an hour and a half away, China Ranch Date Farm (www.chinaranch.com) is a real-live desert oasis complete with burbling springs and palms. More refreshment awaits at Lake Mead (www.nps.gov/lame), Vegas's de facto waterpark a half hour west. Further afield, some of the country's most dramatic national parks—Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Zion—are within a half-day's drive. Visit McGhie's ($50 a day for a full-suspension bike rental; www.mcghies.com) either downtown or in Blue Diamond for red-rock-ready rides.
Where to Stay:
Off the Strip, stay next to biking and climbing nirvana at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa ($149; www.redrocklasvegas.com); on the Strip, try the recently renovated Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino ($140; www.mandalaybay.com).
Where to Eat:
Everything from Mexican to Thai food to Kobe steak can be had at Todd's Unique (+ 1 702 259 8633). Freshly baked bread and a trendy atmosphere collide at Table 34 (+1 702 263 0034). Both dining spots are off the Strip and attract a local crowd.
Thanks to a decade of record job growth, about 6,000 folks relocate here each month. With home prices hovering around $300,000 (and predicted to drop more than $20,000 in the next two years) and constant construction, it's a growth spurt that's likely to continue. Check the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce (www.lvchamber.com) for real estate listings.
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