3 Ways to Explore
Las Vegas at a Glance
Enjoying the Las Vegas Valley’s Unique Location
The city’s nightlife and legendary status as the “Entertainment Capital of the World” are well recognized. While that is a major draw for visitors, residents note other factors that set this region apart, mainly access to a great quality of life expressed through recreation and outdoor activities. As you establish your new life in Las Vegas, you’ll begin to explore the wide range of adventures that await your discovery. In this chapter, you’ll be introduced to the best of Las Vegas and the region, including events, sports, recreation, performance and visual arts, golf, attractions, religious affiliations and volunteer opportunities.

Entertainment Capital of the World is not a title that Las Vegas takes lightly; however, it is one that is far too frequently taken only at face value. One must be careful to not let the glitter and glamour of the Strip become blinding because you will miss all of the charm that truly defines Las Vegas.

Las Vegas is a city that embraces the arts, both performing and visual. It is a community that appreciates spectator sports and nurtures burgeoning sports teams. It is also home to people who share a love of the great outdoors and recognize the beauty embodied by the desert. Most importantly, Las Vegas is a community that cares for itself. Home to dozens of nonprofit organizations and charities, Las Vegas is indeed a beautiful place to call home.

HISTORY
Thousands of years ago Paleo-Indians lived as nomads, traveling and camping in different locations around present-day Las Vegas. Many artifacts have since been discovered and help tell the story of early Las Vegas.

In 1829, Rafael Rivera, a scout for a Mexican trading party, was headed to Los Angeles. On his way, he laid eyes on the valley and named it Las Vegas, Spanish for “the meadows.” During that time, parts of the Las Vegas Valley contained artesian wells that supported extensive green areas.

Established in 1905 between Southern California and Salt Lake City, Las Vegas began as a railroad town for travelers. The city was incorporated in 1911, and at the end of the 20th century, Las Vegas was the most populous American city founded in that century. In 1931, the Hoover Dam was being constructed and brought an influx of construction workers, which started a population boom. During World War II, a U.S. Air Force base and the defense industry established facilities to take advantage of the plentiful land and inexpensive energy. The legalization of gambling in 1931 led to the advent of the American organized-crime figures establishing the original casino hotels for which Las Vegas is famous. The city’s tolerance for various forms of adult entertainment earned it the title of Sin City. During the 1980s and 1990s, an unprecedented population growth occurred and Las Vegas took shape into the city you know today.

RELIGION
In a setting more known for entertainment and gaming, it may surprise newcomers to learn that Las Vegas has many more churches than casinos. Religion is as deeply rooted in Las Vegas as the sagebrush that colors the desert and the casinos that line the Strip. As early as 1855, Mormon settlers established a mission fort in the area with the intent of converting the local Indian population to the Mormon faith. Strained relations with the Indians and harsh climatic conditions led to the eventual failure of the mission only three years later. While the mission failed, the fort survived, and Las Vegas soon began to form. Today, approximately 5 percent of people living in the Las Vegas Valley are Mormon. By the early 1900s, the first Methodist church opened in Las Vegas, aptly named First Methodist. It was soon followed by Christ Church Episcopal and a Catholic church in 1908. The first Protestant services took place in 1910.

Today, places of worship can be found for many denominations and beliefs. According to city data, Clark County’s main religious affiliations are as follows: 47.5 percent Catholic; 16.4 percent Latter-Day Saints (Mormon); 32 percent other; and 14.2 percent Evangelical denominations.

Prior to relocating, it is always good to check with your local religious leaders to see if they may be able to recommend a place of worship in Las Vegas. Many religious organizations have networks that span across the country. If you have friends or family in the area who share your religious beliefs, also be sure to ask them for insight. As religious affiliation is a very intimate and personal matter, there are many things to consider when selecting your place of worship. For some people, proximity to their neighborhood is important. For others, the size of the congregation is a factor. Also important to consider are what additional religious and social services are provided. In Las Vegas, many places of worship also offer daycare, school, senior housing, faith-based bookstores and social halls. Whatever your religious affiliation may be, you will find an abundance of welcoming congregations throughout the valley. A comprehensive list of churches can be found on www.LVRelocationGuide.org.

VOTER PROFILE
Clark and Washoe Counties account for more than 87 percent of Nevada’s vote, making Southern Nevada a major influence in state and local politics. Clark County believes strongly in the clout its geographical area wields and states as its mission, “to provide responsible, progressive and results-oriented government that is responsive, accessible and accountable to our citizens, ensuring their right to cost-effective and open government.”

More than 719,800 total active voters were registered in Clark County by the beginning of February 2012. Of registered voters, approximately 44.8 percent are Democrats, 33.2 percent are Republicans, 16.4 percent are nonpartisan, 0.6 percent are Libertarian and 5 percent are affiliated with other parities. Visit www.clarkcountynv.gov to learn about elected officials in your precinct.

LIVING IN A DESERT CLIMATE
An important aspect of the area’s quality of life is its dramatic desert landscape. Residents enjoy gorgeous sunsets framed by beautiful mountains and the sheer natural beauty of the terrain. There are specific conditions to be aware of living in the Las Vegas Valley that can help prepare newcomers. These include flash flooding, windy weather and extreme heat.

— FLASH FLOODING
With few rainy days experienced in the region, the desert ground isn’t very absorbent. When it rains, flash floods are common, and they happen in just seconds. When flash flooding occurs while driving, it is best to look for alternate routes and avoid driving through the areas because water erodes the soil under roads and may force the pavement to collapse. Stay away from moving water, low areas, dry washes, power lines and electrical wires. Report downed wires to the power company. If a flood is coming while you are home, shut off the gas and electricity and move valuable contents upstairs.

— WINDY WEATHER
The desert winds also pose hazards to health and property. Be cautious with car doors as they can blow open or closed, possibly causing personal injury. Secure patio furniture, close patio umbrellas and anything else that could be hazardous if in motion. Dust clouds are common in windstorms, and the dust is inhaled easily. If you have respiratory problems, stay inside on very windy days. High-profile vehicles can be blown from one lane to the next, so drive with caution in windy conditions if you own or drive one of these vehicles.

— EXTREME HEAT
Although the desert climate is ideal for active lifestyles with 300 days of sunshine per year and a healthy mean temperature of 66°F, there are summer days when the temperature exceeds 115°F. It is important to note the dangers of this extreme heat. Walking barefoot on pavement, especially blacktop, may cause second- and third-degree burns to your feet. Always wear shoes to prevent injury. When the temperature outside is 115°F, the temperature in a vehicle can be upwards of 165°F. It’s a good idea not to leave anything in your car that is perishable, could melt or be damaged by intense heat, such as cans of soda (which can explode), electronic devices, crayons and lipstick and lip balm. They all get very messy when melted. Never leave a child, elderly person or animal unattended in a car for any length of time. If you become stranded, do not leave your car, wear a hat and sunglasses and drink lots of water. It’s a good idea always to have a bottle of water in your car.

— GEOGRAPHY AND CLIMATE
With an altitude of 2,028 feet above sea level, Las Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert and is its largest city. Mountains surrounding the Las Vegas Valley extend 2,000–10,000 feet above the valley floor. The Las Vegas Valley, comprising approximately 600 square miles, runs from northwest to southeast. The Sheep Range bound the valley on the north, the Black Mountains bound the valley on the south and the Spring Mountains are to the west, which includes Mt. Charleston, the region’s highest peak at 11,918 feet. There are several smaller ranges on the eastern rim of the valley, including the Muddy Mountains and the Eldorado Range.

The climate in Southern Nevada is generally very pleasant during the fall, winter and spring. Winters are mild and pleasant, with afternoon temperatures near 60°F and mostly clear skies. The spring and fall seasons are generally considered ideal. Although rather sharp temperature changes can occur during these months, outdoor activities are seldom hampered. In the summer months (June through August), lows are in the 70s with temperatures climbing into the 100s, but it is a dry heat with extremely low humidity.

TAXES AND LAWS

— PROPERTY TAXES
The Clark County Assessor determines taxable value of each parcel of improved and unimproved property in the county, and that value is multiplied by 35 percent to obtain the assessed value. To figure the property tax, multiply the assessed value by the tax rate: $2.4730–$3.4030 per $100 of assessed valuation. Tax rates are formulated by various government boards in each municipality and county.

— SALES TAX
Effective July 1, 2009, Clark County assesses an 8.1-percent sales-and-use tax, exempting food for home consumption and prescribed medical goods. Nevada is proud to have the lowest overall tax rate of any state in the nation. With no state income, inheritance, gift, estate, franchise, inventory or corporate taxes levied, Nevada leaves your money where it belongs, in your pocket. Nevada’s Freeport Law exempts citizens from all taxation materials or goods stored in the state for later shipment.

— LIQUOR LAWS
Nevada has an open container law. It is illegal to have opened alcoholic beverages in the driver or passenger areas of a vehicle while it is being driven. You cannot refuse to take a breathalyzer, blood or urine test as directed by a police officer. Blood samples can be drawn involuntarily, even on a first offense. The legal limit of 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level or any detectable amount of a controlled substance (0.02 if under 21; 0.04 in commercial driving). If arrested, your driver’s license will be revoked for 90 days and vehicles may be impounded. Courts impose additional criminal penalties upon conviction.

— AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS
All accidents that involve injuries or damages of $750 or more must be reported to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If a police officer does not investigate the accident, all of the involved parties must file reports on DMV Form SR-1 within 10 days. You must provide your driver’s license, registration and insurance information to any other drivers involved and to the owner of any unattended vehicle or property.

— SEAT BELTS AND CHILD SAFETY
Nevada law requires seat belt use by all occupants in a vehicle. Children under the age of 6 who weigh less than 60 pounds must be in an approved child-restraint system that is properly installed. Visit the Nevada Car Seat Laws website at www.carseatlaws.com/nevada-car-seat-laws to learn more about Nevada’s new booster seat law. Nevada requires that front- and rear-seat occupants of almost all passenger vehicles wear safety belts or ride in an approved child-restraint system. All children ages 12 and under should sit in the back seat, properly restrained whenever possible.

Passengers under 18 may not ride in the back of a pickup or flatbed truck. This applies in all Nevada counties and on all types of roads. Experts indicate that four out of five child-safety seats are installed improperly. To learn more about child-safety seats, visit www.seatcheck.org or call Safe Kids Coalition in Clark County at (702) 731-8666 or visit www.safekidsclarkcounty.org for a free safety-seat inspection.

— USE OF CELL PHONES
On June 4, 2011, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval approved legislation banning handheld cell phone use and text messaging for all drivers. Nevada is the 34th state to ban texting while driving. The law (SB 140) went into full effect January 1, 2012. Police began handing out warnings to violators as early as October 2011. Fines start at $50 for a first-time violators and go up to $250.

TRANSPORTATION

— PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) is the transit authority providing public transportation to the masses. RTC’s fixed-route transit fleet consists of 402 vehicles, including 60 hybrid-electric coaches, navigating 382 square miles of roadways. The reliable and easy-to-use transportation system had a ridership of 7,876262 in 2011 and is key to cutting down congestion in the Las Vegas Valley. For more information about routes, fares and schedules, visit the RTC website at www.rtcsouthernnevada.com.

— MONORAIL
The Las Vegas Monorail is the only privately owned public transportation system in the United States. The elevated train system travels along a 3.9-mile route, making seven stops and connecting major hotels and attractions along the Las Vegas Strip. The current stops are Sahara, Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas Convention Center, Harrah’s/Imperial Palace, Flamingo/Caesars Palace and Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas Stations and MGM Grand. The monorail operates Monday–Thursday from 7 a.m.–2 a.m. and Friday–Sunday from 7 a.m.–3 a.m. Visit www.lv.monorail.com.

— AIRPORT
McCarran International Airport
Since 1948, McCarran International Airport has been as the city’s gateway for visitors and residents. McCarran provides service to more than 42 million passengers arriving and departing the city each year. It is currently the sixth busiest airport in the nation and is part of the Clark County Airport System, which operates five airports, including four general aviation airports. McCarran consists of 96 aircraft gates at two separate terminal buildings. There are more than 50 retail shops, 1,234 slot machines and more than 30 restaurants, lounges and snack bars throughout the airport. Flight status and contact information for individual air carriers can be found on the airport’s website.
5757 Wayne Newton Boulevard
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(702) 261-5211
www.mccarran.com

MEDIA
Las Vegas is ranked in 2012 as the 40th largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the United States with more than 737,300 TV households. The area supports 10 major TV stations, including all the major networks and 20 radio networks, such as CBS Radio and clear Channel Communications. As the “entertainment capital of the world,” there is plenty of news coverage and paparazzi to cover the action and report on celebrity sightings on and off the Strip. Las Vegas itself has been the location for several favorite prime-time shows, such as “CSI Las Vegas” and “Las Vegas.”

— NEWSPAPERS
While there are a variety of print outlets in the valley, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) has the largest daily circulation in Nevada. It’s one of the two daily newspapers in Las Vegas (the Greenspun Media Group-owned Las Vegas Sun is distributed with it), and it is the flagship publication of Stephens Media LLC Subsidiaries. In addition to owning the Las Vegas Sun, Greenspun’s other newspaper subsidiaries include Las Vegas Weekly, an alternative weekly newspaper; Las Vegas Business Press, a city business newspaper; and the Home News Community Newspapers of Nevada, consisting of eight suburban weekly newspapers covering Boulder City, Green Valley, Henderson, Silverado, South Valley, Summerlin and West Valley. Online issues can be found at each publication’s website for free or in conjunction with your print subscription.

— TELEVISION
You will find the familiar lineup of television networks in Las Vegas—from NBC, FOX, CBS, PBS and ABC as well as Univision and CW. Depending on where you are relocating from, you’re now in the Pacific Standard Time (PST) zone, so be sure and adjust to your new time so you won’t miss any of your favorite shows. Cox is the leading cable provider in the area and provides subscribers with a listing of all TV programming available.

Who are the best local TV personalities worth watching? According to “The Best of Las Vegas” reader’s choice poll winners for 2011 they are: in the category of Best Local TV Anchor for the seventh time is Paula Francis with KLAS-TV, Channel 8. She’s on the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts and has been in Las Vegas for more than 20 years. Also on KLAS-TV, the Best Local Sportscaster, according to LVRJ readers is Chris Maathuis, sports director. According to LVRJ, “viewers cheer his breezy yet polished style and know they’re watching somebody who follows the home team (especially UNLV’s men’s basketball) at least as zealously as they do. Jon Castagnino, weekend sports anchor at KVVU-TV, Channel 5, takes the runner-up spot.

— RADIO
There are more than 40 AM and FM radio stations offering every possible genre, from urban contemporary to talk radio, new country, 80s rock, smooth jazz, classical and Christian contemporary. For those who are hooked on National Public Radio (NPR), set your dial to KNPR at 88.9 FM. Do you need your morning drive fix? The favorite dynamic duo in Las Vegas, according to LVRJ readers, is Mark & Mercedes on KMXB-FM 94.1. They’ve been No. 1 for 12 years so check them out. The description notes, “from bodily functions to bad behavior, their cheerful-earful palaver keeps things light and lively.”

SPECTATOR SPORTS
The thrill of the game is alive and well in Las Vegas on both semiprofessional and collegiate levels. Ultimate thrill-seekers would probably find ample satisfaction in the stands of a Las Vegas Wranglers hockey game at the Orleans arena, but if peanuts and crackerjacks are on the menu, then attending a Las Vegas 51s baseball game is a must. The 51s are the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate and play out of Cashman Field. The whole family can spend a day in the sun and “root, root, root for the home team!”

In 2009, the United Football League (UFL) debuted with five teams representing underserved markets. To the delight of many resident football fans, Las Vegas now has a team to cheer for. The fans were further thrilled to see the Las Vegas Locomotives win the inaugural 2009 season with the William Hambrecht Trophy. In a slightly racier bent to professional football, the Las Vegas Sins of the Lingerie Football League ranked fourth in the league in offense for the 2011–12 season.

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) is the home of the Rebels athletic program. The program features an impressive football team and men’s basketball team, both of which are huge community attractions. The 2008 men’s basketball team was tournament champions in the Mountain West Division. Not to be discounted are the women’s volleyball and tennis teams as well as the men’s swimming and diving team each of which hold the honor of division champions.

Speed demons and car lovers alike feel right at home at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which hosts several NASCAR races as well as drag and formula racing. For a more hands-on experience, take the wheel at one of Las Vegas indoor kart racing tracts, such as Pole Position Raceway.

RECREATIONAL FUN
Thanks to the great Las Vegas climate, it’s possible to enjoy the outdoors all year long. For walking, biking, playing tennis and swimming, the local communities are geared to offering you a wide selection of ways to stay fit and enjoy the open spaces. A short distance from the area, there are fun adventures, such as snowboarding, skydiving, horseback riding, kayaking, desert-bike riding and whitewater rafting. There are also tour operators who provide land, air or water adventures to nearby wonders, including the Grand Canyon, Black Canyon and Lake Mead.

When it comes to golf, Las Vegas is way above par. With more than 50 courses located in the city and its nearby surrounding areas, golfers can escape into paradise from morning until dusk. No matter in what state your golfing skills may be, there are plenty of choices for novice, intermediate and scratch golfers. Dye, Fazio and Nicklaus are just a few of the designer names who have created masterpieces in Las Vegas. Exclusive courses like the SouthShore Golf Club at Lake Las Vegas Resort, Bali Hai Golf Club and Shadow Creek Golf Course have rated well with Golf Digest. Angel Park Golf Club has long been a favorite place for local Las Vegans to hit the links and offers 36 holes designed by Arnold Palmer, a lighted short course, a lighted putting course and outstanding views of Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Valley.

MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS
Many hotels and casinos try to top each other with elaborate attractions that provide free or inexpensive escapades for residents. Such is the case with the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, which has created an intimate and safe way to be surrounded by fascinating creatures like sharks and rare golden crocodiles in a glass viewing tunnel. Another popular attraction is Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage, which allows visitors to come face-to-face with white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards and a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. If heart-pounding thrills are what you are looking for, visit the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower for SkyJump Las Vegas, a controlled freefall from more than 800 feet, or X-Scream, a giant teeter-totter that propels you 27 feet over the edge of the tower to reach a height of 866 feet above the ground. The Stratosphere has two other exhilarating rides and the tallest freestanding observation deck tower in the United States. Off the Strip, located just 15 minutes northwest is the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park (Las Vegas Zoo). More than 150 species of plants and animals educate and entertain the public year round. Scores of additional attractions are located throughout the Las Vegas Valley, search more here on www.LVRelocationGuide.org for a complete list.

SCENIC SITES
Although the desert heat can be inconvenient at times, the landscape, colorful sunsets and natural formations that accompany the temperature is well worth it. Approximately 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas is Mount Charleston, the highest of the Spring Mountains of southern Nevada and the state’s eighth highest mountain peak. Hiking trails, picnic areas and nearly 200 campsites make Mount Charleston a well-liked destination for more than 1 million visitors each year. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is also a true scenic beauty, encompassing 197,000 acres of the Mojave Desert. Red Rock is an area of worldwide geologic interest for its rock formations that provide rock climbing and mountain biking. Just minutes from Red Rock Canyon you’ll find Spring Mountain Ranch, which is a combination of a working ranch and luxurious retreat. The Hoover Dam Bypass and the Colorado River Bridge opened on October 19, 2010, spans the Black Canyon (about 1,500 feet south of the Hoover Dam) and connects the Arizona and Nevada Approach highways nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River. Tours are available through the Hoover Dam and power plant. Discovering all the scenic sites Las Vegas offers is one way to get acquainted with your new city.

VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS
As can be expected from a city that thrives on live entertainment, Las Vegas offers outstanding performance venues throughout the city. Newcomers to Las Vegas who are passionate about ballet will be pleased to know that the city is home to the Nevada Ballet Theatre. The theater houses a world-renowned ballet company that commits to unmatched artistic standards. Theatrical can’t-miss performances also are hosted at the outdoor Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Here attendees can appreciate performing arts in a lush and serene setting.

Another cultural institution and mainstay that has been redefining the quality of life for residents is the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Serenading Las Vegans with an impressive variety of concerts throughout the year including a pop series, a Christmas celebration and new arrangements, this symphony is for all ages. Both the Philharmonic and Ballet Theatre recently have moved to The Smith Center, a new multimillion-dollar cultural complex. The Smith Center has been awaited eagerly as a world-class performing arts center that will develop and present the best and brightest in a broad range of first-rate programming to unite the residents of Las Vegas.

NEW CONSTRUCTION—SYMPHONY PARK
Symphony Park is a planned 61-acre, mixed-use city neighborhood located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, just a few miles north of the famed Strip. Considered the single most important element of the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, Symphony Park is anchored by two key public projects: the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (open and seeing patients since 2009), which is a highly specialized clinical center housed in an iconic facility designed by famed architect, Frank Gehry; and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts (opening March 2012), a magnificent facility designed by renowned architect David M. Schwarz to become the city’s center of culture. Encompassing more than 10 million square feet of office, medical, residential, retail and hotel and hospitality space, Symphony Park still is being developed on a multiyear timeline with a project value of approximately $6 billion.

MUSEUMS
More than two dozens museums supply ample information and exciting exhibitions that run the genre gamut. From the National Atomic Testing Museum, one of the first museums to take part in the Smithsonian Institution affiliates program, to the Neon Museum displaying the classic Las Vegas art form of neon signs, a truly eclectic bunch of organizations collect, preserve and study artifacts and artwork for educational and cultural enrichment. With a broader range of focus, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum and Lied Discovery Children’s Museum are popular destinations for the whole family. Many Las Vegas megaresorts also have shifted gears and are focusing on providing their clientele with a holistic experience that often includes museum displays and impressive exhibitions.

Las Vegas is truly a multicultural metropolitan city bursting with amenities to offer and diversions to explore.
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