When I first started visiting Las Vegas, the only reason I left the Vegas Strip was to party at the Palms and gamble at the Hard Rock. Those casinos were new at the time and each offered an experience that couldn’t be found on the Vegas Strip.
I stayed at Gold Coast for a bachelor party and realized that there’s a different kind of fun in Las Vegas when you leave the hot spots. Another bachelor party took me to the El Cortez and Las Vegas totally opened up. Kinda.
Even though I found good times away from the action, I still mostly kept to the Vegas Strip as a tourist. When I decided to move to Las Vegas, I rented a car for the first time and drove all around Las Vegas for a few days. Towards the end of the second day of exploring, I found one area that I liked more than the rest of the city.
Summerlin is a planned community about 20 minutes west of the Vegas Strip. I won’t bore you with the history but you can see it here. The entire area is beautiful and a well thought out combination of suburbia and what I expected from Las Vegas.
The Summerlin area has just about every kind of retailer and a variety of casinos. I can go to Red Rock Casino and walk across the street to Best Buy if I need a new tech toy. The area has been built up in the seven years that I’ve lived in Las Vegas. It’s continuing to grow and it’s not a part of town just for people that live in Las Vegas.
This has become a great place to visit if you’re looking for a Las Vegas experience that’s different than the Vegas Strip or downtown Las Vegas. One of my strengths as a writer is to see this city as a tourist and a local at the same time. I’ll never entirely see myself as a local since I’m not a native of Nevada. The Summerlin area melds both kinds of people into a great suburb for both.
Casinos In Summerlin
I consider Red Rock Casino my home away from home. I visit the casino three times a week on average. The area also has Suncoast and Rampart casinos but I visit them less often. Red Rock Casino is a little more high end and feels cleaner and has a younger crowd than the others. It’s a casino that could work on the Vegas Strip or in the suburbs. It has amenities like bowling and a movie theater that attract locals but also a pool complex that rivals the best you’ll find in Las Vegas.
The variety of casinos in the area is nice but I’ve found the dining and gambling options at Red Rock more to my liking. Suncoast feels similar to Gold Coast and other Boyd Gaming properties. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s less attractive than Red Rock. Rampart is a bit smaller and geared almost entirely to locals. The hotel is a separate J.W. Marriott.
Red Rock Canyon
The most famous attraction in the Summerlin area is probably Red Rock Canyon. The rocks are beautiful and it’s a great place to take a hike. You can drive through the scenic trail for a small fee. If you head to Calico Basin you can even ride horses like you’re in the old west. I’m not fond of open spaces but really enjoy going for a drive when I need to clear my head.
The best thing about Red Rock Canyon is that it’s only about a five-minute drive from Red Rock Casino. After enjoying a day in the sun you can head back to the casino for dinner, drinks, gambling, a show or whatever you like.
Sports In Summerlin
The Vegas Golden Knights NHL team practices at City National Arena. The new venue is across the street from Red Rock Casino. Practice is free for anyone to watch. There are two small ice rinks that hold a few thousand people each. You can’t beat the price ($0). The action of hockey up close is unparalleled by any other sport. UNLV has a hockey team (who knew?!) and they play here too.
Construction will begin soon on the baseball stadium next door to City National Arena. The Las Vegas 51’s will have a new affiliate (Mets are moving to Syracuse) when the team moves from Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas in 2019. The beginning of the 2019 baseball season isn’t as far away as it sounds.
Shopping In Summerlin
Downtown Summerlin is across the street to the south of Red Rock Casino. This is a shopping district that’s similar to Town Square just south of Mandalay Bay. Downtown Summerlin is a different kind of shopping district that features both a strip mall section as well as an outdoor mall. There are hundreds of stores and restaurants that really appeal to everyone from locals to tourists. Pro Tip: Stop by Lazy Dog for Happy Hour and eat outside if you’re ever missing your pups.
Tivoli Village opened just after I moved to the Las Vegas. This outdoor mall is modeled after an Italian village and is across the street from Suncoast Casino. While all malls are kid-friendly, this one seems especially filled with children. Whether you’re walking through the streets shopping or sipping on coffee at the cafe, it’s easy to forget you’re in Las Vegas.
Like most of Las Vegas, there are shopping plazas all over the area. Boca Park is near Tivoli Village and is home to the original Sambalatte. This is one of the best coffee shops in Las Vegas.
Drinking and Dining In Summerlin
There are plenty of options between the two malls and three casinos. There are also a lot of restaurants that the locals enjoy. Yelp is probably the best place to explore dining options. I don’t eat outside of the casinos much but some of my favorites include Bachi Burger, Echo and Rig, and Via Brasil.
Summerlin is great but it isn’t the Vegas Strip or downtown Las Vegas. Visiting Summerlin is an entirely different Las Vegas experience. It’s not the touristy Las Vegas vacation you’re probably used to. That said, it’s definitely an area to consider if you’ve been to Las Vegas more than a few times.