You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes or Inspector Gadget to know that a lot of things to do in Las Vegas are geared towards tourists. But as Las Vegas locals, we like to do things too and we’re not a bunch of cotton headed ninny muggins (well, most of us anyways). Despite all the shows in Las Vegas, tasty Las Vegas restaurants and various other great things this city has to offer, we know that locals often avoid Las Vegas Boulevard like the plague. So, locals, this one is for you (and any tourist brave enough to venture off the resort corridor). Here are the best things for locals to do this holiday season.
Las Vegas Christmas Town inside Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas
A Christmas town inside a water park? We know it sounds weird, but so did Jon Snow shacking up with Daenerys Targaryen, and so far that seems to be working out. For the low, low price of one Andrew Jackson you’re going to get admission into the village and access to ALL ACTIVITIES (except for paintball). Yeah, you read that right, Las Vegas Christmas town has paintball! Our love affair with paint filled balls aside, this thing has it all. Over 3 million lights, an ice skating rink, a 40-passenger train ride, 100ft snow sledding hill, bounce houses, games, a 40ft tall Christmas tree, a “snow” ball pit, Santa Claus village and a ton more. We may or may not need to slip a little extra somethin’ somethin’ into our nogg to help us unwind.
Holiday Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolates
Just because we don’t live in the snowy hilltops of the Sierras or Rockies doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the holidays. It just means that we have to enjoy it a bit differently. And nowhere is that resourcefulness better displayed than at Ethel M Chocolates Holiday Cactus Garden. Over a million lights cover this three-acre cactus garden. Safe to say it’s as lit as our drunk Uncle Kenny. More than 300 types of cactus, including yuccas, agave plants, Texas prickly pears and spotted aloe will be living their best holiday life. Taking things up a notch, Ethel M added a skating rink. It’ll cost you $10, but if given the choice, we’d rather fall on ice than in cactus.
Winter’s Village at Green Valley Ranch
Remember how excited you were that time you got exactly what you wanted for Christmas? That’s how we feel about Winter’s Village at GVR. We’re not elf-ing around here, we’re legit schoolgirl giddy. And you’ll be too once you see the ice rink, holiday lounge area and weekend Saint Nick visits. Just so we’re clear-ice clear, parking at GVR is free (we know how sensitive of a subject that is), meeting the man in the red suit is free, but photos with him are going to cost ya $10. Them’s the breaks (unless you bring your phone or camera. Workaround!).
Does the beauty of lights inspire you? Does the cold of the night make you want to keep your tushie inside? We feel you. Thankfully, Glittering Lights does too. Displaying at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, you’re able to take a 2.5 mile drive through three million lights and more than 500 animated displays. We mean, don’t let us tell you how to live your life, but if you wanted to, there technically isn’t a rule about not wearing pants in your own car. And with tickets starting out at $20 during the weekday and $30 during the weekend, that’s a small price to pay for holiday merriment, warmth and a clothing optional stich.
The Nutcracker at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Is it really the Holidays if you don’t see The Nutcracker? For us, there are three time honored traditions during the season: Christmas caroling, The Nutcracker and Uncle Kenny getting too drunk to function. But seriously, what’s not to love about The Nutcracker? The four-story doll house is incredibly lifelike, the musicians are brilliant and the actors are uh-maze-ing. And besides the stunning choreography and brilliant music, the venue ain’t too shabby either. If we had a vote for utter sophistication in Las Vegas, The Smith Center for the Performing Arts would take the toffee.
Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
All joking aside, the magic of the holidays is in giving to others. And nothing embodies that spirit more than the Magical Forest at Opportunity Village. All proceeds raised from the magical forest benefit individuals with learning disabilities at Opportunity Village. So what exactly makes this forest so magical? Well, let’s start with the lights. There’s more than three million of them. There are festive trees out the wazoo, more gingerbread houses than you can count and an enchanted carousel. And for you competition-aholics out there, there’s even a miniature golf course, because nothing says the holidays like pulverizing your family and friends at a game of putt-putt.
The world knows about attractions in Las Vegas, tours in Las Vegas and of course the numerous shows and restaurants. But now they know this city has the holiday spirit. So whether you’re a local or a tourist, you know about all of the Las Vegas Strip holiday events and those happening away from it. So get out there and enjoy the season. Or be a Scrooge. Your call.