Local Life and Lore in Las Vegas
Las Vegas means "the meadows" in Spanish. Technically, the world-renowned Las Vegas Strip (where you find the glamorous resorts, casinos and nightlife) is not within the city limits, but rather occupies an unincorporated area of Clark County in the state of Nevada.
Nevada. The first thing you must know, or risk ridicule from the locals, is the proper pronunciation of the Silver State’s name. It’s not Nev-ahhh-duh, as you would say in a Spanish pronunciation. It's Ne-vaaa-duh (think of the "a" in "had"), like you’d say in more of a Fargo pronunciation.
The Strip. The most famous area of Las Vegas Boulevard is a four-mile stretch running from Mandalay Bay to the Sahara Hotel and Casino. The Strip is located in Clark County, not within the city of Las Vegas.
Downtown. The older area of Las Vegas begins at the Stratosphere and runs north and includes Fremont Street and many old-school casinos.
Street Beat. Though the city is laid out in a grid and easily navigable, the streets can get confusing. For example, there are two Lake Mead streets -- one’s Lake Mead Boulevard, and it’s nowhere near the lake, and the other is Lake Mead Drive, which is near the lake. Other notable streets: Fremont Street becomes Boulder Highway; Sunset Road becomes Mountain Vista Street; Bonneville Avenue becomes Alta Drive; and the list goes on.
LIFESTYLE AND ENTERTAINMENT
24 hours. Las Vegas is a 24-hour city. That said, you still may have a hard time trying to find a manicurist open at 3 a.m., but if you’re looking to drink, bowl, gamble or shop for groceries, you’re in luck.
Gaming. Thanks to the PR geniuses behind Las Vegas, the politically correct term for gambling is "gaming."
Defying legends. Vegas outsiders often wonder whether locals live in the casinos, and in most cases they don't. (They also very rarely ride the monorail that connects the hotels on the east side of the Strip). But locals do, indeed, frequent casinos. That’s where the entertainment is, whether it’s a Broadway production, a movie theater or a bowling alley. The casinos are also home to some of the best restaurants in town, and, of course, they’re the hub for gaming, of which many locals are fond.
Cirque du Sin City. There are six Cirque du Soleil shows in town (Ka, Mystere, O, Zumanity, Love, Criss Angel Believe) and there’s soon to be a seventh (about Elvis) when CityCenter opens in 2009.
Handbillers. The name given to the men and ladies on the Strip handing out "Hot Babes Direct to You" fliers is "handbillers." They’re not allowed to touch you, but distribution of material is protected by the First Amendment. Prostitution, on the other hand, is not protected within Clark County. Neighboring Nye County holds the closest brothels.
Slot Fever. Slot machines are not just a casino phenomena. You can also find them in grocery stores, laundromats, bars, convenience stores, restaurants and more.
LAW AND POLITICS
Liquor laws. There is no last call in Las Vegas. Alcohol is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether it’s in a bar, restaurant or grocery store.
Smoking. Smoking is illegal in places that serve food (though many bartenders ignore the ban). It’s legal in casinos, bars that don’t serve food, and strip clubs.
Hizzoner. You’ll read it in newspapers and hear it on the street: "Hizzoner," as in, "His Honor," is always in reference to Mayor Oscar Goodman (aka "Oscar").
The Gov. The current governor, Gov. Jim Gibbons, made it into office despite the sexual assault accusations he was embroiled in during the campaign.