Staycation experiences abound in Nevada’s fourth-largest city
May is here, and the balmy Mojave Desert weather is perfect for a weekend staycation in North Las Vegas. Wait, what? That’s right, NLV. There’s a good chance you think of this city of some 250,000 as a sleepy bedroom community (with a lot of warehouses), but it offers a surprisingly diverse array of experiences. But pulling this off requires you to imagine a weekend that unfolds somewhere south of a splurgy Strip staycation but well north of an ordinary at-home weekend. Being in vacation mode is all the reason you need to visit some local places you’ve been meaning to but haven’t yet. Now’s your chance to cascade them into one sweet experience.
For lodging, Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa (7300 Aliante Parkway, 702-692-7777) rises nine stories above the far northerly curve of the 215 Beltway and makes for an attractive, AAA Four Diamond-rated basecamp, whether you’re bringing young ones or exploring on your own. The resort’s 730-square-foot, smoke-free Ambassador suites feature separate living areas outfitted with clean-lined, contemporary furnishings that convey a Western ambience to match the dramatic views of mountain ranges in the distance. For adults, Re:lax Spa beckons with its menu of treatments, including hot-stone massages and seaweed body wraps. The whole family can converge on the palm-lined pool deck with its sparkling swimming basin, gurgling whirlpool, cabanas, and full-service bar framed above by the hotel’s distinctive aquamarine-hued windows.
In the morning, it’s time to head out into North Las Vegas’ 101 square miles. After stopping by Natural Grocers (6305 Simmons St., 702-395-0642) for organic meats, cheeses, bread, and condiments, head to 170-acre Craig Ranch Regional Park (628 W. Craig Road) for a picnic by its glimmering, turtle-filled ponds. Or, if you have little ones, let them roam the lush Aliante Nature Discovery Park (2627 Nature Park Drive) and its dinosaur-themed playground. Fossil aficionados will want to gaze out over the badlands of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (Horse Drive, off North Aliante Parkway); it protects an important paleontological site that’s yielded the stony remains of Columbian mammoths, North American camels, and other prehistoric creatures. For two-wheeled jaunts, North Las Vegas has miles upon miles of paved bike paths, including the wending Lower Las Vegas Wash Trail. For outdoor wanderings in a wild — albeit man-made — environment, there’s nothing quite like the swirling kaleidoscope of Broadacres Marketplace (2930 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-642-3777) — it’s a vast emporium where you can pick out the lucha libre mask of your superstar dreams while snacking on a piping-hot quesadilla with a refreshing, icy mango raspado on the side. [Skulls from Broadacres pictured right, courtesy Scott Lien] For a more curated gathering of culture, drop in to Left of Center Gallery (2207 W. Gowan Road, 702-647-7378), one of the valley’s most underappreciated cultural resources.
Feeling more active? Roll for strikes and spares at the vintage Silver Nugget Casino Bowling Center (2140 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-399-1111) or the immense Texas Star Lanes (2101 Texas Star Lane, 702-288-7728); both offer glow-in-the-dark cosmic bowling on Friday and Saturday nights. Skaters can lace up at the SoBe Ice Arena (2400 N. Rancho Drive, 702-288-7748). Movie lovers can kick back in cars while watching blockbusters at West Wind Drive-In (4150 W. Carey Ave., 702-646-3565). For the cinema of the heavens, science fans can take in mind-expanding, educational presentations like “Journey to a Billion Suns” at the College of Southern Nevada Planetarium on Saturdays (3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., 702-651-4000; check ahead to ensure that it’s open).
Some of the finest savory pies in the Southwest are baked at Old School Pizzeria (2040 E. Craig Road, 702-990-0070), and its sausage-stuffed chicken wings and grilled-rosemary lemonade are must-trys. At vibrant (and frequently loud) Culichi Town (2400 N. Rancho Drive, 702-638-5602), feast on zesty, Sinaloa-style sushi and goblet-size cocktails while listening to live mariachi bands. For soul-food sensations, dig into barbecue pork ribs, chicken and waffles, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens at EllaEm’s (775 W. Craig Road, 702-823-4444). For mom-and-pop Japanese dining, slurp up curry udon noodles topped with pork katsu, shredded cheddar cheese, and corn niblets at quaint Tokyo Cafe (2595 E. Craig Road, 702-388-8838). At Jerry’s Famous Coffee Shop (1821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-399-3000), don’t feel guilty if you follow a scratch-made breakfast of eggs Benedict or a Denver omelet with a decadent slice of chocolate fudge cake or a strawberry ring filled with Bavarian cream. Later in the day, chill out with an old-fashioned banana split with cherries and sprinkles at snug Dylan’s Family Ice Cream (5960 Losee Road, 702-982-6148). Or for an eye-popping experience, stroll past multicolored piñatas as you select south-of-the-border snacks like spicy lollipops and puckery tamarind teaspoons at cheerful Dulceria la Colmena (3853 E. Craig Road, 702-644-2388).
There are even more staycation highlights to discover throughout North Las Vegas (the cavalcade of taco trucks on East Lake Mead Boulevard; delicious chicken salads at CNS Barbecue; and plants and mini-planes at Willie McCool Regional Park), and they’re all just a short drive away.