Nevada is perhaps best known for neon-lit tourist areas and wide-open desert spaces. But the state also offers a number of smaller neighborhoods with a series of attractions spanning architecture, entertainment, and history.
Las Vegas boasts several neighborhoods of mid-century modern houses, as well as areas devoted to promoting art and preserving history. Meanwhile, Reno contains areas of vintage homes and contemporary nightlife. And both Boulder City and Carson City, the state capital, have neighborhoods that invite visitors to learn about the past and explore the present. When you visit Nevada, step off the beaten path and explore some of these neighborhood hidden gems.
Boulder City: Old Town Historic District
Built in the 1930s to accommodate workers building the Hoover Dam, Boulder City is a slice of small-town America in the middle of the desert. The Old Town district encompasses several square blocks of bungalows, as well as storefronts housings bars, restaurants, and boutiques. The pillared portico of the Boulder Dam Hotel dominates one street, while another features a row of lively bistros and wine bars.
Carson City: West Side Historic District
This charming Carson City neighborhood is full of historic sites, including the elegantly designed state Capitol Building and the palatial Nevada State Museum, which was once home to the U.S. Mint. The Blue Line Trail is a self-guided tour that takes walkers past dozens of 19th-century homes—a delight for fans of history and architecture—as well as other sites of note.
Las Vegas: 18B Arts District
Las Vegas’ arts community is growing and changing, and so is the city’s 18B Arts District. Centered on Main Street south of Charleston Boulevard, this once-decrepit area has come alive with bars, restaurants, shops, galleries, and performance spaces. Here, you can sip a coffee or site-brewed beer or take in some experimental theater or local indie bands. And the art isn’t just inside: An ever-changing display of murals illustrate many buildings, bungalows, and back alleys.
Las Vegas: Downtown Summerlin
A few years ago, it was vacant lots. Today, Downtown Summerlin is a bustling commercial and business district that contains shops, theaters, restaurants, and a number of other attractions. The shopping area features both national big-box chains and one-of-a-kind boutiques; holidays are often marked by parades and other special events. The Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL team has their practice facility here, while the Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa offers its own roster of diversions.
Las Vegas: Historic Westside
In the pre-integration era, the Westside was home to Las Vegas’ African-American community; today, the area is undergoing a rebirth and rebuilding. The Westside School is home to a radio station and a number of community organizations, while Berkley Square contains historic homes from the 1940s. Walking tours explore the stories and heritage of the area through the local architecture.
Las Vegas: Paradise Palms
Located on the east side of town near Desert Inn Road, Paradise Palms is an enclave of mid-century homes reminiscent of Palm Springs. The neighborhood was popular with Strip entertainers back in the day—Johnny Carson, Debbie Reynolds, and Bobby Darin were residents—and it is now home to a variety of entrepreneurs and creative types. Houses are often decked with breeze blocks and painted in vivid colors, and landscaping is as likely to be dotted with sculptures as it is with palm trees. This neighborhood is not one that shies away from kitsch, but many homes also possess a Hollywood Regency elegance.
Las Vegas: Scotch 80s
The Scotch 80s has been home to Las Vegas’ moguls, movers, and shakers since the ’50s. Residents have included Mayor Oscar Goodman, comedian Jerry Lewis and Brandon Flowers of The Killers—who lives in Howard Hughes’ old house. Homes in this neighborhood just west of Downtown are the opposite of the planned community homes and McMansions of the outer suburbs; ranging from sprawling mid-mods to mansard-roofed manors, each has an individual flair.
The MidTown District is where Reno goes to have a good time, whether on a holiday weekend or just a Wednesday night. The area hosts live music, rodeo parades, dine-arounds, and monthly art events. Amidst the storefronts and renovated industrial spaces, you can find Irish pubs, soul food restaurants, vintage vinyl shops, tattoo parlors, and more.
Reno: Old Southwest Reno
Located near downtown Reno, this neighborhood of Craftsman-style brick bungalows and gable-roofed Colonial homes is one of the city’s most desirables places to live. Plumas Park and Newlands Park offer plenty of spots for outdoor recreation, from frisbee and kickball to grilling and chilling.