I’ll be honest. Relocating to Las Vegas was never a twinkle in my eye. I came to town kicking and screaming after a midlife divorce without having researched the area much beforehand. I just wanted to get out of southwest Utah, where I’d been living for the previous 10 months. Las Vegas was the nearest city, and I figured I could start over there. I settled in Green Valley near Highway 215 and Gibson Road because I found a cool apartment I thought I’d be happy in. Or at least less miserable.
In some ways it doesn’t matter where you live in the Las Vegas Valley, since everything you need is always at your fingertips. You’re never more than a quarter mile from a grocery store, pharmacy, coffee shop or pub, and nail salons are even more ubiquitous. But I believe I lucked out by landing in Green Valley. It’s an awesome place to live, and here are five reasons why.
1. Easy highway access. From my apartment, I can hop on the 215 and be in front of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the Strip in about 20 minutes. The airport is even closer, which for me is important. I fly quite often, plus it seems I’m always schlepping to Terminal 1 to pick up friends and family who’ve come to party it up in Sin City for a few days. (When you live in Las Vegas, you get a lot of visitors!) And because I’m also close to Highway 95, I can shoot up the east side of town and be planted on a barstool at Hogs and Heifers in downtown Las Vegas in less than a half hour, or I can drive south and be on a hiking trail at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in the same amount of time.
2. The District at Green Valley Ranch. Vegas is a land of strip malls, and there aren’t too many places where you can park the car and walk around to shop and dine. But I’m lucky enough to live close to The District, a mixed-use community adjacent to the Green Valley Ranch Casino and home to many nationally branded retailers, unique shops and boutiques, and a variety of bars and restaurants. Though the family-friendly District strikes me as a bit sanitized with its faux-downtown vibe, it is nonetheless a good place to do some people watching. You’ll often find me taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi in Panera Bread, listening to a blues band at Lucille’s, or shamelessly indulging my ice cream addiction at Ben & Jerry’s.
3. Downtown Henderson. Though I’ve heard people refer to it as “Hender-tucky,” downtown Henderson is truly a diamond in the rough. I like to show off the main drag, Water Street, to my out-of-town guests — it’s so quaint, so old-school, you feel like you’re in a small town on a trip back in time, far from the glitz of the Strip. I’d love to see downtown Henderson become a funky little arts-and-music hub — I see so much potential! I can spend hours playing the penny slots at the Emerald Island Casino while grooving on the classic 70s hot hits from my high school days. The difference is that now I’m sipping Guinness instead of Piels Real Draft.
4. Great views all over! In many parts of the country, it’s hard to position yourself high enough to see beyond your immediate surroundings. Back where I’m from, in Albany, N.Y., I’d have to drive 30 minutes to gain enough elevation to get a decent view; in Green Valley I can enjoy incredible 25-mile panoramas simply doing errands around town. For the best vistas, my advice is to drive along Horizon Ridge Road as often as possible.
5. The McDonald Ranch hiking trail. I almost hate to spill the beans since it’s such a well-kept secret, so let’s keep this little gem between us. This trail, in Sun City McDonald Ranch, a 55+ residential community, provides a spectacular view of the Valley every step of the way. Generally I prefer not to hike alone, but this quick 15-minute climb is a perfectly safe way to work off those Vegas buffets. To get to the trailhead, take Horizon Ridge Road to High Mesa Road (between Green Valley Parkway and Valley Verde) and then continue up High Mesa almost to the end. You’ll see a small parking lot on the left.
Hiking is prohibited at night — the lot closes at dusk — but I admit I’ve broken the rules more than once. It’s great fun to sit on the bench at the summit with a six-pack while marveling at the expanse of twinkling lights below. It’s also a super make-out spot! I probably shouldn’t say that since I’m a grandmother and all, but I’m here to report the truth.
If you’re thinking of relocating to Las Vegas, or if you already live here and are considering a move, think about Green Valley. It’s an awesome place to live. If you see me around town, be sure to say “hi,” though if you’re headed up the McDonald Ranch trail at night, do me a favor and give me some warning as you approach the top of the hill.