Among the different parts of the Las Vegas Valley—Downtown, Henderson, Summerlin, even unincorporated Clark County—North Las Vegas tends to get overlooked most. The city of 252,000 Nevadans is often brushed aside or forgotten in favor of flashier municipalities. But the place sometimes known as Northtown is coming into its own.
Founded in 1919 and incorporated in 1946, North Las Vegas has long been known for its manufacturing and warehouse sectors. Those industries are growing with the recent additions of Apex Industrial Park and Amazon’s fulfillment and sortation centers. But North Las Vegas is also evolving into something more. “The city is no longer a bedroom community,” says City of North Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandy Lopez. “It is a rapidly growing, family-friendly community known for its parks and trails, cultural amenities, job opportunities and diversity.”
Located north of the City of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas stretches over 100 square miles. Decatur Boulevard marks the western boundary. Nellis Air Force Base lies to the east. The northern portion includes the VA Medical Center, Tule Springs and the 215 Beltway.
As rising housing prices across the Valley threaten to put homeownership out of reach for all but the wealthiest residents, North Las Vegas might be becoming a last local bastion for the American Dream. “We have huge swaths of affordable land and a diverse housing stock, which makes the city a top destination for both residential homeowners and commercial developers,” Lopez says. “We really pride ourselves on our city’s diversity and embrace and encourage the wonderful melting pot of cultures that have come to define our city.”
Spend some time in North Las Vegas to see for yourself. You’ll find unique destinations such as the Broadacres Marketplace, the West Wind Drive-In and 33 city parks. A new Restaurant Row is emerging on Craig Road. Giant neighborhood casinos—including Aliante, the Cannery, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station—offer entertainment ranging from gaming to concerts to first-run films. And CSN’s Cheyenne Campus anchors both North Las Vegas’ educational offerings and the city’s commitment to the visual and performing arts. There’s much to see and enjoy. All you need to do is head north. –C. Moon Reed
Should we call it Northtown?
Nobody can quite say when or how North Las Vegas picked up the nickname Northtown. According to Urban Dictionary, the name “most likely began as a derogatory term.” A 2002 Las Vegas Sun article titled “Shedding the Northtown image” described new residents leaving the “North” off their North Las Vegas address because they were embarrassed to admit their locale.
A lot has changed since then. These days, residents refer to “Northtown” with a sense of affection and pride—kind of like if your kid brother made the honor roll. Local product Shamir titled his first EP Northtown in 2014. And that Urban Dictionary definition goes on to say that the nickname is so common, it “no longer carries the negative connotation it once did.”
Even the city knows the score. “While we don’t love the negative connotations associated with ‘Northtown,’ we hope people will reassociate ‘Northtown’ with all of the success we’re having right now,” says City of North Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandy Lopez.
So should you use it? If you’re from there, feel free. If not … tough call. One thing we do know: It’s a lot less insulting nickname than “Hendertucky.” –C. Moon Reed
Beaumont’s Southern Kitchen
Slow-smoked meats are the specialty at this Texas Station joint, made by chefs who learned the art of the ’cue at spots like Mabel’s BBQ in Cleveland and the Granary ’Cue & Brew in San Antonio. Brisket, sausages, ribs and pulled pork are piled high, complemented by sides like mac and cheese, grits, coleslaw and beans. Texas Station, 702-631-1000.
Southern Nevada is heralded as the ninth island, in part for its proliferation of quality Hawaiian restaurants. Kapuna Cafe is one such place. Here you’ll find loco moco and Spam musubi, but the net is cast wide to include pan Asian favorites like chicken katsu, shrimp tempura and kalbi barbecue. 3231 N. Decatur Blvd. #122, 702-395-1400.
John Mull’s Meats & Road Kill Grill
This locals favorite—technically just west of being in North Las Vegas proper—is a meat market offering up top-quality beef, pork and poultry, plus all the sauces, seasonings and rubs you’ll need for a great backyard barbecue. But it’s also a grill serving up Guy Fieri-approved grub, including delicious ribs, pulled pork and brisket, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 3730 Thom Blvd., 702-645-1200.
MRKT Sea & Land
When an evening of fine dining is in order, there’s no need to deal with the hassle of Strip traffic. MRKT at Aliante Casino offers some of the freshest land and sea specialties around, from prime rib and porterhouse to Hoshigaki scallops and Alaskan king crab. The elegant space also has an impressive wine list perfect for date night. Aliante Casino, 702-692-7777.
Craving delicious Mexican food? You’ll certainly find it among Zapata’s Michoacán-inspired fare. The extensive menu features favorites done memorably like pollo mole poblano and chile Colorado, along with dishes you might not have encountered before, including our favorite, the carnitas Cuartel (pork marinated with oranges and spices). Happy hour runs 3-6 p.m. every day, featuring 2-for-1 beers and house margaritas. 3826 E. Craig Road, 702-643-8888. –Genevie Durano
You can have North Las Vegas fun without even being there: Just fire up Spotify and listen to Shamir, the indie-music icon who used to call North Las Vegas home and even named his first EP for it (2014’s Northtown). His music also makes a good soundtrack for the trek to Craig Ranch Regional Park (628 W. Craig Road, 702-633-2418), a 170-acre multiuse park that includes an 8,000-capacity amphitheater, a dog run, a community garden, a variety of lighted sports courts and lots more cool stuff. Craig Ranch hosts dozens of community events annually, from barbecues to paintball tournaments to car shows. And it’s here that you’ll find the largest skate park in Southern Nevada, designed by award-winning SoCal firm Wally Hollyday Skateparks. This 65,000-square-foot concrete jungle of rails, pyramids and bowls is both visually striking and a terrific proving ground for human-powered antigravity.
Also of outdoor note: Aliante Nature Discovery Park (2627 Nature Park Drive, 866-874-6393) is a kid-friendly spot with a dinosaur-themed playground and a large duck pond. North Las Vegas boasts two municipal golf courses: Aliante Golf Club (3100 Elkhorn Road, 702-399-4888) and Par 3 (324 E. Brooks Ave., 702-633-1833), the latter of which also hosts disc golf. And if you want to simply park somewhere and look at something cool, you can hardly do better than West Wind Drive-In (4150 W. Carey Ave., 702-646-3565), a Las Vegas tradition since 1966. Load up a pickup truck with friends, family and snacks, park in front of one of West Wind’s five screens and enjoy a first-run double feature. And if you prefer a more traditional moviegoing experience, try Maya Cinemas (2195 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-382-3829), a stylish, Latinx-owned multiplex with state-of-the-art everything: D-BOX, MPX, Dolby Atmos, you name it.
For the visual and performing arts, visit the north campus of the College of Southern Nevada (3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., 702-651-4000). It’s home to the 519-seat Nicolas J. Horn Theatre; to the Fine Arts and Artspace galleries; and to Southern Nevada’s only planetarium, a 30-foot dome with a high-definition hemispheric projector. And on the subject of spherical objects: If you want a good old-fashioned casino bowling experience, visit Texas Station (2101 Texas Star Lane, 702-631-1000) or Aliante Casino (7300 N. Aliante Parkway, 702-692-7777)—both of which also have nice movie theaters and kids’ play zones. –Geoff Carter
North Las Vegas is home to Broadacres Marketplace (2930 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-642-3777), a flea market and retail experience unlike any other. You can find everything you want—and everything you didn’t know you wanted—at this outdoor bazaar and swap meet. Clothing? Check. Toiletries? Check. Clamato? Yeah, there’s that, too. Consider it your one-stop-shop for creative outfits, home furnishings and more. There’s also a plethora of fresh fruit, coconuts, beer and more for when you get parched from all that shopping.
North Las Vegas is also something of a destination for thrifters. Thrift stores in the area include two Goodwill stores (2575 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-214-2087; 1280 W. Cheyenne Ave., 702-214-2008), two Salvation Army outlets (35 W. Owens Ave., 702-649-2867; 675 W. Craig Road, 702-342-9297), and Deseret Industries (3750 W. Craig Road, 702-649-8191), along with as Bargain Pawn (1901 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-399-9950), which appeared in the Imagine Dragons’ music video for “Next to Me.”
City of North Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandy Lopez also recommends Lighthouse Charities (3435 W. Cheyenne Avenue #103, 702-275-0197), which runs the Nafasi Designs program. The platform allows refugees living in Las Vegas to become self-reliant by making handmade items that are then sold on site.
North Las Vegas also features a number of quinceañera dress shops, including Alondra’s Boutique (1310 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-712-2368). The store offers wedding gowns and bridal wear, quinceañera dresses, tuxedos and men’s formal wear. –Leslie Ventura
ACCESS SHOWROOM AT ALIANTE CASINO
Arrested Development (February 29); Chase Bryant (March 13); L.A. Guns (April 4); Great White (April 17); April Wine (April 25); Eve 6 (May 1); High Valley (May 9); Brian Culbertson (May 22-23)
THE AMP AT CRAIG RANCH
Las Vegas Spirit Festival (March 20-21); Memorial Day Festival Concert (May 23-24)
THE CLUB AT THE CANNERY
War (March 14); Lit & Marcy’s Playground (March 28); The Whispers (April 18); Village People (May 9)
CRAIG RANCH REGIONAL PARK
Las Vegas BBQ and Beer Fest (February 29); NXL Paintball Championship (March 6-8); Beat the Heat Bullies and Car Show (March 14); Out of the Darkness Walk (April 4); Friends of Parkinson’s Funny Bunny Race (April 11)
Mayuko Ono Gray: The Rose Is Always Redder Next Door (through March 28, Artspace Gallery); Waiting for Lefty (March 27-April 5, Backstage Theatre); Jazz Solo Night (April 3, Recital Hall); Student Dance Concert (April 17, Horn Theatre); Vocal Jazz Festival (May 1, Recital Hall); Spring Dance Concert (May 1-2, Horn Theatre); Spring Jazz Combo Concert (May 3, Recital Hall); Concert Band (May 5, Horn Theatre); Mariachi Concert (May 6, Horn Theatre); Choral Concert (May 7, Horn Theatre); Orchestra Concert (May 10, Horn Theatre); Big Band Concert (May 12, Horn Theatre)
DALLAS EVENTS CENTER AT TEXAS STATION
Amanda Miguel & Diego Verdaguer (February 28)