Written by Erin Lindholm

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Beyond the bright lights and legendary action of The Strip, Las Vegas is home to a vibrant creative and cultural scene, one-of-a-kind shopping destinations and inspiring outdoor activities. We’ve rounded up our favorites, from the city’s best block party/art gallery crawl to the most scenic local hikes.

Downtown darling

PublicUs, a low-key coffee shop, is proof that Downtown Las Vegas is sprucing up its image. The modern café’s menu is based on local, seasonal and sustainable practices. With ample seating and free wifi, PublicUs seems ready-made for the area’s growing tech scene.

Artist central

Part block party, part gallery crawl, the First Friday Art Walk in the 18B Arts District in Downtown Las Vegas celebrates the city’s creative side by touring the galleries, artist studios and hip hangs like The Velveteen Rabbit, a craft cocktail bar decked out in vintage decor.

“Only in Vegas” cultural attraction

The Neon Museum is beloved by locals and visitors alike. The museum offers day and night tours of the Neon Boneyard, a collection of signs from more than 100 retired hotel, casino, motel and wedding chapel. (If you time it right, you can even do a wedding photo shoot here.)

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Flea-market fix

Weekends are when Broadacres Marketplace throws open its gates. This lively flea market features new, vintage and handcrafted goods from more than 1,000 vendors, as well as inventive street food and live music.

Best shopping mall entertainment

While tourists flock to the Forum Shops at Caesars for its animatronics action, locals know the best show in town is at Fashion Show Mall. The mall hosts live runway shows most weekends featuring looks you can shop immediately. After the show, stop by the newest ALEX AND ANI boutique to say “hi”!

Scenic day trip

Balance the fast-paced city vibe with more natural, centering energy: Head to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This gorgeous locale features 19 hiking trails covering varied terrain, including the Calico Tanks trail, which rewards hikers with views of Vegas.

Best annual fest

The annual Life Is Beautiful festival (held in late September) has gained a devoted following in just a few years. In addition to an impressive list of music headliners (Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar), the festival also features art, food and learning sessions from the likes of Bill Nye and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.

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