Whinnies of anticipation can often be heard from the stables of Mount Charleston Trail Rides, where well-mannered horses and ponies wait to ferry riders down trails flanked by whistling ponderosa pines, junipers, and aspens. Led by cowboy guides, small groups hop into saddles and embark on scenic explorations of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and its surrounding areas. With crisp air that normally averages 30 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley, the foothills and canyons offer a welcome respite from the heat of the desert. When the temperatures dip too low for horseback rides, the ranch keeps its trusty steeds busy with carriage rides, sleigh rides, and a Sadie Hawkins dance with unicorns from the neighboring forest.
The Summerlin outpost of BJ’s Restaurant is one of three locations throughout Las Vegas. Located directly across from the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa, the casual eatery always seems to attract a crowd. Well known for brewing their own beer and an eclectic menu that ranges from deep dish pizzas and hamburgers to gluten-free meals, BJ’s loves catering to their guests. New flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant and a relaxed, if slightly boisterous vibe, make the Summerlin location a welcome destination for all. Around the holidays, guests are treated to a slew of new menu options, from steak and lobster entrées to seared mahi mahi, with souvenir glasses to take home at the end of the night.
Performers feed off the energy of their audience, and when there is no audience, there is no energy. To stop this problem before it starts, venues turn to Fill A Seat Phoenix, a business that supplies its members with tickets to events that still have seats to fill. Members enjoy a year of entry to popular shows, sporting events, and concerts, bulking up the audience more suitably than a litter of chihuahuas dressed in tuxedoes. Upon joining Fill A Seat Phoenix, members receive access to a list of upcoming events, which range from large-scale productions to local restaurants, golf courses, and coffee houses.
Strap on your unthinking cap and let loose on Primm Valley Casino Resorts' family-friendly attractions, ranging from thrilling coasters to the gentle, youngster-bouncing Frog Hopper. Riders taller than 4 feet can take the plunge on the Turbo Drop, which boasts a 170-foot vertical free fall at 45 mph, or The Desperado, a twisting coaster with more banks than a financial district and more giggle-induced glee than insider trading. The Adventure Canyon Log Flume refreshes riders with water while stimulating their trigger fingers with laser-light target shooting in splashy surroundings. If brick-and-mortar amusement doesn't crank your cerebral cortex, take a ride in the Maxflight Cyber Coaster, which virtually simulates an authentic rollercoaster down to the last detail.
Golf Summerlin operates a triumvirate of courses that roam the desert tundra just east of Red Rock Canyon and showcase the fairway-carving vision of renowned course architects Billy Casper and Greg Nash. All three courses—Palm Valley, Highland Falls, and Eagle Crest—present their own brand of tee-to-green challenges as golfers aim for fairways framed by sandstone-hued peaks.
Palm Valley Golf Course spans 6,849 yards of undulating fairways and bent grass greens. Relatively generous fairways entice aggressive tee shots throughout the course, but particularly ill-struck drives are likely to find the shadows of encroaching pine trees or the grizzly sands of 68 bunkers peppered throughout the course. Nine ponds also populate the course, occasionally forcing golfers into tricky course-management decisions and granting golf balls a chance to pursue their lifelong dream of becoming dinner for fat fish.
Highland Falls Golf Course measures a modest 6,512 yards, yet manages to present a gauntlet of treacherous greenery. Throughout the course, golfers may notice that their drives carry a few extra yards, a product of the dry, thin air—the course perches at an elevation of 3,000 feet—and golf balls galvanized by the electric lure of the Las Vegas Strip, visible from certain vantages across the layout. Careful club selection and a keen eye for distance are critical throughout the round, as dramatic elevation changes complicate basic readings of yardage and legions of sand traps await to ensnare misplayed shots.
The shortest of the three courses, Eagle Crest Golf Course cozies up to the amber mountainside with an 18-hole, 4,067-yard executive layout. The par 60 layout features 12 par-threes—where golfers can zero in with pin-high iron shots—and six par-fours, where players can unleash aggression with flush drives. Rounds conclude at the straightaway, 370-yard, par 4 18th hole, where the fairway plummets 40 feet into a large, bunker-fortified green that lets you punch it if it flinches in anticipation of a craterous ball mark.