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Published October 5th 2016
Not Quite The Same as a Walk Along the Strip
A few days ago; driving through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, we spotted a sign for Las Vegas. To say we were surprised was an understatement. Either we'd gone seriously off track (which wouldn't be the first time), or there had to be than one city with the same name.
Luckily for us, it was the latter. Las Vegas, New Mexico is a million miles away (figuratively speaking) from Sin City, Nevada. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Las Vegas is around a 60 minute drive North from Santa Fe and we were visiting on the way to accommodation in Castle Rock, Colorado. When you see a sign for Las Vegas, you simply must turn off the highway and visit; even if it is just to see how different it is from the world famous gambling den.
Las Vegas, New Mexico is a fairly large city, comparatively speaking, in which I didn't spot a single slot machine, neon sign, or drunk person. Admittedly, it was only 9am when we arrived, but the lack of drunks at any time of the day can only be viewed as positive.
However, I'd like to point out that I didn't explore the entire town, so there may have been someone sleeping off a little too much tequila from the night before, or sitting, rapt, in front of a gambling table that I simply missed. I suspect not, though.
Anyway, exiting off the I25 at one of three exits will see you rock up in LV and you can head downtown for a walk along the beautiful Bridge Street. Las Vegas, New Mexico is everything that Nevada's city isn't. It's quiet and peaceful in the early morning sun; lined with little parks and pleasant places to sit and relax, and seems to transport you back to the days of the Wild West with the gorgeous building facades lining the main walkway.
There's nothing I don't love about feeling like I'm in Real America (I have no idea what that actually means, but it's the only way I can think of to describe it...). The lazy pace of life: early morning coffee stops; people driving by in their pick ups with a dog riding shotgun; and not a Starbucks or Subway in sight. This, to me, is a little piece of Heaven.
The only downside to visiting Las Vegas, NM instead of Las Vegas, NV, is that the New Mexican town was largely closed when we arrived. I'm sure it livens up during the day and we'd possibly just been ahead of the game. Still, it gave you that lovely air of complete peace and quiet, which is present in small towns before they properly come to life later on in the day. Las Vegas, NV, has no concept of 'closed' as it operates 24/7. Depending in what you like; both have their positives and negatives.
Las Vegas, NM, is the seat of San Miguel County and sits around 120 miles North East of Albuquerque. The town, which used to be separated into east and west, is separated by the Gallinas River.
Rather than being dwarfed by its counterpart in Nevada, Las Vegas also has a pretty rich and somewhat dodgy history. When the Santa Fe Trail was established and later, the railroad, Las Vegas was transformed into a lawless city, filled with no gooders, such as Billy the Kid, Doc Holliday, Jesse James and Wyatt Earp. You can only imagine what going for a quiet pint in the saloon must have been like on a Saturday night.
These days, the city appears to be very law abiding and quiet, with no one gun slinging along the main street and not a horse and cart in sight. I think I just found me a new favourite Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has lots to offer visitors, including an original Andrew Carnegie Library, which made me smile as he's a fellow Scot and I always seem to find them in the strangest of places. You can find out more information about what to see and do in Las Vegas HERE.