»1. Marquee Nightclub With the top names in EDM spinning in the main room on any given weekend, hip-hop in the Boom Box room and the venue’s more relaxed Library upstairs, Marquee is a three-for-one not to miss. The Cosmopolitan, 333-9000.
»2. The Double Down Sometimes you just have to have Ass Juice. 4640 Paradise Road, 791-5775.
»3. Those few days when it rains Back when I lived in Chicago, if you’d have asked me, “Want to live in a place where it never rains?” I’d have replied “Sure!” But now I miss the rain. The grass is always greener … where it rains. –RICK LAX
»4. UNLV’s Mounted Police Unit There’s something about an officer of the law who can wield 1,000 pounds of galloping, carrot-loving force while protecting the innocent.
»5. The Vegas Rock ’N’ Roll Marathon What’s more inspiring than watching 44,000 people run down the Strip together?
»6. Krung Siam Thai Where else can we get a tofu and eggplant lunch for $5.99 (includes soup!) and steal Starbucks’ Wi-Fi? 3755 Spring Mountain Road, 735-9485.
»7. Book & Stage Imagine the pitch meeting: You want to put touring rock bands in the center of the casino … for multiple-night runs … and let people in to see them for free? Cosmo did and it works. Sure, the stage setup is strange and the makeup of the crowd can be ever stranger, but that’s sorta half the fun. The other half? Seeing Robert Randolph, Mates of State and Fitz & The Tantrums, without paying a dime. –SPENCER PATTERSON
»8. Fausto’s Mexican Grill Good, cheap, quick. And those f*cking carrots! Multiple locations.
»9. Improv Vegas S.E.T. at the Onyx Two hours of laugh-out-loud, Glen Lerner-impersonating, slightly offensive entertainment for just $7. Mondays no longer suck quite so bad. Mondays, 8 p.m., $7, 953. E. Sahara #16, 732-7225.
»10. That we don’t have a Real Housewives show … yet Orange County. Atlanta. New Jersey. New York. Beverly Hills. Everywhere the Real Housewives series goes, it makes the locals appear petty, self-absorbed, obnoxious and downright stupid. We’ve had our scares—and no doubt there are plenty of Vegas housewives who would live up to their bicoastal counterparts—but so far, producers have steered clear of our desert town. Thank you, and please, stay away. –SARAH FELDBERG
»11. All the beer fests in Las Vegas Finally Sin City seems to be getting the point. People. Love. Beer. Feel free to pour even more.
»12. Buffalo Exchange Sure, better deals may be found elsewhere. But few other thrift stores so consistently deliver clothing in good condition that we’d actually consider wearing. Plus, there’s something sweet about hearing a sales person say, “Dolce and Gabbana were doing a lot of that this season,” while holding a $15 jacket. 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, 791-3960.
»13. Star Costume The only place to channel Cirque costume envy into something fabulous (and feathered). 3230 S. Valley View, 731-5014.
»14. All that Steve Jobs gave me I’m typing this on a MacBook Air, which is sitting next to my iPhone, which was just charging next to my iPad. It’s hard to know how much these devices have improved my life, but I do know I got all three in the past two years, and the past two years have been the most productive of my life. Mr. Jobs, you get partial credit. –RICK LAX
»15. Zia Record Exchange ’Cause sometimes we still like to hold music in our hands. 4503 W. Sahara Ave., 233-4942 & 4225 S. Eastern Ave., 735-4942.
»16. Free samples at Poke Express Nothing brightens a crap day like a chunk of spicy octopus on a toothpick. 655 W. Craig Road, 639-0500; 9400 S. Eastern Ave., 221-1600.
»17. Rebel basketball Respect to the 51s, Wranglers and Locomotives, but Las Vegas is a major-league city, and the Runnin’ Rebels are our major-league franchise. They compete against the nation’s best (see: Saturday’s looming showdown with No. 1 North Carolina, provided UNLV can get past USC on Friday), and, when all goes well, they punch our town’s ticket to the Big Dance. Here’s hoping we’ll be giving thanks for another strong season come March. –SPENCER PATTERSON
»18. Southwest Airlines For making long-distance relationships possible, one low-priced flight at a time.
»19. The views from Sunrise Mountain Climb to the top of the Stratosphere if you want, we’ll take our views of the castle, pyramid and volcano as nature intended.
»20. The local music scene It’s a lot better than a lot of you realize.
»21. The Desert Breeze Dog Park I love dogs and hate cats, but I’m currently living with one of the latter—my roommate’s. Luckily I can escape to the Desert Breeze dog park and remind myself what a proper animal acts like. –RICK LAX
»22. The 215 Getting from Green Valley to Summerlin really used to suck.
»23. Paul McCartney at MGM, Bob Dylan at the Pearl, Paul Simon at the Colosseum It’s cool when living legends deliver.
»24. 24-hour living It just makes sense. We’re not farmers. If only we could eradicate the formalized week and have days be whatever they are at the moment.
»25. The baristas at Starbucks on Green Valley Parkway They make the mega-chain feel like a neighborhood coffee shop. And we notice. 1500 N. Green Valley Parkway, 837-8382.
»26. The Smith Center The Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre find a home, and Las Vegas gets a production space capable of attracting Broadway tours and artists like Yo-Yo Ma. Everyone wins. 241 W. Charleston Blvd., thesmithcenter.com.
»27. Downtown revitalization projects It used to be the place to score cheap drinks and minimal table bets. We’ll never tire of that aspect of Downtown, though it’s been enhanced by a whole lot of awesomeness: Fremont East bar-hopping, the Vegas StrEATS food truck festival, First Friday expanded and the Downtown FEED farmers market. Need we say more? –MARK ADAMS
»28. Spicy Lover at Tacos & Tequila The understated cool of muddled cucumber meets the fire of José Cuervo, cilantro, lime, agave nectar and a drizzle of hot sauce. It lingers on your lips like a good kiss. At Luxor, 262-5225.
»29. Pittman Wash Trail in Henderson In the thick of the pavement jungle, there’s an alternate world where cactus is beautiful, roadrunners exist and memorial trees dedicated to beloved pets have the best holiday decorations ever.
»30. Valley Cheese & Wine Bob and Kristin know their stuff. Plus, free tastings Fridays and Saturdays! 1770 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway., 341-8191.
»31. McCarran Economy Lot shuttle Free, easy and always pulling up right as you step out of the car. It makes late-night parking feel less like a Lifetime movie-in-the-making.
»32. A local ID Sometimes I still hold my Nevada ID in wonder. It’s got power, that two-inch piece of plastic. It gets me free entry at nearly every club on the Strip at least one night a week, 50 percent off weekday bottles of wine at Aria restaurants, 2-for-1 tickets to Blue Man Group and The Lion King, discounted treatments at spas and preferential reservations at some of the city’s best restaurants. But more than that, pulling out a Nevada license nets a knowing look, a few extra kind words and some of the best service that money doesn’t need to buy, because I’m local, dammit, and that matters. Find more locals’ deals at stayandplayhere.com. –SARAH FELDBERG
»33. Punk Rock Bowling, EDC and Neon Reverb Now how about bringing back Vegoose?
»34. Total Wine Pun fully intended, this is the total liquor-buying experience. It’s well-lit and easy to navigate, free samples are the rule rather than the exception, the prices are the lowest in town, and the beer selection is ludicrous. Oh, and the staff totally rocks. Did I mention the beer selection? 501 N. Stephanie St., 433-2709; 730 S. Rampart Blvd., 933-8740. –KEN MILLER
»35. Air-conditioning A needful summer chill, a welcome divide between life and death.
»36. Matt Goss Because sometimes you just want to be crooned to by a dapper Brit in red socks. And those dancers ain’t so bad either. At Caesars Palace, Friday & Saturday, 9:30 p.m., $40, $731-7333.
»38. Playing cards I’ve got a manual fixation … so thank God for playing cards giving me something to do with my hands during meetings and shows. Best part is: In Vegas, they’re socially acceptable! –RICK LAX
»39. Quail You can’t hug them, but, damn, they’re cute.
»40. That Carolyn Goodman is actually—gasp!—a pretty great mayor She’s quickly making inroads with the community, and her husband is staying in the background, enjoying the emeritus status he’s completely earned.
»41. Water A precious commodity in a wasteful community.
»42. Crown & Anchor’s chicken fingers Dunk once in hot sauce and once in ranch, then repeat, until the whole plate of deep-fried glory disappears. 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8676; 4755 Spring Mountain Road, 876-4733.
»43. Boulder City The English toffee at the ice cream shop. The cheap beer buckets at the pizza place. The warm, crusty bread at the wine bar. The artists and bikers. The creepy yet delightful presence of stuffed, carved and sculpted “people.” The dog-friendliness. The crammed windowsills of old homes. The talking alien. The soul. –ERIN RYAN
»44. Local artists Yes, Justin Favela re-created pieces of CityCenter’s $40 million art collection with used cardboard, building rudimentary appropriations. And yes, Emily Kennerk constructed a mournful display of our foreclosure crisis for us to reject, embrace and grieve with. They, and so many other artists here, examine, scramble, absorb, reflect, reject and depict the world around us, giving so much depth to this visual city. –KRISTEN PETERSON
»45. Dark, cozy dive bars In a town where the bright lights can be blinding, local dives are our safe havens. Champagne’s, Frankie’s, the Griffin—your shaded corners, cold pints and friendly casts of characters on both sides of the bar make Las Vegas feel real. And, occasionally, really drunk.
»46. Photo ops at Naughty Town The mother of all gift shops, Bonanza sells “the bizarre, the unusual, yes, even the weird,” and that goes double for its Naughty Town. Engineer a blow-up doll kick line, hoist an animal-shaped vibrator, and you have the perfect Christmas card shot. Give a gracious nod to the staffers, who obligingly look the other way. 2440 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 382-0032. –ERIN RYAN
»47. Electric Daisy Carnival The fest’s lineup never disappoints, but the mere fact that it ditched LA to generate a reported $136 million for Clark County is reason enough to be appreciative for America’s No. 1 rave.
»48. The chicken curry katsu at Ohana Hawaiian BBQ It’s only 8 bucks, it’s delicious, and it’s enough food for three meals. Oh, and the macaroni salad might be the best I’ve had in town. Multiple locations.
»49. Cosmopolitan self parking It may not have the clearest signage or the most space for 14-point turns, but it has perky little lights that mark free stalls and street art by the likes of Shepard Fairey to keep you entertained while the tourists fumble for their keys.
»50. Deadmau5 The mouse-headed electronic artist sold out a two-night installment of his Meowingtons Hax tour at the Cosmo and just landed a 2012 residency at XS. Is it January yet?
»51. Downtown Cocktail Room’s ‘secret’ door Everybody does it the first time. New patrons desperately feeling along the tinted glass walls are gifts that keep on giving to those on the inside. 111 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 880-3696.
»52. Art-O-Mat Original works for less than the cost of a cocktail. Your collection awaits. At the Cosmopolitan.
»53. The Colosseum Seeing a performance inside the Caesars Palace landmark feels like an event no matter who’s playing.
What I'm thankful for ...
Mike Ziethlow Musician, entrepreneur
“In April of this year I lost my job and had to play guitar on the street for tips. In May, my family, friends and fans came together to fund an album of songs I’d written. In the past six months, I recorded the album and hired a bunch of amazing Las Vegas musicians along the way. In October, my newfound musician friends encouraged me to start an open mic night and local music community called vegasonthemic.com. Now I’m working with an amazing group of musicians every week and making a living recording local acts—a far cry from playing acoustic hip-hop songs on the street for $1 Bellagio chips! I am thankful with every breath for all those who have helped me up when I was down: family, friends, musicians and fans. Thank you.”
Flo Rogers president and general manager, KNPR
"This year I’m particularly thankful for the 300,000 individuals across the country who emailed and called their elected officials in the spring to save federal funding for public broadcasting. Every year I’m thankful for the listeners who chose us for their news and music, and those who also decide we’re essential enough in their lives to contribute to our continued operation. We did have many expressions along the lines of, “The recession has hit my family hard, but I will find a way to support Nevada Public Radio”—that’s a direct quote. Also, we had a letter from a woman on a fixed income who told us she has just $12 left over after paying her bills each month. In the envelope she had sent two $1 bills as her contribution and apologized for not being able to do more in support of the public radio that’s essential for her."
Dwight D. Jones superintendent, Clark County School District
"I’m thankful for Tony Romo for stepping up and leading my Dallas Cowboys to a 44-7 trouncing of the Buffalo Bills recently. I know this will be the turning point we needed to make that drive for the playoffs. I also give thanks to the hard-working principals, teachers and staff I see out in our schools each and every day who wear Cowboy blue when I visit their sites. Together, we’re working hard to make a better education system for Las Vegas. That’s why, on Thanksgiving day, it’s my hope that the hardworking educators, parents and students of the Clark County School District will spend valuable time with friends and family rooting for the Cowboys to beat the Miami Dolphins."