The other Las Vegas

Think Santa Fe is too much like a theme park? Find the real New Mexican deal in this time-warp town.

Las Vegas NM

Over 900 Las Vegas buildings, including this painted victorian lady, are on state historic registers

Jen Judge

  • Las Vegas NM

    Las Vegas, NM

AT A GLANCE

Why go now: Old rail town? Outlaw history? Are you kidding? It's haunting season.

Population: About 17,000

Dress code: Jeans and a western top, but forget the spangles ― this is the other Las Vegas.

Infamous (captured) visitor: Billy the Kid

Local lingo: Acequias are centuries-old irrigation canals that still flow through town.

The hub: The gazebo in the historic Plaza, especially lively during monthly Second Saturdays art walks (Oct 11; free; 505/425-2606), when galleries, shops, and restaurants stay open late and musicians play in the park.

Notorious landmark: The old Victory Bar began as the Imperial Bar, owned by fearsome Vicente Silva, whose gang of bandits terrorized the area in the late 1880s.

Structures on state/historic registers: More than 900

Getting there:  Las Vegas, New Mexico,is 65 miles east of Santa Fe. From I-25, take exit 345. More info: 800/832-5947.

 

TAKE A TOUR

1. SEE THE PAINTED LADIES

Queen Anne Victorians, adobe casas, 19th-century mercantiles ― take a walking tour to see these treasures. Choose a free guided tour (10 a.m. Oct 11 and Nov 8) or a self-guided one. Info available at the Citizens' Committee for Historic Preservation (closed Sun; 116 Bridge St.; 505/425-8803).

2. OLD WEST FOR SALE

Plaza Antiques is encamped in an adobe Territorial-style building that dates back to 1835. It's not short on atmosphere. Some say illegal card games were held upstairs in the wild 1870s. Now the two sprawling downstairs rooms showcase Native American work and Americana. 1805 Plaza; 505/454-9447.


3. NO COUNTRY LOCALE

With its wooden floors, pressed-tin ceiling, and large windows looking out to Old Town Plaza Park, Byron T's Saloon is a popular gathering spot and a highlight of the Plaza Hotel, built in 1882.

The hotel's inspired renovation sparked the town's preservation movement ― and provided a location shot for the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. Saloon $; hotel from $79, including breakfast; 230 Plaza; 505/425-3591.

4. MORNING JUMP-START

Load up on a breakfast burrito at Charlie's Spic & Span Bakery & Cafe, where the morning gossip's free. $; 715 Douglas Ave.; 505/426-1921.


TAKE IT HOME

Handwoven wool rugs

In the early years of Las Vegas, wool was a major commodity that passed through the Plaza. Capture those days with a rug from World Treasures & Travelers Café, where weaving demonstrations take place daily. Cafe $; rugs from $85 for 15 inches by 60 inches; 1814 Plaza; 505/426-8638.

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http://www.sunset.com/travel/southwest/other-las-vegas-00400000031733/