September 1, 2020
6 min read
Discovering some of Las Vegas’ unexpected pleasures with one of the city’s coolest dads.
We got to know Ivan Simental not too long ago. Since Ivan knows full-well how Las Vegas can deliver some unexpectedly pleasant surprises, we figured he was the perfect person to give us a tour of the city’s hidden gems. From restaurants to relaxing, it turns out that when you stray from the well-trodden path, you can get some of the best Vegas has to offer—without the big crowds.
First of all, how did you end up settling down in Las Vegas?
I came to Vegas and tried out for the professional indoor soccer team here. It’s a completely different game—fast and aggressive—but once I adapted to it, I loved it. And it was the same for the city!
How old were you when you moved to Vegas?
I think I was 22 when I got here.
Sometimes, people are so fixated on typical
Vegas that they forget that there are these
amazing things you can do outside, away from
any big crowds.
Sometimes, people are so fixated on typical Vegas that they forget that there are these amazing things you can do outside, away from any big crowds.
[Laughs] What’s that like for a 22-year-old? Not just visiting Vegas, but living there.
[Laughs.] It was fun, that’s for sure. Especially when you consider that, at the time, Vegas didn’t have an NHL or NFL team. So—being on the indoor pro soccer team, we’d do a bunch of events around the city, and there was a good fan base.
It definitely took some adjusting to, though, to not always want to go out partying because I had practice the next day.
What’s a misconception about Vegas that people have—something that really surprised you when you got here?
That there’s actually things going on outside The Strip… it’s by far the biggest misconception about Las Vegas. I still have friends that ask me ‘what do you do in Vegas?’ But there’s so much to do!
Plus, with everything going on, a lot of the typical Vegas attractions aren’t in the cards. It’s a great time to discover a side of Las Vegas that people didn’t really know existed. A side of Vegas that’s not about massive crowds of people, or jam-packed theatres.
Drop the knowledge!
You can go hiking in the mountains in the summer. Skiing in the winter. You’ve got a beautiful lake for those incredibly hot summer days. You can find amazing food at pretty much any hour of the day—and not just on The Strip. There’s a whole hidden side of Vegas, with tons of upside, that you can discover if you’re willing to venture off a bit.
You can find everything you’re looking for, as
long as you know where to look and aren’t afraid
to venture off the beaten path!
You can find everything you’re looking for, as long as you know where to look and aren’t afraid to venture off the beaten path!
So what does a weekend look like for a Las Vegan?
In the summer, I love spending weekends on Lake Meade. It’s the most relaxing thing I can do. A few friends, family, some wake boarding, a beer—it’s the perfect summer day. In the winter, I love Mount Charleston. It doesn’t look like Vegas at all; you can go for a hike, there’s forest. It’s like a totally different city.
Sometimes, people are so fixated on typical Vegas that they forget that there are these amazing things you can do outside, away from any big crowds. Right now, you couldn’t really ask for much better, could you?
I don’t want to blow up your spot, but what are some of your favorite local restaurants? And do they do takeout?
There’s this great sushi spot—called Zakana. It’s a little hole in the wall and even in the best of times, there would be an hour wait to get in. But it’s so good, it’s worth it; I’d go maybe three or four times a month.
They started encouraging people to do takeout over the last months—like they’d knock 50% off your bill—and the food is still incredible, especially when you compare it to your usual takeout spots. Great food from the comfort of home or the park— what’s not to like? So, we’ve still been having that as often now as before.
In more normal times, where would you head for a drink after a bite to eat?
There’s this place called Park, which, like the name says, is built like an actual park—with a see-saw, even. It’s cool and different and the drinks are really good. Plus, it’s different from the typical Vegas nightlife experience. They’re doing takeaway now.
So, you’ve given us places to hang out, to get some fresh air, some good food and good drinks. Since you’re a soccer guy, here’s a curveball: Saturday or Sunday morning, you want to watch some soccer—assuming it’s on!—where are you headed?
[McMullan’s Irish Pub! That’s the place to be. They’d open early on weekends specifically for the games.
It sounds like you’ve got everything you could ask for in Vegas?
As long as you know where to look and aren’t afraid to venture off the beaten path!
Keep up with Ivan here: