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7 places to stay cool when Las Vegas is heating up

Updated June 18, 2021 - 8:40 am

Technology has made it a whole lot easier to live in our corner of the desert. Most of us wonder how in the heck people managed to survive before air conditioning and refrigeration. And those wonderful inventions have led to lots of other local sources of cooling relief. Here are a few.

Minus5 Ice Experience, Icebar

You want to be cool? On a day when a high of 110 degrees is forecast, 23 degrees sounds pretty good. That’s the more-familiar Fahrenheit equivalent to minus-5 Celsius, which is the ambient temperature at the correspondingly named Minus5 Ice Experience at Mandalay Bay and The Venetian and Icebar at The Linq Promenade. And even if you’ve been before, know that there are some cool — har! — new features. A team of 13 ice carvers from the United States and Europe worked with chainsaws, chisels, sanders and electronic grinders this month to construct new pieces for all three sites.

“It’s quite fascinating to watch it happen,” said president and owner Noel Bowman, adding that renovations are done periodically.

“Ice is a perishable product, so your concept is always changing and refreshing,” he said, estimating that the new pieces will comprise 30 percent of the overall displays. “Every six to eight months we’re fiddling around with something. That’s the beauty of our concept.”

Bowman said they brought in about 400 250-pound blocks, harvested from icemakers all over the country. Called “carver’s ice,” it’s perfectly clear.

Depending on the piece, several blocks may be stacked and fused together with a slush mix. There’s a new patriotic wall and model of Mount Rushmore for Icebar, Raiders-themed accents plus interactive games (throw the Nerf football through the uprights) for Mandalay Bay and an architectural theme with some arctic animals for The Venetian.

Everything is ice, including the cocktail glasses. Freshly dry-cleaned coats and padded seats protect guests from the chill. And don’t worry about the employees.

“I always say I feel worse for your skyscraper guy in the middle of winter, or the guy taking the trash out,” Bowman said. “There’s no wind or no humidity; it’s a pretty controlled, dry environment. Most of our employees take their jackets off.”

All three spots, he said, are magnets on hot summer days.

“Most people don’t want to leave,” Bowman said. “When they do, they want to come back.” minus5experience.com

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

The park may run only about 10 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley at most times, but it’s among the few places you can reliably spend a summer evening outside in comfort. And Super Summer Theatre is back after a COVID-driven hiatus last summer. “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” will be performed on nine evenings in July, followed by “Viva Las Popera” on six dates in August and “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” on nine in September. During the day, you can tour historic buildings (including a ranch house once owned by Howard Hughes), go hiking or picnic under the trees. supersummertheatre.org, parksnv.gov

Lifeguard Arena

Henderson’s Lifeguard Arena, home of the Henderson Silver Knights AHL team, is a cool place to be, with two ice rinks — and an ambient temperature of 55 to 60 degrees, which provides a refreshing contrast to the blast furnace outside. That the arena is in the burgeoning Water Street district just adds to the cool factor. The Silver Knights are done for the season, so you won’t see them practicing, but you can observe league play and pickup games, learn to skate or participate in open skating, and more. lifeguardarena.com

Splash pads

Kids have always loved to splash in puddles, but the invention of splash pads has made that activity a whole lot cleaner. Safer than pools and less expensive to operate, they’ve definitely made a splash in Southern Nevada. Municipal governments operate 82 splash pads in parks — 31 in unincorporated Clark County, 28 in the city of Las Vegas, 17 in the city of Henderson (although one of those, at Heritage Park, is only for dogs) and six in the city of North Las Vegas. Plus, there are public splash pads at Town Square and The District at Green Valley Ranch and assorted pads operated by Summerlin and other HOAs. To find a municipal splash pad, visit bit.ly/2TzqSfP for Clark County, bit.ly/34EUR8c for the city of Las Vegas, bit.ly/3vGEX9i for the city of Henderson or bit.ly/2SnC2E0 for the city of North Las Vegas.

Lake Mead

Not every source of chill in the Las Vegas area is a result of technology; sometimes ol’ Mother Nature comes to the rescue. Lake Mead National Park may be as hot and sticky as the rest of Southern Nevada in the summer, and its beaches aren’t exactly the pink sand of Bermuda. But here’s the thing to remember: The water temperature in the lake averages 72 to 84 degrees in the summer. So wade in, sit down where the water’s up to your neck and enjoy the chill. Just be careful not to float away, because drowning is a real hazard out there. nps.gov/lake

Movie theaters

This is a time-honored one, but one that wasn’t an option last summer. They’ve all reopened now, so make tracks to get out of the heat and get into a flick. At Art Houz Theaters at 814 S. Third St. downtown, the ambient temperature is 72 (cooler inside the eight theaters). Art Houz, which officially opened early this month, is the former Eclipse Theaters — still with a restaurant and bar, and showing “A Quiet Place Part II,” “Cruella,” “Dream Horse” and “Holler,” through Sunday. thearthouz.com

Mount Charleston

Most Las Vegans know Mount Charleston as the only reliable place in Southern Nevada to find snow during the winter, but don’t forget that it’s a good place to escape the summer heat. Highs during the summer spend a lot of time in the 70s, only rarely reaching into the 80s, and the lows are in the comparatively frosty 40s. And there are vast expanses of forest, which means tons of shade beneath the pines. You’ll also find plenty of trails and picnic areas. The ski area at Lee Canyon offers chairlift rides ($8) to a cool 9,370 feet, as well as archery, disc golf and ax throwing. So head on up — but be sure to take a hoodie. gomtcharleston.com, leecanyonlv.com.

Cooling stations will be open around the region starting Monday because of the prolonged heat wave. See a list of locations and hours here.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Dr. Miriam Adelson, the majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which operates The Venetian.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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