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Just outside the neon lights of Las Vegas, lies an equally vibrant and exciting city with a special sauce of its own.
Henderson, Nevada is the second-largest city in the state.
The past few decades have shown growth of epic proportions in this desert hamlet.
Henderson is more of a family community, a little quieter than its noisy neighbor of Las Vegas, but still with the same entertainment, shopping, and gambling excitement.
There are districts throughout this community that can range from lush homes built into the walls of desert mountains to lower-income housing in a seemingly seedy neighborhood on the way to Lake Las Vegas.
You can be in the middle of it all or away from it all in minutes.
There’s also the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, where you’ll learn where the “M” in “M&M’s” came from and you can see candy being produced while walking through their beautiful cactus garden.
This amazing part of the Las Vegas Valley often gets overlooked due to so much being focused on the Las Vegas Strip and Downtown Las Vegas, but it is worth a trip to see a safer and less crowded side of the whole Las Vegas experience.
Warnings & Dangers in Henderson
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
Even though it made the #2 spot on a recent "Safest Large Cities" list in 2021, we're sticking with a medium overall risk, considering the size of the city, the transient nature of the area, and other risks from weather and terrorism.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk when taking public transportation in Henderson. This is a city where cabs and rideshares are plentiful. Personal safety isn't the top concern when riding a taxi, it's longhauling—a practice of greedy drivers trying to lengthen the ride, thus the fare, of a tourist. The Nevada Taxicab Authority has been cracking down on this practice for years. If you feel you are a victim of longhauling, you can file a report.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Henderson is a tale of several city areas. Given the range of crimes reported, we're giving it a medium risk of being pickpocketed. The "locals" casinos, as they are called, have several locations in Henderson, and attract some criminals looking for a good opportunity. Don't go flashing big gambling winnings around, or show a wad of cash when paying a tip. Overall, there's about a 1 in 78 chance of being a victim of Larceny/Theft, according to 2019 FBI data.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk in Henderson. That might be confusing given there are nearly 300 days of sunshine and only 27 average days with precipitation in this desert oasis. When it does rain, it can get rough real fast. High winds are a hallmark of the spring season, some strong enough to close down roads or knock over umbrellas at the pool. Monsoon storms whip up quickly in the summer, causing rapid thunderstorms and heavy rains that can quickly flood the region briefly. The intense spring, summer, and fall heat is another reason to watch out for the weather here.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk of mugging in Henderson, with nearly 11 violent crimes per 1000 people according to FBI data. While that's a low number compared to other cities of similar size, muggings can easily happen to tourists who have been showboating gambling wins or are tourists, making them an easy mark for would-be criminals. Keep it low-key and you'll be safer than in nearby Las Vegas.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
The Las Vegas metropolitan area can be a medium to high risk of terrorism, especially close to big events like the New Year's holiday. The Strip of Las Vegas is a known potential target and Hoover Dam is nearby, which provides water supply to several western states. While you won't lose sleep over this concern, it's important to be vigilant and report anything strange you see happening.
SCAMS RISK : HIGH
There's a high risk of scams in Las Vegas. From scalpers selling tickets to shows that have closed, to homeless people begging for money, to impromptu performances outside casinos that are nothing more than a scammer dressed up in a Halloween costume, there are many ways scammers try to get all they can from tourists. Don't buy anything that doesn't come from an official vendor, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it is. All resorts and hotels have concierge services to get you everything you need in this tourist town.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk for women traveling to Henderson. This area brings bridal parties, girlfriend getaways, and spa weekends for ladies looking to getaway. Las Vegas is also a top city for the growing sex trafficking trade, and young women can be approached anywhere. Due to the transient nature of the city, it's easy to get lost and never found. Staying in groups, avoiding a random person approaching you with some kind of crazy offer, and letting your friends and family know about travel plans for the day all help keep you safe.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
Tap water risk is low in Henderson. The water comes from the Colorado River, filled with snow runoff from the Rockies. From there, it is treated in one of three Henderson water treatment plants and measured daily to make sure it's safe and consumable.
Safest Places to Visit in Henderson
The Las Vegas area has “locals casinos”, which are generally areas that have hotels, casinos, shopping, dining, and entertainment all in one area.
The District at Green Valley Ranch is the shining star of the “local” places in Henderson.
You might hear people refer to this area as Green Valley, which is true, but it’s still technically in Henderson.
Green Valley is just a fancier name for this part of town.
There’s the Water Street District in downtown Henderson, on the other side of U.S. 95 (known locally as “The 95”).
It’s an older stretch of town, with smaller casinos, and more of an old-school vibe.
You’ll get boutique shopping, locally owned and operated eateries, and some of the best personalities in Henderson.
This is a laid-back area with a lot of history, but it’s far from the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip.
You might see more homeless people or “sketchy” people here than in other parts of Henderson, but that’s also part of the character of this no-frills community.
A short 15-minute drive east from Water Street brings you to Lake Las Vegas.
It’s a high-end housing hideaway from the hectic pace of Las Vegas but offers tourists hotels, dining, spas, and a man-made lake to enjoy water activities.
Consider this a getaway from your getaway.
Celine Dion lives in this slice of southern Nevada.
See if a local can point you in the right direction to drive by.
Placess to Avoid in Henderson
Given that it’s one of the safest large cities in America, there isn’t one area to avoid.
Crime mapping shows the north end of Henderson has the highest crime rates, but that’s not near a tourist area anyway.
If you do need to drive through the northern area of Henderson, make sure you have a good GPS and stay on the 95 to get downtown.
There are more highway patrols and less of a chance you’ll wander into a crime-ridden part of town.
Down by Water Street, there are surrounding neighborhoods of older homes.
You can see the growth of Las Vegas just by looking at the age of the neighborhood.
Some locals refer to the neighborhoods around the Water Street District as “Hendertucky”, just due to it being a little more rural and not nearly as pristine as other Henderson neighborhoods.
You should always be cautious when parking and walking down streets to avoid being a crime of opportunity.
Even in this more laid-back side of the Valley, it’s still a fast-moving metro area with well-trained criminals.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Henderson
- Keep a weather app handy. The heat in Las Vegas can get into the triple-digits from spring through fall. The heat leads to dehydration and nose bleed. Keep your nose hydrated with saline spray and drink water every 15-20 minutes. Winter temperatures can get at or below freezing. While you might be used to this, get ready to see locals dressed like it’s a blizzard. There are good people-watching opportunities in this area.
- Turn Around, Don’t Drown. You’ll hear this a lot if you visit during a monsoon storm. The heavy rains from the storms quickly fill up the washes (these are areas that look like river beds, but are generally dry until heavy rainfalls) and can flood roads. Never drive through a flooded intersection. The good news is the flooding is usually as brief as the storms, and it’s clear and dry within hours.
- Your money is your business. One of the lures of Henderson is being able to gamble 24/7 with free drinks on top of it. Make sure you set a budget of what you’ll spend and don’t go over that. If you do win big, most resorts offer a safety deposit box to store your winnings if you don’t want to walk around with that money. Most hotel rooms also have safes. As tempting as it is to celebrate a big win, it could draw unwanted and criminal attention. You can gamble almost anywhere in Nevada. Even local convenience and grocery stores have slot machines right upfront.
- “When it stops being fun.” You’ll see this message at all the casinos in the Henderson area. Even just a short time gambling can cause big financial impacts for someone who doesn’t have the means to risk a lot of money. If you have a problem, you can ask the hotel to ban you from gambling or refuse to pay out jackpots. A better idea might be to explore nearby Boulder City, the only town in Nevada where you can’t gamble. You could also better spend money visiting the nearby Hoover Dam.
- Wear good walking shoes. Nothing in Henderson or Las Vegas is as close as it appears. “Right next door” could be a 1/4 mile away. Even just getting from one side of a district can wear you out. Take frequent breaks when walking and don’t wander into a part of town you haven’t researched.
- Plan the drive time. Henderson has great tourism options, but they aren’t all lumped together in one area. Green Valley Ranch to the Water Street District is a 10-15 minute drive and Lake Las Vegas is another 15-20 from there. Henderson is 15 miles from Las Vegas, and given traffic challenges, it could be anywhere from a 20-40 minute commute.
- Make sure you are pronouncing Nevada correctly. As much as there is to “ooh” and “aww” about in the Battle Born state, there’s no “aww” sound in Nevada. It’s Ne-VAH-duh, not Ne-VAWD-uh. You’ll get corrected every time you say it wrong. It’s just a thing with Nevadans.
- Walk carefully. Tourists tend to just wander through intersections during the excitement of their visit. Yes, pedestrians have the right of way, but only when in a crosswalk. According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, more than 3/4 of all pedestrian fatalities happen outside of a crosswalk.
- You might see a coyote in Henderson and you need to stay away if you do. These animals are more likely to be seen from sundown to sunrise, and they don’t want anything to do with you, so don’t mess with them. If you see one, call Henderson Police at their 311 non-emergency number. Snakes, scorpions, and big spiders are also seen around this area.
- Buy snacks and drinks at the store. Hotel rates for a simple bottle of water can cost upward of $10. Snacks are just as expensive. The ease of grabbing a drink at your resort makes it tempting, but since Henderson is mostly a residential area filled with traditional grocery stores, you can save money by shopping ahead of time for basic drinks and snacks. A bonus? Groceries in Nevada are tax-exempt. This will leave more money for big feasts like Hank’s Steak House at Green Valley Ranch.
So... How Safe Is Henderson Really?
Overall, it’s a very safe city and was ranked the second-largest safe city by Advisor Smith based on FBI data.
This is a community of neighborhoods with a slice of tourism mixed in.
There is a gang presence in the north part of Henderson, bleeding into the more prominent Las Vegas community, but again, that’s not a place tourists are going to flock to anyway.
Anything along the I-95 corridor is easy to access for both criminals and tourists.
You are safest sticking to the Green Valley Ranch area and Lake Las Vegas.
The Water Street District is best visited during daylight hours, as the neighborhoods can get a little seedy just outside the main road.
In some areas, you’ll see men handing out cards encouraging a trip to a strip club.
They are only looking for clients, so if you ignore them, they won’t bother you.
How Does Henderson Compare?
- Visas - Las Vegas and Henderson are a cultural melting pot, bringing international visitors year-round. All the visa information is handled at customs inside the airport. You don't need to do anything once you are vetted through customs. You will need a state-issued ID or passport to prove your gambling age, get a drink, or enter a nightclub.
- Currency - U.S. currency is the only form accepted here. The slot machines take cash and there's an ATM around every corner. Note the high withdrawal rates. You'll spend more money to get your money, so you might want to bring cash or see if your bank has a local branch nearby. Casinos have a variety of ways to get cash from your credit cards, but the fees can be quite high.
- Weather - High temperatures can be at or near 100°(F) from June - September. Winter averages can be highs in the 50's with lows in the upper 30s. Summer storms are a risk with lots of heavy rain and lightning, but they are few and far between and move through quickly. The best bet is to wait for these storms out. Winter is usually mild, but there can be a rogue snowstorm like in 2008 when the Valley was coated with more than 6 inches of snow.
- Airports - The recently re-named Harry Reid International Airport is the best choice far and wide. It was formerly known as McCarran International Airport until late 2021. It's 14 miles away and takes anywhere from 15-30 minutes to drive from Henderson, depending on traffic. About 130,000 people go through the airport daily. There are airports in North Las Vegas and Henderson, but those are charter and private flights.
- Travel Insurance - Many people plan a trip to the Las Vegas/Henderson area for a long time. It can center around a big life event. Because of the importance of these trips, travel insurance is a must. You don't want to lose money before you even get a chance to hit the casinos, do you? Just ask the writer of this article who had a holiday trip planned to the Midwest when that 2008 snowstorm shut down the airport for 24 hours.
Henderson Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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