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November 21, 2014

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First winter in Las Vegas? Dress in layers, drink up and …

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Christopher DeVargas

The crowd watches as fireworks fill the sky during the midnight New Year’s Eve celebration on The Strip, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012.

Jimmy Kimmel taunts L.A. newscasters

Earlier this month, talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel taunted Los Angeles newscasters for their panic over 50-degree weather, and that’s with good reason: Having grown up in Las Vegas, he knows what real cold is.

We might not experience regular snowstorms, but outsiders forget that this famously sunny city gets about as cold in the winter as it does hot in the summer.

For newcomers planning to arrive with a suitcase of Bermudas and flip-flops, save yourself the rude awakening and peruse these expert tips to get the most out of Las Vegas’ unique winters:

    • Dress in layers

      The arid landscape of the Las Vegas Valley is capricious, prone to double-digit temperature changes over the course of a winter day as the sun warms freezing mornings into temperate afternoons — only to surprise you come nightfall with chilling winds or a rainstorm.

      If you’re new to town, start dressing in layers so that you’re always prepared, and be aware of your surroundings when you go out, lest you learn the hard way not to stand downwind of the Bellagio Fountains when it’s 30 degrees outside.

    • Grouchy Johns' San Francisco Latte -- they left their heart it in. Get it?

      Drink (and warm) up

      The Strip is a culinary Mecca, and warm drinks are no exception. From traditional hot cocoas to boozy concoctions, Las Vegas does warm-winter beverages in decadent style. Hot chocolate enthusiasts should make a point of stopping by Max Brenner’s at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which features an entire hot chocolate menu of classic and exotic takes (salted caramel cocoa, anyone?) on the winter favorite.

      If you like things a bit lighter, the Tea Lounge at Mandarin Oriental offers a range of exotic teas from around the world, as well as a daily classic English afternoon tea service. Those looking for a stiffer way to warm up should check out the bar at the Cosmopolitan’s ice rink, which features curated winter cocktails such as its signature Campfire Delight, made with Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka, creme de cacao, Rumchata and marshmallow.

      Off the Strip, Boca Park’s Sambalatte offers an indulgent variety of coffee drinks and pastries guaranteed to help you shake off the chill.

    • Warm up your plants

      If you’ve driven through McCarran Airport on a chilly winter day, you’ve probably noticed the towering saguaro cacti covered in burlap sacks. Think of them like sweaters — much like the heat, extreme cold can damage even the heartiest desert foliage. While most species native to the Mojave Desert will recover come warmer months, those like saguaros require extra care to survive the colder months.

      Norm Schilling, owner of Schilling Horticulture Group and former horticulture supervisor at UNLV, recommends insulating outdoor plans with fallen leaves or covering them with burlap, tarps, trashcans or newspaper once temperatures drop below freezing.

      “Those coverings keep the plant about three or four degrees warmer than it is outside. It’s not a huge difference, but it can make a big difference in the life and death of a plant,” Schilling says.

      Larger plants like cold-sensitive trees can be wrapped in Christmas lights with incandescent bulbs to stave off the cold. Schilling also recommends letting desert-style plants like acacias and Palo Verdes go dry in the winter to improve cold hardiness.

    • Clark County firefighters, outfitted in special clothing, douse a beehive with foam Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, near Nellis Air Base. A group of children had disturbed the hive, housed in a sprinkler box, causing the bees to start attacking the children.

      Don’t cancel your pest control

      Winter might seem like a reprieve from bed bugs, roaches and scorpions that plague households across the Valley, but don’t be fooled: Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there. Pests tend to go dormant in the winter, avoiding the harsh climate while their eggs lay waiting to hatch.

      Local pest controllers, such as Greenway Pest Services, warn that bringing houseplants inside in the winter also can bring along some unwanted guests who will love the warmth of your house, including soil-dwelling insects like ants and earwigs who can be tricky to spot or remove.

      They recommend continuing pest-control services in cooler months and getting a “winterization” treatment to identify openings to eliminate entry and create a barrier that will keep bugs out and kill eggs and pests that might already be in the home.

    • Enjoy the festivities

      We may not have any snow this season (yet), but there are plenty of festivities in town to help you get in the winter spirit. From ice skating at the Cosmopolitan, Caesars Palace and the Venetian to holiday displays at the Bellagio Conservatory to Ethel M’s famous lights, Las Vegas offers dozens of reasons to enjoy going out in the cold. Check out our 2013 Holiday Events Guide for a list of ideas.

    Follow Andrea Domanick on Twitter at @AndreaDomanick and fan her on Facebook at Facebook.com/AndreaDomanick.

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