When the far-west property opened in 2006, many assumed it would be a close facsimile to sister property Green Valley Ranch, which is pretty tony in its own right. The 800-room hotel and casino Red Rock Resort proved to be the swankier sister, even giving Strip contenders a run for their money.

Set right against the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, it’s one of the most picturesque places you can stay, with red-tinged mountains just to the west and the lights of the Strip about 10 miles away to the east. Whichever side you decide to stay on, there’s no such thing as a bad view.

It’s perfect for those who want the Vegas experience without the craziness of the Strip, complete with an 80,000-square-foot casino that is like a maze through the subdued, gorgeous main floor, with 3,000 slot and video poker machines. And unlike many of the Strip casinos, Red Rock’s bingo hall is popular with visitors and locals alike—of all ages. There tends to be a lot of locals coming through Red Rock Resort and many bring their families, as it’s not just for gambling, with options such as a luxury bowling alley, and even a day care center. Pool-wise, there’s the three-acre water feature, complete with beach, Jacuzzis, and even a stage for outdoor concerts by big-name acts. Downtown Summerlin, a new shopping mecca, just opened next door.

The Red Rock has seen a recent renaissance in its dining offerings, going beyond the standard buffet, coffee shop, and food court that is typical of locals’ casinos. Its stellar steak house, T-Bones, is chugging along nicely, but they’ve also recently added 8 Noodle Bar for those who prefer to slurp Asian fare, the Italian cuisine resto Masso Osteria, and Hearthstone, the hotel’s attempt at a trendy, neighborhood comfort-food eatery—which they manage to pull off with success. Lovely outdoor seating is available at all these spots (a nice option for those who want to get away from the casino).

The rooms take their cue from the natural landscape surrounding the resort and are done in earthy colors, with such niceties as 42-inch plasma TVs, sound systems you can jack your iPod into, and enormous bathrooms. Pair all that with the views and you might just forget that you’re in Sin City.