Where are all the blimps? I moved to Las Vegas in 1995 and remember seeing multiple airships above the Vegas skyline shortly after my arrival. I want my blimps back!

You’re probably thinking of the Lightship Group blimp that flew over the Valley throughout 2000, promoting Vegas.com. Whether the advertising worked or not, the blimp was certainly successful in scoring national media attention for the city. Both New York Magazine and Travel & Leisure covered the story—Las Vegas was one of the few places in the world where passengers could buy a ride in a blimp! The former named the blimp ride “Best View in Vegas” (Nov. 13, 2000) and the latter, in its May 2000 issue, detailed the experience of the blimp’s $179 sunset “Champagne cruise” over Vegas.

But that was 12 years ago. More recently, between October 2008 and March 2009, a spectacular blimp (albeit one without passenger service), also built and operated by the Lightship Group of Florida, was hired to promote Anthony Marnell’s soon-to-open casino. The white, M Resort-branded blimp was lit from the inside like a giant luminaria and sported a 210-square-foot LED panel. Advertising on the panel (including Cirque du Soleil promos) helped offset the airship’s $3,000-a-day operating cost. Many nights, while relaxing in my quiet, centrally located backyard, I would hear a low, buzzing hum (or was it a humming buzz?) that sounded like a squadron of dragonflies moving into the area. Soon, the glowing airship eased into view above, and I would smile at the steampunk mash-up of helium and LEDs. I miss them, too, but those operating costs are steep, particularly in post-recession Vegas. But, hey, we’re getting a pair of giant Ferris wheels—and those will be as permanent as anything can be in Vegas.

What unusual fact about Las Vegas do you think most people overlook?

That it is an ideal base for outdoor activity. And not just golf. In fact, National Geographic Adventure magazine named Las Vegas its No. 1 Best Place to Live and Play, thanks to its 200-mile proximity to a vast amount of outdoor activity, and “a four-hour perimeter” featuring “six national parks, including Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon, two national recreation areas, 13 state parks, and millions of acres of national forest.”

Proximity is a big deal. Many times I have hopped in my car, driven to Zion, done a fantastic morning hike, noshed a burger and beer, napped on the grass at the lodge, and was home in time for dinner. Plus, there is no better time than October to log off and head outside!