If you have more than a couple of days to use in Las Vegas, we suggest you rent a car and experience more than the obvious Las Vegas.
We visit Las Vegas annually, sometimes 2-3 times per year, and have always tried to find new day trip ideas. Here is a collection of varied experiences. Some of the photos were taken years ago, sorry about the possible blurriness.
1. Red Rock Canyon
Just about 30 minutes away from the Strip, Red Rock Canyon offers natural beauty you’d never expect. Take the 13-Mile scénic drive and stop for photos of the breathtaking, red formations. This is the easiest way, but at the visitors centre you can learn about the varied trails taking you into the nature and the camping possibilities.
Desert flora and fauna are very much present. What you’ll see, depends on the season, time of the day and the places you choose to visit. Pay attention, desert nature is a surprising one!
2. Bonnie Springs Ranch & Old Nevada Western Town
Bonnie Springs Ranch & Old Nevada Western Town is a fun stop after your visit to Red Rock Canyon. (Actually, you can come here first if you prefer seeing the area riding.) This well kept secret is only 5 minutes from the Red Rock Canyon and the only place offering a bar, restaurant & lodging in Red Rock. Bonnie Springs Ranch was established 1952, the Bar & Restaurant opened in 1964.
3. Antique and odd finds shopping
We love finding places selling antiques, fun items, oddities. The most famous place these days in Las Vegas must be the Gold & Silver Pawn, made famous by the History Channel original series “Pawn Stars”. (That is actually on the Strip, but worth a mention when talking about antiques & odd stuff.)
In Las Vegas Downtown we have a new fave area for finding interesting items, the Antique Alley. Some shops are dedicated to Vintage Vegas. Some offer interior surprises. Some have interesting bits and pieces by various sellers. And some are filled with oddities and curiosities. Not to forget that the Hangover Movie was partly filmed here.
4. Hoover Dam
Drive to the Hoover Dam on the border of Nevada and Arizona preferably in the morning. (It’s funny, cross the border and the time zone changes). The Dam is located in the Black Canyon, on the Colorado River and provides power for Nevada, Arizona and California. It lures almost a million visitors every year.
Take a tour of the Dam Museum to learn more about the history of this engineering marvel, built during the Great Depression. Tip: avoid hot summer days – it’s boiling. Visit Nevada provides more info on tour opportunities here. After the Dam visit you can also drive to Boulder City, about 6 Miles away, they also host a Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. And before even leaving home for your Las Vegas trip, see the movie Transformers or some of the movies filmed at the Hoover Dam. Check out movie inspiration here.
5. Lake Las Vegas
You could combine a visit to Lake Las Vegas with your Hoover Dam Visit. Or just drive about 30 minutes from Las Vegas to this interesting artificial lake area and spend an afternoon gaming, dining and wandering around at the MonteLago Village. You might even see celebs like Celine Dion, as many famous people have their mansions somewhere here ’cause it’s, according to Lake Las Vegas official site, “resort-style living, gated privacy and spectacular views”.
In the summertime you can rent cayaks, paddle boats or go cruising
Don’t want to move here, but want to feel what it’s like to live in this luxe community? You can also book a stay here, at the Aston MonteLago Village Resort, the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort or the Hilton Lake Las Vegas.
6. Extraterrestrial Highway
A day trip to the Extraterrestrial Highway and Rachel is a must for all who’re into Sci-fi, history, conspiracy theories and/or popular culture phenomena.
Leave early from Las Vegas, have a lunch at the Little AleInn, visit the shop and experience the surroundings before returning. Or include the Extraterrestrial Highway (Speed limit Warp 7) to your longer Nevada road trip itinerary and stay at the motel. There’s a parking place for UFOs as well. This is the nearest habitation to the classified, remote and restricted Area 51. Make sure to purchase full tank of fuel at the last town before heading to the Extraterrestrial Highway.