There’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Las Vegas, but sometimes you might need a break, especially if you’re a regular visitor. Discover the surroundings outside the city with Culture Trip’s guide to the best day trips to take from Las Vegas.
Who doesn’t want to visit the Grand Canyon? It’s one of the greatest natural wonders in the United States and among the most recognizable and popular nature tourism spots in the world. Located just a few hours away from Las Vegas, the national park makes for a perfect day trip and is accessible by bus, car and even a helicopter tour. Take a walk on the glass-bottom Grand Canyon Skywalk or, if you have extra time, ride a mule to the foot of the canyon to experience the majestic views fully.
Located just 45 minutes from the heart of Las Vegas, Boulder City is the polar opposite of Sin City. It’s a quaint and welcoming town full of friendly residents, homey restaurants and cafés, and plenty of natural beauty, and it’s one of only two municipalities in Nevada where gambling is illegal, making it a rarity in the state. Boulder City is also home to cultural attractions such as the annual Dam Short Film Festival and Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum – the perfect blend of quirky and traditional.
Without the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas might still be a railroad depot in the middle of the desert. The dam, which opened in 1936, brought thousands of workers to the Vegas area during its construction and was responsible for the creation of Lake Mead. It also brings electricity to millions of people in Nevada, Arizona and California. Take a tour, preferably via helicopter, to this National Historic Landmark that was once the largest dam in the world. The view is awe-inspiring!
No, you can’t actually go to Area 51 – the US government installation rumored to house aliens and UFOs. But you can drive on the scenic Extraterrestrial Highway (also known as State Route 375), which takes you through the open desert to the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada. Here, you can eat or stay the night at the extraterrestrial-themed Little A’Le’Inn; you can also buy a map that shows how close you can get to Area 51 (the Groom Lake Air Force facility) legally. Make sure not to pass the stern warning signs at the edge of the base.
Las Vegas is ideally situated within a few hours of several natural wonders, including two national parks located in the southwestern part of Utah. Both Zion and Bryce Canyon offer gorgeous natural phenomena, including unusual rock formations and a wide variety of plant and animal life. Also, the two parks receive fewer visitors than the massively popular Grand Canyon, which means it’s easier to explore them and find a quiet, peaceful place to connect with the natural world.
Plenty of people come to Las Vegas to get away from Southern California, but if you’re visiting from somewhere farther away, Vegas is a great jumping-off point for a trip to Hollywood. Leave at the right time, and it is only a four-hour drive away. Check out the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and visit landmarks such as the Hollywood Sign, the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Capitol Records Building. Also, tour the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood and Highland Center, which hosts the annual Academy Awards.
The Las Vegas of today is a modern, cutting-edge metropolis, but the city was once part of the Wild West, just like the cities and towns in neighboring states. There isn’t much left of the authentic Old West in Vegas, so take a tour along Route 66 into Arizona to see preserved towns, including Oatman and Chloride. Grab a drink at an old-fashioned saloon and watch a gunfight re-enactment to complete your Wild West experience.
The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the Southwest, providing the water for Lake Mead and helping to power Las Vegas. It’s also the perfect place for a kayaking adventure, with a range of water conditions and challenges for both beginners and experienced kayakers. Paddle through the gorgeous Black Canyon, and explore the serene Emerald Cave. Spot some wildlife and ancient artefacts, and take a dip in the hot springs. If you have extra time, camp overnight to get the full river experience.
Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend – two of Arizona’s most striking natural attractions – are just a few miles from each other near Page, Arizona, and feature similar vistas and exciting hiking trails. Take a guided tour for the inside scoop on the best trails and wildlife-watching spots, or forge your own path through Horseshoe Bend (Antelope Canyon is only accessible with a guide). Book a tour directly from Vegas for the optimal experience.
Less than 100 miles south of Vegas lies Laughlin, a miniature Sin City with its own “Strip” of hotel-casinos, including familiar names such as Harrah’s, Tropicana and the Golden Nugget. You can get some of the same attractions (gambling, spas, concerts) at a much lower price, but this isn’t the only advantage of visiting Laughlin. Situated right on the Colorado River, the city is the perfect place for activities like Jet-Skiing and paddleboarding or just taking a leisurely boat trip along the Laughlin Riverwalk.