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Las Vegas has become a tourist magnet filled with famous attractions, endless entertainment and a diverse gastronomic scene. However, we recommend taking a break from the casinos and shows so you can explore some of the majestic places near Sin City. Discover your surroundings with Culture Trip’s guide to the best day trips from Las Vegas.
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.
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.
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.
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.