The Best Things to See and Do in Nevada

Reno, Nevada
Reno, Nevada | © Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock
Lissa Townsend Rodgers

From mountain peaks to poker pits, the state of Nevada offers a wide variety of attractions and activities.

People visit Nevada for a host of reasons. Some are drawn by the boisterous atmosphere of the casinos, others by the serenity of the desert’s open spaces. Some come for the cosmopolitan restaurants and upscale entertainment, others for the hiking, biking, and skiing. And, well, some people live here already. Even if you have your recreational intentions well mapped out, allow us to suggest a few more items for your Silver State bucket list.

1. Drink in the View at 107 Sky Lounge

Restaurant, American

1. Drink in the View at 107 Sky Lounge
© Stratosphere Hotel & Casino / Flickr
The Stratosphere is the tallest tower in Las Vegas and perhaps the best vantage point to appreciate the city’s vast glitter. While an observation deck and rides are there for those who need to maximize their thrills, the 107 Sky Lounge offers a more sophisticated viewpoint. Located directly above the Top of the World Restaurant, it offers specialty cocktails as well as live music and/or DJs to up the atmospheric ante. Happy hours feature two-for-one drinks (helpful for those uneasy with heights) and half-price appetizers from Top of the World.

2. Watch the Sun Go Down at Red Rock

Hiking Trail, Park

Foothills of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area outside of Las Vegas, Nevada
© RSBPhoto / Alamy Stock Photo
A little over a half an hour and an entire world away from Las Vegas is the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area. The mountains fill the skies on the western edge of the valley, providing a backdrop for exquisite desert sunsets painted with the full spectrum of nature’s colors. Drive up into the mountains in the late afternoon to take in the majesty without distractions.

3. Enter Virtual Reality at Level Up

Amusement Park

LEVELUP_GameView_AnthonyMair (1)
© MGM Resorts

Located in the MGM Grand, Level Up is where nerds are high rollers. The arcade has all types of games, from pool to esports, pinball to virtual reality. The VR is courtesy of Zero Latency and offers several virtual worlds to interact with, from a tiki-tinted fantasy of wandering amongst floating temples to full-on zombie attack first-person shooters. It’s set up for groups, so you and your friends can chase parrots or battle the undead together. Put on those goggles and go!

4. Hear the Songs & Stories at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Museum, Music Venue

© PunkToad / Flickr

Elko’s Western Folklife Center hosts exhibits, events, and concerts related to the Old West and also serves as the headquarters for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Now in its 34th year, the gathering celebrates storytelling and local traditions with concerts and readings, as well as workshops to develop your own tales. It’s not just your traditional cowboys either: Northern Nevada’s Basque heritage is also celebrated with song, dance, and food.

5. Wallow in Kitsch at the Golden Tiki

Bar, American

© Golden Tiki

The Golden Tiki proves that theme-ing did not die with the camels of the Sahara and the cowboys of the El Rancho. The bar is over-the-top tiki, replete with shrunken heads, blowfish lamps, fishnets, and a “talking” pirate skeleton. Nightly entertainment ranges from surf and jazz combos to burlesque acts and Elvis impersonators, as well as Rex Dart spinning soul, garage, and other oddities.

6. Lift Your Spirits at the Reno Balloon Race


© Ken Lund / Flickr

For over three decades, the Great Reno Balloon Race has filled the skies of Northern Nevada with all manner of fantastic sights. Taking place in early September, it’s the largest free hot air balloon event in the world, with over 100,000 attendees over a three-day period admiring balloons of all shapes and colors. There are airborne blackjack tournaments, nighttime light shows, and, of course, balloon races.

7. Marvel at the Hoover Dam

Natural Feature

Hoover Dam at Night | © Gayinspandex/Wikicommons
© Gayinspandex / WikiCommons
Truly a wonder of modern engineering, the Hoover Dam is over 700 feet (213 meters) high and contains over four million cubic meters of concrete. Thousands of workers labored for five years to build the Dam, which was completed in 1935 and is a landmark of Art Deco design, from the enormous Gotham-esque towers to the elaborate Native American mosaics inside. The nearby Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which opened in 2010, is also an impressive achievement, containing the largest concrete arch in the Northern Hemisphere.

8. Unleash Your Inner Sinatra at Dino’s Lounge

Bar, American

© Sarah Nichols / Flickr

The “last neighborhood bar in Las Vegas,” Dino’s has been pouring since the 1960s. Karaoke night at Dino’s may be the city’s finest, though it is indeed a crapshoot. You can get an inebriated bachelorette woozing her way through “Rhiannon,” or you can get an off-duty Strip performer delivering a “My Girl” that would make Berry Gordy stand up and holler.

9. Play in the Snow at Lake Tahoe


© Don Graham / Flickr
Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is a lush, green spot for picnicking, boating and hiking during the temperate part of the year, but in the cold months, it offers plenty of activities worth putting on gloves and a hat for. Spooner Backcountry has miles of trails to hike as well as backwoods skiing and snowshoeing. Van Sickle offers opportunities for winter hiking and cross-country skiing.

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