When you’re booking a vacation to Las Vegas, you’re probably not planning on spending a whole lot of time outdoors. With so much to do inside — not the least of which is the multitude of casinos — it’s easy to spend entire Las Vegas short breaks indoors.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying all that Las Vegas has to offer along the Strip, the city also happens to be nestled among one of the most scenic parts of the U.S. Within a short drive of the city, you’ll find mountains, desert, lakes and rivers begging to be explored.
Hike the Valley of Fire
Working off all of the extra calories you’ve eaten at the Vegas buffets is easy with a hike in this visually stunning park. Located about an hour northeast of the city by car, the Valley of Fire is more than 14,000 hectares of classic American West scenery. The name of the park comes from the red sandstone formations that appear to be ablaze when lit by the sun. You can explore the formations on your own on one of the many marked trails or hire the services of a guide. The park is open seven days a week, and the best times to visit are early in the morning or in the early evening, when the temperatures are cooler.
Bicycle in Red Rock Canyon
While you probably wouldn’t ride a bicycle along Las Vegas Boulevard between the casinos and hotels, you can still rent a two-wheeler at one of the city’s many bicycle shops for exploring the open spaces surrounding Glitter Gulch. One of the most popular destinations for both locals and visitors alike is Red Rock Canyon. Only a 30-minute drive west of the Strip, the Canyon is a conservation area with a 21-kilometre loop trail passing over hilly, rocky terrain. The trail is technically challenging, but not impossible, and passes by wildlife viewing areas, sandstone bluffs and, during the rainy winter months, the occasional oasis waterfall. Guided tours are available.
Cruise Lake Mead
If you prefer your outdoor activities to be of the less strenuous variety, book a passage on Lake Mead Cruises for a few hours on the water. The artificial lake, created by the construction of the Hoover Dam is an aquatic playground, with boaters and swimmers flocking to the shore throughout the year. While you can rent a private boat and cruise the waters on your own, one of the most popular options is a cruise aboard one of the paddlewheel boats, replicas of the 19th-century steamboats that once cruised the Mississippi River. The cruises offer stunning views of the desert and mountains surrounding the lake as well as a unique vantage point for viewing the Hoover Dam.
Kayaking the Colorado River
For yet another view of the architectural wonder that it the Hoover Dam, sign up for a guided kayak tour of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, including the Black Canyon section of the Colorado River. Farther downstream, the Colorado snakes through the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but the views of sandstone cliffs and timeworn formations are no less stunning in Nevada. Several tour operators offer a variety of kayaking packages — some of which include hiking, swimming or visits to nearby hot springs — and experienced paddlers can rent boats for individual exploration.
Mount Charleston on Horseback
About 56 kilometers northwest of the city, Mount Charleston rises above the surrounding mountains as the highest peak in southern Nevada. The mountain falls in several designated conservation and park areas, and as a result offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, ranging from skiing to rock climbing. One of the most popular activities, though, is horseback riding. The cooler temperatures and stunning terrain of the mountain area make it a popular choice for those who wish to unleash their inner cowboys (or girls).
There is so much to do outside of the Las Vegas’ casinos that you might find yourself trying to squeeze in a round of poker or some time at the slots in between hiking, biking and horseback riding. So pack your hiking boots along with your dancing shoes, stock up on sunscreen and prepare for an outdoor adventure.
Frances Hartman is a travel blogger and photographer who loves exploring “off-the-beaten path” attractions and activities wherever she goes. She visits Las Vegas every year and makes a point to spend at least one day outdoors. She suggests looking for hotels in Las Vegas in advance to find the best deals.
Las Vegas Has Lots More To Offer Than Just Gambling And Buffets
If you’re looking for entertainment, Las Vegas is the place to be. Whether you’re planning a guys weekend or a nice vacation with the wife, Sin City is plentiful when it comes to fulfilling all your desires. From over-the-top shows, sporting events, culinary experiences, and so much more, the new Las Vegas offers something for everyone’s tastes.
I come to Las Vegas at least once a year. Why? Because Las Vegas is one of my favorite cities in the world. People have a preconceived notion that Vegas is all about gambling, showgirls, drunken debauchery, all-you-can-eat buffets, and Elvis impersonators, but I’m here to tell you that there is so much more to Las Vegas.
On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I stayed in an executive suite at Mandalay Bay courtesy of MGM Resorts. It was quite an upgrade from my regular Vegas digs (ie. cheapest room I can find), with a comfortable King size bed, a huge sitting area, and a killer view of The Strip. Oh, and did I mention that my bathroom mirror had a built-in TV, so I could watch football while enjoying a nice soak in the tub? Baller status for sure!
After checking in and getting settled in, I met up with the rest of the group for cocktails at the Skyfall Lounge, a favorite spot of mine. If you haven’t been here before, it’s an amazing bar on Delano’s 64th floor where you can enjoy some handcrafted libations while watching the sun set over The Strip.
Then we made our way next door to Alain Ducasse’s Rivea, where we had a sensational dinner. I decided on the Maine Lobster for my main course and it was delicious, but that Angus Bone-In Ribeye sitting across from me looked pretty incredible as well. We ordered a bunch of desserts for the table, and all were amazing.
Orlando Salido vs. Miguel Roman
But the fun wasn’t over yet. After dinner, we made our way downstairs to the Mandalay Bay Event Center to check out Orlando Salido vs. Miguel Roman fight. They hooked us up with ringside seats, and we were so close to the action! It was a great match, with Roman scoring a 9th-round TKO victory over Salido.
Veranda at Four Seasons
The next morning, we met up for Sunday Brunch at Veranda at Four Seasons, and I was psyched to try out their legendary weekend breakfast buffet, as I had heard great things about it. It’s pretty mind blowing, their buffet has everything under the sun (just look at the menu). Since we weren’t eating again till dinner, I made sure to “sample” pretty much everything, and I could barely walk by the time I was done!
STRIPSTEAK by Michael Mina
Dinner that night was at STRIPSTEAK, acclaimed Chef Michael Mina’s first steakhouse, which has racked up an impressive number of awards from some of the biggest names in the biz. Needless to say, I knew I was in for a real treat, and boy was I right! Their 8oz Mishima Reserve Filet Mignon is one of the best steaks I have ever had. The massive Australian Lobster Tail was to die for. The Gratin Potatoes were pretty incredible as well. And make sure you save room for dessert, because they’ve got some epic offerings.
Michael Jackson ONE
Afterwards, we headed over to watch Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, and this show completely exceeded my already-lofty expectations. Words can’t even begin to describe how amazing this show was, it is such an immersive experience that brings his iconic hits to life, with riveting acrobatics, dance and visuals performed by the ultra-talented dancers and performers. If you’re going to see a Cirque show while you’re in Las Vegas, make it Michael Jackson ONE. You won’t be disappointed!
Rí Rá Irish Pub
The next day, we met up for lunch at Rí Rá Irish Pub, an authentic Irish Pub (in Vegas!) that was constructed from a pub meticulously restored in Ireland then shipped to Mandalay Place. How’s that for authentic? They have some great pub fare to choose from (try the Fish & Chips), along with an extensive beer menu. If you’ve got a hankering for some Guinness, you’ve come to the right place. At night, they have got some great live entertainment, including traditional Irish Sessions and visiting bands direct from Ireland.
WNBA Press Conference
After lunch, we went to the House of Blues for a press conference with the WNBA and MGM Resorts, where they revealed the name of their new WNBA team (the Las Vegas Aces), and you could feel the excitement in the air as they announced exciting details surrounding the team and their upcoming season. I’m definitely looking forward to taking in a game the next time that I’m in town.
Mixology Class with Tony Abou-Ganim
Before dinner, we got to take part in a cocktails and mixology class with Tony Abou-Ganim, master mixologist at Libertine Social. Tony showed us how to whip up some of his signature drinks, and while we didn’t get to twirl any bottles like in Cocktail, we learned how to make some of his signature cocktails.. and I had a pretty good buzz going on by dinnertime, as the drinks were pretty strong.
We stayed here at Libertine Social for dinner, and let me tell you, James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain’s upscale gastropub has a great menu featuring upscale New American fare. The chef offered to bring us out some of his favorite plates, which we enjoyed family style.
Our final day in Las Vegas began with a little poker lesson in the Poker Room, followed by a friendly poker tournament (for bragging rights). As it turns out, I have a knack for Texas Hold’em, quickly amassing a huge pile of chips in front of me, and ultimately walking away with the coveted Champion’s chip.
Afterwards, I headed to the BATHHOUSE Spa at Delano for a relaxing spa treatment, a 50-minute massage that I was seriously overdue for. Once the treatment was done, I took advantage of the various spa amenities (heated whirlpool, sauna, steam room), before getting a shower and heading back to my room.
Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar
For dinner, we all piled into a stretch limousine (so Vegas!) and headed over to Monte Carlo, where we ate at Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar at the Monte Carlo. An acclaimed Chicago classic, Bavette’s embraces French flair without the formality, blending fine dining with unabashed fun. Tasty cocktails, an insane seafood tower, and some delicious steaks made for a memorable last meal.
Vegas Golden Knights
Now you didn’t think we’d leave town without catching at least one Vegas Golden Knights game, did you? After dinner, we headed over to the T-Mobile Arena to cheer on the Golden Knights as they faced off against the Hurricanes. It was a packed house, with the locals really taking to their new NHL team. It’s kind of crazy watching an ice hockey game in the middle of the desert, but that’s the magic of Las Vegas .
And with that, our Las Vegas adventure had come to a close. I can’t thank the MGM Resorts team enough for their hospitality, rolling out the red carpet for us and showing us a different side of Vegas than we’re normally used to. As you can see, Las Vegas has a lot more to offer than just gambling, with world-class dining, some incredible shows, and a growing sports franchise.
There’s something for everyone here, so come on out and experience it for yourself!
How To Live Large In Las Vegas Without Spending Big
Las Vegas is a fun destination to visit when you have some spare cash to blow. There are many luxury hotels to choose from, not to mention amazing restaurants, great nightclubs, and boutique shops galore, and plenty of casinos to gamble at. However, if you want to take a trip to Sin City without breaking the bank, there are plenty of low-cost activities that you can enjoy.
Here are some of our favorites that you should definitely add to your itinerary:
Fremont Street Experience
One of your first stops when you arrive in Las Vegas should be the renowned “block party” on Fremont Street in the downtown area, near the Plaza Hotel and Casino. The Fremont Street Experience attracts more than 25,000 people every day, and provides visitors with free live entertainment that won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
The four-block corridor of Fremont Street is lined with restaurants, bars, specialty kiosks, and vintage hotels, and it’s covered by a humungous digital screen. The largest projection screen in the world, the Viva Vision canopy sits 90 feet above the ground and covers the approximate size of five football fields. The screen features over 12 million LED modules and a massive sound system, and enthralls visitors with a fantastic light show that runs every hour for about six minutes.
In addition, the Fremont Street Experience includes free live concerts on each of the stages where musicians, artists, and contortionists impress with their skills (or entertain with their lack thereof!). You can also do plenty of people watching, particularly at night when the alcoholically lubricated crowd gets quite wild.
Alternatively, you may want to see everything from above by enjoying the zip-line tours run by SlotZilla. While you do have to pay for this experience (prices start from $25), SlotZilla is something out of the ordinary that won’t set you back nearly as much as a night out drinking or playing blackjack. A 12-story, multi-million dollar zipline attraction inspired by slot machines, SlotZilla is the largest slot machine in the world, and features all sorts of oversize Vegas icons like showgirls, coins, dice, a martini glass, a pink flamingo, and more.
The service provides customers with two ways to fly across Vegas. The Zipline is the lower option (in both height and cost), and starts off 77 feet up in the air. Take this course and you will land halfway down the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade.
For a higher and longer trip, take the Zoomline. It takes off more than 114 feet above the ground, and speeds flyers all the way down the Fremont Street Experience (about 1,750 feet), to a landing platform at the historic Golden Gate casino. The Zoomline sees customers flying “superhero-style” above the street, for an added experience, and hitting speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. The Zoomline costs $45, but you can save $5 on either of the two lines if you choose to ride before 6pm.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, another one of the cheap Las Vegas activities to check out is Hershey’s Chocolate World, located in the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. Sure to be the sweetest store on the Vegas strip, this chocolate and candy shop is the flagship retail space on the West Coast for the brand, and spans a whopping 13,000 square feet.
Inside the two-story shop you’ll find more than 800 different products you can purchase, including numerous exclusive gifts and treats that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The interactive space enables customers to try out new sweets, customize their very own chocolate bars, create keepsake photos, and even star in a television ad for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
While you’re in the store, make sure that you check out the enormous Hershey replicas of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. The building is made from 1,800 milk chocolate bars, while the statue has been created using close to 800 pounds of pure chocolate.
Neon Museum and Boneyard
Another attraction that’s easy on the wallet yet lots of fun to visit is the Neon Museum and Boneyard, which is located just north of downtown Las Vegas, on the east side of Las Vegas Boulevard. Sin City was known for many years for its neon signs, particularly the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign that has greeted visitors since 1959. However, while the neon signs were introduced to Vegas back in 1929, and were widely popular from the 1930s to the 1980s, more recently LED and LCD screens have taken over and most of the old neon signs have been removed.
If you feel sad about the loss of these classically Vegas items, don’t worry — you can still see many of them at the Neon Museum and Boneyard, where more than 150 have been gathered in one place for preservation. Established in 1996, the museum continually adds new signs which are taken from remodeled or imploded properties. You can take a guided tour of the space, or check out the museum’s Visitor Center.
The attraction is open during the morning and evening, and costs from $19 for adults.
Dan Bilzerian’s Epic Vegas Bachelor Pad Can Be Yours.. For $5.1 Million
Dan Bilzerian, the “rich as fuck” King of Instagram, is selling his insane Vegas bachelor pad where all kinds of infamous debauchery took place (if these walls could talk), and it can be yours for a cool $5.1 million.
The famous playboy plans to upgrade to an ever bigger mansion in Vegas that is closer to his brother. So if you’ve ever dreamed of living the way Dan once did, here’s your chance!
This ridiculous 9,400+ square foot party pad boasts five en-suite bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a movie theater, a pool with water and fire features, a built-in bar, underground parking, and of course ample room for all your guns, goats, models and porn stars.
As you can see from these Instagram photos, Dan had some pretty good times in this house:
TMZ has 28 insane photos of the house, so make sure you go check them out. And if you end up buying the place, make sure you replace the carpets, fumigate, and drain and refill the pool before settling in.
Photo credit: Dan Bilzerian/Instagram