Non-Vegas’y Things To Do
You’re flying all the way to The Las Vegas Valley, but you want to do something besides gamble, drink, dance and party. Well, there’s plenty of other things to do. Just look around your plane to Vegas. About a third of the passengers are geared for outdoor activity.
That’s because Vegas is the closest big city to 11 National Parks. Boom.
- Sequoia (6 hr drive)
- King’s Canyon (6 hr drive)
- Death Valley (2 hours)
- Grand Canyon (2 hours)
- Joshua Tree (3 hours)
- Zion Valley (2.5 hours)
- Bryce Canyon (4 hours)
- Capitol Reef (5 hours)
- Arches (6 hours)
- Canyonlands (6 hours)
- Great Basin (5 hours)
Vegas is also crowned by national recreation areas like the beautiful Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead and the Valley of Fire State Park. You can also hike down to the bottom of the Hoover Dam on the Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail. You’ll have to repel down permanently installed ropes to three different natural hot spring “hot tubs” at the foot of the dam on the Colorado River.
If you’re headed to Red Rock National Recreation Area, a stunning desert park inside Las Vegas City limits, we recommend that you explore the Ice Box Canyon trail.
If you find yourself at Lake Mead, we recommend the Anniversary Narrows. It’s a beautiful slot canyon that you can explore for about a mile. Just know that you’ll have to pay a fee to enter the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Vegas is one of the only cities in the world where you can ski on natural snow and then swim comfortably on the same day. Mount Charleston, which will serve as the beautiful backdrop to our wedding, opens in late November, and the mountain is only 45 minutes from The Strip. After skiing, you can return to your hotel for a dip in the pool during a beautiful 80-degree day.
Vegas is a culinary destination, and there are plenty of amazing restaurants on The Strip. These restaurants can be pricey, so you might want to head off-strip to dine. Many of The Strip’s world-famous chefs that operate off-strip restaurants, and these eateries tend to be less crowded and more affordable.
We recommend a local staple — Firefly — for tapas. You’ll find some of the best Thai food in the country at Lotus of Siam just off The Strip on Flamingo (Anthony Bourdain-recommended). For a unique steakhouse experience with classic cocktails, check out Herbs & Rye on Sahara. For deeply indulgent BBQ, head over to Rolling Smoke. And if you are on your way to Red Rock National Recreation Area, you need to stop into Buldogi’s; a Korean hot dog joint. Trust us. It’s amazing.
Vegas is full of odd off-strip museums, like the Neon Museum where you can wander a graveyard of old Vegas signs. You can learn all about how organized crime built Vegas at Old Town’s Mob Museum. Or you can glow neon yourself by visiting the National Atomic Testing Museum on Flamingo. Tour the beautiful botanical gardens at Springs Preserve, check out the Pinball Hall of Fame or pop into the Erotic Heritage Museum. It’s a kids-free wedding, after all!
Of course, there are on-Strip options. You can visit the Shark Aquarium in the Mandalay Bay, or The Titanic Museum and the Bodies Exhibit in the Luxor.
There are a variety of Cirque du Soliel shows across the strip at nearly every major casino, like Michael Jackson’s One, The Beatles Love and the erotic Zumanity at the New York New York. The Caesars offers up a quirky cabaret variety show called Absinthe that is the talk of the town, and the Wynn runs a Cirque du Soliel-like show called La Reve.
You can catch Terry Fator and his talking puppets, David Copperfield and his disappearing cars or Carrot Top and his prop comedy (yes, he’s still at it).
TIP — There are a variety of yellow booths on The Strip called Half Priced Shows. They really are half price. Don’t pay full price.
There is “full-price” shopping on The Strip. You’ll find a fancy mall inside the Aria, an eclectic mall inside the Planet Hollywood and high-end shops inside the Wynn. But, if you’re looking for deals, head up to Las Vegas North Premium Outlets. It’s an outdoor mall with killer prices, low taxes and plenty of variety near downtown Las Vegas.