Las Vegas is best known for the 24-hour casinos, entertainment, nightlife, and restaurants that are all concentrated along the Las Vegas Strip. There’s a reason they call it ‘Sin City’ — it’s basically a non-stop party scene where just about everything is overpriced and doused in neon lights. But even if that’s not your scene (and it’s not ours), there’s a lot you can do outside the Strip that makes Las Vegas worth a visit.
Las Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert, and a short 20 minute drive away from the Strip brings you to several hotels and resorts that make for a nice, relaxing and warm getaway — far away from the noise and lights commonly associated with Vegas. We stayed at the JW Marriott (which is surprisingly affordable if you’re visiting off-peak) and spent a lot of time hanging out by the pool and soaking up the sun. When we weren’t relaxing, we spent our time visiting the local attractions detailed below.
The Hoover Dam is a 726.4 ft (221 m) high hydroelectric power plant located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on the border between Nevada and Arizona. Hoover Dam is responsible for damming the water of the Colorado River and thus forming Lake Mead where you can boat, hike, cycle, camp, fish, and enjoy brilliant blue waters year around. Hoover Dam is located on the southern end of Lake Mead.
You can tour the inside of the dam through a guided tour (where you will be assigned a dam tour guide for the dam tour — Vegas Vacation, anyone?) Tours are offered daily, except for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and tickets can only be bought on-site. It’s always a good idea to arrive early, because only a limited number of Power Plant Tour tickets are available each day and they usually sell out early. The tour is a great way to gain an appreciation for the sheer size of the dam from the outside, as well as from the small hallways inside the dam.
On top of the dam you can either walk or drive from Nevada to Arizona. If you are visiting between early March to early November during daylight savings time, you should pay special attention to the clock towers on top of the dam.
Nevada and Arizona are in two different time zones (Pacific and Mountain), so during this time of year, you can walk between two different states as well as two different time zones. Note that if you are visiting during the winter months, there will be no time change because Arizona does not observe daylight savings time.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is located between Nevada and California and is about an 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas. Inside the National Park you will find North America’s lowest point, the Badwater Basin, at 282 ft (86 m) below sea level. Although Death Valley is certainly warm all year round, we recommend visiting outside of the summer months where the temperatures consistently climb to over 110 °F (43 °C).
Even though Death Valley is a harsh and unforgiving environment, it is nevertheless a very fragile ecosystem that is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment.
Regardless of when you visit, make sure to bring plenty of food and water with you on your trip, as there are limited outlets and pit stops readily available within the park.
Besides visiting and walking along the Badwater Basin, make sure to stop at Zabriskie Point, which overlooks the entire valley with views of the mountain range on the other side of the valley. From here you can get a good view of Telescope Peak, the park’s highest peak with an altitude of 11,049 ft (3,368 m).
Visit Vegas: Other Attractions
Besides Hoover Dam and Death Valley National Park, there are lots of other activities outside the Las Vegas Strip, depending on your interests. There are several other conservation areas and parks where you can take in views, go on a scenic drive or take a hike — including Red Rock Canyon to the west of downtown.
What other activities outside of the Strip have you enjoyed on your trip to Vegas? Let us know!