Las Vegas is a lot of things. It’s a desert town rooted in the tourism industry. It’s a mecca for foodies; a hotbed of night clubs; a gamblers go-to. But, it’s also a place to use as a launchpad for checking out what’s outside of the mega resorts, hip Downtown and ‘burbs, so Expedia.com asked me to share my insiders tips.
In fact, Las Vegas boasts some incredible spots that aren’t far from vacationers’ hotels, but an entire world apart from what people know and expect of time spent in Sin City. To get you ready for your unique Las Vegas vacation, check out the many hotel options at Expedia.com.
Where to head on a free day in Las Vegas?
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Gary Sielaff
Those mountains in the distance on the west side of town (the ones you always see in the cityscape photos) are the Spring Mountains. And, that tallest peak is Mt. Charleston. A longtime spot for locals to escape the dry summer heat, it’s also a perfect trip to embrace some fresh air and nature. In the summer, the mountain brings hikers and bikers taking advantage of the non-scorching temps to explore the 50-plus miles of alpine trails, along with cute spots to rest (camping or the Mt. Charelston Hotel or Mt. Charleston Lodge). In the winter, folks head here to ski and snowboard courtesy of Lee Canyon Ski Resort.
Valley of Fire
The oldest state park in Nevada, The Valley of Fire was dedicated in 1935. Set in a stunning setting of orange and red sandstone in the desert, visitors here can explore areas that date back a whopping 150 million years. Grab a map and hit the trails that treat day-trippers to ancient Native American petroglyphs, off-roading and some more strenuous treks.
Check out the mechanism responsible for providing hydroelectric power to parts of Nevada, Arizona and California, and for creating Boulder City (an adorable town about 30 minutes outside of Las Vegas). The Hoover Dam, originally known as Boulder Dam, straddles the Nevada – Arizona border and controls the water in Lake Mead. Built in the 1930s, it’s one of the city’s major tourist attractions and offers tours inside the dam, as well as a visitor’s center packed with historical info. Visitors can simply walk around the dam, take a tour or make it a full-day and hike in from Boulder City.
The Grand Canyon
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Leonard Stabile
No trip out west is complete without visit the magnificent Grand Canyon. While a day likely isn’t enough, it can be done. This natural wonder’s first point of entry lies about two hours from the city at the West Rim and Sky Walk. But, those who want to check it out can also book a helicopter tour or small aircraft to experience its majesty.
Red Rock Canyon
One of the best climbing spots in the States, Red Rock Canyon is about 30 minutes west of Las Vegas and is one of the city’s most spectacular outdoor spots. From sandstone peaks to keystone walls, plus thrusts to hike and climb, people checking out Red Rock Canyon are treated to an up-close look at geology and the breathtaking rock formations that make up this park. There’s even a 13-mile paved loop for cars, bikers and hikers to explore. The park is loaded with trails for all levels, spots to picnic and more.