Welcome to Las Vegas, Nevada!
We traveled to Las Vegas in October and November of 2019, (on 2 separate trips). We'd like to share some highlights of our adventures. Las Vegas, AKA Sin City, AKA "The city that never sleeps", is a very interesting place that can offer tons of fun for people with varying interests.
What comes to mind when you think of Vegas? I'd be surprised if your answer doesn't somehow include spending lots of money, gambling, and partying. Vegas is a great place for all of that, but if you'd like to go easy on your wallet, you can do that too. Also, we'd like to remind you that Las Vegas is much much more than a wild city to party in. We are lovers of the outdoors and this area is excellent for outdoor recreation.
Seven Magic Mountains - Seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than 25 ft. high. They bring a poetic burst of form and color to the Ivanpah Valley. About 25 minutes from the Strip. Free
Red Rock Canyon - A beautiful area for hiking, biking, bouldering, rock-climbing, or a scenic drive. If you don’t want to pay the $15 entrance fee to drive the scenic loop, you can still experience this area from outside of the main loop. About 30 minutes from the Strip.
Mount Charleston - A pleasant 45-50 minute drive northwest will take you to Mount Charleston, a high elevation mountain town with gray rocks and green trees, that contrasts nicely with the Las Vegas desert. With 12 hiking trails, seven picnic sites, and six campgrounds available and a modest ski area (yes, you can ski here!), Mount Charleston offers a cool alternative to the blistering heat that can overtake the Las Vegas Valley and can be visited all year around. Free
Valley of Fire State Park - About 1 hour 30 minutes from downtown. We only had time for a brief drive-thru, it definitely deserves more time! From their site, "World-renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops nestled in gray and tan limestone, Valley of Fire State Park contains ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. A Visitor Center provides exhibits on the geology, ecology, prehistory and history of the park and nearby region." $10 Entrance Fee
Hoover Dam - I chose to do more climbing in Red Rocks over coming here, but it looks like it's very much worth exploring! About 45 minutes from the strip, the Dam is an impressive piece of architecture that was built from 1931-1936 and there were 96 fatalities in the process. It's the world's tallest concrete arch span. There's a visitor center, bighorn sheep, Colorado River activities, hiking, biking, boat tours, and more! There are ways to explore here for free, but certain parking areas and the visitor center have reasonable fees.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is nearby and there's plenty of opportunity for outdoor fun there as well!
The McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is also where many people fly to visit other places that are a bit further out. All of the time estimates are from this airport using Google Maps Some of those places are the following:
Zion National Park - In Utah, about 2 hrs 45 minute drive. This is one of my favorite places on the planet and is quite popular these days, but still absolutely worth making a trip here someday if you haven't. Before reaching Zion, you'll pass by St. George, Utah. There's an airport here, but it's small and can be pricier.
Grand Canyon National Park - In Arizona, about 4 hours to the South Rim and 5 to the north Rim. There are other parts you can see that are closer as well.
Joshua Tree National Park - In California, about 3 hours. I was able to explore this park for a quick 6 hours with my friend, Cale, before heading back to catch a flight. I'd love to spend more time here to hike, boulder, rock climb, and maybe do some night photography.
Death Valley National Park - 2 hours. The hottest, driest, and lowest National Park! We haven't been here and I don't think I would plan a trip centered around this park, but I'd certainly love to explore it if I was back in the area.
Great Basin National Park - About 4 hours 39 minutes. We haven't been here either, and even I had not heard of it until reading a sign along interstate 15 while headed to Zion. It's well off the beaten path and that's why I'd love to go if we end up back in the area! From their site: "Come and partake of the solitude of the wilderness, walk among ancient bristlecone pines, bask in the darkest of night skies, and explore mysterious subterranean passages."
To wrap up the Outdoor Activities segment, I just want to say that this only names a few, and there are tons of other great places to explore in this area!
Things To Do
"The Strip" (not that kind of strip 😉) is the main stretch of road in the heart of downtown. On our first trip to Vegas, we did not stay downtown. The second trip was for a Bachelorette Party and we stayed at The Park MGM, which is right in the middle of the action.
MGM Park Resort & Green Valley Ranch Resort - Whether you are a high roller or you just want to toss a few nickels in the slot machines, these are both fun places to test your luck. I ended up playing blackjack for the first time while staying at the MGM.
Neon Museum - This six-acre space is an interesting and bizarre graveyard for vintage Vegas signs. Personally, we felt that this attraction was a bit underwhelming and not quite worth the entry fee. We only spent about a half hour here. $18
Las Vegas Sign - The sign makes for a nice photo, but I would warn you that it's a very popular attraction and you may have to wait in a line. We went at sunrise and had a good time shooting some photos with very few people around. You can also consider going late at night when people are more likely to be doing other things. Free
Bellagio Fountains - The sound and light show at the Bellagio is really cool. It happens every fifteen or thirty minutes, depending on the day and time of year, so it’s easy to find time for it. Free
The Las Vegas Art District - This is the local art scene. It’s the place to come to see a whole different side of Vegas. The heart of art and culture in Southern Nevada. We didn't have time to explore here, but we'd like to. Free
Roller Coaster - X SCREAM - This extreme thrill ride plays on your fear of heights, as you are plunged 27 feet over the edge of the Stratosphere Tower at speeds of 30 mph. We never did it but our friends did and liked it. $29
Food & Cocktails
Volcano Grille - This place was delicious and they’re opening more locations! We were so impressed with Volcano Grille and all their options! Plus, Japanese food is my fave, so that helps.
Rose Rabbit Lie - The live music was eclectic and the performers were great. They finished the performances with an incredible dance performance on the counter tops and piano. The roast chicken and the duck are some tasty food options. Our waiter was from the Bravo Show "Below Deck"!
Hexx Kitchen + Bar - Delicious food, great bottomless mimosas, and an awesome view of the strip. If you're looking for a great spot to grab something to eat, look no further!
Eataly - This place has lots of different vendors that serve Italian pizza, pasta, pastries, sandwiches, wine, and snacks. We walked around and looked at all the pastries. We tried a new pastry every morning for breakfast. My favorite was the nutella banana crepe.
Cosmopolitan The Chandelier - One of the prettiest places to get a picture! A multi-story space with three unique bar experiences. The Chandelier is an architectural wonder created by shimmering, beaded curtains of purple light. Yummy drinks and super cool atmosphere to people watch. Free
Taco Bell Cantina - A Taco Bell "Cantina" features a custom menu with shareable appetizers and alcoholic beverages. We ate here after a night out of dancing and drinking!
Vanderpump Cocktail Garden - Jenna watches Vanderpump Rules, so it was super exciting to check out her restaurant. We all ordered a fun and flirty cocktail. The drinks were expensive...$18 bucks!
Dance the Night Away
When it comes to saving money on club entry, it’s much easier if you’re a woman. You’ll often be handed out discount flyers on the street or approached by club promoters who can get your name on the guest list. You can also find many promoters on Instagram and other social media platforms. They tend to help you skip lines, get in for free, or both! Otherwise, you'll want to line up early and get your place in line.
Omnia - A 75,000 square-foot multi-level nightclub. My favorite part is when they blow confetti, blast the fans, and drop the beat! It costs different amounts depending on day/time.
Marquee - Trendy, happening casino club with global DJs, high-tech effects, multiple dance floors & pool deck. I love the atmosphere here, and the party never stops! It costs different amounts depending on day/time.
Chateau - This 2-story nightclub at the Paris Las Vegas has DJs, French-inspired decor & rooftop views. It costs different amounts depending on day/time.
To Sum It Up
There are many reasons why one should visit Las Vegas. It is known as the "ultimate playground" because the city is colorful and vibrant, making it an ideal destination for various travelers looking to explore its entertainment, cuisine, nightlife scene, and of course, tons of outdoor recreation nearby!
I definitely recommend heading to Vegas at least once in your life. We enjoyed exploring here and maybe we'll return someday!
Thanks for reading our blog post all about Las Vegas, Nevada! We hope you enjoyed it. Any other recommendations?