Nevada

The Best Las Vegas Attractions Off the Strip

January 20, 2020

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When most people think of Las Vegas, they think of gambling, all night parties, large buffets and extravagant hotels on the main stretch known as the Strip. Interestingly, the Strip is not even in Las Vegas, it is incorporated as its own city; Paradise, Nevada. While the gambling and partying can be fun, the city and area has so much to offer beyond these typical activities. There are a variety of natural areas, art destinations and historic places that make the city perfect to visit whether you are staying on the Strip or not.

In my experience, flights to Las Vegas are very affordable from most parts of the US. So even if you don’t like gambling, consider making this city your next destination to explore the incredible nature and unique pieces of art and culture.



Neon Museum

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The Neon Museum

The Neon Museum is a graveyard for the forgotten neon signs from the Las Vegas strip. The museum is non-profit with a mission of restoring the old signage. The signs are breathtaking to see in person - they are much larger than you might think. When I visited in January 2020, there was a Tim Burton exhibit and interactive Tim Burton art was sprinkled across the grounds. The grounds include an outdoor boneyard of the gigantic signs arranged in a seemingly random but aesthetically pleasing array. There is also an indoor area and rotating exhibitions throughout the grounds. The visitor center is located inside of the shell-shaped La Concha Motel that was relocated from the Las Vegas strip. When you visit, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance for timed entry.

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The Neon Museum

The neon signs in the boneyard are truly larger-than-life and absolutely fascinating to see up close. I highly recommend taking the time to visit while you’re in Las Vegas.

Seven Magic Mountains

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Seven Magic Mountains

The Seven Magic Mountains are an art installation located about 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas strip. The exhibit consists of Seven towers of colorful boulders lined up against a backdrop of desert and mountain ranges. The installation was produced by the Nevada Museum of Art by artist Ugo Rondinone and is free to visit. Rondinone intended for the colorful rocks to represent the intersection between natural and artificial; on one side there are the mountain ranges and the other the busy highway traffic. This is a popular destination so expect crowds and plan on visiting early to get the best photos.

Las Vegas Arts District

The Las Vegas Arts District is an eclectic neighborhood home to art galleries, colorful murals and great food. It is located about 10 minutes north of the Strip.

Places to visit in the Las Vegas Arts District:

  • Vesta Coffee Roasters - Enjoy a coffee or breakfast sandwich in this bright and airy space.
  • Maker’s and Finder’s - This coffee shop and Latin Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with a great selection of vegetarian options.
  • 18 Bin Restaurant and Bar - A wide selection of bar food with vegetarian options and a lively outdoor patio full of beautiful greenery and art pieces.
  • Esther’s Kitchen - Esther’s is a nice Italian restaurant that notably serves a delicious assortment of toppings (both sweet and savory) to go with their homemade sourdough. They also serve pasta and a variety of other italian dishes.
  • Velveteen Rabbit - A divey cocktail lounge with moody antique decor.
  • Antique Alley Mall - The antique Alley Mall is 12,000 square feet of unique finds from all different eras. It’s the perfect place to get lost in as you hunt for forgotten treasures.
  • The Arts Factory - This warehouse space is occupied with a mix of galleries and shops. It’s a beautiful place to see local art and get inspired.

Pinball Hall of Fame

The Pinball Hall of Fame is a unique place to play pinball machines from the 50’s to the 90’s. The oldest machines cost a quarter, while newer ones cost 50 cents. The arcade also has other types of games such as Pacman and a popcorn machine. The museum is a non-profit and a great way to have some fun with kids and adults alike.

Ethel M Chocolates & Cactus Garden

The Ethel M Chocolates and Cactus Garden is a chocolate factory and botanical desert garden located about 15 minutes from the strip. Take a self guided chocolate factory tour and learn about the chocolate making process with free samples along the way. In addition, explore the beautiful cacti display outdoors. The garden is lit beautifully for the winter holidays and Valentine’s Day, making it extra special to visit during those times.

Downtown Las Vegas

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Evel Pie Pizza

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The Fremont Street Experience

Downtown Las Vegas is located about 10 minutes north of the Strip. A famous icon of the area is Fremont Street - a covered street that lies below the largest screen in the world. The screen presents an ever-evolving LED light show that provides entertainment for walkers below. There is also a zipline that flies above the street next to the light canopy.

Along with walking down Fremont Street, here are some other places to visit in the area:

  • Siegel’s 1941 - Enjoy a delicious breakfast in a retro atmosphere at this restaurant inside of a casino.
  • Evel Pie - This quirky pizza restaurant is full of Evel Knievel memorabilia and is the perfect spot to grab pizza and a beer on a night out.
  • Downtown Container Park - This shopping mall is built out of shipping containers and has a variety of restaurants and shops to explore.

Valley of Fire State Park

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The Rainbow Vista Trail

Valley of Fire State Park is located 45 minutes north of Las Vegas and is an incredibly beautiful place to visit. There are vibrant colors, unique rock formations, petrified trees and plenty of wildlife and trails to discover.

Here are some of the best things to do if you only have one day in Valley of Fire:

  • Take the scenic drives - The Valley of Fire Highway and the Mouse’s Tank Road are spectacular drives and offer a lot to see from your car or right off the road. Some interesting stops include the petrified logs, the Beehives rock formation and the Balancing Rock near the Visitor’s Center. Also be sure to keep an eye out for rams, I saw so many while I was there!
  • The Fire Wave Trail - To reach the popular Fire Wave, it is a 1.5 mile trek. The wave is a breathtaking rock formation resembling a giant wave of orange and pink. This is a newer trail so note that it is not on older park maps. Find the trailhead at parking lot #3 near the White Domes Loop.
  • The White Domes Trail - The White Domes Trail is 1 mile loop that takes you through a slot canyon. The rocks are slightly less orange here and more pink, making for a great variation from the Fire Wave and Rainbow Vista area. For a much longer hike, you can continue from this trail onto the Prospect Trail.
  • The Rainbow Vista Trail - This trail is 1 mile and leads to the Fire Canyon Overlook. The easy trail surrounds you with colorful sandstone and orange sand. The rocks here are similar to the Fire Wave with beautiful stripes and color variations.
  • The Mouse’s Tank Trail - Mouse’s Tank is a .75 mile trail with prehistoric petroglyphs along the way. The end of the path leads to a natural basin (or tinaja) of water in a sandstone tub.
  • The Elephant Rock Trail - A 1.2 mile trail that leads to an aptly named rock formation. It can also be seen from right off of the road.

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The White Domes Trail

Valley of Fire really blew me away! The rock formations are on par with national parks and the colors are out of this world. I visited in January and enjoyed great weather with little crowds.

Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area

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Calico Hills

Drive through or hike the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just 20 minutes outside of Las Vegas. There is a 13 mile scenic loop drive that offers amazing views of the rocky red and orange peaks that create this unique canyon in the Mojave desert. I recommend stopping every chance you get if you are able, but here are some highlights if you short on time:

  • Calico Hills - There are three stops along the drive for the Calico Hills. They all offer beautiful viewpoints of the hills striped in different shades of orange. The third stop, which has multiple trailheads and a limestone quarry, offers an amazing viewpoint of the stark orange sandstone as you walk towards them. When I visited, most tourists stopped at the first two stops and we had the third stop to ourselves.
  • Willow Springs and the Petroglyph Wall - In the Willow Springs area of the park, there are petroglyphs estimated to be over 3,000 years old. It is a short .15 walk to see the drawings on the canyon walls. The rocks in this area aren’t as colorful as other areas, but I saw bighorn sheep scampering over the rocks in the distance.
  • Pine Creek Canyon - The Pine Creek Canyon is a tall canyon with a deep red stripe at the top of the peak. There is a 2.4 mile trail here that weaves through an ancient ponderosa pine forest and is a mix of diverse wildlife.

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Pine Creek Canyon

Some other things to know about visiting:

  • If you have an America the Beautiful national park pass, it allows entry into the park. If not, the entry is $15 per car.
  • The park is visited by over 3 million people each year and experiences large crowds and traffic. Go early or during off seasons to avoid the worst of the delays. At the time of this writing, timed tickets must be purchased for entering (updated February 2021).

Red Rock Canyon is definitely worth visiting, whether you just take the scenic drive, go on a hike or camp in the park. It’s incredible how close this gem is to the city!

Hoover Dam

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The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is an impressive feat of modern engineering that was completed in 1935. The dam creates Lake Mead, the largest man made lake in the United States and prevents disastrous floods, all while providing water and power to the area.

Some interesting statistics about Hoover Dam:

  • The dam is as tall as a 60 story building.
  • The base of the dam is two football fields long.
  • Each spillway can handle the volume of water that flows from Niagara Falls.
  • The amount of concrete used to create the structure is enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City.

What to know about visiting Hoover Dam:

  • It is located 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas There are three different types of tours of the dam; the Guided Dam Tour, the Powerplant Tour and the Self Guided Visitor Center Tour
  • You can go inside the dam and peer outside as part of the Guided Dam Tour. The guided dam tour offers the best experience but cannot be reserved online. Tickets are first-come first-serve so be sure to arrive early.
  • You will visit the powerplant in both the Guided Dam tour and the Powerplant tour. The Powerplant tour is the only tour that allows advanced tickets

Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon

If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, it is worth taking a day trip from Las Vegas to see this world wonder. The West Rim area of the canyon is located a little over 2 hours from Las Vegas and is home to a Skywalk with a glass bottom looking into the canyon. Because of the proximity to Las Vegas, this area can be full of tourists so be prepared for high prices. Currently (February 2021) the admission is $45 to get into the West Rim area and an extra $20 to walk on the Skywalk. You cannot bring a camera or phone onto the Skywalk but can purchase a photo taken by their photographer. This is a great day trip if you really want to see the canyon, but if you are able, I recommend driving further to the South Rim Grand Canyon Village (4 and a half hours from Las Vegas) to experience the views within the National Park.

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Most people travel to Las Vegas to gamble and party on the strip, but the city has so much more to offer! Learn about hiking near Las Vegas, unique museums and more of the best Las Vegas attractions off the Strip.

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Most people travel to Las Vegas to gamble and party on the strip, but the city has so much more to offer! Learn about hiking near Las Vegas, unique museums and more of the best Las Vegas attractions off the Strip.

Save

Most people travel to Las Vegas to gamble and party on the strip, but the city has so much more to offer! Learn about hiking near Las Vegas, unique museums and more of the best Las Vegas attractions off the Strip.

Save

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