Must See - Las Vegas
The Las Vegas Strip
From the posh resorts like Wynn Las Vegas and the Trump Towers to themed ones such as the pyramid-shaped Luxor, Roman-inspired Caesars Palace, and Manhattan-high-rise-replica New York-New York, the Las Vegas Strip is a world within a city. You could spend months here watching world-class entertainment and eating in the finest restaurants. If you only have a day, remember that Las Vegas Boulevard constitutes America’s only nighttime scenic byway.
Fremont Street Experience
Before the Strip sprung up in Las Vegas, there were the casinos that started it all - the 100 year-old Golden Gate, the Golden Nugget, Binion’s (99-cent shrimp cocktail, anyone?) and more. This is the Fremont Street Experience, what some might call vintage Las Vegas. It’s also home to Viva Vision, the biggest big screen on the planet. The giant LED screen towers 90 feet above a pedestrian mall packed with shopping kiosks and two performance stages.
Three miles west of downtown Las Vegas, the Springs Preserve is a non-gaming cultural and historical attraction designed to honor Las Vegas’ fascinating history and to educate visitors about sustainable living. Considered the birthplace of Las Vegas, the site of the Preserve was once home to bubbling springs that were a source of water for American Indians, travelers of the Old Spanish Trail and Mormons who settled the West. The Preserve includes colorful desert botanical gardens, museum galleries, outdoor concerts and events, an indoor theater, a historic photo gallery and a series of walking trails that meander through a scenic wetland habitat.
Established in 1931 to house the builders of Hoover Dam, Boulder City's anti-gaming ordinance is still in effect today. In addition to hoover Dam, visitors to Boulder City can tour the Nevada State Railroad Museum or experience numerous outdoor activities in Bootleg Canyon or on Lake Mead.
Hoover Dam (Boulder City)
Located in Black Canyon on the Colorado River about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, at more than 700 feet tall Hoover Dam is an amazing Nevada spectacle, especially considering it was built more than 70 years ago. Each year, about a million people take the tour of the dam and millions more drive across it.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Just a few miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon encompasses nearly 200,000 acres of the Mojave Desert, so it’s no surprise that there are ample biking, hiking and climbing opportunities available. If you’d rather enjoy your air-conditioned car -- after you peruse the comfortable and informative visitor center -- a 13-mile scenic drive offers many chances to stop and enjoy the sights.
Valley of Fire State Park (Overton)
Fifty-five miles northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, dedicated in 1935. The valley gets its name from the red sandstone formations that define the Mojave Desert. Areas of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs represent ancient trees and early man. Popular activities include camping, hiking, picnicking and photography. The park, open year-round, offers a visitor center and several group-use areas.
Spring Mountains and Charleston Peak
Less than an hour drive west of Las Vegas lies a beautiful mountain escape in the community of Mount Charleston. With the nearly 12,000-foot-high Charleston Peak in close proximity, the area is about 20 degrees cooler than Las Vegas in the summer, perfect for picnicking, hiking and horseback riding. In the winter, you can catch one of four lifts to access 11 trails at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort in Lee Canyon - yes, there’s skiing in Las Vegas!
With your choice of several championship courses in the picturesque Virgin River Valley, only an hour north of Las Vegas, there’s plenty of green to go around. And when a Golf Channel show, “The Big Break Mesquite,” and a Web site (golfmesquitenevada.com) are dedicated to golfing Mesquite, you can bet your shiny new driver that you won’t be disappointed by this destination that hugs the Arizona and Utah borders.
Desperado roller coaster (Primm)
Sure, there are fast roller coasters in Las Vegas, but you only have to drive 40 miles south to catch one of the tallest in North America. That would be Desperado, located in Primm. With a 225-foot drop on the first hill, Desperado is worth the detour for thrill seekers. As the coaster makes the snail-like ride to the top of the first hill, passengers can take in stunning views of the entire Primm Valley. But get ready for an 80-mph descent!
Laughlin has been described as Las Vegas at a quarter of the price. The riverside destination boasts excellent dining and entertainment in its nine resort casinos, and the adjacent Colorado River is a watersports paradise. A plethora of rental companies abound, making it easy for you to hit the liquid for a day of cruising. Laughlin’s pleasant winter weather makes it attractive to snowbirds around the world.