Boulder City: One-Night Near-cation
Know Before You Go
Although Hoover Dam and the viewing bridge are closed, you can still cool off with water activities along the Black Canyon. Check with the Bureau of Reclamation for updates on Hoover Dam.
Due to consistently declining COVID-19 test positivity rates, Clark County bars, taverns, taprooms, and breweries have officially reopened for business. Cheers to that! Help keep it that way by observing public health protocols, practicing safe social distancing, and being ready to #MaskUpNV in public spaces.
- Just arrived! Ride the rails at the Nevada State Railroad Museum – Boulder City on a pedal-powered tour
- Get on a retro roll with some vintage bowling
- Stand (or paddle) in awe of Hoover Dam as you view it from the water
- Get that Christmas list handled early and shop local at Boulder City’s amazing antique shops and cute boutiques
For a family outing that’s sure to satisfy, hightail it down the highway to Boulder City. Less than 30 minutes from Las Vegas, this decked-in-Art-Deco community is positively beaming with rich history, small-town charm, and kid-approved activities. Start packing your bags now, because pedal-powered railroad rides, a vintage bowling alley, and picnicking alongside desert bighorn sheep are only the beginning of this overnight adventure.
Here’s The Story, Morning Glory
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we couldn’t agree more. Start your morning in Henderson, which’ll get you halfway-ish to Boulder City. Pile on the pancakes at BabyStacks Café, or let more than 100 cereals from around the world bowl you over at The Cereal Killerz Kitchen. If it’s a hearty party you’re after, Omelet House and Hash House a Go Go both serve up mondo portions of extra tasty morning classics.
Up Your Train Game
On your way into town, choo-choo-choose to stop at the Nevada State Railroad Museum–Boulder City. It’s here you can marvel at the grand machines originally used to construct Hoover Dam, along with historic artifacts and rotating exhibits. Plus, you can literally ride the original Union Pacific rails in two- or four-person pedal carts, and hitch a return ride to the museum on the back of a train.
This Trail Rocks
Big ol’ photo-opp-worthy statues of desert dwellers (like a jackrabbit, tortoise, and Gila monster) await at the Nature Discovery Trail and Rock Garden, less than a mile away from the Nevada State Railroad Museum–Boulder City. The trail itself is less than half a mile, but it’s packed with interesting fact plaques on the flora, fauna, and rock gardens featured along the path. There’s also a covered pavilion with a picnic table if you need a shady retreat.
Dig Into Some Dole Whip
Sure, Chilly Jilly’z has menus overflowing with homemade pastries, beefy Angus burgers, juicy Broaster chicken, and fresh fruit smoothies. But we gotta be honest – we beeline it straight for the Dole Whip floats, malted milkshakes, and shaved ice. No matter what you pick, you’re gonna be back for more.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Snag Sweet Deals
Shop and stroll at some of Boulder City’s most fun boutiques, like Sherman’s House of Antiques and The Flying Saucer Area 52. You’ll find retro threads, classic toys, and even more eclectic goodies in Coca-Cola, 1950s, and western-themed rooms (plus a vintage library) at Sherman’s, while The Flying Saucer boasts the state’s largest selection of everything extraterrestrial.
Strike It Rich
Nostalgia’s the name of the game at Boulder Bowl, an eight-lane bowling alley that dates back to 1947 and boasts the authentic, original, retro decor and machinery to prove it. Aim for strikes and turkeys all night long, then snap a family portrait below their old-school signage.
Burgers, Beers, and Bank Robbers
When you’re ready for dinner, you can’t go wrong bellying up to Boulder Dam Brewing, The Dillinger, or Sugar’s at the Forge. Locally made craft beers – like the Powder Monkey Pilsner, named after the Hoover Dam workers who packed explosives – pair perfectly with wings and sliders over at Boulder Dam Brewing. Inside The Dillinger, housed in the historic Bank of Nevada building and named after infamous bank robber John Dillinger, gourmet burgers and hearty steak and chicken sandwiches will sate any appetite. And if you’re craving something a little different, Sugars is bringing cheesecake tacos, unicorn pancakes, and burgers sandwiched between donuts to the table.
A Dam Good Night of Sleep
Skip the late-night drive and snuggle in for a sleepover at the beautiful, retro Boulder Dam Hotel, a gem of a place that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally built in 1933, you may find yourself snoozing in a room previously occupied by Bette Davis, Will Rogers, Howard Hughes, or Shirley Temple.
Also A Dam Good Museum
Before you check out of the Boulder Dam Hotel, check out the Boulder City-Hoover Dam Museum, conveniently located on the first floor. Dedicated to the history of the men and women who built the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam, you can peruse interactive, three-dimensional exhibits and displays that provide a real sense of the danger and sheer size of the project. The 20-minute movie screening inside the museum is well worth a watch, too.
Grab A Cup of Joe (And More)
If the classically iconic sign doesn’t grab you, maybe the “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” feature will. The Coffee Cup Café is a MUST for breakfast, and it’ll only take one bite for you to see why locals and visitors alike can’t stop coming back. And if you’re into it (and of age), their Bloody Marys are highly regarded!
Snap Selfies With Alabam
Stretch your legs after breakfast and say hello to Alabam, the Toilet Paper Hero of Hoover Dam. Imagine being part of the Hoover Dam construction crew back in the 1930s, blasting rock and pouring concrete in triple-digit heat alongside thousands of coworkers. Bet you’d be pretty grateful to walk into a clean and tidy commode, fully stocked with toilet paper. (A feeling we can all relate to, thanks to the TP hoarding episodes of 2020.) The one-of-a-kind statue of this unsung hero is less than a block from the Coffee Cup Café, and one of our favorite #WeirdNevada points of interests.
We’ve now reached the point in this adventure where we’d normally send you straight to the modern marvel itself – Hoover Dam. However, this massively impressive place (including the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge Walkway) is temporarily closed due to COVID-19 precautions. Keep an eye on updates from the Bureau of Reclamation as to when this must-stop spot opens back up, as the views are jaw-dropping and the tour is dam good. However, if you want to check out this amazing structure, it’s hard to beat seeing it from the water…
Paddle Down the Colorado River
Got time for the great outdoors? If the whole family wants an unforgettable experience, take a guided kayak tour on the Black Canyon Water Trail. Dropping in beneath Hoover Dam offers some of the best possible views of the famous landmark. Meanwhile, Emerald Cave and Gold Strike Canyon really up the wow factor, along with possible sightings of bighorn sheep, bald eagles, turkey vultures, and other wildlife. Plus, there’s a picnic lunch and hot spring soaks, too!
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Sweetly Say Goodbye
Before you bid adieu to Boulder City, fuel up with some sweet treats for the road at Grandma Daisy’s Candy Store and Ice Cream Parlor. We’re talkin’ fresh caramel apples, homemade fudge made right in the store, and candies from as far back as the 1920s. Family owned and perfectly old fashioned, Grandma Daisy’s is one tasty blast from the past.
In need of another #NVRoadTrip? Go from Neon to Nature and see what else you’ll find outside of Las Vegas!