Las Vegas is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. People come from all over to experience the casinos, nightclubs, live shows, and overall aura of the Las Vegas Strip.
But there is more to Las Vegas than meets the eye, a world of attractions and natural wonders off the Strip that most visitors never even consider. This post will show you why that’s the wrong mentality and go through the top 10 things to do in Las Vegas off the Strip.
The list is in no particular order and includes a wide variety of thrilling activities, natural landscapes, and local flavors. So let’s get down to it. Here are the top 10 things to do in Las Vegas off the Strip.
1. Explore the Southwest’s Beautiful National Parks
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Las Vegas is located within a 5-hour drive (weekend trip) of more national parks than any other city in the United States (tied with Salt Lake City). Some of these parks are even close enough to visit as a day trip from the city, like Death Valley and Zion, though Zion would be a loooong day.
If you’re into the outdoors and desert scenery, adding a stop at one of the Southwest’s amazing national parks is essential for any Las Vegas itinerary. Some additional parks to consider are the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Joshua Tree, Great Basin, and Kings Canyon.
Or if you want to venture a little further out you have Arches, Canyonlands, Sequoia, Yosemite, Capitol Reef, Saguaro, or Petrified Forest. And we are not talking Cuyahoga Valley or Indiana Sand Dunes here. We’re talking about some of the best national parks in the US and some of the most outstanding landscapes on Earth.
Las Vegas is the perfect starting point for an adventure around the stunning desert southwest of the USA.
2. Get outside the city and do some hiking
If a little road trip to a national park will take a bit more time than you can afford to spare on your Vegas trip, never fear. There are plenty of amazing natural sites just outside and on the outskirts of the city. Las Vegas is blessed with many natural wonders that can be easily explored in a morning or an afternoon.
For the best combination of amazing scenery and accessibility from the Strip, head to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The park is just west of the city and protects a pristine red-rock mountain formation. Just note that it’s quite popular with locals so it can get pretty busy.
If you’re fine with an hour’s drive, Valley of Fire State Park is one of the most underrated places in the western United States. Full of colorful rock formations, it can easily be explored in a day trip or half-day trip from Vegas.
The natural wonders don’t end there though. Other options for getting in touch with nature are Mount Charleston, Lake Meade, Sloan Canyon, and Clark County Wetlands Park, to name a few.
3. Experience Downtown Las Vegas
When Vegas was just getting its start, there was no “the Strip.” That came later. The glitz and glam of Las Vegas begin in what is now downtown Las Vegas, a few miles north of the Strip.
Downtown Las Vegas is full of vintage hotels/casinos like the Golden Nugget, Four Queens, and the Golden Gate. These places are far less luxurious than the Wynn or the Venetian, but they offer a glimpse into Vegas’s past at a fraction of the cost.
The main thoroughfare through downtown Las Vegas is Fremont Street, a pedestrian-only street lined with casinos, bars, restaurants, and street performers. Here you can still find penny slots and you can even zip-line above the street.
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Past the pedestrian zone of Fremont Street, you can find local hangouts like the Griffin and Corduroy (and plenty of less tacky restaurants). Downtown Las Vegas has something from everyone!
4. Eat like a local
While Vegas casinos are known for having some amazing restaurants, often run by celebrity chefs, there are tons of amazing places to eat off the Strip as well. Delicious restaurants left and right are one of the many benefits of living in Las Vegas for the 2 million locals.
One Vegas staple worth venturing off the Strip for is Hash House A Go Go, a breakfast and brunch restaurant that was putting fried chicken on waffles before it was cool. Or if you’re up for Italian, try Esther’s kitchen in the Arts District.
East of the Strip, near Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, you’ll even find a full-scale replica of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. There are a few Hofbräuhaus restaurants in the US, but the Vegas one is the only one outside the Midwest and the only authentic replica of the famous Bavarian beer house. And having been to both the original in Munich and the replica in Vegas I can honestly say the food in Vegas is better. Don’t tell the Germans!
5. Have a drink in the Arts District
The Arts District is a region of Las Vegas that sprung up out of a depressed area between the northern tip of the Strip and downtown in the 2010s. It starts north of the Stratosphere on Main Street and continues to a little north of West Charleston Blvd.
While this used to be a sketchy part of Las Vegas, these days the neighborhood is a lively and happening place for locals to hang out, full of art galleries, bars, speakeasies, breweries, and excellent restaurants. If you want a little taste of what it’s like to live in Sin City, the Arts District is where you’ll get it.
If you’re a beer drinker, this is your place. Las Vegas has not been immune to the craft brewery revolution of the last 10 years and you’ll find nearly all of the city’s breweries in this small neighborhood. Some of the better breweries for a flight of local Vegas beer are Able Baker, CraftHaus, and Servehzah. Though there are many more to choose from.
If you want to try beers from all the breweries at once head to The Silver Stamp, an unassuming speakeasy across from the Little Vegas (wedding) Chapel that doesn’t even have a sign. You can find it here on Google Maps though.
If cocktails are your thing, the Arts District has you covered there too. Head to the Velveteen Rabbit for some unique drinks in a unique bar. Whatever you enjoy drinking or eating, you’ll find something in the Arts District
6. Visit the Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is a wonder of early 20th-century engineering and construction and sits just outside of Las Vegas along the Nevada-Arizona border. Construction of the dam during the Great Depression brought thousands of workers to southern Nevada and set the stage for the Las Vegas you know today.
Until then, Vegas was just a small town of 5,000 people in the desert. The influx of young men created the demand for gambling, entertainment, and showgirls. Even though a newly designated city was built to house the dam workers – Boulder City is still around today – Las Vegas flourished into the entertainment capital of the world it is today.
The Hoover Dam itself is fascinating. Damming the Colorado River and used to create hydroelectric power, it was and still is nearly 100 years later an engineering and construction marvel. The dam offers daily tours ranging from fully guided tours to self-guided walk-throughs. Guided tours run from 9 AM to 5 PM every day and cannot be purchased in advance.
For those without a car (as most people when visiting Las Vegas) there are numerous day trips to the Hoover Dam available through popular sites like GetYourGuide and Viator.
7. Have a day on the boat at Lake Mead
The damming of the Colorado River at the Hoover Dam created Lake Mead, a manmade lake that straddles the border of Nevada and Arizona. While it’s slowly rescinding, Lake Mead is still a popular destination for Las Vegas locals to head to for a day on the water. With no beach within a four-hour drive of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is as good as it gets.
If you have local friends with boats, you’re golden. If you don’t, you can always rent a boat at the marina. The local rental companies offer half-day and full-day rentals for you to choose from.
The coast of Lake Mead is rugged and rocky, and you’re never short on amazing views. Even if your number one goal is just to get drunk on a boat, you’ll appreciate the desert beauty of Lake Mead!
8. Drive a fancy car
If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to drive a Ferrari 100 miles an hour then you might be interested in one of the numerous exotic car experiences that Las Vegas has to offer. The Speed Vegas Motorsports Park offers various packages for those who feel the need for speed.
The motorsports park is located just south of the city off I-15. Here you can rent different cars for an average of about $300 for 5 laps around their Formula 1-style track. Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, the world is your oyster at Speed Vegas!
9. Visit the Seven Magic Mountains
Just south of Vegas in the middle of seemingly nowhere, a colorful rock sculpture has been on display since 2016. Originally meant to be a temporary display, it still stands due to its immense popularity. These days, one of the top things to do in Las Vegas off the Strip is to visit the Seven Magic Mountains.
The sculpture itself is nothing more than just 7 large stacks of rocks. But the colorful painting of the rocks stands in stark contrast to the desolate and inhospitable desert they stand in.
Visits to the Seven Magic Mountains are quick and free and won’t take up much of your day, so you’ll be back in time for that lunch buffet at Cesar’s Palace.
10. Go skiing
Las Vegas and skiing? It doesn’t sound like a match made in heaven, but it exists. And we’re not talking Dubai-style indoor skiing here. Las Vegas is in the mountains and there is a ski resort just 45 minutes northwest of the Strip. So if you’re visiting Las Vegas from December to April, you have the opportunity to add some skiing to your weekend of debauchery.
Lee Canyon (link to https://www.leecanyonlv.com/) is Las Vegas’s premier skiing and snowboarding destination. In the winter months, the Spring Mountains outside the city get significant snow. So if you’re a skier, why not ski Las Vegas!? The slopes are not quite as spectacular as the ski resorts in Utah or Lake Tahoe, but it will get the job done.
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Las Vegas off the Strip – FAQs
Is there more to Las Vegas than the Strip?
There is so much more to Las Vegas than just Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Strip. There is an epic desert of mountainous terrain just outside the city, as well as plenty of non-gambling-related things to do in the city itself. This post only goes over a fraction of all the things to do in Las Vegas off the Strip.
What is the difference between the Strip and downtown Vegas?
The Strip refers to the stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard between Mandalay Bay in the south to the Stratosphere in the north. It is full of massive casinos, ranging from ultra luxurious to run-of-the-mill, that feature pools, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, concert venues, and literally anything else you can think of.
Downtown Las Vegas is north of the Strip and centered on Fremont Street. It’s much, much smaller and features older hotels and casinos. It’s the original Las Vegas, where the city got its start.
How do you dress on Fremont Street?
Fremont Street is very casual. You can wear literally anything. If you’re going to one of the nicer restaurants, you might want to at least wear a shirt. But in general, the places in the downtown casinos are casual. On the Strip, don’t expect to get into a nightclub without a button-down long-sleeved shirt for men (though women can seemingly wear anything so long as you’re not dressed like a slob).
How to get from Las Vegas Strip to downtown?
The easiest way to get from the Strip to downtown is to take a rideshare service or a taxi. There is also a bus – a double-decker known as the Deuce – that you can take if you don’t mind a scenic drive, as it will make a ton of stops along the way.
So now that we’ve gone over the best things to do in Las Vegas off the Strip, what are you waiting for!? Get out there and explore what this amazing city has to offer away from the overpriced and overcrowded Strip casinos. There’s a whole world to explore in southern Nevada!
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Get Travel Insurance
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex.
I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner! Momondo is also a great site for finding cheap flights.
Book a Place to Stay
I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.
If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.
Choose Activities and Tours
To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available.
When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals.
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