Las Vegas is a travel hotspot. The glittering lights, the blue skies, the heat, the crowds, The Strip, the ringing bells of the casino floor, the lines for night clubs … it all makes Las Vegas the destination choice for partiers and gamblers. But, beyond the hype of the glitz and glamour lie some great (and lesser known) places and activities that make the city even more attractive.
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS
It may seem past its heyday, but the Downtown Las Vegas scene is alive and well. Refurbished hotels, burgeoning arts & bar scene and some seriously fabulous people-watching make Downtown Las Vegas a great escape from the overly crowded Strip. Yes, there are still people carting around yards of beer and frozen concoctions, but it is easy to duck away into more hip and calm places. For drinks, head to Downtown Cocktail Room, Beauty Bar or Griffin. Decidedly more local than tourist, these venues allow for conversation, atmosphere and, most importantly, some non-Las Vegas style fun.
RED ROCK CANYON
A quick drive around the 215 takes visitors to a completely different side of Sin City. A side where fire-red rocks touch bright blue sky and the towering resorts are merely a view. At Red Rock Canyon, there are hikes to take people up to the tops of the canyon, a 12-mile loop for cars, bikes and walkers and serenity at every turn.
Forty-five minutes outside of Las Vegas, Mt. Charleston is a locals favorite to escape the blazing summer heat. A haven for hikers, bikers and day-trippers in the summer, temps are normally significantly cooler than in the valley below. For overnighters, there are two properties up the mountain — a hotel and a lodge with quaint cabins. In the winter months, a small ski resort opens. It’s not Big Bear or anything, but for those aching to hit the slopes, it suffices. Be warned: if driving up the mountain, be sure to have a full tank of gas. There are no gas stations on the mountain.
This outdoor shopping complex is a must for those who love to shop. While it is crowded, it’s sprawling outdoor paths are empty compared to the packed shopping malls on The Strip. It features everything from Old Navy and H&M to more upscale stores and a movie theater. Plus, there are tons of tasty dining and nightlife options. For kids, there is a large park and outdoor theater.
BROAD ACRES SWAP MEET
Located in North Las Vegas, this open-air swap meet has everything. It’s also the oldest and largest swap meet in the entire state. Want a new pair of inexpensive shoes? Need some electronics? With more than 1,100 vendors, the bargain entrance fee of $1 gives shoppers a chance to peruse the entire day. Bring bottles of water and load up on sun screen — it gets hot in the summer.
THE NEON MUSEUM LAS VEGAS
Spend a couple of hours on a guided tour through the Las Vegas Neon Museum. The outdoor display inlcudes more than 150 neon signs that take visitors on a tour into the past. The museum is not open to the general public — appointments must be made. But, the money spent on this nonprofit to learn about the city’s past is well-worth the small fee to access. Don’ forget the camera.
More on this Guest Blogger
A resident of Las Vegas from 2005 to 2009, Diana Edelman is a travel writer currently experiencing her 30-Life-Crisis. She recently gave up her job and put her life in storage to explore the world solo, documenting her travels on her blog, The Adventures of D. In her previous life, she was a publicist in Las Vegas and Atlanta. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @DTravelsRound.