Las Vegas is a city of constant change and it never gets old. When you’re done seeing everything new on the Vegas Strip you can head to Downtown Vegas and experience the new casinos (or renovations), bars, restaurants and activities. After a few trips to Downtown Vegas you may have explored everything new and now it’s time to head back to the Vegas Strip where things will all be new again. This see-saw of activity between the Vegas Strip and Downtown Vegas is never seems to end so you can always go back and forth.

However, theres so much more to see and do in Las Vegas that you might want to rent a car and explore what else there may be out in the desert. The Las Vegas that most people know seems as if it was created somewhere else and dropped into the middle of the desert. That’s not technically true but it sure seems that way – especially when you get away from the action and step into the desert.

The vast openness once you drive 20-30 minutes away from the Vegas Strip can be scary. I’m a city guy and it took me a year to explore the beautiful Red Rock Canyon which is 5 minutes from my house. I thought open spaces weren’t for me. Boy, was I wrong. Red Rock Canyon is now one of my weekly hangs, even if it’s just sitting outside eating lunch in one of the picnic areas.

You can hike in Red Rock Canyon or your can take a scenic 13 mile drive for under $10.You’ll see beautiful mountains and rock formations unlike anywhere else. If you’re lucky a wild horse, turtle, Burro will wander up to your car. Red Rock Canyon is nothing like you’ll see near any major city and it’s just a quick drive from the bright lights you’ll see just 10 miles away.

When you’re done exploring Red Rock Canyon you can stop off at Red Rock Resort for some gaming or dining. Many off-strip casinos are thought of as dirty old joints. That can be true for some casinos but Red Rock Resort is really a diamond in the rough and has all the beauty you’d expect to see on a luxury resort. Red Rock Resort is located in Summerlin which is a master planned community so you’ll find just about anything you could want from great shopping and fine dining.

Las Vegas is pretty much inside a giant bowl. When you drive 20-30 minutes the other way from the Vegas Strip you’ll run into more mountains in the Boulder City section of town. While Summerlin is a modern master planned community you’ll get a real taste of the old west in Boulder City. Instead of driving or hiking around the mountains, you can hop on a zip line and zoom through the beautiful desert. When you’re done with nature you will find a variety of casinos that will continue with that old western theme.

Boulder City and Red Rock Canyon aren’t the most famous places to visit away from the Vegas Strip. You’re probably more familiar the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. If you’re looking for a totally different Las Vegas experience and you’re not afraid of heights a helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam or Grand Canyon from the Vegas Strip might be right up your alley.

You may never visit Las Vegas enough to where you want to explore anything away from the strip or downtown. I visited 20 time and lived in Las Vegas a year before I did. Now I realize that there is so much to see in Las Vegas beyond casino life. I’m still partial to casino life but I like mixing it up a little now.


Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.
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