Las Vegas, the city of lights and entertainment, is known for its casinos, hotels, and nightlife. But there is so much more to do in and around the area than just gambling and partying.
From the natural beauty of Red Rock Canyon to the engineering marvel of the Hoover Dam, there is something for everyone near Las Vegas.
In this article, we will explore what to do around Las Vegas and the best things to do outside Las Vegas but close to the city limits, including major attractions ranked by their popularity and uniqueness.
17 Best Things To Do Outside Las Vegas
No matter what your interests are, there’s something to explore and discover just beyond the bright lights of Las Vegas. Most are natural wonders, but others include historical sites, quirky attractions, and adrenaline-pumping adventures. Below are the top picks:
1. Grand Canyon National Park
- Address: Arizona
- Entrance Fee: from $20 – $35, valid for 7 days
The Grand Canyon National Park is located about 270 miles east of Las Vegas, which is about two and a half hours’ time when driving.
Considered as one of the most stunning natural wonders in the world, the park shines as a treasure for Arizona with its impeccable trails, beautiful waterfalls, great desert landscapes, and watchtowers to enjoy the views.
It is one of the most popular natural attractions in the world, surrounded by miles of the Colorado River. The sanctuary offers lots of activities, from camping on the South & North Rim, watching sunsets from Mather Point, and lodging areas.
Visitors can explore the park on foot, by car, or by helicopter. There are numerous hiking trails and lookout points, including the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk.
2. Hoover Dam
- Address: Nevada 89005
- Entrance Fee: Free Access
The Hoover Dam is a marvel of engineering and a testament to human ingenuity. The dam was built in the 1930s to control the Colorado River and provide electricity to the Southwest.
Visitors can take a tour of the dam and learn about its history and construction. Walk along the top of the dam and take in the spectacular views of the Colorado River and the vast desert landscape.
A guided tour around the dam will take you about two hours, but it can also last as little as a few minutes, depending on what sites you are touring. Carry your camera to take many amazing photos in this historic and monumental structure.
The Hoover Dam is located about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, a 45-minute drive from the city limits.
3. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
- Address: Mountain Springs, NV 89161
- Entrance Fee: $5 per person per day, $20 per vehicle per day, $8 per bicycle per day
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a beautiful natural wonder located just 16 miles west of Las Vegas. Its close proximity to the city makes it a fast go-to place for those who want to be in nature while touring Vegas.
The conservation area features towering red rock formations, hiking trails, and stunning desert landscapes.
You can explore the area on foot or by bike, and there are plenty of picnic areas and camping sites. Try the 4.5-mile Turtlehead Peak Trail, a long, difficult, but quite exhilarating trail that will give you a full scope of the reddish rock-filled mountains and curves.
4. Valley of Fire State Park
- Address: Moapa Valley, NV 89040
- Entrance Fee: $20/vehicle/night for Nevada residents and $25 /vehicle/night for non-Nevada residents
Valley of Fire State Park is another natural wonder located just a short drive from Las Vegas. The park is known for its striking red rock formations, petroglyphs, and hiking trails. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by car, and there are plenty of camping sites and picnic areas.
Located near Overton town, the Valley of Fire is about 45 miles away from Las Vegas, making it one of the closest attractions to Vegas on this list.
Enter the park from the northwest near the Fire Wave, a natural landscape resembling a wave of fire curved onto the stone. The route through the park is scenic, providing some of the best sunset and sunrise views for a romantic and calming adventure.
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
- Address: 10 Lakeshore Rd, Boulder City, NV 89005
- Entrance Fee: $45/vehicle/year – annual fee
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports. The recreation area features a large reservoir created by the Hoover Dam’s construction.
If you want to rent boats, kayaks, paddleboards, or go fishing for striped bass, then this is the place to be. Known as America’s First National Recreation Area, Lake Mead area features more striking landscapes and blue waters and covers more than 1.5 million acres.
Hike across the vast canyons and valleys surrounded by two big lakes (Lake Mead & Lake Mohave). It is a good activity to pair with a visit to the Hoover Dam due to their shared space.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located about 32 miles from Las Vegas, a 41-minute drive away.
6. Zion National Park
- Address: Utah
- Entrance Fee: from $20/person/week. Youths 15 and under are admitted for free.
Located about 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas, the Zion National Park in Utah is about two and half hours away from the big city. Despite the huge distance from Vegas, the park stands out as a must-try vacation spot for those touring outside the city.
Zion National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country. The park is known for its stunning red rock cliffs, hiking trails, and wildlife. Visitors can explore the park on foot, by bike, or by car.
There are numerous hiking trails, including the famous Angel’s Landing trail, multi-colored rocks, natural arches, emerald pools, and wildlife spotting.
Take a Las Vegas tour package to better explore the national park. Many of the tours available will take you through the park for hours or days and incorporate lots of interesting activities along the way.
7. Death Valley National Park
- Entrances: Wildrose Canyon Road, Harry Wade Road, & Titus Canyon Road.
- Entrance Fee: including $80 for a yearly pass
Death Valley National Park is a unique and starkly beautiful landscape located about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, about 2-hour drive.
The park features salt flats, sand dunes, and towering mountain ranges. Visitors can explore the park on foot or by car and can see unique geological features like the Badwater Basin and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park
- Address: Utah
- Entrance Fee: from $20/person/week.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located about 270 miles northeast of Las Vegas, about 4 hours on a one-way drive.
The park is known for its stunning irregular rock spires known as hoodoos. The park also features numerous hiking trails and lookout points.
However, by far, the most iconic section of the park is the famous Bryce Amphitheater, seen from Bryce, Sunset, Sunrise, and Inspiration Points in the park.
It is not an actual amphitheater; the name is given to the region because the region is shaped like a bowl due to the drainage of snow and rain that creates its shape. The hoodoos are highly concentrated in the Amphitheater, making it the biggest concentration of hoodoos in the world.
9. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
- Address: Nawghaw Poa Rd, Henderson, NV 89052
- Entrance Fee: Free
Designated as a conservation area in November 2002, Sloan Canyon has grown to be one of the most attractive sites for those who want to see significant historical & cultural sites.
The conservation area spreads across over 48,000 acres of land and is the home to over 300 rock art panels and about 1,700 designs made by native cultures from as early as the Archaic era.
Take in the impressively created landscape from thousands of years of lava flows, and ash falls. It is an ideal place when looking for solitude and getting closer to the wonders of mother earth.
Sloan Canyon is located about 17 miles from the Vegas city center, about 20 minutes ride.
10. Springs Preserve
- Address: 333 S. Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89107
- Entrance Fee: $9.95 for Nevada Residents, $18.95 for non-Nevada residents
A short five-minute drive from the city center lands you at the Springs Preserve, a 180-acre piece of heaven filled with the natural and cultural history of the Mojave Desert. It is an interactive museum and botanical garden, best for those looking for a family-friendly activity near the city center with the kids.
The Springs Preserve features several botanical gardens, including the Butterfly Habitat, the Cactus and Succulent Garden, and the Gardens of the Southwest. Each garden showcases a unique collection of plants and offers visitors a chance to learn about the flora of the region.
There are also live animal exhibits, including desert tortoises, snakes, and birds of prey. Get to observe these animals up close and learn about their habitats and behaviors.
The Springs Preserve hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and workshops. There are also several sustainability exhibits, including the which showcases eco-friendly technologies and practices.
11. Techatticup Mine and El Dorado Canyon
- Address: 16880 State Highway 165, Nelson, NV 89046
- Entrance Fee: from $15 per adult and $10 for kids between 5 and 12.
Take a tour of the oldest and most famous gold mine in southern Nevada, located in the rugged Eldorado Canyon, about 45 minutes from Las Vegas.
Techatticup Mine was opened in the 1860s and came to be the most profitable mine in the Canyon, producing millions of dollars of gold. It was also served by the steamboats that worked their way in the Colorado River and still remains a significant historical piece of Nevada.
Guided tours take visitors deep into the mine, where they can see historical artifacts, learn about mining techniques, and hear fascinating stories about the mine’s past.
For those looking for a little more adventure, ATV tours are available to explore the surrounding desert landscape of the El Dorado Canyon.
12. Seven Magic Mountains
- Address: S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89054
- Entrance Fee: Free
This free-to-see colorful art installation features seven towering sculptures made from painted boulders, located just a short 30-minute drive from the city.
Created by Ugo Rondinone, a Swiss artist, the seven magic mountains act as an addition to the artist’s other creation, Human Nature, and go to show the use of natural materials to add to the beauty of the natural environment with manmade items.
Standing at about 30 feet, the stacked pillars of colored boulders capture the audience’s attention from a mile away. The vibrant colors are stunning and create a great backdrop for photos.
13. Goodsprings Ghost Town
- Address: Goodsprings, NV 89019
- Entrance Fee: Free
If you are a true fan of Wild West culture, then you will love exploring the abandoned ghost towns that dot the desert landscape around Las Vegas, offering a glimpse into the area’s mining past.
Located about 45 minutes south of the Vegas Strip, Goodsprings stands as a depiction of what it meant to live in the 1904 Mojave Desert. It is home to several historic buildings, including the Pioneer Saloon and the Goodsprings Schoolhouse. Feel free to take a guided tour of the town and surrounding areas.
Nelson is another Ghost Town located in Eldorado Canyon. It is home to several vintage buildings and vehicles, including a 1917 airplane and a 1950s gas station.
Rhyolite in the Bullfrog Hills is also a must-visit Ghost Town, home to several interesting sites, including the Bottle House, the Cook Bank Building, and Tom Kelly’s Bottle House.
Also Read: 6 Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas
14. Mount Charleston
- Location: Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway, 2525 Kyle Canyon Road, Las Vegas, NV 89124
- Entrance Fee: Free
Escape the desert heat and explore the lush forests and alpine meadows of Mount Charleston, just a 45 minutes drive from Las Vegas. The drive is one of the most scenic routes out of Las Vegas that will take you through the south end to Kyle Canyon, a perfect drive to unwind and relax.
On your way, pass by the Spring Mountains 128-acre complex with interactive exhibits and a visitor center for any help or information. Try hiking up the various trails on the mountain or go for a mountain climbing adventure on one of the available tours.
15. Area 51
- Location: Nevada desert, 82 miles from Las Vegas
- Entrance Fee: Inaccessible
While it’s not technically open to the public, the enigmatic Area 51 is a source of fascination for conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts. Try one of the many available full-day tours that will take you to a military facility where you can discover the hidden mysteries of the home that inspired the X Files.
Ride on the Extraterrestrial Highway, a stretch of State Route 375 that passes through the area, is named for the frequent UFO sightings reported in the area.
You may also want to visit Rachel, a small town near Area 51 that has become a hub for UFO enthusiasts. The Little A’Le’Inn is a popular spot in the town for food and drinks, and the Alien Research Center is a gift shop with a large selection of UFO-related merchandise.
16. Amargosa Opera House and Hotel
- Address: 608 Death Valley Jct, Death Valley, Ca 92328
- Entrance Fee: from $15 for shows
Amargosa is a unique and quirky hotel and performance venue in the middle of the desert. Located in the Death Valley Junction, Amargosa stands as a historical and cultural building, providing tourists and locals alike with a rich history of the area’s mining and railroad culture.
The Amargosa Opera House hosts a variety of performances throughout the year, including music concerts, dance performances, and theatrical productions. The intimate setting of the opera house makes for a truly memorable experience.
The surrounding area also offers many opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, bird watching, rock climbing, and stargazing in the clear desert skies.
17. Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
- Address: Highway 93 North, Milepost 32, Alamo, NV 89001
- Entrance Fee: Free
Pahranagat is a beautiful wetland area with great birdwatching opportunities. Now a national wildlife refuge, the area is located about 90 miles from Las Vegas and offers a multitude of wildlife, housing thousands of species of birds and aquatic animals.
The refuge covers over 5,000 acres of wetlands and uplands and is also home to a variety of wildlife and reptiles.
With over 260 bird species, Pahranagat makes for a great birdwatching experience, and visitors can also spot other wildlife, such as mule deer, bobcats, coyotes, and even desert tortoises.
You need permits to fish and hunt; otherwise, you have free reign in the wildlife refuge. Have a great day at Lake Pahranagat but keep in mind that swimming is not permitted anywhere in the refuge.
Las Vegas is not just a city of casinos and nightlife but also a gateway to some of the most exciting and unique attractions in the country.
From the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Red Rock Canyon, to the engineering marvels of the Hoover Dam and Techatticup Mine, to the quirky attractions such as the Seven Magic Mountains and the Valley of the Moon, there is no shortage of things to do outside of Las Vegas.
These attractions offer visitors the chance to explore and discover the natural beauty, cultural history, and engineering ingenuity of the region, making a trip to Las Vegas an unforgettable experience.