Unique things to do in Las Vegas
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Travel like a local
While the iconic Strip is a major draw, there are more unique things to do in Las Vegas than its dusk till dawn reputation lets on. See for yourself on Airbnb Experiences with street art and food tours in the downtown area led by locals, or activities like aerial and dance classes with the Strip’s most impressive performers. It’s also the gateway for day trips to some of the most impressive natural landscapes in all of the West: the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Emerald Cave, and Lake Mead.
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Your guide to Las Vegas
Where do locals hang out in Las Vegas?
For first-time visitors, ask any local and they will steer you toward the iconic Strip as a welcome to fabulous Las Vegas because it’s where they eat, drink, and play too. The difference is that they know the fun doesn’t stop on the Strip: Las Vegas is a city with a thriving arts scene that can be found downtown and in places such as the Performing Arts Center at the University of Nevada campus.
Downtown, or Old Las Vegas, is where old-school architecture meets modern entertainment. Before the Las Vegas Strip was constructed, Fremont Street was the place to be with its glitzy neon signs and casinos, earning it the nickname Glitter Gulch. It also happens to be the old stomping grounds of Hollywood crooners and the mafia (there's a whole Mob Museum dedicated to it). A bar crawl to speakeasies and pubs is a great way to learn more about untold, or less known, history of the first paved street in Las Vegas. Today, the Fremont Street Experience shows off its more modern side in the form of a car-free pedestrian mall that hosts a variety of live entertainment, shopping, and art exhibits, under a 4-block canopy that twinkles in more than 12 million LED lights.
Where do locals eat in Las Vegas?
In a city known for entertainment, good food is in no shortage between the restaurants of celebrity chefs, the high-end hotel buffets (an experience in itself), and the off-the-Strip diners and casinos. When it comes to a local hangout, though, head to Summerlin, a neighborhood just 20 minutes away from the Strip for farm-to-table, upscale Italian, and amazing donut-fueled brunches, among other eats. The Spring Mountains serve as a backdrop year-round, but during the warmer months, the range is best admired at sunset on a patio with drink in hand.
What are the best hikes in Las Vegas?
Some of the best things to do in Las Vegas actually lead you to the great outdoors on fun hiking and kayaking excursions. Here are some of the best day trips and tours to take from Las Vegas.
Red Rock Canyon
Just 20 minutes outside of the city, Red Rock Canyon is a go-to spot for hikes. The sandstone and limestone rock formations make mesmerizing backdrops against the Mojave Desert skies. Do some yoga, enjoy a picnic, and keep an eye out for the imprinted tracks of what could be this area’s original inhabitants, dinosaurs, among other animals.
Valley of Fire
For an otherworldly hiking experience, Valley of Fire never disappoints. Aztec sandstone outcrops jut from the earth, the remnants of sand that drifted in during the Jurassic period. More history can be found in the petroglyphs that were etched into the sides of rocks by the Basketmaker culture some 2,500 years ago.
Ugo Rondinone's Seven Magic Mountains
Even if you don’t recognize the name, it’s likely you’ve seen these colorful rocks crop up on your Instagram feed. Drive down Interstate 5, just about 30 minutes outside of Vegas, and you won’t miss this now beloved exhibit, not just because it looks like a Flinstone-era Rubik’s cube, but thanks to their sheer size (each one stretches 30 feet tall).
While this national park is a household name, there’s plenty of hidden secrets to be discovered once you’re inside the park. Skip the observation decks for the South Rim’s Shoshone Point lookout, and visit the Yavapai Geological Museum & Bookstore to gain a deeper appreciation for all the geological features of the park that you can’t learn about on a big bus tour.
Hidden along the shores of the Colorado River, Emerald Cave is a sight to behold. It’s only accessible by kayak or canoe, making for a cool reprieve from the Las Vegas heat. Kayak excursions are led by expert guides who can explain what makes this grotto glow in emerald green.
Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks
For first-timers to this region of the world, consider a day tour of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Bryce showcases the largest collection of hoodoos in the entire world; meanwhile Zion is a hiker’s paradise with a network of trails that range from challenging to family friendly.
For a unique experience, join a day tour with locals who take you to the Dam in the morning, where you’ll walk the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, then head out on Route 66 for the Grand Canyon, where your expert guides show you some of the best hidden views.