While Las Vegas is best known for the high life on the strip, the state of Nevada is home to some of the most striking landscapes in the Southwest. So while you’re patiently waiting for SLS Las Vegas to open its doors on August 23rd, hop in a rental, blast the AC, and hit one (or all!) of these must-see sites, all conveniently within an hour of Sin City.
For History Buffs: The Hoover Dam and Boulder City
Just a stone’s throw away from the city, the Hoover Dam is an engineering masterpiece with an Art Deco influence and insane views of the surrounding area (acrophobics beware!).
Insider tip: Tours are informative, and often sell out, so plan ahead.
Fun fact: Standing in the middle of the dam, you’ll be in Nevada and Arizona – and two time zones – at the same time! Eat your heart out, David Copperfield.
After you’ve had a taste of this concrete wonder, stop in nearby Boulder City for nourishment. This small town, originally developed as housing for builders of the Hoover Dam, offers grub that’s both low key and satisfying.
We love: The Coffee Cup and Mel’s Diner.
For the Rugged Outdoorsman: Red Rock Canyon
After a wild weekend in Vegas, Red Rock is the place to go for fresh air and a new perspective. This stunning slice of nature features a 13-mile scenic drive, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities.
A great hike is the Ice Box Canyon trail, where waterfall views meet rock formations in a 2.5-mile loop. Try and find the petroglyphs, created by Native Americans thousands of years ago; ask at the visitor center for specific spots or try your luck along Willow Springs Canyon Trail, and Calico Basin.
Insider tip: Remember to bring water and be on the lookout for turtles, tarantulas, and breathtaking views. It’s just an hour outside of Vegas, but Red Rock Canyon feels like a whole different world.
For Anyone and Everyone: Mount Charleston
Mount Charleston, which is snow-capped more than half the year, is Nevada’s eighth-highest mountain peak. It’s about an hour drive from the strip to the summit, where you’ll find several ski resorts and people looking to beat the heat and take a hike. Get cozy with hot chocolate, nachos, burgers, and yes, even fried cheesecake at Mount Charleston
Insider tip: At The Resort you can rent ski equipment, snowshoes, or stay inside and play a game of pool while sipping a drink from the bar. Gaze at the views from 12,000 feet, and feel so close yet so far away from the glittering lights of the Vegas Strip.
By Sarah Gottesdiener