20 Things To Do In Las Vegas Off The Strip
Updated January 2022, 20 Things To Do In Las Vegas Off The Strip was originally written in October 2015
I hate gambling in casinos. I don’t like going clubbing and I don’t see the appeal of the Las Vegas strip either. I know, I come off as a Vegas-hater, but I have been here damn near 20 times. I’m over it.
However, I do have the luxury of having family that’s been living here for about the last 15 years, so I’m fully aware of the good stuff to do off the strip. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to visit these fun places in the past, so here are my suggestions for the top 5 Things To Do In Las Vegas That Aren’t On The Strip.
1. Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire is located north of Vegas on the I-15, featuring rock formations that look they’ve been set afire and many petroglyphs. There are numerous hiking trails here, or if you’re lazy you can just drive the road through the park.
You will inevitably pass nearby here if you are headed to Utah to check out Zion National Park and beyond. So make the stop and come check it out. It’s better than the strip.
Park entrance to Valley of Fire is $10 per vehicle.
If you’re looking for an adventurous off the strip Vegas getaway you can camp in Valley of Fire, click here for more info on the state park + camping info. Not as adventurous, but want to be near the park? Check out the Northshore Inn At Lake Mead.
Shop Valley Of Fire Day Tours Here
2. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is on the western outskirts of Las Vegas. Another park designed for the active and for the lazy so you’re bound to keep everyone happy (a road cuts through it, and there are hiking opportunities). There is a 13-mile loop road that has parking around most trailheads and attractions that meanders past many red rock formations and sandstone peaks around the park.
Park entrance is $15 per vehicle. Learn more about Red Rock Canyon here.
There is a campground within Red Rock Canyon, click here for more info on it and to reserve a site. Being that Red Rock Canyon does sit on the western edge of the city, you can easily stay in the city or on the strip and make a day trip out here. But, if you want to stay close to the park, click here to shop for hotels nearby.
Shop Red Rock Canyon Day Trips Here
3. Mt. Charleston
Mt. Charleston is the perfect place to escape the summer heat of the city, or if you’re in Vegas in winter to go skiing! Mt. Charleston is north of Vegas on the I-15 (before Valley of Fire).
The Mt. Charleston area offers up a scattering of campgrounds as well as a mountain resort, offering skiing and snowboarding if you happen to be visiting in the winter. You can find more information on the Mt. Charleston area here. For more info on skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Charleston, check out Lee Canyon.
Check out this half day Mt. Charleston photo tour
4. Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam blocks off the Colorado River at the Black Canyon, helping create the Lake Mead Reservoir, just 30 miles south of Las Vegas. The dam provides electricity for utility companies in Nevada, Arizona, and California.
Its construction was a massive Great-Depression era effort and is an engineering spectacle. Take the US-93 south of the city to get here. Click here for more info on Hoover Dam.
Wanna stay closer to Hoover Dam? Check out these hotels nearby here.
Wanna take a day trip to Hoover Dam?
Shop Hoover Dam Tours here.
Start planning: the perfect two week American Southwest road trip itinerary
5. Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead is one of the largest reservoirs in the USA. It is formed by the above-mentioned Hoover Dam by blocking the Black Canyon along the Colorado River as mentioned above.
A fun place to get out on the water with plenty of boating and fishing along with hiking that can be done around the lake. Click here to read more about what activities you can do and sites you can visit within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
Entrance to Lake Mead Area is $25 per vehicle or $15 per person on foot or cycle. These entrance fees are good for seven consecutive days.
Looking to stay near the lake? Click here to shop hotels around Lake Mead.
Wanna camp at Lake Mead? There are several campsites in the Lake Mead recreational area. Click here for camping info, though I’ll mention that campsites cannot be reserved online– you’ll need to call the phone number listed for the specific campground listed on the chart.
Shop Lake Mead tours here
6. Seven Magic Mountains
This art installation that skyrocketed to Instagram fame is characterized by brightly painted rock formations, located near the Jean Dry Lake just off of the I-15. Created by renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, Seven Magic Mountains has become one of the most famous public art installations in the world.
Get there before they go away forever- the contract was only good through the end of 2021, so they may be getting taken down soon.
7. Rhyolite Ghost Town
Rhyolite’s zenith was short-lived, created in 1904, and abandoned in 1916. Located on the edge of Death Valley National Park, the town of Rhyolite boomed along with the gold rush and quartz mines that sprung up in the area. By 1906 the town was in full swing and projected to outgrow Las Vegas in only a few years.
The mine closed by 1911, sending Rhyolite into a spiral that would see it abandoned by 1916. Now all that remains are the ghost town ruins of buildings, including the interesting Tom Kelly Bottle House. Bottle Homes were a unique building style popularized in the early 20th century in the area, though it’s unfortunately fenced off because of idiots who began to chip away the mud-stucco to steal the glass bottles for personal keepsakes.
A newer feature of Rhyolite are the funky art installations of the Last Supper created by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski in 1984 and the Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by another Belgian artist by the name of Dr. Hugo Heyrman constructed in 1992.
Rhyolite is a great stop for those making the journey from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park via the narrow Titus Canyon.
8. El Dorado Canyon
Sat on the Colorado River on the Nevada side of the border with Arizona, El Dorado Canyon is a perfect Las Vegas getaway and great detour for those continuing on to Boulder City and the Hoover Dam. The canyon became famous because of its rich gold and silver mines.
9. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is the hottest and driest place in North America with a high temperature of 136ºF recorded in Furnace Creek in 1936, and home to the USA’s most inhospitable national park. Highlights to hit up in Death Valley National Park include the Artist’s Palette, Mesquite Flat Dunes, Dante’s Peak, Titus Canyon, Ubehebe Crater, and Zabriskie Point.
10. Boulder City
On the way to the Hoover Dam, you’ll inevitably pass through Boulder City. For those looking for a quieter alternative to Vegas (they’ve also prohibited gambling in Boulder City), Boulder City may be the perfect option for you.
11. Dublin Gulch Cave Homes, Shoshone, California
A series of abandoned miners’ homes are built right into solidified volcanic ash mounds just outside the small town of Shoshone, California. It’s unknown when the cave homes were constructed, though it’s thought to have been around the time of the silver boom in Nevada and California. The houses have been largely abandoned since the 1970s.
You can’t go inside the Dublin Gulch Cave Homes, unfortunately as the doors on all of them are padlocked shut, but you can peer in from gaps around the doors to see what the interiors of them looked like. While the cave homes aren’t necessarily a destination in their own right, it’s worth a quick stop breaking the journey up between Las Vegas and the Mojave National Preserve or the China Ranch Date Farm.
12. Sloan Canyon Nature Conservation Area
Just a short drive from Las Vegas will bring you to the Sloan Canyon Nature Conservation Area, home to countless petroglyphs and over 300 rock art panels gaining it the nickname of the Sistine Chapel of Native American rock art.
13. China Ranch Date Farm
With the Old Spanish Trail passing nearby, the China Ranch Date Farm is an interesting and delicious historic site. The date farm sits in a verdant little oasis bisected by a narrow stream, dotted with hundreds of date trees.
In the late 19th century a man named either Quon Sing or Ah Foo, originally from China who has been working as a miner in the nearby borax mines settled the valley and began farming there. The oasis would go on to be known as the China Ranch until the man was allegedly run off at gunpoint.
Over the years the ranch changed several hands until the current owners developed it into a successful date farm. The property also features a number of historic buildings as well as a nice hike to a narrow slot canyon. After taking some time to explore, a date milkshake and date cookies from their shop are a must.
14. Goldstrike Canyon Hot Springs
Located near Boulder City, Goldstrike Canyon Hot Springs is a challenging 6 mile out and back hike that rewards with a soak in a hot spring at the end.
15. Mojave National Preserve
With canyons, mountains, singing sand dunes, Joshua trees, and more, Mojave National Preserve is a paradise for explorers. At just an hours’ drive from Las Vegas the preserve makes for a great day trip or overnight trip for visitors to Vegas.
16. Grand Canyon West
At only two hours drive time, Grand Canyon West is the perfect getaway from Vegas that can be done in an easy day trip. For those short on time and that don’t mind a splurge, it may very well be worth checking out a helicopter tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. You may also want to look into a Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West bus tour.
17. Joshua Tree National Park
Straddling the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is home to fascinating rock formations, a plethora of unusual Joshua trees, and encompasses two desert ecosystems. And at just over 2 hours drive from Las Vegas, makes for the perfect day or overnight trip.
18. Zion National Park National Park
At only 2 hours 30 minutes drive time from Las Vegas, Zion National Park is one of the most accessible national parks from Las Vegas. Whether you want to casually mosey through the park by road, stopping at scenic points, or take on more arduous day or multi-day treks, Zion has just about something for everyone.
19. Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument
Located in the northern reaches of Las Vegas Valley are the prehistoric fossil beds at Tule Springs. A new national monument, incorporated in 2014 was established to protect Ice Age paleontological discoveries from the area.
20. Bryce Canyon National Park National Park
Continuing further into Utah, past Zion National Park is the famed and beautiful Bryce Canyon. At four hours driving time from Las Vegas it would be quite the haul for a day trip, but making the journey to at least spend a night here would be worthwhile to explore around the neon orange hoodoo stacks that comprise one of the park’s most famous outlooks.
Looking to do an epic Southern Utah road trip? This itinerary includes Bryce in addition to Zion and Valley of Fire State Park.