Photo by Chana Guy
Living under the adage of ‘what happens here, stays here’ Las Vegas has become synonymous for its bustling casinos and vibrant night life.
Life outside the casino however, plays host to a slew of magnificent sights, and below you’ll find my ‘Top 9 sights to see in Las Vegas away from the Strip’ that will leave you in awe of its history and the beauty of its surroundings.
Take a trip back in time with a visit to the Neon Boneyard Museum.
Located in Old Vegas, around a 20-minute walk north of Fremont Street, this wonderful collection of antique signs date back as far as the 1930s and evoke a strong feeling of nostalgia for a long forgotten age.
The signs have been restored to give visitors an insight into how they would have looked in their heyday and walking the grounds of the museum whilst reading the history of each is a surprisingly moving experience.
Amongst a collection of around 200, you will see signs such as the iconic ‘Stardust’ which was once the poster image for Las Vegas as well as the original sign of the ‘Golden Nugget’, one of the oldest hotels in downtown Vegas dating back to 1946.
An optional guided tour further enhances one’s experience at the museum with a wonderful array of stories that help to put the signs into context and paint a vivid picture as to what life in Vegas would have been like during the decades on show.
Located around a 2 hour drive from the Las Vegas strip, the views in and around the Canyon are truly spectacular.
There are several viewing points located throughout the area, each providing a unique perspective of the Canyon and allowing the multitude of different rock formations and unique colours of the Canyon to shine through.
A host of museums in and around the Canyon provide a great insight into its geology whilst providing a detailed understanding of the various types of wildlife that can be found throughout. Furthermore, well constructed films and artifacts provide a thorough look into its vast history and the fascinating life and times of its inhabitants.
One of many highlights, the Grand Canyon Skywalk, located 4,000 feet above base allows for breathtaking views and puts into context how extensive the land in and around the Canyon truly is.
Located in the heart of Fremont Street, a visit to the Mob Museum will provide an extensive insight into the wonderful and colourful past of Las Vegas and its prior inhabitants.
Alongside the rise and fall of the Mob in Vegas, the museum addresses their spread throughout the rest of the United States, how they operated in various cities throughout and how they ended up infiltrating the government that had been tasked with bringing an end to their stronghold.
The original wall on which the St. Valentines day Massacre of 1929 took place provides a detailed look into the events leading up to the massacre including the tensions between the rival gangs of Al Capone and Bugs Moran as well as how the night itself unfolded and the state of Chicago in its aftermath.
Highlighting what life was like in the early days of Las Vegas as well as providing an insight into modern day life, visitors will leave with a great understanding into the journey that the city has undertaken and the events that have aided that journey since Las Vegas first came to fruition.
The Hoover Dam can be found around 40 minutes from Las Vegas and is a true marvel of 1930s engineering.
The visitor’s centre is awash with informative exhibitions painting a wonderful picture into the craftsmanship and labour hours that went into the dam’s construction as well as the rich history of the surrounding area.
A walk to the top of the dam will allow visitors to take in its vast size and scope as well as its inner workings, and the multiple viewing points that are available allow a wonderful look at its breathtaking architecture and construction.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is a museum located around 15 minutes from the Las Vegas strip and the brainchild of the Las Vegas Pinball Collector’s Club.
The museum houses over 200 pinball machines from many eras, the earliest dating back to the 1950s and all of the machines are available to play. The collection also features some rare machines that are one of only a handful ever produced.
In addition to pinball machines, the museum houses a collection of old arcade games as well as old popcorn and gum-ball machines that are in full working condition.
Make sure to stock up on quarters as the machines, arcade games and candy machines on offer all cost between 25¢-50¢- per play.
A series of exhibitions and short films highlight the vast number of over 800 nuclear testings that took place throughout the 50s and 60s both in and around Las Vegas. Many artifacts from these testings can also be found on display throughout the museum.
A Nuclear Test simulation brings to life what one would have experienced had they lived in or visited Las Vegas at the time and allows visitors to truly get an understanding into the thought process behind the need for these testings.
The contributions of many individuals from the period are duly and thoroughly noted throughout the museum and highlight how many of their individual efforts paved the way for some of the technology that is still in use to this day.
There are several hikes available to undertake within the park, each around 2-3 hours in length and each providing a unique look into the different rock formations that can be found in the area. Perhaps the most famous, Elephant Rock stands around a 10 minute walk from the east park entrance and will make for a fascinating addition to your trip.
Hikers are encouraged to keep an eye out for a sighting of the Bighorn sheep. Native to North America, but few in number, these harmless sheep are a welcome addition to any hike!
With each hike showcasing a vast amount of geological attributes as well as an abundant amount of colourful rocks available to see throughout, this really is a trip that everyone can enjoy.
The Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Garden are located around 20 minutes from the Las Vegas strip.
A tour of the factory will enable visitors to get a glimpse into the history of the factory and its day-to-day operations, with free chocolate samples located throughout!
The cactus garden plays host to around 350 species of cacti situated within an oasis like setting.
The gardens are well maintained with various paths leading you to all of the cacti on offer, and clearly labeled information plaques giving you a brief history into the origins of each of the different cacti on show.
Located around a 5 minute walk from the strip of Las Vegas, The high roller is a Ferris wheel that allows for 360 degree views of the city and its surrounding area. A visit after sunset is particularly encouraged, allowing anyone riding the wheel to see Las Vegas lit up in all its glory.
The ride lasts around 30 minutes and visitors can opt to ride one of the classic carts available, or one of the carts that come equipped with an open bar.
After departure you will find yourself located close to the heart of the city to enjoy the remainder of the night as you see fit.
- Stock up on sun screen! Las Vegas is located in the heart of the desert and the sun can be piercing at times so make sure you don’t forget your SPF.
- Make sure to bring a hat! There is very little shade on offer, particularly around the Grand Canyon and Valley of Fire so make sure you have a hat to keep the sun from beating down on you whilst you’re out and about.
- Don’t forget your sunglasses! The sunlight in Vegas can be overwhelming due to the lack of shade on offer so make sure to pack a sturdy set of sunglasses to see you through your trip.
- Stock up on water and snacks! If opting for a desert hike, make sure you have plenty of water and snacks to keep you going as there are no service stations within 10 kilometres of each entrance.
- Plan to start your day early! The heat of the desert can be unforgiving so planning for an early start will help you avoid the heightened temperatures of the midday sun.
- Check opening hours! Opening hours for some of the sites vary depending on season so make sure to plan ahead and check all opening hours before departure.
What would be a top suggestion for your trip to Las Vegas?
Please comment below to let me know!
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