Las Vegas is, to many, a small slice of liberal heaven right in the middle of the desert. But beyond the always-open casinos and late-night bars and nightclubs, there is another side to Las Vegas, and travellers can discover the history, culture and awesome nature surrounding Sin City. Here are 10 alternative attractions for Las Vegas visitors...
FlightLinez Bootleg Canyon: Nearby Boulder City was established as a home for the workers of Hoover Dam to live in. Today visitors can explore its historical district. Bootleg Canyon, located just outside town, is a great spot to take in the views and whizz through the air on a FlightLinez zip line tour. Book out a morning and reach speeds of up to 60mph through the arid mountains.
Vegas Glass Kayaks: Forty minutes outside of Las Vegas, take a guided tour of The Black Canyon in a glass-bottom kayak. Vegas Glass Kayaks offer the chance to explore the river, see the region’s unique wildlife or just enjoy the calm, picturesque canyon. From novices to experienced paddlers, anyone can take the tour. There is a tremendous amount of history and visitors can explore the Emerald Cave, view ancient petroglyphs or visit the site where the gauger used to measure water levels pre-Hoover Dam.
Grand Canyon Tours: No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon. A natural wonder of the world, there are plenty of viewing options: visit by car, light airplane or helicopter. Both Sundance Helicopters and Maverick Aviation offer air tours to the canyon. I took a morning tour with Sundance Helicopters flying to the Grand Canyon, landing in its basin for a spot of breakfast before a flight back and a quick air tour of the glittering strip.
Neon Museum: You’ll need to book in advance to get a spot on this popular tour, which takes you round a collection of old neon signs which formerly graced downtown Las Vegas and The Strip. The non-profit Neon Museum collects and preserves the iconic signs and its outdoor exhibition space, known as the Neon Boneyard, is home to a growing number of restored pieces. Discover the history behind the growth of Las Vegas and hear some great stories on its glamorous past from the knowledgeable guides.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours: I’d recommend kicking off your visit with one of these. Available both Downtown and on The Strip, you’ll sample at least five of Vegas’ best restaurants and receive an introduction to the city. Pictured is a quadruple dessert from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck's Cucina, which included fried Italian donut with caramel sauce and tiramisu with espresso-soeaked chiffon and mascarpone cream. We rounded the night off with a night helicopter flight over the city. vegasfoodietour.com
Art from the heart: Many of the city’s major hotels have seasonal art installations. The Bellagio is a good starting point since it has its own gallery and changing displays in the conservatory. Head downtown and see the wall murals gracing the hotels and public buildings, all commissioned as part of the area’s regeneration. Follow Interstate 15 south out of town to see Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, a colourful public sculpture located in the desert, on display until May 2018.
Spa treatments: There are plenty of opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and escape from the busy streets and bright lights. Check out the CanyonRanch spa club located in The Venetian Hotel and The Palazzo on the Las Vegas strip. The spa offers a vast variety of treatments and there are relaxation rooms alongside innovative scented showers, ice rooms, steam rooms and saunas.
Shop ‘til you drop: There are plenty of places to indulge in retail therapy in Las Vegas. The Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian Hotel have plenty of designer outlets, as does The Shops at Crystals. Miracle Mile Shops is actually over a mile long and has over 170 stores. Simon Malls’ Las Vegas North Premium Outlets features 175 designer and name-brand stores and offers massive daily discounts for shoppers.
Take in a show: The line up of shows in Las Vegas is constantly changing and almost every hotel in town has a theatre. Cirque du Soleil currently has six shows in residencies at various locations around town. You can book tickets online or in the hotel box office. Currently showing is Mystére, O, Zumanity, KÀ, The Beatles LOVE and Michael Jackson ONE. Major music acts are also regularly in town and perform at the new T-Mobile Arena.
The High Roller: Take to the sky in the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller, which offers excellent views of the Las Vegas valley and The Strip and soars 550 feet above Sin City. Stop at the bar before you board or, better still, upgrade your ride and purchase a Happy Half Hour ticket which includes an in-cabin open bar and obliging bartender for the ride. Alternatively, you can have a morning yoga experience on the High Roller.
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