Booze, Broads, and Bacon.
That’s what I saw, big and shiny, when I arrived in Las Vegas.
If you know me, you’re probably wondering what I was doing in a place like Vegas. Let me start by saying this: Vegas is very problematic (where isn’t, though?!) for a lot of reasons. It’s outstandingly gross in many ways.
I know, I know. It already sounds like I have a very negative view of Las Vegas. And I’ll be honest—I do! It’s not the place for me. Would I go back to explore downtown Las Vegas more? Probably not. Would I go back to Las Vegas, to leave? YES!
Nonetheless, I still found some seriously awesome ways to spend my time there, and I’m ready to share them with you.
Let the Fun Begin!
For as much as I wanted to get out of Las Vegas while I was there, I was conflicted about leaving in the end. Why? Las Vegas is a great middle ground for a handful of other wonderful places.
If you do find yourself in Las Vegas, and don’t want to go party with the crowd, I have a list of the top ways that you could spend your time.
Let’s start with the easy ones. Maybe you just landed, and you’re not looking to drive out of town right away. What should you do?
1. People-watch on Fremont
Las Vegas is home to many different humans from all walks of life. If you find a place to take a breather on Fremont, I promise that you won’t be bored. I personally don’t like to participate in the chaos that makes up Vegas, but I do like to watch it. I saw beautiful, wonderful, scary, awful, funny, and heart-warming things. It’s all about perspective!
Ok, so you’ve been people-watching for a bit and you’ve worked up an appetite. Where should you go?
2. Hit up Vegnation, of course!
Vegnation is a 100% plant based restaurant. You can find their menu here. They’re super easy to walk to from Fremont Street and the inside is charming, friendly, and green. The food was delicious—and the staff was eager to offer suggestions. Vegnation is the best spot to grab some grub in town!
Let’s say you’re full and wanting to burn off some energy. What’s next?
I have just the thing.
3. Let Loose at Karaoke
A good friend took me to a little bar to sing karaoke one night, and it was pretty awesome. Inspire has one half-wall where the top is completely open; offering air, space, and a way for those passing to peek in and catch some tunes. If you don’t like being around intoxicated humans, you may want to skip this place altogether. However, if you’re ready to sing, make sure to show up at 9:00 pm every Wednesday. This is a 21+ event!
(Throwing it back to recommendation #1, if you hit the karaoke bar and aren’t feeling it, this is a solid place to simply sit and people-watch. You’ll get to view and experience most of the energies of the street, but still feel tucked away with some space between you and the crowd.)
I can’t go on to the next step without mentioning how truly amazing some of the humans were that came in to share their voices. I mean, golly. Listening to some of the folks singing was a gift. I couldn’t help but to get off my feet and let my body go to the music!
Alright, let’s take it on out of town. You’re rested up and ready to see some things. Where should you go?
4. Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful place, that’s not too far away from Vegas. It’s about twenty-five minutes out, and you can find the address and more information on the park here. You’ll have a couple options when you get there: you can either drive the thirteen miles through the park or you can get out of the vehicle and explore some trails. When I visited Red Rock Canyon, it was super hot, so staying in the car was the best option at the time. I did get out and have a small taste of the trails– and they’re worth seeing. The red of the rocks melted into my skin and I could have kept my gaze on them for hours. On a less romantic note, make sure to check out the temperature warnings on the park website before you go. It’s important, especially if you plan on hiking!
Ok, so maybe I didn’t really stay in the car?!
Like I said—if you’re exploring in the summer, Red Rock Canyon is basically an oven. Where should you go to cool down?
5. Mt. Charleston!
I added an exclamation point (!!!) to this recommendation because it was my favorite setting that I experienced in Vegas. Mt. Charleson is located about thirty-nine miles outside of Vegas, so you’ll have to use a car (or find another way—be safe and creative!) to get there. It ends up being around a forty-five minute drive from the strip.
I did a thirty-five minute hike with a couple of pals and felt revived when I got to the top of the switchback that we traveled up. I could literally feel the stress melting as we climbed; the greenery was beautiful and the air was crisp, bouncy, and easy to breathe. It surely is quite the opposite of Vegas—a great place to recharge and check in with yourself. When you get to the top, make sure to spend a few minutes saying hello to the flowers, ponder while you sit on rocks, and catch a couple drops from the waterfall!
Now you’re recharged and feeling good from all of the earthling you did, and you’re ready to head back to town for the evening. Don’t worry—I know just the thing to do.
6. Catch a movie at the Cosmopolitan
Have you ever watched a movie, while reclining in a pool, on top of a hotel that looks over the sea of lights that make up Vegas? I hadn’t until this summer! When you’re ready to cool off, bring $5 and head over to the Cosmopolitan. Check out the hotel’s website for the movie schedule.
As the sun sets, you’re almost able to touch the colors of the sky from the rooftop pool. Watching a movie in cool water in the evening is nice, but the views of the sky are honestly the best part. Kick back and soak it in!
Get ready.. I’m about to share a secret (AND AWESOME!) activity with you. For this one, you’ll have to find your way over to Zion National Park. No, it is not in Nevada!
7. Cruise through Zion
Zion National Park is located about one hundred and sixty miles away, clocking in at a two and a half hour drive from Las Vegas. If you want to head over there but aren’t renting a car, I suggest checking out Rideshare on Craigslist or seeing if any locals are hosting a trip there from the Couchsurfing app.
I would prepare by bringing lots of water, extra calories, sunscreen, a buddy to hike with and an inner tube (I’ll explain this shortly) . Getting into the park costs $15 per vehicle and $12 per person for a seven-day pass. Don’t worry, they don’t exceed $25 per family. If you’re lucky, you may be entering with someone who already has a pass to the park.
When you get inside, you can take the park’s trolley up through all of the key park points. Although I only did a couple hikes, I recommend getting off at The Narrows. Make sure to talk to a park ranger before hand to see if the water levels are safe for the day.
You can hike up the river up to around eight miles. Be prepared to do some climbing over rocks and stomping through the water. When you’re ready to head back, pull out your inner tube and blow that baby up! Once you’re recovering from the feeling of a light head, take a breather and float back down the river.
The water can be pretty shallow at times, so it may not be smooth sailing the whole way. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy the views from your raft and feel the rhythm of the water.
When I went, I didn’t see anyone else with inner tubes and I was honestly surprised! It was one of the highlights of my time in Vegas. If you enjoy your time there as much as I did, make sure to share this insight with a friend– or even hand your inner tube off to someone at the end of your journey.
Now that you’ve heard all about my journey in Vegas, go out and do your thing! There a multitude of things to discover and enjoy. Even if you do fancy the nightlife, I suggest keeping some of these activities on your radar, as well.