Las Vegas bills itself as the entertainment capital of the world, and while that's up for debate, what isn't in question is that there is plenty to do in Sin City. The gambling industry may have transformed this desert outpost into the glitzy and glittering metropolis that it is today, but there's far more to do here than just games of chance. World-beating shows and musical performances happen in Las Vegas on a nearly nightly basis, and that's to say nothing of the best museums in the city, the amusement parks, and other family-friendly attractions.
With all that going on, it's tempting not to leave the city, especially on a brief visit. And the truth is, many visitors to Las Vegas never do. There are more than enough shopping, dining, and entertainment options here to keep just about everyone entertained, no matter how long their visit is.
But there's so much to do in the region that it would be a shame not to try at least some of the best day trips from Las Vegas. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in Vegas, and you'll be able to explore the desert and some truly stunning locations in Nevada, including a genuine wonder of the world.
How to get out of Las Vegas
No matter what you like to do, chances are good you'll find it in Las Vegas. But what you won't find is an extensive European-style public transport network. Sure, it's relatively easy to get around the city itself, as you can see from our guide to how to get around Las Vegas. But this is the western United States, and that means that to get to most of the places you want to go, you'll need to drive.
Some of the best day trips from Las Vegas are popular enough that you can take a tour bus to visit them. Locations like the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Death Valley National Park are visited enough that many tour operators run buses in the city to take you there. However, traveling on a bus can mean you're always in some kind of crowd. Besides, the freedom of the open road is part of the culture of the West, so if you can afford it, it's probably a good idea to rent a car if you really want to enjoy the best day trips from Las Vegas.
From Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park
No prizes for guessing we would start here. The Grand Canyon, carved out over millions of years by the mighty Colorado River, is unlike anything else on earth. If you only make one day trip from Las Vegas into the desert, this is probably the one to take. This incredible geological wonder is easily one of the best day trips from Las Vegas and a natural wonder of the world.
There are many ways to enjoy the Grand Canyon. If you're feeling energetic, you'll find a wide range of hikes in the park that vary from easy to strenuous. You can also go rafting on the Colorado River and get a unique view of the stunning sandstone cliffs the canyon is known for. If that sounds a little too energetic for your holiday, there are plenty of viewpoints where you can just pull up the car and get some stunning photos of this unique location.
How to get to Grand Canyon National Park
There are several different entry points to the Grand Canyon National Park, but you can expect to drive for at least four hours to reach any of them from Las Vegas. Alternatively, this is one of those famous destinations that you can reach from the city by tour bus if you don't want to drive.
From Las Vegas to Zion National Park
Just a few hours' drive from Las Vegas is Zion National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States. This park is known for its red cliffs and canyons, which make for some incredible hiking opportunities. If you're not feeling quite so energetic, there are plenty of easy trails that everyone in the family can enjoy. The Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock are both worth a visit and are easily accessible even if you're not planning on doing any serious hiking.
How to get to Zion National Park
A drive of two and a half hours will take you from Las Vegas over the border into Utah to this exceptional National Park. It's also reachable by private tour bus.
From Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park
If you want to get away from the crowds, Death Valley National Park is certainly the place to do it. This huge park is home to some of the most inhospitable terrain in the United States, but that just makes it all the more fascinating. It's also one of the best places in the world to see stars at night, as there is very little light pollution.
Visiting Death Valley National Park is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you're up for an adventure, it's certainly worth a visit. Remember to bring plenty of water and food, as there are few services once you leave the main road.
How to get to Death Valley National Park
Guided tours leave from Las Vegas to Death Valley regularly. This is a good way to stay safe and learn more about the fascinating geology and ecology of this unique location while you explore. Alternatively, if you'd rather handle the journey yourself, you can reach the park within a two-hour drive from the city.
From Las Vegas to Hoover Dam
Another of the best day trips from Las Vegas, Hoover Dam is an amazing feat of engineering. This dam, built in the 1930s, was once the tallest dam in the world and is still an impressive sight today.
You can take a tour of the dam itself, which includes a visit to the power plant. Or, if you're feeling energetic, you can walk or cycle across the dam to get some stunning views of Lake Mead and the surrounding desert landscape.
How to get to Hoover Dam
This is another destination that you can reach by tour bus, with regular trips from Las Vegas making the journey here along with knowledgeable tour guides. The drive takes less than an hour, making this one of the most popular trips from Las Vegas for those with limited time.
From Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas but don't want to venture too far into the desert, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is the perfect place for you. This park is only a short drive from the city and offers some incredible hiking and biking trails.
There are also some stunning rock formations, such as the Keystone Thrust fault and the Calico Hills. If you're lucky, you might even spot some desert wildlife, such as bighorn sheep or coyotes.
How to get to Red Rock Canyon
Located right on the edge of the city, you can reach Red Rock Canyon in about 20 minutes by car.
From Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State Park
If you're looking for an otherworldly landscape, Valley of Fire State Park is definitely worth a visit. This park is full of incredible red sandstone formations that have been carved out over millions of years.
There are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore, as well as some interesting petroglyphs left behind by the native peoples who once lived in the area. Valley of Fire is also one of the best places in Nevada to go stargazing, as there is very little light pollution.
How to get to Valley of Fire State Park
It's a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas to the Valley of Fire. Unfortunately, driving your own car is about the only way to get here, as you won't find any public transport and not much in the way of guided tours.
From Las Vegas to Lake Mead National Recreation Area
If you want to cool off on your day trip from Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is the ideal to do it. This huge man-made lake is the perfect place to go swimming, boating, or fishing in the summer months.
There are also some interesting hiking and biking trails in the area, as well as plenty of opportunities to spot desert wildlife.
How to get to Lake Mead
Lake Mead is one of the few day trips you can take from Las Vegas on public transit. Bus 221 travels from the south side of the city to the lake. You'll need to get another bus from Central Vegas to catch the 221, so all in all, the journey will take a couple of hours. On the other hand, if you have a car, you'll reach Lake Mead in around half an hour.
From Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park
Another of America's great national parks, Bryce Canyon is known for its unique rock formations known as hoodoos. This is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas if you're looking for some incredible views and some easy hiking trails. The Sunset Point and Sunrise Point are both worth a visit and offer some of the best views in the park. Make sure you pack your camera!
How to get to Bryce Canyon National Park
Since this park is also located in Utah, it's quite a long drive to get there. About four hours each way, in fact, making this one of the furthest day trips from Las Vegas and one that you might want to consider making into an overnight or weekend trip.
From Las Vegas to Seven Magic Mountains
Located just outside of Las Vegas, Seven Magic Mountains is a must-see if you're in the area. This art installation consists of seven brightly-colored stacks of boulders, which make for a striking sight in the desert landscape.
This is definitely one of the best day trips from Las Vegas if you're looking for something a little bit different. National parks and natural wonders are all well and good, but sometimes, you just want a quirky photo opportunity that won't take you too far from the city, and the Seven Magic Mountains definitely deliver exactly that.
How to get to Seven Magic Mountains
No public transit will bring you to this monument, but it is close to the city, so you'll only need to drive for half an hour to reach it.
From Las Vegas to Cathedral Gorge State Park
If you're looking for a day trip from Las Vegas that will take you off the beaten path, Cathedral Gorge State Park is definitely worth considering. This park is located in eastern Nevada and is known for its unique rock formations.
There are plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore, and the interesting petroglyphs are not to be missed. The petroglyphs and beautiful surroundings make it a historically interesting place in an area not usually known for historic relics, as well as a very scenic one.
How to get to Cathedral Gorge State Park
You can reach Cathedral Gorge in two and a half hours by car from Las Vegas. There's no public transit here, so driving is about the only way to get here.
From Las Vegas to Boulder City
Boulder City is a small town located just outside of Las Vegas. It's best known as the home of Hoover Dam, which is definitely worth a visit if you're interested in seeing one of America's most impressive engineering feats.
Boulder City is also home to a number of interesting museums, such as the Nevada State Railroad Museum and the Boulder City/Hoover Dam Museum. If you're looking for a more relaxed day trip from Las Vegas, this is definitely the place to go.
How to get to Boulder City
It's only a 30-minute drive from the heart of Las Vegas to the middle of Boulder City, making this an easy day trip to take. It's also possible to reach on the same bus that brings you to the Hoover Dam, route 221, but that takes a couple of hours.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Las Vegas, whether you're a gambler or not. But when you consider everything the region has to offer and the incredible day trips from Las Vegas you can take, you'll probably find a couple more reasons to make the journey to Sin City. Hit the open road and get ready to enjoy the truly stunning scenery of Nevada, Utah, and the American West.