When Las Vegas comes to mind, most automatically conjure images of the flashing marquees and the larger-than-life resorts lining the infamous Las Vegas Blvd. (also known as The Strip).
But beyond the flashing lights, there is an entirely other side to Las Vegas. A somewhat more subdued side (depending on where you go), that many people never get to experience.
So, when you book your next cheap flight to Las Vegas, do a little extra planning and try to make room for some of the unique experiences beyond the normal tourist haunts.
Downtown Las Vegas: Packed with history and some honky-tonk, Downtown Las Vegas is becoming a place which resonates with the younger travelers. With no shortage of hipster enclaves — The Griffin, Beauty Bar, Downtown Cocktail Room, Insert Coin(s) – serving up icy cold cans of PBR, and family-friendly experiences like the Golden Nugget Pool’s Shark Tank, and the Fremont Street Experience, Downtown has amassed a fun life of its own. Sure, there are still some kitschy strip clubs (The Girls of Glitter Gultch), but with casinos opening onto the street and some nearly too-good-to-be-tasty food deals, Downtown and its bright neon lights, are stop worth enjoying.
Mt. Charleston: Rent a car and drive on out of town … to the mountains. The highest peak in Southern Nevada, Mt. Charleston offers a chance to get some fresh mountain air and seasonal activities. It is home to the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, as well as horseback riding and sleigh rides, biking, hiking and camping. It’s about an hour from Strip to peak, but a complete change of scenery (and weather).
Red Rock Canyon: Perhaps one of the most stunning places in Las Vegas, this outcropping of red rocks in the western part of the Valley is popular with locals and tourists. Grab a bike and enjoy the loop road that traces the park, or lace up hiking boots and head out on a day-hike on one of the many trails. Hikes range from easy to difficult, so there’s something for everyone. Plus, the park has got some of the best repelling in the nation, as well as some of the best views of The Strip.
Boulder City: About 40 minutes southeast of Vegas is Boulder City, a town that came to life during the construction of the Hoover Dam. Today, this town features an adorable main street packed with good (and reasonably priced) eats, including a wine bar and great breakfast nook, as well as antiques. It is close to Hoover Dam, too, so make a day trip out of it and head to the city for some history and the dam for some awe-inspiring views.
Bonnie Springs: This old Western town is great for family travel. It’s got a petting zoo, gun fight re-enactors, and tons of historic buildings to explore. There’s even a cute little train that transports visitors from the parking lot to the main part of the town. A nice getaway for grown-ups, too, there’s a little hotel on-site and a cozy, dark restaurants with an authentic western feel perfect for sipping wine and relaxing after spending time in Vegas.