Las Vegas

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With the bright lights of the Strip in your eyes, it’s easy to forget Vegas’ splendid setting between mountains and desert. In a city of phony horizons and simulated volcanic eruptions, you almost expect animatronic animals and landscapes beyond the suburbs, but real wildlife exists a quick drive away. In Vegas, you can actually ski, golf, scuba dive, rock climb, ride horseback, and hike on the same day – as long as you don’t mind waking up really early.

Day Trips from Las Vegas

Grand Canyon Tours

Far to drive, one of the country’s greatest attractions is a reasonable day-trip by helicopter. Operators like Heli USA Airways run trips from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon that include both ground and air tours, accompanied by informational narration and concluding with a helicopter pass over the Strip.

Heli USA Airways, Grand Canyon, AZ, 800-359-8727, www.heliusa.com
Tags: family | outdoors | day trip | adventure

Hoover Dam and Lake Mead

Towering more than 700 feet above the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam attracts more than a million visitors a year. Choose between a Power Plant Tour or a full Dam Tour that includes the plant and the interior of the massive dam (702-494-2517; www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam). When you’ve had your fill of history head to Lake Mead (702-293-8906; www.nps.gov/lake) where you can rent kayaks, canoes, or jet skis, take a desert stroll, or enjoy a sunset paddlewheel cruise on the lake. Stop by the Boulder Dam Brewing Co. for a locally-brewed pint on the way back to town.

30 miles southeast of Vegas, U.S. 93, NV,
Tags: family | kayaking | outdoors | history | day trip

Mt. Charleston

Part of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, this mountain and its surrounding peaks provide off-the-beaten-path entertainment less than an hour from the Strip. The most unexpected recreational opportunity here? The cozy, 11-run Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort (702-593-9500; www.skilasvegas.com), where the vibe is friendly and there’s plenty of powder. Come summer, enjoy hiking, biking, camping, and horse trails.

45 miles northwest of Vegas, NV, 702-872-4586
Tags: family | hiking | off the path | skiing | outdoors | day trip | national park

Pink Jeep Tours

Get away from the glitz with a 10-hour journey to Death Valley, checking out historic ghost towns en route to the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Other trips explore Hoover Dam and the petroglyphs and petrified sand dunes of the Valley of Fire.

Pick-up at hotel, NV, 888-900-4480, www.pinkjeeptours.com
Tags: smart splurge | tour | day trip | adventure

Red Rock Canyon

A brilliant crimson splash of ancient sandstone stitched with black obsidian and milky limestone, makes this canyon a natural rival to Las Vegas’ neon glitter. More serious adventurers come less for the colors and more for the top notch climbing throughout the canyon.

17 miles west of Vegas off Charleston Rd., NV, 702-515-5350, www.redrockcanyonlv.org
Tags: family | outdoors | day trip

Sundance Helicopter Tours

Take a flight to the rim of the Grand Canyon for a champagne and BBQ lunch (3.5 hours round trip) or a twilight city tour showcasing the glittering lights of the Strip (2 hours round trip). Sundance Helicopter Tours will escort you from your hotel to the heliport in a limo for the ride of your life.

Pick-up at hotel, NV, 702-736-0606, www.helicoptour.com
Tags: smart splurge | tour | day trip | adventure | helicopter tour

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