When we think of Las Vegas, the first things we can picture are its neon lights, casinos, neon signs, and nightly shows. Also, its picturesque chapels where more than 120,000 weddings are celebrated annually. But the main city of the state of Nevada has much more in store. Keep reading and find out everything you can see in Las Vegas and its surroundings!
1. Welcome to Las Vegas
The unmistakable proof that you have been in Las Vegas is to take a picture with its famous welcome sign. It is located south of the city, in Las Vegas Boulevard, and has a cool story behind it (keep reading to learn about it!)
If you want to take a picture here, you will have to wait in line a bit, but having it in your Las Vegas trip album is well worth it.
Las Vegas has a lot of places that you can miss among all the eye candy, so I recommend you take a guided tour to make sure you don't miss anything. Here, I've listed the best tours and excursions in Las Vegas: Best Tours and Day Trips from Las Vegas.
Why is the Las Vegas Sign so emblematic?
The sign was created by local artist Betty Whitehead Willis in 1959, designer of other Las Vegas classic signs such as the Blue Angel Motel and the Moulin Rouge Hotel. However, the graphic designer never registered this work as it was her gift to the city. Today this image is reproduced in all kinds of Las Vegas souvenirs.
What makes this illuminated sign special is its Googie and populuxe style, which had its heyday in Southern California in the mid-20th century. In fact, the entire early construction phase of Las Vegas shows influences of this style characterized by the use of neon lights and geometric shapes.
2. Tour the Las Vegas Strip
It is the main avenue of the city, where the most famous casinos and hotels in Las Vegas are located. As you walk along with it, you will see that the atmosphere on this 6-kilometer-long boulevard is vibrant both day and night. Its main attractions are the colorful neon lights and giant screens, the crowded casinos, the imposing hotels, and its fascinating shows. All this makes the Las Vegas Strip one of the most photographed and visited avenues in the United States.
One of the best things to do in Las Vegas is to visit the Las Vegas Strip at night when the sunlight gives way to the glow of the illuminated signs that light up this street. Taking a stroll you will get to know its famous hotels and their amazing ambientation and architecture. Each of them has restaurants, casinos, and shows, with the Bellagio Fountains or the Mirage Volcano standing as two of the top attractions.
It is also home to one of the most popular malls in Las Vegas: the Fashion Show Mall, which is full of restaurants and shops.
3. Stroll down Fremont Street
Another of the must-see places in Las Vegas is Fremont Street, the old city that was built in the early twentieth century. Today it is the second most important street in the city behind the Las Vegas Strip, but in the old times, it was home to the most famous casinos and hotels of Las Vegas.
This street hosts the Fremont Street Experience, one of the most fascinating shows in Las Vegas, combining sound, lights, and music to perfection. It was created to revitalize tourism in the old part of the city. In addition, in this place, you can jump 34 meters high on a zip line to have a totally different view of this famous street. Quite literally too, since you'll be upside down at more than 37 miles per hour!
4. Discover Red Rock Canyon
If you enjoy hiking, one of the places to see in Las Vegas given its proximity to the city is Red Rock Canyon, a natural park in the Mojave Desert where you can admire reddish rock formations with landscapes similar to those of the Valley of Fire.
Red Rock Canyon has several hiking trails of varying levels of difficulty. In the Visitor Center, you will find information about the most interesting sites in the area such as the Calico Hills sandstone hills, the petroglyphs at Willow Springs, or the Spring Mountain State Park.
During the tour, you will be able to contemplate the unique reddish colored landscape adorned with unique species such as the Mojave Yucca or the Joshua Tree. Also, you will see one of the most famous faults on the planet: the Keystone Thrust Fault. In addition, Red Rock Canyon is home to coyotes, snakes, burros, scorpions, spiders, and even endangered species such as the desert tortoise.
5. The Valley of Fire
Located less than 60 miles northeast of Las Vegas is a red sandstone landscape in the Mojave Desert that looks like a different planet: the Valley of Fire. It is Nevada's oldest and largest state park and gets its name from the colorful hue of its rock formations, which were sand dunes that fossilized 150 million years ago.
The Valley of Fire is one of the most photogenic places in the state and one that locals flock to for hiking, camping, and picnicking. As a tourist, it is one of the best places to see in Las Vegas and not to be missed. The best thing to do is to go to the Visitors Center to get all the information about the places to visit. You can also visit its small museum where you can learn more about the history, ecology, and geology of the place.
What to see in the Valley of Fire
The tour through the interior of the Valley of Fire is circular, so you can stop for a slight deviation here and there and take some pictures of this magical landscape. Of the different areas that shape up the state park, the most recommended seeing are White Domes, Rainbow Vista, and Mouse's Tank, which are located in the northern area. On the main road, Atlatl Rock, Arch Rock and Seven Sisters are also a must.
A piece of advice when visiting the Valley of Fire: wear comfortable clothes and shoes, bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen because the heat will not go easy on you. For those of you who go by car, remember to fill up the tank before leaving town.
6. Drive to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead
Considered one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century, the Hoover Dam is a colossal structure located on the course of the Colorado River. Lake Mead was formed by the dam, and it is the largest artificial lake in the United States with an area of 247 square miles.
Today, the Hoover Dam supplies electricity to Nevada, Arizona, and Southern California and is visited by more than a million people each year. Taking a trip to the dam and Lake Mead is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas. My recommendation is to visit the Hoover Dam with a guided tour of the interior to learn how it works and then access the observation decks for spectacular views.
And while you are there, on Lake Mead it is possible to do outdoor activities such as renting a boat, riding a jet ski, scuba diving, or horseback riding.
7. Fly over the Grand Canyon of Colorado
The Grand Canyon of Colorado is one of the most impressive landscapes in the world and, therefore, one of the must-do excursions in Las Vegas. Every year about 5 million people visit this natural monument located in northern Arizona either by air by helicopter or by road by car.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a steep gorge carved by the Colorado River for more than 2 billion years. With astonishing dimensions of 277,132 miles long and a maximum height of the gorge of almost one mile, you can only be aware of the proportions of the place when looking out from one of the viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. Here, you will be captivated by the beauty and immensity of the place.
The different zones of the Canyon
The Grand Canyon is divided into three parts: North Rim and South Rim (managed by the National Park Service, and boasting impressive views) and West Rim (the area most visited by tourists from Las Vegas, which is managed by the Hualapai Indian tribe). Taking a helicopter tour of the South Rim of the Colorado Canyon is one of the most breathtaking experiences you can include on your trip to Las Vegas.
In the West Rim area, at the Eagle Point overlook, is one of the visitors' favorite attractions known as the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass-floored platform suspended on a cliff almost a mile above the Colorado River. I highly recommend you to visit the Skywalk, but only if you're not afraid of massive heights! And if you suffer from vertigo, maybe an occasion like this is the best way to overcome it and enjoy a unique landscape that you will never forget.
You can take a tour by helicopter of the West Rim so you don't miss this amazing sightseeing experience.
8. Get married in Las Vegas
It is very common to see brides and grooms heading in a limousine to a wedding venue or find them along the Las Vegas Strip and Fremont Street posing happily for their photoshoot. Every year thousands of couples live an unforgettable trip to the United States by declaring their love and walking down the aisle in one of the picturesque chapels that are scattered throughout the city.
What inspires many couples to get married in Las Vegas: is the quirky experience and the memories that you can take home as souvenirs. But an important upside of a Las Vegas wedding is that it doesn't require investing a lot of time in wedding planning and paperwork. Having a wedding in Las Vegas is quick, easy, and fun and can be done overnight.
Las Vegas offers the bride and groom a wide range of original options for the 'I do's: from romantic traditional chapel weddings with Elvis as master of ceremonies to themed weddings that have an extravagant touch to make this day even more special and memorable.
Just to picture a few, can you imagine getting married in a self-service ceremony without getting out of the car as if you were ordering a hamburger? In Las Vegas, it is possible and in less than 10 minutes! How about making it epic with a helicopter wedding at the Grand Canyon or a limousine wedding in the Valley of Fire? You will definitely have a stunning and unparalleled photo album.