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Las Vegas Beyond the Casinos


Roadmap for off-strip excitement

I'm all for excess and losing myself in the glitz of the strip. But when I'm done with midnight buffets and tequila sunrises, I need deliverance from my sinful ways before boarding the plane home.

Las VegasLas VegasA world apart from the madness of neon signs, the balm of the desert is within easy reach (and if I really must, a half-day visit will give me enough time to feed the slots before sunset).

For an added bonus, the break from the ding, ding, ding does the pocketbook a world of good.

Best Bets for Fun

  • Bonnie Springs Ranch / Old Nevada: A re-creation of the Wild West, Bonnie Springs is admittedly a tourist trap, but surprisingly un-cheesy and a great way to experience Red Rock Canyon. Temperatures are a little more moderate here (perfect for hiking) and other than the lame wax museum, its good fun for families. Don't expect Universal quality though - skits are ad-lib and enthusiasm carries the show. Visit Bonnie Springs Ranch for more info.
  • Hoover Dam & Lake Mead: When you're ready to repent for those 3am buffet excursions, it's time for a visit to the Hoover Dam. An architectural wonder (it's the only reason you can even visit Las Vegas without a life jacket) it's easily the top pick for tourists. There isn't much to do here but walk. Take a side trip to Lake Mead and enjoy some hiking, boating, scuba diving and even rafting. It's a long drive and security checks can make it longer; pack lots of water and fill up on gas. Visit the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead Recreation Area to find out more.
  • Best Fitness Breather

  • The Venetian: The Canyon Ranch Spa Club at The Venetian Club serves up a deliciously healthy Asian/Mediterranean appetizer menu - because if you can't escape the buffets, you can at least reduce your risk of total diet annihilation. Spa cuisine, 8 varieties of yoga and 6 pages of spa treatments will make you wonder if you've found heaven in the heart of Sin City. And the $35US access fee ($80US for 3 days) is a small price to pay for salvation. Visit The Venetian for more details.
  • Desperate Attempt to Amuse Kids

  • Area 51: Secret military facility or alien Beyond the StripBeyond the Striplanding zone? Cows with extra udders and craters in the landscape seem out of this world until you realize you're near a nuclear testing facility (maybe). My co-worker says it's the customs area for visiting aliens - but only at night. There's no place to stay here and the landscape feels like something out of a sci-fi movie, so this makes a good day trip at best. Bring your own food and water and make sure you're gassed up - and be prepared to see some of some amazing dirt roads. Visit Area 51 Researchers for more information, but don't expect accuracy or even sanity for that matter.
  • What's your favorite way to find salvation in Vegas?

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