Bright lights, big production shows and chiming slot machines, I get it, I get it! The appeal of Las Vegas has never been so obvious, but for a frequent visitor like myself, I found it slowly starting to become predictable. I wanted a little more. I wanted to see the real Vegas, eat with some locals, get into the desert, and take a drive away from all the twinkling signs… Here are a few things I’ve found that are fun and interesting and will help you get off the strip!
Take a Hike
Have a rental car? Great. About a 30 minute drive from any hotel on the strip is the meeting point for Desert Adventures Hikes and Kayaking. My husband and I booked a challenging yet rewarding hike into the desert and hot springs with a guide and a few new friends. For $139 you’ll spend a day with a friendly and knowledgeable guide exploring the back country of Black Canyon. We hiked through shallow rivers, seeing rocks covered with ancient art (from the Mohave and Paiute tribes) along the way into a hot spring hidden in cave just a few steps up a ladder. Sitting in the warm waters for a breather was well deserved as our muscles ached a little from the hike. (It’ll be about 4 to 6 miles in total).
Our guide carries extra water for us to use at any time and lunch is included. We perched by a beach to enjoy some lunch (they’ll ask what you prefer when you book, veggie options are available). We snacked on turkey sandwiches with juice and a cookie while watching kayakers glide down the Colorado River in groups. Keep an eye out for beautiful wildflowers, bleating bighorn sheep and the changing sandstone colours of the towering canyon walls. We found this hike to be pretty challenging and were proud of ourselves when we completed it. We talk about this experience and look back on it fondly all the time. You have options of choosing various adventures if hiking isn’t up your alley, you can kayak, SUP board, even do up to 5 days excursions to the Utah Canyons. There is something for every level of fitness. Check them out yourself at www.kayaklasvegas.com
Sparkle and Glow at the neon museum
See where all the neon hotel signs go after they retire from the Strip at the Neon Museum. About 15 minutes off the strip, you’ll find a glorified junk yard of neon signs of Vegas past. A glowing smiling duck, camels welcoming you to the Sahara, 24 hour wedding chapel bells and giant lamp waiting to grant you a wish or three were just some of the gems we encountered. You can opt for a tour (1 hour) or do a walk around yourself with a free booklet that gives backgrounds to the more popular pieces. The museum was founded in 1996 and they’re dedicated to restoring and collecting these iconic signs.
It was fun to walk around and great for photo ops. We ended up being there about 30 minutes and they have a few staff members wandering the grounds if you have any questions or want to hear a story or two. Tickets are $20 for general admission and the boneyard is open between 9am-4pm most days. Snag some tickets here: www.neonmuseum.org.
Visit an authentic german beer hall
It’s no secret I’m a beer lover, only a short cab ride from the strip on Paradise Road is Hofbrauhaus, a gigantic German beer hall serving up steins of imported draft beers and delicious traditional fare (think soft pretzels, schnitzels and sausages with sauerkraut!). I went with a group and we had a great time sharing off each other’s plates and lifting up our heavy Oktoberfest steins, shouting ‘Prost!’ with the crowd. Standing on your chairs and singing along to traditional German drinking songs (live entertainment every night) or classic American gem’s like Sweet Caroline or I’ve Got Friends in Low Places is highly encouraged.
Keep an eye out for waitresses dishing out ‘paddling’s’ and a shot to drunken patrons and frequently celebrity guests tapping kegs. The atmosphere is ridiculously fun and the interior really mimics that of an authentic German beer hall, it’s actually quite stunning and even rented out occasionally for events like weddings. Reservations highly recommended. Open 11am to 11pm, www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com
Wander through the Mojave Desert
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.