Let’s be honest: Not all travelers are seeking day trips from Las Vegas. Some Vegas visitors are perfectly happy to stay on The Strip, whether within their own hotels, or dining at some of the world’s highest-rated restaurants.
On the other hand, even the most ardent poker or roulette player can appreciate the beauty of the desert that surrounds Sin City. This is particularly the case if he or she has won big, and can make any of the excursions I’m about to list in style!
Regardless of where you fall on this continuum, and how long you plan to stay in Vegas, I hope you’ll continue reading. At a bare minimum it’ll give you some raw travel inspiration, whether or not you end up following my advice when all is said and done.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
The beauty of taking day trips from Las Vegas is that you’re free to stay in any of the city’s amazing hotels. Many people are married to certain brands, particularly big name ones like Bellagio and Sands, which are connected to casinos of the same name. Don’t want to stay where you play? Not to worry: Las Vegas is home to a large and growing number of boutique hotels and also of Airbnb properties.
In fact, depending on the shape your trip takes, you might not even have to sit down at a physical slot machine at all. That’s because there are so many similar Vegas slots online that you could theoretically spend every day outside the city hiking or otherwise enjoy nature. Play from the comfort of your own device instead of actually having to dress up and go out.
My Favorite Las Vegas Day Trips
Valley of Fire
As its name suggests, the Valley of Fire is comprised of red sandstone, which brilliantly surrounded either side of the highway you drive along to reach it. Located about 45 minutes each way from Las Vegas, it’s an ideal option to choose if you don’t have quite a full day away from the city.
Red Rock Canyon
Another one of my favorite day trips from Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon. On the surface, this place may look similar to the Valley of Fire, although I’d say that while it’s more towering and dramatic, it’s also less stunningly colored. At the same time, it’s also only 20 minutes from the city, which makes it an even more alluring choice.
Even if you aren’t into infrastructure, the Hoover Dam is a marvel that you just have to see to believe. And even when you do, it’s difficult to imagine that this massive and striking spectacle is nearly 100 years old, to say nothing of how many people’s livelihoods depend on its existence.
The bad news? You’re not going to see any aliens if you choose Area 51 as one of your day trips from Las Vegas. The good news? You will see a ton of alien kitsch along the aptly-named “Extraterrestrial Highway,” which runs the entirety of the ~three hours from Las Vegas to Tonopah, the closest city to the controversial government site.
The Grand Canyon
Like Area 51, the Grand Canyon is pretty far from Vegas—four hours each way, to be specific. If you want to visit on a day trip, you’ll need to leave at the crack of dawn; you shouldn’t expect to get back before dark, assuming you do. At the same time, if you don’t have time to stay at the Canyon overnight, a day trip will do the job.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Las Vegas?
Many travelers spend a weekend (or a long weekend) in Vegas by design. The quick and easy nature of fun in Vegas makes it a popular destinations for scheduled time off work. At the same time, if you can swing it, spending 3-5 days in Sin City is really worth it, even if you aren’t feeling particularly lucky after a night or two at the blackjack table.
Indeed, since many of the day trips from Las Vegas I’ve mentioned take an entire day (and these five only really scratch the surface), there’s an argument to be made that the longer you spend here, the better. On the other hand, if you’re visiting Vegas for a convention or exhibition, and can do The Strip after finishing up a hard day’s work, you might seek to extend your trip by 1-2 days for the purpose of taking adventures.
Other FAQ About Day Trips from Las Vegas
What is there to do within 2 hours of Las Vegas?
Assuming you can get off The Strip, Las Vegas sits amid a long list of day-trip destinations. Some of the closest ones include natural wonders like Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire, and the engineering marvel that is the Hoover Dam.
Can you do a day trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon?
You can technically do a day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon, which is why I’ve listed it here. However, since the one-way drive takes at least four hours, this will be a very long day indeed. It’s really better to spend a night in Grand Canyon Village, or elsewhere in northern Arizona.
Can you see Hoover Dam for free?
The Hoover Dam is free to visit! Do keep in mind that you’ll probably spend some money on the way, be that in the form of gas to put in your car, snacks and water there or on the way or the meals you’ll enjoy at some point during the day.
The Bottom Line
Which of these day trips from Las Vegas sounds the best to you? I personally love nature—and hate long drives—so my choice would probably be Valley of Fire or Red Rock Canyon, even though I do love the Grand Canyon as well. On the other hand, after the dearth of culture and history Covid-19 has left in its wake, a trip to Area 51 might be worth the visit, if only for the whimsy a quixotic visit to such a ridiculous place is certain to leave in its wake. Regardless of what form you think your next trip to Vegas will end up taking, I do hope you’ll consider hiring me to plan it.