This year’s International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo in Las Vegas, November 9-14, promises to offer enlightening sessions, interactive expo booths and invaluable networking. However, Expo attendees might want to consider taking a few extra days to enjoy some fun things to do while in the Las Vegas area.

Las Vegas itself offers plenty of lights and excitement for visitors, but the spectacular Southwest landscape surrounding the area offers a plethora of enjoyable and diverse excursions within just a quick helicopter or airplane ride or an hour’s drive.

From rugged mountains, to red rock canyons and deep desert valley, the Las Vegas area has something to entice everyone, with a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities and attractions. And the region’s temperate climate makes most outdoor activities enjoyable year-round.

Scenic Getaways

Probably one of the most iconic natural wonders of the world is only a one-hour flight from Las Vegas: the Grand Canyon. One-mile deep and 277 miles long, the Colorado River carved out unique color erosions over millions of years forming the majestic Grand Canyon. Sightseeing air and ground tours depart Las Vegas daily for half-day, full-day and even overnight excursions.

Take an overnight mule ride along breathtaking vistas and stay a night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon at Phantom Ranch, a resort located near the Colorado River. Or, arrange for a guided tour with National Park Service Rangers and explore the pines of the Kaibab National Forest.

Half-day and full-day whitewater rafting trips are also popular at the Grand Canyon, but reservations fill up fast and can be made up to a year in advance. Bus, van, bike and Jeep tours are all available, weather permitting. Some guided tours even include campfire by twilight and wagon rides.

Grand Canyon West is owned by the Hualapai Tribe, which also operates the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway suspended over 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon’s floor. Opened in 2007, visitors to the Skywalk get a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon never seen before, surrounded by transparent glass on all sides of the walkway and 70 feet from the canyon’s rim.

The Hoover Dam is another iconic symbol easily associated with Nevada and Las Vegas. Located just 35 miles southeast of the Las Vegas strip, the dam was built during the Great Depression by thousands of workers, one hundred of which lost their lives during its five years of construction. The 776-foot-high dam is 660 feet thick and is still considered an engineering marvel to this day.

Nearly one million tourists visit the Hoover Dam every year, making it one of the most popular attractions in the United States. Signifying the border of Arizona and Nevada, the Hoover Dam serves as a flood control device, as well as providing water storage and power. Tours of the facility are available to the general public throughout the year.

Red Rock Canyon is a picturesque area of rock formations 15 miles west of Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon’s 3,000-foot steep cliffs produced by a thrust fault makes it a popular destination with rock climbers and is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including feral horses, coyotes, sheep and an array of native desert plants.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is 25 miles from Las Vegas and boasts more than 550 miles of wide-open shoreline, offering water enthusiasts year-round access to swimming, water skiing, boating, fishing and cruises. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular water sports at Lake Mead. Surrounded by towering picturesque mountains, outdoor activities at Lake Mead are some of the most dramatic and breathtaking available in the country.

With more than one million acres, the Mojave National Preserve is one of the country’s largest national parks in the contiguous states. Areas of the Mojave are so remote, modern day GPS maps have been proven unreliable and park rangers suggest ensuring guests use a real map to navigate primitive dirt roads. Activities at the park abound, with sand dunes, Joshua Tree forests and mile-high mountains.

Just 35 miles from Las Vegas, Mt. Charleston is the ideal location for skiing, hiking and horseback riding. Oftentimes 20-30 degrees cooler than Las Vegas, Mt. Charleston is also known as the Spring Mountains National Recreational Area and features guided hiking, snowboarding and educational opportunities to learn about nature and ecosystems.

Located 158 miles North of Las Vegas and across the Utah/Nevada border, Zion National Park is a popular destination among skiing buffs. The park is a colorful mix of sandstone canyons, along with hot rocky deserts and a wide array of animal creatures. 3,000-foot canyon walls loom far above the river and grass covered canyon floor.

Death Valley is located near the Nevada/California border and just a mere 40-minute plane ride from Las Vegas. This scenic wonder has the lowest elevation on North America at 280 feet below sea level. Known as the “Land of Extremes” it also boasts the driest and hottest weather patterns in 48 contiguous states.

Outdoor sports are extremely popular at Death Valley National Park, such as backpacking, hiking and even bird watching. Other attractions in the area worth visiting include Scotty’s Castle, a Depression Era vacation home with mysterious tunnels and underground hideaways and 20 Mule Team Canyon, a stunning scenic drive through multi-colored badlands that give a remarkable glimpse into nature’s effects of thousands of years of wind and erosion.

Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, dedicated in 1935. The park’s hidden canyons hold the secrets of ancient Native American civilizations, including 3,000 year-old petroglyphs and petrified wood. Popular activities at Valley of Fire State Park include picnicking, photography, hiking and camping. The park is located about an hour Northeast of Las Vegas.

Other rock formations found at Valley of Fire State Park include shales and limestones, most dating back to the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago.

Dynamic Destinations

In addition to the varied outdoor sporting activities and water recreation opportunities throughout the Las Vegas area, there are also numerous cities offering unique shopping, family friendly entertainment and of course, world-class gaming.

Escape the fast-paced hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas strip for a day or two and opt for a more relaxed, small town atmosphere. Less frenetic in pace, these cities have old-world charm, but still have plenty of excitement and thrills to offer visitors.

Boulder City

Just a few miles from the Hoover Dam, Boulder City offers quiet, relaxed living in a small town of 15,000. Boulder City is the only city in Nevada where public gaming is illegal.

Built as a city to accommodate workers building the Hoover Dam, the small town housed more than 4,000 workers in the height of its construction. Today, the citizens of Boulder City take pride in their attractions, such as skydiving, hiking trails, world-class golfing and a wide variety of community based events that help magnify the city’s small-town charisma.


Located 90-miles southeast of Las Vegas, the city of Laughlin is ideally situated along the banks of the Colorado River. Along with its fair share of casinos and resorts, Laughlin also features a variety of outdoor sporting activities, such as jet boating, water skiing, canoeing and kayaking.

Some casinos and private vendors operate sightseeing boats that cruise the scenic Colorado River, Hoover Dam and the nearby London Bridge. There are also premium outlet shopping opportunities, in an art-deco style, two-story shopping center, with more than 55 merchants.


35-minutes from Las Vegas on the California-Nevada border, Primm has it all: world-class shopping, dining, famous entertainers, one of the world’s tallest and fastest roller coasters and other family-style entertainment.

Visitors to the Primm Valley Casino Resorts can travel by monorail (free of charge) between the resorts. Attractions at the resorts include the Desperado roller coaster, Adventure Canyon water log ride, virtual reality rides and water slides. Primm also boasts outlet shopping, with over 100 designer retailers offering savings of up to 75 percent.


An authentic, rustic ghost town, Rhyolite, is located 120 miles north of Las Vegas. Highlights include the ruins of an old general store, restaurant, banks, a school and a house made entirely out of bottles. Around 1905, the town was in its heyday, with a flurry of activity due to the local mining. After the fall of the gold rush, the town faltered and was quickly abandoned.

Bonnie Springs Ranch/Old Nevada

Located 20 miles west of Las Vegas, Bonnie Springs Ranch was built in the 1840’s as a cattle ranch and watering hole. Across from the ranch is Old Nevada, a place where tourists can witness the re-creation of an Old West town complete with gunfights, a children’s petting zoo and mini-train rides.


Mesquite, 80 miles north of Las Vegas and near the Utah border, offers something for visitors who love either indoor or outdoor adventures. Visitors explore the picturesque desert, tee off at their favorite lush golf courses and indulge in decadent spa treatments.

A year-round playground in the heart of the Virgin River Valley, the community was originally founded in 1894. Its old-world charm has kept it a popular destination for families wanting to escape the frenetic pace of the Las Vegas strip.

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