Skip to Content

Wonderful Things to do Near Las Vegas (and National Park visits!)

Wonderful Things to do Near Las Vegas (and National Park visits!)

Clearly I’m all about not spending all my time on the Las Vegas Strip, so of course I’m going to tell you to take time to explore outside of downtown Vegas. There are cool museums, lots of hiking, and historic sites to visit, all on day or afternoon trips from Las Vegas. With so many things to do near Las Vegas and on short adventures from the city, a Vegas vacation takes on a whole new and exciting meaning.

From nearby National Parks to beautiful hiking just minutes from the Strip, I think you’ll find our ideas for great things to do near Las Vegas will actually give you several days of adventures that include zero gambling and lots of family friendly activities. If you have anything to add for what to do and see near Vegas, please leave a comment or send us a note. We’re always happy to share more!

There are really fun, interesting things to do near Las Vegas that can be day trips or short overnight visits. From hiking in local conservation areas to visiting 6 different National Parks near Vegas, you can turn a Sin City trip into an amazing vacation.

Outdoor Things to do Near Las Vegas

You may think of Las Vegas as being a hot hot hot desert city, but that’s not always the case. If you’re visiting in summer, yes, it’ll be blazing, but in winter and spring it’s actually pretty wonderful and not too hot. There are quite a few fun, unique outdoor sights and things to do near Las Vegas that are easy to add to your visit to Sin City.

Las Vegas Neon Museum

When you’re in downtown Las Vegas, you’ve got Fremont Street with the vintage casinos and some cool old neon and signs, but Las Vegas has a bigger, broader history of coolness than this. Just outside of town (a drive or short Uber ride) is the Las Vegas Neon Museum. This is also known as the Neon Graveyard, the Las Vegas Boneyard, and the Vegas sign depot. The Las Vegas Neon Museum is super cool and really fun to explore. It’s one of the best things to do near Las Vegas because it’s outdoors, it’s artsy, historic and completely unique.

When you visit, you’ll find so many of the giant neon and flash bulb signs that you saw in movies when you were a kid. You see Vegas icons that were seemingly gone forever… but they’re actually here at the Las Vegas Neon Museum. Your can either visit during the daytime or night. While daytime is still really neat, nighttime is the best option because all the old, vintage Vegas signs get turned on and it’s beautiful!

Note: because the Neon Museum is open so late at night (until midnight some days) they don’t open until 3:00 pm. Plan your visit appropriately, and if you’re thinking of nighttime, be sure to get your tickets in advance.

Taylor Family with Fitzgerald's Casino Hotel sign at Neon Museum Las Vegas Nevada 2

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

I will always opt for heading into nature over hanging out in a city, and at about 20 minutes from the Strip, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a great option for this. There are lots of hiking trails, you can go mountain biking, there are nearby horse outfitters, and there’s even a scenic drive through the park. One of the best things to do near Las Vegas in the winter and spring months, Red Rock Canyon is an accessible nature spot that is great for everyone, including kids that are into visitor centers (sounds weird, but our kids LOVE visitor centers).

Since Red Rock Canyon has been protected for so long, it’s actually a great please to watch for wildlife. You might not get to see any big ticket creatures like bears, but deer, rabbits, birds and more are all over! And there’s awesome birdwatching here too!

Sandstone in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Las Vegas Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park

We love hiking at Valley of Fire State Park. It’s not too far from downtown Las Vegas for being as awesome and deep into nature as it is. For less than an hour’s drive you get to experience the Southwest desert at its peak. Valley of Fire State Park is one of the best things to do near Las Vegas because it is AS GOOD AS a National Park, but closer. The wildlife is awesome (lots of bighorn sheep!), the geology is insane, and the hiking is top notch.

One of the unexpected things we really enjoyed at Valley of Fire State Park is the amount of petroglyphs. The ancient rock drawings are in several places and there are TONS of them. We actually were on a hike in Canmore, Alberta and saw the sister petroglyphs to the ones at Valley of Fire, meaning they were most like created by the same group of people despite being thousands of miles apart.

Plan at least a half a day for exploring Valley of Fire. It’s easy to make this a day trip from Las Vegas, so you never even need to check out of your hotel.

Taylor Family hiking at Elephant Rock trail Valley of Fire State Park Las Vegas Nevada 2

Visit Hoover Dam – Pretty Cool

If you’re into engineering or just want to check off the boxes of iconic roadside America, visiting Hoover Dam is probably on your list. Being less than 40 minutes from the city, it’s one of the most popular things to do near Las Vegas. There are are few ways to visit Hoover Dam:

  • Drive in on your own and check out the many viewpoints
  • Enter on your own and do the museum and a tour (when available)
  • Visit on a day-tour from Las Vegas (I did this in Spring 2024)

Whichever way you choose, there is an entry fee and you’ll need to provide ID, as it’s a federal site. If you’re just going for the view, allowing yourself an hour as a part of a larger day of exploring should be fine. Add another hour if you’re also planning on doing the museum and exhibits.

If you’re interested in visiting as a part of a day-tour from Vegas, there are several options. I went with Max Tour Vegas and had a great visit (and awesome rest of the tour). I like doing tours like this because I don’t have to drive myself and actually get to enjoy the ride and guided info.

Rob Taylor at Hoover Dam from Arizona Side 1

Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

Continuing with really cool Nevada history and geology, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is another great day trip from the city. At just a half hour away, hiking or seeing the petroglyphs at Sloan Canyon is one of the best things to do near Las Vegas to get you outdoors!

What makes Sloan Canyon different from Valley of Fire are a few things:

  • The geology – much different rock formations and colors
  • The hikes – there are a lot of loop hikes in Sloan Canyon vs out and back trails
  • The location – twice as close to the city, Sloan Canyon takes much less time to visit (but it isn’t as cool) as Valley of Fire.

Ultimately, there are so many wonderful things to do near Las Vegas, and hiking is my favorite pick when it’s not completely scorching. Whether you’re heading here or Red Rocks or Valley of Fire, always be prepared with extra water and snacks, and always keep wildlife safety and sun protection at the front of your mind!

Petroglyphs in Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area Las Vegas Nevada

Easy Day Trips from Las Vegas

There are lots of wonderful destinations and unique things to do near Las Vegas, full of amazing sights that can be a day trip or short overnight away. With four National Parks easily visited over a day or two (or three) away from Las Vegas, you can turn a Vegas vacation into a great outdoor adventure! We have flown into Las Vegas several times to do trips like this, including an epic Utah National Parks road trip, so use Vegas as a jumping off point since there are so many cool spots so near to the city.

Guided Tour from Las Vegas to National Parks

Not everyone is down for a road trip or wants to rent a car, but if you’ve traveled all the way to Las Vegas, you’ll want to go exploring to the National Parks near Las Vegas. A great way to do this is actually to book a multi day tour from Vegas to the Parks. I did a wonderful two-day tour with Max Tours where they picked me up at my hotel and planned the whole thing.

Rob Taylor at Horseshoe Bend Navajo Nation Page Arizona 1

We started with a stop at the Hoover Dam, then continued along Route 66 making stops in towns along the way, until we got to the Grand Canyon. We made several stops along the South Rim, including the Yavapai Museum and then continued onto Page, Arizona for our overnight. 

Waking up, I looked out my window to see that we slept right next to the Glen Canyon Dam. Our Max Tour continued with the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook hike, then the famous Horseshoe Bend, and then finally Lower Antelope Canyon (wow!). The drive back was gorgeous, driving through Kanab, Utah and eventually arriving back in Las Vegas after dark with the Strip aglow. It was awesome and such a different experience than driving myself.

The same company offers tours to Bryce Canyon NP, Zion NP, day tours and more. I would do this sort of multi-day tour again in a heartbeat. So easy and fun. Max Tour Vegas actually has a few multi day tours to National Parks from Las Vegas:

Max Tour Vegas Van at Grand Canyon National Park Arizona 1

Death Valley National Park – 2 hrs Away

Did you know that a day trip to Death Valley National Park is one of the best things to do near Las Vegas? It’s true! At just 2 hours away from the Las Vegas Strip, you can head to Death Valley to visit of the most most unusual spots in the United States. Home to the hottest place in the country, Furnace Creek set the record, visiting Death Valley is a weird and awesome thing to do. You can visit for the day and just see the sights, like doing the scenic drive, or head there for stargazing after dark.

For just a day trip, plan to hit the following:

  • Badwater Basin
  • Artist’s Drive
  • Natural Bridge trail
  • Devil’s Golf Course
  • And of course the Visitor Center

Remember, if you’re doing a day trip to Death Valley from Las Vegas, bring lots of water or be sure to stop in Pahrump before you go into the park to get supplies. It’s crazy hot in Death Valley in the spring, summer and fall, and then arid and cold in winter months. Parts of it are like being at the summit in Haleakala National Park and others are like the deserts of eastern Utah or the Painted Hills. It’s really cool!

Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park California

Zion National Park – 2.5 hrs Away

We love getting to visit Zion National Park and have been in winter, spring and summer. Zion is an easy 2.5 hour drive away, making it one of the nearest National Parks to Las Vegas. To get there, you actually go from Nevada to Arizona to Utah, which is kind of cool. The drive through the Virgin River Gorge is one of the most beautiful stretches in the area.

If you only have one day in Zion National Park, be sure to leave Las Vegas early so you can get all the hiking and viewpoints in that you like. There are lots of options for where to stay at Zion National Park, and we do recommend making this an overnight trip so you don’t have to feel completely rushed.

If you only get one day in Zion NP, here are our top picks for beautiful sights and hikes:

  1. Paras Trail – this goes along the Virgin River on the west side of the park and takes you to the Emerald Pools. It’s easy with kids and will take about 2 hours.
  2. Weeping Wall – this is a quick stop of about 30 minutes up to a carved out cliffside full of vegetation and a beautiful view into the valley.
  3. Big Bend to the Narrows – hiking the Narrows is popular, but it’s difficult, iffy, and requires a permit. You can do the hike to the start of it though, and it’s pretty cool. It takes about 1.5 hours.
  4. Zion Canyon Overlook – this is my favorite trail in Zion National Park and provides the most epic view. You get a similar view to Angel’s Landing without the longer hike or need for a reservation. Allow yourself 2 hours to hike it.

You can come back into the park the next morning for more sights and hikes, or you can head north to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument before heading back to Las Vegas. You really can have a wonderful visit during this short amount of time, and you can still enjoy time in the city since these things to do near Las Vegas are just off the main highway.

Full Taylor Family hiking Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park Utah 6

Joshua Tree National Park – 3.5 hrs Away

There are just so many great National Parks near Las Vegas! Joshua Tree NP is our next pick, as it’s about three and a half hours from Vegas. I love Joshua Tree National Park, especially during the springtime super bloom. Bouldering, nature trails and just enjoying all the fascinating plant life make Joshua Tree a unique day trip from Las Vegas.

For an easy day trip plan, get there early and start at the northern entrance, making stops at the Oasis, the Cholla Garden and viewpoints along the way. Have a picnic lunch at Skull Rock or the Live Oak picnic area, then do the interpretive trail through the Joshua Trees. There’s a great Visitor Center at the 29 Palms entrance, so check it out too! If you have more time, exit through the south side and visit the Coachella Valley Preserve for another cool oasis and awesome wildlife watching. Did you ever consider that Joshua Tree National Park was one of the cool things to do near Las Vegas?

Chris and Rob Taylor at Split Rock in Joshua Tree National Park California 1

Grand Canyon National Park – 4 hrs Away

So many people visit the Grand Canyon as a part of their Las Vegas trip. There are three parts of the Grand Canyon, so while you may be thinking that it’s not a logical add-on, it really is actually one of the great things to do near Las Vegas and is easier than you might expect. 

The closest part of the Grand Canyon to LV is called Grand Canyon West. This area is not part of the National Park, but is both part of a preserve and part privately owned. Here you’ll find hikes and viewpoints, as well as the famous Skywalk over the Grand Canyon.

The actual National Park portions of the Grand Canyon are a bit further east, and it’s most likely the experience you’re looking for. Entering Grand Canyon National Park through the Tusayan entrance, you’ll be coming right to the Visitor Center, South Rim shuttle, and so many amazing viewpoints. Whether you want to jump on the bus and stop along the way to Hermit’s Rest or you want to park and hike along the rim, there are plenty of options. Check out our Awesome Arizona Road Trip for more Grand Canyon ideas!

Rob Taylor at Moran Point at Grand Canyon National Park Arizona 1

One of the most talked-about things to do at the Grand Canyon is the Bright Angel Trail. This is an intense hike that you need to plan for, including bringing the right supplies. You can do a small portion or go for twelve miles. If you’re coming to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas for hiking, be sure that you’re well hydrated (not hungover), wearing the right clothing (not clubbing clothes) and that you have healthy snacks (not casino donuts).

For people interested in visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s another few hours drive to get there, and it’s only open seasonally. There are some beautiful hikes and sights, but it’s really far to drive as part of a short visit from the city. The SOUTH RIM is one of the best things to do near Las Vegas, not the North Rim. If you want to visit both, you need to make a specific Grand Canyon trip.

Rob Taylor at South Rim Grand Canyon National Park in the Snow Arizona 6

Bryce Canyon National Park – 4 hrs Away

Another wonderful National Park near Las Vegas, Bryce Canyon National Park is really cool and easy to visit. It’s a great day trip (long day) or single overnight. If you leave Las Vegas at 6:00 am you’ll be to Bryce Canyon NP by 10:00 am, you can have six or seven hours of hiking and lunch at the canyon, then drive back. You’ll be back to your hotel just after 8:00 pm and have had a wonderful visit!

I love visiting Bryce Canyon in the off season because there are nearly no people there, and due to its elevation, there’s usually snow on the canyon’s hoodoos. You can easily do some small hikes along the rim, or do the Mossy Cave trail (fun waterfall). If you plan appropriately and the conditions are right, the Navajo trail or Queen’s Garden are both amazing, but they’ll take a significant amount of time. To get the most out of your visit from Las Vegas, plan to stay over one night in the town of Tropic, Utah and then drive back the next day.

Snow on Thors Hammer Bryce Canyon National Park Utah 2

Antelope Canyon – 4.5 hrs Away

This adventure should be paired with visiting the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, as Page, Arizona is just east of the South Rim. If you haven’t heard of Antelope Canyon, get ready to be blown away. This beautiful, hidden canyon system has some of the most unique and amazing geologic features. A slot canyon broken into two parts, Lower Antelope Canyon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

You’ll need a reservation for your guided hike through Antelope Canyon, as it’s privately managed and operators are a part of the Navajo Nation. I went with Ken’s Tours and our guide, Kelly, was fantastic, sharing the history of the canyon, stories of events happening in the area, and all about the geology. I most enjoyed all the amazing photography opportunities from start to finish, and our guide was very helpful in setting up shots for us.

Rob Taylor in Lower Antelope Canyon Page Arizona 2

If you’re planning a trip to Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas, keep in mind that there are two areas, Upper and Lower. They are very different from each other.

  • Upper Antelope Canyon is more of a “V” shaped canyon, with a few places where sunlight breaks through in a column of light at the right time of day
  • Lower Antelope Canyon is “A” shaped with continual puzzle-piece style silhouettes along the ledges above

You can do tours for each or just pick one, but either way it’s worth visiting and paying the seemingly steep ticket price.

Powered by GetYourGuide

Great Basin National Park – 4.5 hrs Away

While this is the furthest day trip to a National Park near Las Vegas we’ll recommend, it’s totally worth it. Great Basin National Park is huge with some of the most unique Southwest landscapes you’ll find. One of the highlights of visiting Great Basin NP is the cave system. We visit caves wherever we can, from Sequoia National Park to Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana, and Great Basin has some cool ones.

Also, this National Park is great for birdwatching and even spotting porcupines! Nevada might not strike you as a wildlife destination, but if you’re patient, like to explore early in the morning, and are into desert fauna, you’ll have a great visit to Great Basin National Park. Of all the things to do near Las Vegas, Great Basin National Park is one of the least visited, so you’ll have a unique experience for sure.

We do recommend spending the night near the park in either Ely or Baker, NV (Baker is really limited for lodging). If you’re not too sure how to make the drive to Great Basin and then not feel like you’ve just landed in the middle of nowhere, you can turn this adventure into a multi-day trip from Las Vegas by pairing Great Basin NP with Zion NP, then you can have double the fun!

Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park Nevada

Now that you know how many awesome options you have for things to do near Las Vegas and you see how accessible so many National Parks are, are you excited to plan a Southwest adventure? With each visit to Nevada, Arizona and Utah we find new and cool places that we just fall in love with. If you think you need to continue on and make your Vegas trip into a National Parks road trip, go for it! We have a few easy road trip plans from Las Vegas to National Parks:

For any questions or if you want to leave your own suggestions, please leave a comment or send us a note. We’re always happy to help others plan awesome travels to explore new places!

There are really fun, interesting things to do near Las Vegas that can be day trips or short overnight visits. From hiking in local conservation areas to visiting 6 different National Parks near Vegas, you can turn a Sin City trip into an amazing vacation.