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While there are plenty of attractions to keep you busy on the strip of Las Vegas, you might want to explore the ones that exist outside city limits as well.
In this article, we will review the best day trips from Las Vegas that will make the best use of your time on your trip here…
1) Take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon
One of the most epic day trips you can do from Las Vegas to enjoy a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon.
Many people that go to see the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas take a bus from the city. This is a time-consuming way to travel there, as it involves long periods spent on the road.
A helicopter is faster and more memorable, as you will get to see the vastness of this natural wonder from an elevated viewpoint.
2) Hoover Dam / Lake Mead
All the glittering lights on the Las Vegas Strip need to get their power from somewhere. Fortunately, the majority of the electricity that powers it comes from the Hoover Dam.
Holding back the largest reservoir in the United States, it is one of the greatest civil engineering projects completed in American history.
When you are finished learning about its inner workings, relax by the shores of Lake Mead. The headpond that was formed when the dam was built, locals love to boat, fish, swim, and enjoy water sports such as wakeboarding and water skiing.
If the thought of all this activity is making you tired, you can simply sunbathe along its shores as well.
3) Red Rock Canyon
A great way to get in touch with nature is to make a quick trip out to Red Rock Canyon. Named after a series of red rock formations that sit just 24 miles from downtown Las Vegas, this place is also a haven for hiking and rock climbing enthusiasts.
The desert scenery out there is dramatic, but be sure to drink plenty of water, as the dryness of the air and high temperatures can lead to dehydration fairly quickly.
4) Bonnie Springs Ranch and Old Nevada
If you are traveling with children, heading out to Bonnie Springs Ranch and Old Nevada is an excellent day trip to do from Las Vegas.
This attraction offers a petting zoo as well as riding stables, allowing your kids to ride ponies. Old Nevada re-creates the atmosphere of the Wild West through a clapboarded 1880’s style frontier town. Once here, you will feel like you have been transported back in time simply by walking its streets. Featuring live performances from living history actors, it is an attraction that will surprise you with its charm and attention to detail.
In most states around the U.S., trusty meteorologists are predicting sweltering summers. Whether the unusual temperatures are due to climate change or the more predictable La Nina conditions, the fact remains that you and your family could be stuck inside for the entirety of July and August ― or you could go on a cool road trip.
The Great Lakes boast some of America’s coolest places, including Chicago, Niagara Falls, and numerous beaches that provide the perfect opportunities to cool off. The Circle Tour circumnavigates all five lakes and connects the lakes region’s best attractions into a single road trip.
You can choose to explore one lake at a time, or you can get away for the whole summer to a land of cool, refreshing fun. Here are some of the can’t-miss spots on the Great Lakes Circle Tour.
Traveling from east to west, Lake Ontario is the first of the Great Lakes you will encounter. Technically, the trip around Lake Ontario is not a true circle tour, in that most road trippers do not circumnavigate the lake in one go; rather, they take the U.S.-only Seaway Trail around the southern coast of Ontario and Erie before connecting with another highway that completes the circuit. Still, the Seaway Trail offers unforgettable views and attractions, passing through a number of quaint and quintessential American cities.
Perhaps the best stop along the Seaway Trail is Niagara Falls, which is a destination on nearly every traveler’s bucket list. Here, you can see the world’s largest waterfall from nearly every angle, including above (with Niagara Helicopters), behind (during Journey Behind the Falls) and up-close (on the legendary Maid of the Mist). You might also schedule some time to enjoy the Niagara wine region and sample food and fun available in Clifton Hill.
From Buffalo, you can connect with the Lake Erie Circle Tour (LECT), which will take you through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario. On this route, you’ll see small, industrial towns, large cities, and plenty of scenes of the lake.
Erie, Pennsylvania is a top stop for most trippers in the region. Though the town it small, it is claims ownership of magnificent Presque Isle State Park ― a long sandy spit that demands a beach break. As you drive through Ohio, you should probably plan a stop in Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or you can drive a little farther and devote a day to the world-famous Cedar Point, which boasts the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coasters on Earth; plus, the amusement part is situated right on the shores of Lake Erie, so you’ll have amazing views as you plummet through the air.
You can meet up with the Lake Huron Circle Tour (LHCT) in Port Huron, Michigan. The least circular of the Great Lakes, Huron boasts many “spurs” that take time and patience to drive round ― especially because you will only journey through back-country Michigan and Ontario.
For the most part, the LHCT takes you through wilderness and small towns. In Ontario, the Bruce Peninsula is a beautiful place to pitch a tent and enjoy nature. In fact, the Bruce Trail ― the longest backpacking trail in Canada ― provides some excellent views of the surrounding forest. Meanwhile, in Michigan, there are a number of places to stop and enjoy the region’s bridges and locks, and the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena is informative, fun, and free.
The largest of the Great Lakes (and the third-largest freshwater lake in the world) Lake Superior earns its name. With routes through Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, there is plenty to do and see along the Lake Superior Circle Tour (LSCT) ― besides stopping at the beach and splashing in the cool water.
However, Lake Superior is so large that most of the coastline feels like a visit to the ocean; plenty of beaches even rent out surf boards (as well as kayaks and bikes) to those looking to catch waves.
You can stop in Duluth, Minnesota to explore some amazing geology, including ancient lava flows surrounded by waterfalls. More outdoor fun is to be had in Wisconsin, where you can explore by land or water in the Apostle Islands.
Finally, not many road trippers ever make it to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P. or Yoop, for short), but the LSCT takes you straight through this country. There is much to do and see, which means you might reserve any real exploration for another trip.
Lake Michigan is perhaps the best-known and best-liked of the Great Lakes, so the Lake Michigan Circle Tour (LMCT) is well-trodden by road trippers of years passed. This route takes you through some of the region’s biggest and best cities, but you can expect the roads and attractions to be packed during tourist season.
The first must-stop is Wisconsin’s Green Bay, home to the famous football team’s stadium and other important monuments in Cheesehead history. Farther south, you can wander around Milwaukee, or you can continue driving until you reach the capital of the Midwest: Chicago, Illinois. No road tripper should resist the urge to take a picture in front of the Bean (which is actually named “Cloud Gate”) or eat at one of Chi-Town’s 22 Michelin-rated restaurants.