After so much time stuck at home and indoors over the last year, spending your Vegas vacation inside may not be the most appealing prospect, even if it does offer a change of scenery and the resounding ring of a winning slot machine roll.
If the idea of a day spent cooling off in the air conditioned comfort of the casino floor gives you pause, you’ll be glad to learn that some of the best things to do in Las Vegas are actually outdoors. From lounging by one of the many impressive pools to dune-buggy driving in the desert, these are some of the best outdoor activities in and around Las Vegas:
Whether it’s a poolside or lakeside, the Mojave desert offers a surprising number of watering holes to cool off in.
If you’re in search of a relaxing pool or poolside experience, nearly every casino in Vegas has its own impressive pool situation. From the Mandalay Bay Beach to Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods, there is a pool to suit every preference. You can even party it up poolside at one of Vegas’s many dayclubs.
If a more nature-adjacent water experience is what you desire, head east of the city to Lake Mead. This man-made reservoir boasts beaches, sand bars, bays, coves, and harbors, offering activities such as boating, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, hiking, scuba diving, hiking, horseback riding, and scenic drives.
If actually getting in the water isn’t really your thing, parking yourself poolside, taking a gondola ride down the Grand Canal at the Venetian, or cruising along the Colorado River by paddle boat are great ways to take advantage of Vegas’s many watering holes without actually diving in.
Visit Lake Mead
Take a hike
If the great outdoors calls to you, consider challenging yourself with one of the many hiking trails available near Las Vegas—don’t worry, there are lots of options for less ambitious hikes as well. Here are some of our favorite hiking spots within driving distance of the Strip:
Red Rock Canyon: This nearby National Conservation Area offers some incredibly beautiful views of desert landscape. It’s actually visible from some parts of the Strip, and it’s only a quick 30 minute drive outside the city if you’re looking for a short morning or afternoon trip.
Learn more about Red Rock Canyon with our list of 5 reasons to visit.
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area: Home to Mount Charleston, the highest mountain in Clark County, Spring Mountains NRA has an increased elevation that makes it a cooler spot for hiking in the summer and the ideal place to ski & snowboard in the winter.
Valley of Fire: Renowned for its bright red Aztec sandstone, the Valley of Fire State Park is an incredible sight to behold and a popular filming location for sci-fi movies. It’s home to ancient petroglyphs, unique desert flora and fauna, and several “can’t-miss” colorful hikes, including Fire Wave, White Domes, Pastel/Pink Canyon, and Rainbow Vista.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge: Located east of Death Valley National Park, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge features “24,000 acres of spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert uplands” and is “so unique that it is recognized as an wetland of international importance” (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). It is the “largest remaining Oasis” in the Mojave Desert and is home to dozens of plants and animals that can’t be found anywhere else on earth.
If a more “indoor” outdoor experience is closer to your speed, consider enjoying a few of these beautiful spots from the comfort of a temperature-controlled automobile:
For more hiking spots, road trip destinations, and parks worth passing through, visit our Southwest US Travel Guide.
Hit the links
If—contrary to a commonly misattributed-to-Mark-Twain quote—you think nothing improves a walk like a game of golf, then make your way to one of Vegas’s many golf courses open to the public, including Trip Advisor’s top 5:
- Paiute Golf Resort
- Bali Hai Golf Club
- Angel Park Golf Club
- Shadow Creek Golf Club
- Bear’s Best Las Vegas
Take in the sights
Las Vegas has lots to offer in terms of unique scenery and sightseeing. If you’re looking to explore some of Las Vegas’s many points of interest and landmarks, make sure you stop by these special spots:
- Seven Magic Mountains by Ugo Rondinone – Located just outside the city, this unique art installation is worth seeing up close.
- Fountains of Bellagio – A classic Sin City must-see spot, the Bellagio Fountains display a beautiful choreographed water show set to music several times throughout the day.
- “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign – Every tourist needs a photo with the iconic Las Vegas sign, just don’t let anyone trick you into paying for it—there is no admission to see it and selfies are free.
- The Volcano at the Mirage – Swing by The Mirage to see a volcanic eruption without risking your safety.
- The Mantis at Downtown Container Park – Originally created by artist Kirk Jellum for Burning Man, this pyrotechnic piece has had a home in Las Vegas since 2013 (though she spent most of 2020 and the start of 2021 in hibernation) and lights up the sky each night starting at sundown.
- Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat – Tigers and lions and dolphins, oh my! Swing by this Secret Garden to see big cats and have the chance to meet and greet or even paint with dolphins.
Find more points of interest to see in our guide to 34 Totally Free Things To Do In Las Vegas.
Fly on a zipline
For more thrill rides (and other activities), check out the Best Things to Do in Las Vegas During the Day.
Quench your thirst for destruction
Places like Adrenaline Mountain and Dig This Vegas give you a unique kind of outdoor experience—the kind of outdoor experience that provides you with the opportunity to lay waste to cars. At these specialized spots, you can shoot big guns—the kinds you see in movies—at stationary targets and exploding targets, try your hand at archery and axe throwing, drive monster trucks, crush cars, or drive excavators, mini-excavators, bulldozers, and track-type skid steers.
Off- and on-road
If you’re in the market for a faster-paced outdoor experience, consider the many off- and on-road experiences Las Vegas has to offer. Whether you are interested in tearing up the desert sand in a dune-buggy or taking precision turns on the track in a lamborghini, Vegas has a number of racecar and off-road vehicle options to get your heart racing:
- Exotics Racing, SPEEDVEGAS, Dream Racing, and more, offer you the chance to drive the fancy race car of your dreams. From Mustangs to Lamborghinis to Teslas, learn what it’s like to drive a car you probably can’t afford.
- For off-roading, Vegas offers lots of options for tearing up the desert, including dune buggies and ATV tours.
Whether you are looking for a leisurely experience or an active outdoor adventure, Vegas and its surrounding area have lots of options for spending time outside, enjoying the sun, and having fun, including:
- Pools and lakes
- Loads of hiking trails
- Golf courses
- Plenty of sightseeing spots
- And, adrenaline-pumping activities such as car crushing, target shooting, car racing, and dune-buggy driving