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17 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas (+Map, Tours & Planning Tips)

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17 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas (+Map, Tours & Planning Tips)

There is no doubt that Las Vegas is a top destination in the US, but there’s so much more to see and do in the area than just the best Las Vegas sights and attractions! Since Vegas is driving distance to a ton of gorgeous sites in the southwest desert, there are many amazing places that you can visit near Las Vegas that will make your trip even more special.

In this article, you can find our selection of the very best places to see near Vegas and the most popular Las Vegas day trips, coupled with practical information and tips for visiting each place. Where to go, why visit, how to get there, and how long it takes.

In addition, for each destination, we also include the best day tours from Las Vegas, so that you can easily visit most of these places even if you don’t have a car or simply don’t feel like planning it all by yourself.

So if you are looking for an escape from the hustle of the Vegas Strip, rent a car or book a tour and explore some of these cool tourist destinations near Las Vegas.  Most of these places can be seen in one day, but if you have the time, you might want to explore some of them a little longer. Find out!

Good to know: No matter where you go in this area, be smart about the heat of the desert – it is hot, and it is a dry heat. You might not realize how hot the sun is until it is too late… So pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water.  Once you’ve packed your water, pack a bit more – you cannot have too much, especially if visiting Las Vegas surroundings in the warmest months. On the other hand, in winter, some of these places near Las Vegas might also get snow, so be sure to check the weather forecast and dress accordingly!

Las Vegas day trips and day tours - complete guide with all the best places to see near Las Vegas
 

In order to help you plan your trip and give you a better idea of where all the sights mentioned in this article are located, we created a map of the best places to visit near Las Vegas – see below.

As you can see, some of these places are just a short drive from the city, while some others are quite far away and will require an entire day. But if you don’t mind a long drive, you can visit some of the most beautiful natural landmarks as a day trip from Vegas, and it’s totally worth it!

Good to know: While you don’t need a car to explore Las Vegas itself, you’ll need to rent a car or take tours for all the places mentioned in this article. For each place mentioned below, we include tips on how to visit by car and also the best tour suggestions. If you decide to rent a car, we recommend that you only rent it for those days when you are indeed planning to leave the city (see Las Vegas travel tips for more information). On this website, you can find the best deals for car hire in Las Vegas. We always use this site when renting cars for our road trips.

How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.

 

These are the best day trips from Las Vegas:

1. Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas
Hoover Dam is considered a must-do day trip when visiting Las Vegas

Hoover Dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River is a man-made wonder and the most popular day trip from Las Vegas. This behemoth structure is visited by a million tourists each year and is considered a National Historic Landmark. It is also one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders.

A visit here takes you back in time to the 1930s when – at that time – the tallest dam in the world was built. At the Visitor Center, you can see models and exhibits, and you can also admire the impressive dam itself from various viewpoints.

One of the cool things about Hoover Dam is that it is located on the border of Arizona and Nevada, so you can take a picture of yourself with one half of your body in each state.

You can visit Hoover Dam year-round and it’s open from 5 AM to 9 PM. Hoover Dam Tours also run daily (apart from Christmas and Thanksgiving), from 9 AM to 5 PM. There is an option to do a self-guided Visitor Center tour, a Power Plant tour, or a guided tour at the dam, where you will explore tunnels, elevators, and view the Colorado River from a few unique spots within the dam. For more information about self-guided tours, please consult the official website.

TIP: Be sure to bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunglasses, you are in the desert after all and it will get hot!

How to visit Hoover Dam from Las Vegas

By car: Hoover Dam is about 45-60 minutes drive from Las Vegas Strip and you can easily drive there by car and visit it on your own. If you are driving from Vegas, you should schedule about 4 hours for a visit in total, but that also depends on which tour you take at the Hoover Dam and how much time you decide to spend there. You can also make it a full-day excursion by exploring the nearby Boulder City, Lake Mead, or Nelson Ghost Town (more info about these places further below).

All cars will have to go through a security checkpoint and when you check out the Visitor Center, you will have to go through a security screening.

With a tour: A popular way to visit Hoover Dam is with an organized tour. Most tours will pick you up and drop you off at your Vegas hotel, so you don’t have to worry about anything at all. There are various tours that visit Hoover Dam from Las Vegas, often in combination with other places nearby. Here are some of the very best tours that visit Hoover Dam from Vegas:

2. Grand Canyon West & Skywalk

Las Vegas day trips - Grand Canyon Skywalk
Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Grand Canyon National Park is split into the North Rim, the South Rim, and the West area. The Grand Canyon West Rim is the closest and the easiest to visit from Las Vegas, especially if you don’t feel like sitting in the car the whole day.

The glass-bottomed Skywalk is the main attraction at Grand Canyon West. This 10-foot-wide engineering marvel extends out 70 feet into the Grand Canyon. The panoramic views will leave you speechless and you can also purchase a professional photo of your Skywalk adventure. If you are afraid of heights, however, you might want to sit this one out and just explore the other viewpoints. 

You are required to store all purses, bags, cell phones, and cameras before making your way across the Skywalk. They do not want you to drop them on the precious glass surface. You will also be required to wear booties over your shoes on the walkway.  

If you are looking for a really special experience, you may want to dine at the Sky View Restaurant that offers stunning views of the canyon. Be sure to tour the Native American Village at Eagle Point where you can visit houses built in the traditional style and learn more about the daily life of regional tribes in the past. Also, stop by the Hualapai Cultural Center or pick up some Native American Treasures at Creations by Native Hands gift shop. Guano Point, at the site of an old guano mine, offers very different views than Eagle Point and is not to be missed as well.

TIP: If you visit on a weekend, you may attend traditional musical performances by the Hualapai Tribe. They run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday between 11 AM and 3 PM.

Good to know: This part of the Grand Canyon is managed by the Hualapai Indian tribe and so your National Park pass is not valid here. Many people find themselves frustrated when they realize that visiting the West Rim is more expensive per person than the other parts of the Grand Canyon for the whole family. In addition, the Grand Canyon Skywalk requires an extra ticket, meaning that it will cost you at least $59 per person to visit here (more info and ticket prices here). So be aware of the significant price difference and, if you are concerned about budget, you may want to visit the South Rim instead (more info below).

How to visit Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas

Good to know: Grand Canyon West is open daily, from 9 AM to 6-7 PM. From March to October, the last ticket is sold at 5.30 PM, in summer – at 6.30 PM. You don’t have to reserve if you are just visiting for a day.

By car: Grand Canyon Skywalk is about 130 miles, 2- 2.5 hours drive from Las Vegas. Try to get there as early as you can and visit Skywalk first thing in the morning before it gets too busy. The busiest hours are from around 11 AM to 4 PM, so if you want to avoid the crowds, keep this in mind.

With a tour: One of the easiest ways to visit Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas is by joining an organized tour. Some tours also include a stop at the Hoover Dam, some include a helicopter ride and a boat ride, so his might be a good way to visit several of the best places near Las Vegas and make the most out of your day. Here are some of the best tours that visit Grand Canyon West and Skywalk from Vegas:

  • Grand Canyon West & Skywalk. This is one of the most popular tours to this area from Las Vegas. Skywalk ticket is optional so you can decide whether you want to go on it or not.
  • Grand Canyon West & lunch. This popular tour is the most budget-friendly option for those who want to visit Grand Canyon West, but are not interested in walking on Skywalk. It also includes lunch. Great value for your money.
  • Grand Canyon West, Skywalk & lunch. This is a tour for those who want to see everything that Grand Canyon West has to offer without having to plan anything. It includes access to Skywalk and lunch.
  • Grand Canyon West, Skywalk, Hoover Dam, Boulder City & Seven Magic Mountains. This is the most complete day tour from Vegas that allows you to see several of the very best places near Las Vegas in one day. Skywalk ticket is optional and lunch is not included in the price.
  • Grand Canyon West sunset & Lake Mead. This popular afternoon tour is great for those who want to see the Grand Canyon at sunset. Not only it will be less busy than during the day, but you also get to experience the canyon in a more special light. A short photo stop at Lake Mead is included, but there is no option to visit the Skywalk.
  • Grand Canyon West & helicopter. This is the most popular West Rim tour that includes a bus tour to Grand Canyon West and a helicopter flight at the canyon. Lunch is also included, but you don’t get to walk on Skywalk (the views from a helicopter more than make up for it).
  • Grand Canyon West, Skywalk, helicopter, boat & lunch. If you have a higher budget and a sense of adventure, this tour is definitely one of the most special day trips you can make from Las Vegas.

Further below, you can read more about visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas and also about the best air tours over the Grand Canyon that depart closer to Vegas and don’t involve a long bus drive. Read on!

3. Grand Canyon by Helicopter or Airplane

Helicopter at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon helicopter tours are among the best excursions from Las Vegas – Photo by artyooran/Depositphotos.com

If you are not keen on spending hours and hours on the bus, you’ll be glad to know that you can experience the Grand Canyon by helicopter or by airplane from Las Vegas as well.

So for those with a higher budget and shorter time, we recommend Grand Canyon air tours from Las Vegas. It’s the best way to see a lot in a limited time and without the long bus drives.

Here are some of the best Grand Canyon air tours from Las Vegas:

  • Grand Canyon helicopter landing tour. This is the most popular Grand Canyon helicopter tour from Las Vegas. Landing inside the canyon makes it a truly unique experience and you get to spend about half an hour deep inside the canyon. In addition, you fly over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and an extinct volcano Fortification Hill. Hotel pick-up, light snacks, and champagne are included. You can also upgrade your tour with a flight over the Las Vegas Strip. Depending on the options selected, this tour takes about 4.5-5 hours.
  • Grand Canyon West airplane tour. This is a good option for those who want to save time, but prefer an airplane over a helicopter. You are first taken to a small airport near Boulder City, from where you cover all the big distances by small plane. So this tour only takes about 4 hours in total and it’s also much cheaper than any of the helicopter tours.

4. Valley of Fire State Park

Las Vegas day trips - Valley of Fire State Park
The Wave, Valley of Fire State Park.

Valley of Fire State Park is a great place to explore the beautiful “fire” red sandstone formations that this Nevada desert landscape is famous for. The colorful otherworldly rocks can make you feel like you are on another planet. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas Strip, this park is a desert masterpiece that you don’t want to miss.  

Valley of Fire State Park is just 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas about an hour’s drive on Interstate 15. If you drive in your own car, get up early and hit the trails before the hottest hours of the day. That way, you can still be back on the Strip for a late dinner and a show that evening. 

46,000 acres of pink, orange and red rocks, panoramic vistas, petroglyphs, and hiking trails for all levels make this a must-see easy day trip from Las Vegas. If you want to spend the night and sleep under the stars, it has two campgrounds that are equipped with grills, water, restrooms, and showers.  

Be sure to check out The Beehives, Elephant Rock, and take the short hike to Mouse’s Tank. Mouse’s Tank is less than a mile round trip and ends at a natural rock basin that collects water after a rainfall. If you want to see ancient petroglyphs etched into the rock formations, the easiest places to see them are Mouse’s Tank and Atlatl Rock. One of the best short hikes in the park is the Fire Wave hike.

Good to know: Valley of Fire is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. Be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and plenty of water.

How to visit Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas

By car: Valley of Fire State Park is about 50 miles, 1 hour drive northeast from Las Vegas. Depending on what you’re planning to see and do, you can spend just a few hours here or a few days. But even when visiting as a day trip, you can easily experience some of the most stunning scenery, and this makes the Valley of Fire State Park one of the nicest nature getaways near Las Vegas. It will cost $10-15 per vehicle to enter the park. Be sure to grab a map at the entrance booth. 

With a tour: Valley of Fire can also be visited with an organized tour from Las Vegas. There are quite a few options and most tours take about 4-7 hours. Here are some of the best Valley of Fire State Park day tours from Vegas:

  • Small-group hiking tour. On this tour, you get to see some of the highlights of the Valley of Fire State Park by embarking on a nice hike based on your fitness level or interests. There are easy, moderate, or difficult hikes to choose from and this flexibility makes it the most popular tour for a day trip to this beautiful park. Please note that this tour doesn’t include lunch, only snacks and beverages.
  • Small-group or private tour of the highlights. This is the most popular Valley of Fire tour from Las Vegas that doesn’t involve much hiking. So if you just want to see all the highlights coupled with a commentary and knowledge of a local guide, definitely consider this option. It’s also great for bigger families or groups of friends who rather not travel with big group tours. Lunch, snacks, and an unlimited supply of water included.
  • A small-group Pink Jeep tour. This tour by the famous Pink Jeep Tours Las Vegas offers a great way to visit the Valley for those who are not interested in hiking and find the private tours too expensive. Their luxurious and airconditioned 4×4 vehicles with large windows, only take groups of up to 10 people, ensuring a more private experience. Lunch and water are included.

5. Death Valley National Park

Best day trips from Las Vegas - Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park. View from Zabriskie Point.

If you are looking for more beautiful places to see near Las Vegas, definitely consider a visit to Death Valley National Park. Not only does it have some of the most unique landscapes in the United States, but it is also known to be one of the hottest, driest places in the States, with the hottest recorded temperature on earth of 134°F (57°C). 

For those reasons, it is advised you visit during the cooler winter months (December-February) and to be extra careful if you visit during the summer (May-September). The summer months can make a visit to Death Valley very challenging or even dangerous if you are not prepared for extreme conditions.

Dehydration occurs very quickly here! You must drink at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. If you are doing anything strenuous or hiking longer distances, you will need much more than that… Also, be sure to pack/wear long sleeves and long pants to cover skin, a brimmed hat (or even an umbrella), and very comfortable shoes.

If you are only visiting Death Valley for a day, be sure to check out these must-see areas: 

  • Badwater Basin. The lowest point in North America at 282 ft (86m) below sea level. You will feel like you are on another planet looking at the salt flats. Don’t miss Dante’s View!
  • Artists Drive. Stay in the comfort of your air-conditioned car and take this scenic drive about 9 miles.
  • Zabriskie Point. One of the best viewpoints with stunning scenery, and just next to the road.
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. You will truly feel like you are in the desert as you view the giant dunes of sand.

How to Visit Death Valley as a day trip from Las Vegas

By car: Death Valley Junction is about 90 miles, 1h40 drive west of Las Vegas. The main roads inside the park are very good and you can see some of the best scenery just by driving around and stopping at some of the viewpoints. And because Death Valley is a relatively short drive from Vegas, you can actually see a lot in just a day.

Also here, you’ll have to pay a National Park entrance fee ($30 per vehicle). However, if you are visiting several parks on this trip (or over a period of 12 months), it’s better to just get an annual America the Beautiful Pass for $80. You can find all the practical information for your visit on the official NPS website.

With a tour: Death Valley can also easily be visited from Las Vegas by booking an organized tour. These tours aren’t cheap, but if you want to sit back and enjoy the scenery without the stress of driving or figuring out where to go, they can be well worth it. It also saves you the National Parks fee and the hassle of car rental if you’re only in the area for a short time. Here are the best Death Valley day tours from Las Vegas (all fees, hotel pick-up, and picnic lunch included):

  • Full-day small-group tour. This is the most popular day tour that covers all the main highlights of Death Valley and more. It’s a very complete tour that brings you to all the must-see places in a day.
  • Pink Jeep small-group tour. This is a good option for those who want to see the musts, but also get a bit off the beaten path.

6. Grand Canyon South Rim

Grand Canyon South Rim is one of the most popular Las Vegas day trips
Grand Canyon as seen from the South Rim

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is the most known and the most popular area of the Grand Canyon. When you see postcards and images from the Grand Canyon, they are likely taken here.

And while South Rim is about 280 miles/ 4.5 hours drive from Vegas, it can also be visited as a (very long) day trip from Las Vegas. However, if you have a chance to add at least one night here (ideally, two), definitely do that – it will allow you to explore the South Rim at a more relaxed pace and you’ll enjoy it more. In that case, please read our guide on where to stay in and near Grand Canyon.

The South Rim is open all year and receives about 90% of the park’s traffic. There is so much to do in this area and there is something for everyone. Visit some of the museums and the visitors center to learn more about the Canyon’s rich history, take a helicopter tour and see the Grand Canyon from above, explore the most famous viewpoints on foot, rent a bike, or take a free park shuttle. With more time here, you can also go hiking, star gazing, or explore the canyon via mule like the Brady’s did back in the day.

If you can arrive here very early and spend a full day here, please check our guide on the best way to visit Grand Canyon in one day. If, however, you are coming here and driving back to Las Vegas on the same day, I highly recommend that you go on a tour. Not only you’ll be able to rest on a bus, but they’ll also make sure that you see all the musts and make the most of your short visit. More practical information and best tour options below.

How to visit Grand Canyon South Rim as a day trip from Las Vegas

By car: As already mentioned, Grand Canyon South Rim is a long 4.5 hours drive from Vegas. So we don’t recommend driving here and back on the same day unless you can start very early and are prepared for a long tiring day.

There are two entrances to the South Rim and both are accessed by Hwy 64. The South Entrance is closest to Tusayan and closest to Las Vegas (thus very busy), whereas the East/Desert View Entrance is quieter, but even further away.  If you want to get to the heart of the South Rim by exploring the visitors center, restaurants, and main lodging areas then enter through the South Entrance.

Good to know: In high season, if you don’t arrive here before 8 AM (9 AM at the latest), you’ll likely spend more time queuing to get inside the park than sightseeing… Also, you will need to pay $35 per vehicle to enter the park.

With a tour: As already mentioned, with just a day visiting Grand Canyon South Rim from Las Vegas, we highly recommend that you go with an organized tour. Tours will pick you up in Vegas and you can sit back and relax while they take care of all the practicalities and make sure that you get to see as much as possible in a day. Here are some of the best Grand Canyon South Rim day tours from Las Vegas:

  • Big bus day tour to the South Rim. This is the most popular bus tour to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas. It takes about 15 hours in total, stops at Grand Canyon Caverns off of Route 66 for an hour, and visits a couple of the main viewpoints along the South Rim, where you get about 3 hours. The National Park ticket, lunch, and snacks are included. Because it’s a big bus tour, it offers quite good value for your money.
  • Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam & Route 66 Tour. This small-group tour from Las Vegas offers a 3-in-1 experience allowing you to see Hoover Dam, Rte 66, and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on the same day. You get about 4 hours of free time at the South Rim and can visit some of the best viewpoints. Much more expensive than the big bus tour, but you get to see more and small groups always save time by not having to wait for other people, so you have more time for sightseeing.

7. Red Rock Canyon

Scenery of the the Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas
Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is another beautiful nature destination just a short 30-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. Spectacular rock formations set the stage for buttes, cliffs, and some great hiking.

You could easily spend several hours at Red Rock exploring various hiking trails. However, if you only have a couple of hours one of the best things to do in Red Rock Canyon State Park is drive the 13-mile Scenic Drive. Depending on how many times you get out to explore, you could drive this in about 45-60 minutes and see most of the hot spots of Red Rock.

This Mojave Desert park has been the location for many western movies and various commercials through the years. Equestrians will love this park because horses are allowed on all roads. You can also go biking or rock climbing here. For more information and ideas of things to do, please check the official website.

One of the nicest ways to explore this stunning area is by e-bike. You can book a self-guided e-bike tour or you can join a guided e-bike tour (bikes and transfer from the city included in both cases).

TIP: Also here, be sure to bring twice as much water as you think you need. Also, bring sun protection and some layers in case you experience sudden shifts in the desert temperatures.

How to visit Red Rock Canyon

By car: Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center is about 17 miles west from Las Vegas Strip. Depending on the traffic, it’s about a 30-40 minutes drive from the city. It’s a great place to escape the hustle and the bustle of Vegas and one of the nicest places nearby that can be visited in just a couple of hours.

It will cost $15 per vehicle to get into Red Rock or you can use the annual National Parks pass. This pass is a really good investment when touring through various National Parks and State Parks in the U.S.

If you want to get off the beaten path, off-highway vehicles are allowed on the dirt road system within the park as long as you have a green sticker. Make sure you have your license with you, check maps for open routes, and watch for closed route signs. 

With a tour: If you do not have a rental car you can join one of the tours that visit Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas. There are various tours. The above-mentioned bike tours are great if you like to explore deeper (and are traveling in the cooler months). Alternatively, there are also small-group sightseeing tours, and many of them visit a few other places near Las Vegas, in addition to the Red Rock Canyon. Here are some of the best options:

  • Red Rock Canyon and Seven Magic Mountains. This popular tour combines two popular places near Vegas in just half a day. Perfect for those looking for a short escape from Las Vegas for a couple of hours.
  • Red Rock Canyon only. This is the shortest (2,5 hrs) and the cheapest Red Rock Canyon tour from Vegas. Perfect for those who just want to quickly see this beautiful area without spending an entire day on it.
  • 4×4 off-road tour. This is a great tour for those who – in addition to the main highlights – also want to get off the beaten path and explore the lesser-visited parts of the Red Rock Canyon.

8. Nelson Ghost Town & Eldorado Canyon

Nelson Ghost Town at Eldorado Canyon near Las Vegas
Nelson Ghost Town at Eldorado Canyon

Nelson Ghost Town is located near Eldorado Canyon at the historic Techatticup Mine, less than an hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip. The drive in itself is very scenic and it’s well worth checking out, especially if you are looking for more unique places to visit near Las Vegas.

This ‘ghost town’ has some old buildings, a general store, vintage cars, old airplanes, and a historic mine. Nowadays, it’s a tourist attraction with lots of photo opportunities.

You will feel like you are having a showdown in the wild wild west as you walk through this cool town. This Eldorado Canyon area is home to many photoshoots, movie sets, a BBQ area, and even a wedding chapel if you are thinking about tying the knot outlaw style! 

The Techatticup Mine is the oldest and richest in Southern Nevada and you can visit inside the mine with a walking tour that takes a bit longer than 1 hour. Reservations are required (see their website for more info). This tour is highly recommended and will set the stage for the historical value of this unique western gem.

Good to know: If you are not interested in a mine tour, you can just opt to explore the town on your own. If you want to just walk around and take pictures, it costs $10 (for your entire group), so be sure to check-in at the office and pay the fee.

How to visit Nelson Ghost Town

By car: Nelson Ghost Town is located about 45 miles southeast of Las Vegas. It takes about 45-60 minutes to drive there. It’s in the same direction as Boulder City (and so also Hoover Dam and Lake Mead), so you can easily make a day trip visiting several of these places at the same time.

With a tour: If you don’t have a rental car, you can visit Eldorado Canyon and Nelson Ghost Town with this organized tour. It includes a mine visit as well. If you are feeling more adventurous (and don’t mind a higher price tag) check out this 4X4 tour.

Good to know: You can visit Nelson Ghost Town the whole year round, every day except Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and they close at noon on Christmas Eve.

9. Zion National Park

Scenery of Zion National Park
Zion National Park

About 160 miles northeast of Las Vegas, in Utah, you’ll find one more of America’s most visited national parks, Zion National Park.

Thousands of years ago the Virgin River carved out the canyons of Zion and the scenery here is truly epic. If you have the time to take a couple of days away from Las Vegas, a longer visit to Zion should be at the top of your list. But even if you can only visit for one day, it is possible to see some of the beautiful vast landscape of Zion as a day trip from Las Vegas as well.

There are many stunning hikes in Zion, offering access to some jaw-dropping scenery that you won’t easily see otherwise. But if you are only visiting Zion for a day, it’s probably best to just focus on the scenic roads and maybe do one or two shorter hikes.

Good to know: In high season, the road inside the Zion Canyon is closed and you have to take a shuttle to get around. With just a few hours in the park, you could take a bus and do a short hike to Lower Emerald Pools and/or Weeping Rock. Other popular easy trails include the Pa’rus Trail and Riverside Walk. You can find more information for all these hikes in our Zion hiking guide.

Alternatively, if you don’t have much time, simply drive the scenic Hwy 9 through the park and check out the Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s a relatively easy short hike and the trailhead is easily accessible from the main road, so you don’t need to go inside the canyon or use the shuttle for this hike. This is probably a better option if you are also planning to visit Bryce Canyon National Park on the same day (more info about this park below). The views along this road and from Canyon Overlook are mind-blowing and well worth a long drive from Las Vegas.

How to visit Zion NP from Las Vegas

By car: Zion National Park is about 160 miles, 2.5-3 hrs drive from Las Vegas. If you drive to Zion for just a day, be sure to leave as early in the morning as possible. Ideally, you reach the park by 9 AM at the latest. Also here, you’ll need to pay the National Park entrance fee (or use your annual pass).

TIP: If you can, plan to spend at least one night near Zion. Check out our suggestions for where to stay near Zion National Park. Staying here is a must if you are planning to tackle any of the most popular hikes such as Angels Landing where you really need to be at the trailhead as early in the morning as possible if you want to avoid the biggest crowds.

With a tour: There are quite some organized tours that visit this area from Vegas. Most tours that go to Zion National Park combine a visit here with that of the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park. So you get to see two parks in one go, but beware that it will be a long day and a very short visit with a few quick photo stops. It’s definitely worth it if you only have a day, but if you can, you should really consider a multi-day tour of these beautiful parks instead of just coming for a day.

 

Here are some of the best day tours to Zion National Park from Las Vegas (all fees and lunch are included):

  • Zion & Bryce day tour. This 13-hour tour is the most budget-friendly day trip that brings you to these two amazing parks in one day.
  • Zion & Bryce small-group tour. This is the most popular day tour from Vegas that visits these two parks in a day. It only takes a maximum of 9 people, which means that less time is wasted for driving around and waiting for everyone and more for sightseeing. They start very early and maximize the time in Zion and Bryce so that you actually get to see a bit more of the parks than just the scenery through a bus window. If you’re visiting Zion and Bryce for just a day, I think this is by far the best option.

Here are some of the best multi-day national parks tours from Las Vegas:

  • 2 days Zion & Bryce tour. This tour spends a day in each park and gives you an opportunity to do the most popular hike in Zion – Angels Landing. Highly recommended if you have the time!
  • 3 days Antelope & Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce & Monument Valley. This is a very popular tour that visits pretty much all of the most beautiful places in the region. They have different tour packages available, from budget-friendly camping options to shared accommodation or private lodging. The itinerary is great and everything is very well organized allowing you to see all these mind-blowing places in a very short time.

10. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park can also be visited as a day trip from Las Vegas
Bryce Canyon National Park can also be visited as a day trip from Las Vegas

Just 70 miles from the eastern side of Zion NP, you’ll find another nature’s wonderland, Bryce Canyon National Park. Because of their proximity, these two of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks are usually combined in one trip.

Bryce Canyon has such a unique landscape. It is known for crimson-colored hoodoos, spire-shaped irregular rock formations. Bryce Canyon area has the largest concentration of hoodoos found anywhere on Earth.

Bryce Canyon NP is pretty compact making it easy to see all of the highlights in one day. But even if you just have an hour or two, you can easily see some of the best scenery from various viewpoints.

There is an 18-mile road that runs north-south through the entire park. Be sure to stop at the four most popular overlooks in Bryce Canyon: Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. If you are looking for a short hike, you can walk along the canyon rim or descend into the canyon below.

How to visit Bryce Canyon NP from Las Vegas

By car: Bryce Canyon NP is about 260 miles, over 4 hours drive from Las Vegas, or about 75 miles, 1h30 drive from Zion National Park. Like all of the National Parks, you can pay a $35 per vehicle fee, but if you are visiting a few of them, I highly recommend getting an America the Beautiful Pass instead.

If you are driving to Bryce Canyon from Las Vegas, you can easily explore the main viewpoints on your own. If, however, you want to do something more special or benefit of the experience of a local guide, check out these short tours that start at Bryce Canyon. There are several sightseeing tours, horseback riding, ATV tours, etc. It can be a fun way to explore Bryce Canyon and because most of these tours only take a few hours, you could easily do them on a short visit as well.

As already mentioned above, if you are planning to visit both – Zion and Bryce Canyon as a day trip from Las Vegas, prepare for a very – very – long day. It’s really better to spend at least one night in the area if driving that far. If you do indeed visit Bryce Canyon for just a day all the way from Vegas, I highly recommend that you take a tour. They’ll take care of all the practicalities, entrance fees, and the driving, allowing you to relax and enjoy the scenery around you.

With a tour: I found this one tour that visits just Bryce Canyon National Park from Las Vegas. All the others seem to combine Bryce with Zion. If, however, you take a tour to just one park, of course, you’ll have much more time for sightseeing than when you visit two parks in the same time. So a lot depends on your interests. For more 2-in-1 tour suggestions, please see Zion NP tour info above.

11. Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend

Places to visit from Las Vegas - Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon

If you are willing to travel yet a little farther to see some of the most incredible scenery of your life, make the trip to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Antelope Canyon is about 4.5-5 hours drive from the Las Vegas Strip and Horseshoe Bend is in the same area.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in the world and one of the most scenic places in the American Southwest. It is located on sacred Navajo land in Page, Arizona. The scenic canyon is split into two sections, Upper Antelope Canyon, and Lower Antelope Canyon.  

You must have a Navajo guide take you into these canyons, so if you drive on your own and want to avoid disappointment, be sure to reserve your tickets in advance (organized tours will take care of this for you). The Upper Canyon is the most popular one because it has easier access and no climbing, but the tickets are much more expensive than the Lower Canyon, and it tends to be much busier. The Lower Canyon might be a bit more challenging for older people or those with mobility limitations, but it’s usually quieter (and much cheaper to visit).

Once you are inside, you will be surrounded by rippling colorful sandstone walls. If you are lucky, you will catch a glimpse of the sunbeams popping through this gorgeous canyon – a photographer’s dream.

You don’t absolutely have to reserve in advance, but in high season, tours usually book up very quickly. So if you are already driving all the way there, it’s best to be sure that you have a ticket before you go. Here you can reserve Lower Antelope Canyon tickets and here – tickets for the Upper Antelope Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is a gorgeous horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, I can almost guarantee you that you will recognize the famous view of this place from different ads, screensavers, and travel books you have seen over the years.

Horseshoe Bend is just a short drive from Antelope Canyon and the hike to the viewpoint is short and easy as well. The hike is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round trip and it’s an easy dirt track. So don’t miss it if visiting the area.

This is one of the most beautiful natural sights that you can see on a day trip from Las Vegas!

How to visit Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas

By car: Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are about 280 miles, 4.5-5 hours drive from Las Vegas. While it is possible to visit here for just a day, you can imagine that it will be a VERY long day with lots of time spent in the car. It is well worth visiting, but you might want to plan for an overnight stay in nearby Page, AZ so that you can spend as much time exploring as possible.

Good to know: Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks are located in the same direction as Antelope Canyon, so if you are renting a car anyway, it’s best to make a road trip of 2-4 days visiting all these places from Las Vegas. If you have more time, you could also visit Grand Canyon on the same trip and make it a nice ‘circle’ touring all these places.

With a tour: Because Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend require such a long drive from Las Vegas, we highly recommend going with a tour if you decide to visit these places as a day trip. Tours take about 15-16 hours, but because you can rest along the way, it will not be nearly as tiring as driving all that distance on your own. Furthermore, tour guides will take care of all the tickets and practicalities so that you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out how everything works once you get to the Antelope Canyon.

Below, you can see all the best tour options, from day tours to multi-day trips that visit several of the best sights near las Vegas. Take a look!

Here are some of the best day tours that visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend from Las Vegas:

  • Small-group day tour. This is the most popular and very highly rated tour that visits these two places as a day trip from Las Vegas. This tour visits either the Lower Antelope Canyon or Canyon X, which is lesser-known and less busy. This tour includes all entrance fees, snacks, lunch, etc. so keep this in mind if comparing to other tours that look cheaper at first sight, but usually don’t include any of this.
  • Best-priced small-group tour. This highly-rated tour also visits Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend and includes entrance fees and lunch. At the moment of writing, it’s about 20% cheaper than the most popular tour mentioned above, and – in all honesty – I don’t see much difference in the itinerary, group size, or in what’s included. So definitely check this one out – it seems like the best-value Antelope Canyon tour from Las Vegas. This tour visits the Lower Antelope Canyon.
  • Upper Antelope Canyon day tour. If you are worried about the stairs of the Lower Canyon, you may want to consider this tour instead. Taking into account that the tickets to the Upper Canyon are much more expensive than the Lower Canyon, this tour actually offers very good value for your money. Keep in mind that this is a big group tour, for the rest – it offers pretty much the same as other tours, including a small lunch and a stop at Horseshoe Bend.

Here are some of the best multi-day tours that visit Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas:

  • 2 days Grand Canyon & Antelope Canyon tour. This highly-rated tour allows you to see some of the best scenery in just two days. The itinerary is well thought of, allowing you to experience a sunset at the Grand Canyon, the quietest time of the day at Horseshoe Bend, and maybe even midday light beams inside the Antelope Canyon. By doing this over two days, you spend less time in a car and more time sightseeing.
  • 3 days Antelope & Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce & Monument Valley tour. This popular and highly rated tour visits all the most beautiful nature destinations near Las Vegas. The itinerary is packed but very well organized allowing you to see all these amazing destinations in just three days. If you want to see it all and not worry about planning anything, this is a great option.
  • Here you can find a complete selection of multi-day tours that – among many other amazing places – visit Antelope Canyon as well.

12. Area 51

Area 51 is one of the most unique places to see near Las Vegas
Welcome to Area 51!

Area 51 is a top-secret area of a government base in the middle of the Nevada desert. It was said to be used to store USA’s biggest secrets, extra-terrestrials from outer space, and alien spaceships. Others would say that is an urban legend. You be the judge.

And yes, this place really does exist. We do know that Area 51 is in the middle of nowhere about 83 miles north of Las Vegas on the edge of Groom Lake near a town called Rachel, Nevada. We indicated the location in our map at the top of this article.

It is important to know that this area is highly protected and is part of an active military base. It is NOT a tourist attraction, so if you find yourself close by do not even think about trespassing. Currently, the closest you can drive to Area 51 is about 15 miles away.  

How to visit Area 51

Don’t despair about not being able to get in! There are some nice ways to explore this unique area if you wish so:

By car: You can take an alien-themed 2.5-hour road trip down the Extraterrestrial Highway – Route 375 – and explore some of the weirdest shops, tourist attractions, and kitschy places like “Little A’Le Inn” to grab a tasty alien burger and spend the night. 

With a tour: There is also a really interesting organized day tour of Area 51 from Vegas. They take you to places that you would not easily find on your own and tell you fascinating stories that make the whole experience so much more interesting. It’s well worth taking a guided tour for this one!

13. Seven Magic Mountains

Places to visit near Las Vegas - Seven Magic Mountains
Places to visit near Las Vegas – Seven Magic Mountains

Just a short ride from the busy Las Vegas Strip stands a super colorful large-scale desert artwork from Ugo Rondinone known as the Seven Magic Mountains. Anyone driving in from LA knows that this is the landmark that you will find on the east side of Interstate 15 letting you know you are almost in Las Vegas. 

Seven Magic Mountains opened in 2016 and because of its raging success, they have agreed to let the installation remain on view through the end of 2021.  

This exhibit is an Instagram hot spot that finds people taking selfies in front of these 7 giant stacks of super colorful boulders. It is super easy to find, you cannot miss it.  It will likely not take you longer than 15-30 minutes to enjoy the space and take your pictures. So with the drive from Vegas and back, plan on spending about 1-2 hours in total. This is not really a day trip in itself, rather a short stop on the way to the other popular tourist attractions near Las Vegas.

Good to know: There is no admission fee, it is free and open to the public year-round. 

How to get to Seven Magic Mountains from Vegas

By car: Seven Magic Mountains can be found 20 miles, 25 minutes drive south from Las Vegas. There is an on-site parking lot for cars. Despite being so close to the city, there is no public transportation available to this site, so you can only visit this popular attraction near Las Vegas by car or with a tour.

With a tour: There are no tours that visit only Seven Magic Mountains, but there are a couple of tours that go to other popular places nearby that make a short stop here.

14. Lake Mead

Lake Mead is a popular place to visit near Las Vegas
Lake Mead

As you are driving in from Vegas, Lake Mead looks like a glowing oasis out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The bright blue water will startle you as you come through the desert landscape and stumble across this giant reservoir that lies on the Colorado River.  

Lake Mead National Recreation Area has the title of America’s First National Recreation Area and it is the nation’s largest reservoir. This man-made wonder covers 248 square miles and holds approximately 325,000 gallons of water.

Lake Mead is a great place to explore year-round, and it’s often combined with a visit to the nearby Hoover Dam and/or Boulder City (see more info further below). You could easily spend an entire weekend enjoying Lake Mead, but most people just stop here shortly when touring the best sites near Las Vegas by car or with a tour.

On a short visit, be sure to at least stop at the Visitor Center and check out the crystal blue waters on your way to Hoover Dam. If you have more time, the gorgeous water gives you opportunities to explore nature, hike, swim, boat, or even go fishing. The marinas have a variety of boats for rent, pontoon boats, fishing boats, paddleboats, and sports boats.  If you bring your own boat, you will need to purchase a pass; if you are renting, the marina will supply the pass. Here you can find more information on the best things to do at Lake Mead.

TIP: Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and extra water. There are not a lot of shady areas in Lake Mead, and it will be very hot. July and August are the hottest months.

How to visit Lake Mead as a day trip from Las Vegas

By car: Lake Mead Visitor Center is about 40 minutes drive from Las Vegas. It’s also just less than 5 miles from Hoover Dam. So you can easily combine these two places and make a nice day trip from Vegas.

With a tour: There are several tours that visit Lake Mead. The ones that combine several places in one, usually just stop here shortly (see Hoover Dam tours and Grand Canyon tours above), but there are also a few tours that allow you to explore this area deeper. Here are the best Lake Mead tours from Las Vegas:

  • Lake Mead ATV tour. This 6-hour tour includes a pick-up/drop-off at your Las Vegas hotel, a 3-hour ATV ride on the most beautiful trails along Lake Mead, a few photo stops, a chance to go for a swim (in summer), and lunch at a local restaurant. This is a fun adventurous day trip from Las Vegas, far from the crowds.
  • Boulder Islands on Lake Mead (water tour). This 3-hour tour is perfect for those visiting Las Vegas in the warmest months and looking to escape into nature for a short while. You have an option to explore Lake Mead on a kayak, paddleboard, or by hydrobike. This short tour includes a hotel pick-up/drop-off and runs in the morning or in the evening, making it easy to combine it with other activities, even if you only have limited time in Vegas.

15. Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve near Las Vegas
Mojave National Preserve

The Mojave Desert is huge and stretches from southeastern California, into southern Nevada. Other small areas extend out into Utah and Arizona. The Mojave National Preserve is located within that desert in San Bernardino County in sunny California, just 1-hour drive from Las Vegas. You could easily drive in, explore for a few hours and be back on the strip later that night.

When driving down I-15 between Las Vegas and LA, there is a long stretch of road that will take you through this unique desert preserve. Be sure to fill your gas tank before getting on the road, there is only one gas station (with sky-high prices) in that area.

It might seem like a desolate place to visit, but there is a ton to do. Explore the massive sand dunes, Joshua Trees, ancient lava flows, hiking trails, or go horseback riding. Be sure to stop at the visitor’s center to pick up a map and ask for recommendations.  

Some of the must-sees of the Mojave National Preserve include Kelso Dunes, Mitchell Caverns, and a hike to the top of Teutonia Peak for some spectacular panoramic views.   

Be sure to bring plenty of water, and then bring some more!  Sunscreen, a hat, and some snacks should also be packed. If you visit during the summer months be extra cautious about the heat, temperatures get to over 100°F here.

How to visit Mojave National Preserve

The easiest way to visit Mojave National Preserve is by car. It’s about 60 miles, 1 hour drive south of Las Vegas. If you are interested in driving the backcountry roads you will need 4-wheel drive vehicles that must be street-legal according to the California DMV. Driving is only allowed on existing open dirt roads.

I didn’t find any tours visiting this area, so you’ll need a rental car for this one. For more information and things to do, please see the official website.

16. Boulder City

Boulder City is a nice place to visit near Las Vegas
Boulder City

Boulder City is a small town that sits next to Lake Mead and next to the giant Hoover Dam. You can easily access all three of these attractions within an hour of the Las Vegas Strip. If you want to make the most of your time, you can easily visit all three places in a day. And since they are so close to each other, it doesn’t even require much advance planning. 

Boulder City is not a city at all, rather a small western town with its unique personality and a lot more to do than it looks at first sight. You could drive through in just 15 minutes or spend a few hours, get lunch and explore all of the little nooks in and around this cool town; it’s up to you.  

Boulder City is a great place to visit year-round and has good parking and great local shops and restaurants. Be sure to stop at the Boulder Dam Brewing Company for some live music, delicious food, cold brew, and unique décor – thousands of pounds of equipment used to construct Hoover Dam adorns the beer garden and dining area. You can also do some antique shopping at the Boulder City Antique Market or Sherman’s House of Antiques.

How to visit Boulder City from Las Vegas

By car: Boulder City is about 30 minutes drive from Las Vegas. From Boulder City, it’s just a short drive to Lake Mead or Hoover Dam.

With a tour: Most tours that visit Hoover Dam just shortly pass Boulder City and don’t really stop in town. The majority of tours visiting this area focus on the activities nearby. One of the best tours you can take is a visit to the Eldorado Canyon & Techatticup Mine (more info below). Alternatively, you can also book a kayak expedition on the Colorado River and see Hoover Dam from another angle or go kayaking in the nearby Black Canyon.

17. Lake Havasu

London Bridge at Lake Havasu in Arizona
London Bridge at Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, AZ, has 400 miles of stunning coastline, 300 days of sunshine, and 60 miles of navigable waterways. This makes it one of the most popular weekend getaways from Vegas for the locals. Lake Havasu is a watersport haven for swimming, fishing, and boating. It has several boat ramps, dozens of campsites, a picnic area, and a beach area. You could enjoy it just for the day or stay longer. 

A big surprise for those that visit this Arizona hot spot, is that just 2 miles away from the gates of the Lake Havasu State Park stands an iconic piece of history… London Bridge!  Yes, THAT London Bridge! It was rebuilt in Lake Havasu in 1971 and is the second-largest tourist draw in Arizona. Don’t miss it!

A visit here is very different than most other destinations mentioned in this article. It’s not that much about sightseeing, rather a relaxing day by the water. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit and a towel!

How to visit Lake Havasu from Las Vegas

By car: Lake Havasu is located in western Arizona just outside of San Bernadino County. It’s about 150 miles, 2.5 hours drive south of Las Vegas. The lake has a big protected area – Lake Havasu State Park – that is open year-round. It will cost you $20 per vehicle on weekends and holidays and $15 on Monday thru Thursday. 

With a tour: If you are looking to visit Lake Havasu and swim under the London Bridge, there is a really nice tour that not only visits this area but includes much more. This 12-hour tour also takes you right down Route 66, visits a ghost town, includes a jet boat ride on the Colorado River that goes to the Topic Gorge. It’s a great fun day trip from Las Vegas that you will also enjoy in the summer.

So, this is our list of some of the most popular day trips and places to visit near Las Vegas. As you can see, not only can you have a top-notch vacation in Las Vegas itself, but there is so much to do nearby.

The unique landscape of the southwest U.S. is a special place to explore and to see so many stunning nature destinations. And while taking some of these day trips from Las Vegas might be quite costly, it will keep you away from the craps tables for a day. 😉

TIP: If you are looking for some more ideas for places to see near Las Vegas and a more off the beaten path experience, you may want to check out Gold Butte National Monument. It’s also just a few hours drive from Las Vegas, but it requires a 4×4 and ideally, you plan an entire day here, so it’s best to stay nearby for two nights.

Visiting Las Vegas and the surroundings? Check out these guides:

More travel tips for Utah & Arizona:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin these images!

Most beautiful places to visit near Las Vegas
Best tours, excursions, and day trips from Las Vegas

Image credits: Depositphotos.com

 
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Dan

Sunday 25th of April 2021

Thanks for all the info about and around las Vegas. Very nice pictures too.

Jurga

Friday 30th of April 2021

Have a great trip, Dan!

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