Las Vegas locals have a limited amount of genuine excitement to share with visiting family and friends. The time comes when leading a Strip tour just isn’t something we are willing do ONE MORE TIME.
Whether you’re tired of the Strip tours or have visitors that have already seen that part of the city other options for what to do in Las Vegas will prevent you from bowing out altogether.
When that time comes, here are some of my favorite excursions to share with close friends or visiting family that gives them a taste of Las Vegas without feeling like a death march for me.
My 5 favorite alternatives to the classic Strip Tour
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
When I have friends and family that visit me that want to avoid the whole “Vegas” thing, my first thought is Red Rock Canyon. This is the absolute coolest hidden secret for all locals. For a whopping $7 per car, we are treated to a majestic 13-mile loop through Red Rock Canyon, which features 19 different hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty.
There are some stunning cliffs that can reach as high as 3,000 feet, but for the average walker / climber, the beautiful sandstone landscapes can be traversed with no special shoes or training.
I have brought my children when they were as young as 3, and family from out of town in their mid to late 70’s. You can have a picnic at Willow Springs, or even see waterfalls at Ice Box Canyon and Lost Creek.
I personally guarantee you some of the best views Las Vegas has to offer. The usual drive and hike can take anywhere from two hours, to upwards of an entire day, depending on your wants and level of enjoyment.
The entire park can also be ridden on bikes as well, for those who want to stretch their legs and become one with the surroundings. They additionally have a visitor’s center and gift shop for those who feel the need to bring home trinkets, or want to learn more about the Mojave Desert.
The Fremont Experience
While the Las Vegas Strip has a great deal to view, once you’ve seen it, unless you plan on enjoying some of the great restaurants or gambling, it is unchanging. What I enjoy sharing with visitors, is the original hot spot of downtown, known as the “Fremont Experience”.
Fremont Street is the famous avenue that most movie goers remember seeing when anything was filmed in old Las Vegas; with the bright lights and casinos that you could drive right up to. Today, the street itself is closed, with the entire block covered with a projection screen patio awning.
At night, different music is featured every hour on the hour, with a light show display on the screen itself. While there are several casinos that you can venture in and out of, it is truly the people watching that makes the trip spectacular. Also, for the adventurous, there is a zip line you can ride that traverses the entire length of Fremont Street.
There are also a plethora of gift and novelty shops, restaurants and you will not find a larger collection of novelty drinks and accompanying glasses anywhere in this fair city. They have recently opened the “Container Park”, which sits at the edge of the Fremont Experience and features an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops, along with art and live music at night.
Cirque du Soliel – The Beatles “Love”
There are currently 8 Cirque shows playing at various casinos here in Las Vegas. Each show is a synthesis of circus styles from around the world, with its own central theme and storyline. Shows employ continuous live music, with acrobats performing a tremendous assortment of carnival-like acts.
I have seen all of these, however, there is one that continues to draw me back time after time, and when an out-of-town’er asks me to accompany them to a show, I always recommend the same one, Love at The Mirage Hotel and Casino. Now maybe it’s because I’m partial to the Beatles, but for whatever reason, the tumbling and trapeze acts supported by the music of the Fab Four owns me. They do a fantastic job of incorporating characters developed by the Beatles and included in many of their songs.
Each and every time I am left in tears, as the show ends, and for a completely stoic guy, that is quite a testimony to the emotions conjured up by the show. I must also give an honorable mention to Michael Jackson’s “One” Cirque show at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Vegas has been famous throughout her existence because of the unending availability of adult fun. With the pedestrian showgirl act that each and every casino offers, there is additionally the ability to see your favorite comedic or music performers coming through town as well as the aforementioned Cirque shows.
There is, however, one show that is unique and bizarre. And, in an effort to sum it up better than I ever could, I stole this directly from the Huffington Post: Absinthe has been hailed as “the most inventive and daring show to open on the strip in years!” (Las Vegas Sun)
Absinthe features outrageous comedy and a cast of wild and outlandish acts performing amazing feats of virtuosity within mere feet of the audience. As the Huffington Post declares, “It happens five feet away from you, and it’s awesome!”
This is, without a doubt, the most ridiculously funny, offensive and captivating show you will ever see. It is performed twice nightly under a giant circus tent on the property of Caesar’s Palace. If you or your guest is easily offended, do not go anywhere near this spectacle. The entire show is emceed by Mr. Gazillionaire and his assistant, and the closer you get to the stage the more your experience will be heightened.
Anything more I could say, would be a spoiler at best, so suffice to say, don’t blame me if you leave completely mortified.
Any number of gun ranges
Over the last month or so, I have joined the ranks of those who wish to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights to own and carry a firearm. During the course of deciding what the right gun was for me, etc., I entered into quite a large sub-culture here in Las Vegas; those who love their guns.
Specifically, the 8 to 10 places here where you can shoot anything from James Bond’s Walther PPK to AK-47 assault rifles. Interestingly, these places have become such popular attractions, that most of them have free shuttle services to and from your hotel.
Discount Firearms and Ammo on Highland, The Gun Store on Tropicana, Machine Guns Vegas on Aldebaran, The Range 702 on Dean Martin Drive, Battlefield Vegas on Industrial and American Shooters on Arville, are some of the more popular places. While there, you can obviously look through wide arrays of guns to purchase, but for those out-of-towner’s who don’t have it available in their town, you can shoot any number of guns.
Now to be honest, this wasn’t something that had great interest to me in the past. But today, I frickin’ love it. Most of the time, I am shooting my own weapon and bring my own ammo. So, for the cost of a fun to shoot at target, and the range time, I am looking at next to no expense.
But for a very nominal fee you can shoot anything you want, for the cost of the ammo and target. They have the necessary goggles and noise reducing headphones, as well as instruction for first time shooters. I know this might be extreme for some, but, hey, life is about the experience.
What’s on your short list?
How do you entertain visitors when a trip down the Strip just isn’t in the cards?