Top day trips from Las Vegas
Top day trips from Las Vegas

Best Day Trips From Las Vegas:

Wanna get a little break from Vegas for the day?  Here are the top day and side trips we’ve taken from Sin City.

Joining A Tour Group Vs Car Rental:

Most of our top Las Vegas day trips can easily be reached with tour groups, but these tours have their downfalls.  The biggest downfall of the group tours is that you don’t have the flexibility on when you leave.  With the late nights and hangovers involved with Las Vegas, it is better to have the schedule flexibility.  We prefer a rental car not just for this option, but also because they are quite cheap if you book them ahead of time.  Another huge perk with that almost every hotel will have free parking for guests so the amount of money you save on not taking a cab from the airport can also be put toward your rental car costs.

Top Day Trips From Las Vegas:

1. Hoover Dam (50 Minutes):

About The Hoover Dam: One of the biggest construction projects in American History was the Hoover Dam and without the water and electricity it produces Las Vegas never would have been able to grow into the sprawling entertainment center it is today.  Building the behemoth structure required overcoming many challenges in a barren landscape to create one of the greatest engineering works in history.  Rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of America’s Seven Modern Civil Engineering Wonders, the Hoover Dam is truly a feat of American might.

The main purpose of the Dam was not just to generate electricity, but also to create a large reservoir for the growing population of the American Southwest.  They built finished it 2 years ahead of schedule and the final product of all the labor was 726 feet tall (60 stories), 1,244
feet long, 660 feet thick at the base, and 45 feet thick at the top.  Even if you don’t have the time to do a complete tour of the Power Plant or Dam Passageways, simply parking and walking around the Dam can be a great experience.  On your first visit, we guarantee you won’t be able to wrap your head around the scale of the structure.

Read More: Hoover Dame Guide.

2. Red Rock Canyon (30 Minutes):

About Red Rock Canyon: Red Rock Canyon offers the best hiking near Las Vegas and it’s only 30 minutes outside of town.  The hiking routes are all very well marked and range from very easy to moderately difficult.

3. The Grand Canyon (Helicopter Tour -or- 4 hour drive):

About The Grand Canyon: This amazing natural wonder is a great way to escape the man-made neon zoo of Las Vegas for a day.  If you can fit it in the budget, a helicopter tour is the fastest and most doable way to experience the canyon from Vegas in a single day.  Driving is a very easy way to get there too, however, realize that from Vegas the popular south rim is a 4 1/2 hour drive each way and the north rim can be double that.  Once you get to the Grand Canyon there are many things to do from taking in the views, pack riding to the bottom, or even rafting down the Colorado River.

4. Death Valley (2-3Hours):

About Death Valley: Sitting in the sun of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America.  Not only does this vast National Park get down to 282 below sea level, but it can get above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the Summer.  The harshness of the Valley has created a huge amount of beauty from large salt flats to flowing sands dunes, a large volcanic crater, slot canyons, and a jagged area known as the Devil’s Golf Course.

Adding to the experience of this a side trip to Death Valley is a series of man-made wonders they the mysterious Scotty’s Castle. There is plenty of stuff to see both in Death Valley and on the way there to make a perfect day trip out of it.  Some of the sights you’ll see on your way to the valley are a creep 1800’s ghost town, a field of over-sized pop art sculptures, and historical markers showing 1950’s Nuclear bomb testing sites.

Read More: Death Valley Guide.

5. Grand Canyon West (2.5 Hours):

About Grand Canyon West: Grand Canyon West is basically the poor man’s Grand Canyon.  Don’t get us wrong, the views of the Canyon from here are still amazing, but is typically where people who can’t fit in a full Grand Canyon trip.  It is only a 2.5-hour drive to get here instead of 4 hours ro get to the visitor’s center on the South Rim.

6. Yucca Nuclear Testing Site (2 Hours and 15 Minutes):

About The Yucca Nuclear Testing Site: The whole area called Yucca Valley looks like a moonscape from Nuclear bombing and the biggest crater is the Storax Sedan Crater.  This crater was formed from a 104 kiloton nuclear bomb that was set off 635 feet below the ground on July 6th, 1962. The crater is 320 feet deep; 1,280 feet wide; has a 100-foot-tall lip; and moved 12 million tons of material and you can tour it.

There are special tours you can take to visit it once a month:

7. Area 51 (2 Hours):

About Area 51: Aliens? A cloud of mystery has always surrounded this top secret base north of Las Vegas known as Area 51.  Deep within a US Air Force Base, on the shores of Groom Lake, Area 51 one has always been mentioned with UFO conspiracy theories.  If you are brave enough to investigate the hype, an adventure awaits you.  Just remember to stay off the restricted grounds so you don’t get shot.

It’s 2 hours to the mailbox, 2.5 hours to Campfire Hill

8. Kelso Dunes in Baker (2 Hours):

About The Kelso Dunes: SIf you want to feel like you are in the middle of a movie filmed in the Sahara Desert, you need to visit the Kelso Dunes near Baker.  Not only are they on the way to Joshua Tree National Forest but they are an easy day trip from Las Vegas.

9. Lake Havasu (2.5 Hours):

About Lake Havasu: There was nothing at Lake Havasu until businessman Robert McCulloch came up with a development plan to create a man-made lake and develop a resort oasis. To speed up development McCulloch bought the London Bridge from London for $2.4 Million to be relocated to the development he was building in Arizona.  In 1968 the Bridge was dismantled, shipped to the United States and rebuilt by 1971.  McCulloch’s plan worked and the city quickly grew into a top vacation spot in Arizona.  Seeing the development’s success many spiteful Londoners made up a story that McCulloch was made when he first saw the Bridge rebuilt as he thought he had bought the more iconic Tower Bridge.  Because Robert personally oversaw the purchase and dismantling in London the Tower Bridge rumor is definitely not true.

Today Lake Havasu may be best known as a popular high school and college Spring Break hotspot but it’s beautiful waters and beach are a great getaway for anyone.  It’s not quite as good as the beaches of the of San Diego or Los Angles but is worth a stop if you want a taste of beach life.

10. Zion National Park (2 Hours & 45 Minutes):

About Zion National Park: Zion isn’t that far away, but because of the vast amount of hiking and natural sights to check out, we recommend at least two days and one overnight stay.  Here is a helpful guide until we get more into up:

Left Off Of Our List:

11. Lake Mead (1 Hour):

About Lake Mead: Lake Mead is not cool and is a below average lake on many levels. Boating and jet skiing are fine but are not anywhere close to the level of any Midwestern Lake or even other Southwestern reservoirs such as Lake Powell.  If you are going to water ski, the waters will be unbelievable smooth, but as a normal tourist, there are no beaches and not really a ton to do.  The pier has 1000’s of nasty sucker fish begging for food and the boating isn’t really that satisfying.

Further Away Side Trips:

12. Los Angeles (4 Hours):

About Los Angeles: From the beaches to the glamour, Los Angeles is amazing to visit, but realistically it is too far to be a day trip from Las Vegas.  We often get asked what can you do in Los Angeles as a side trip from Las Vegas, but with almost 8 hours of round trip driving why would you do that?  If you really want to see both in one trip you should consider flying into one for a few days and out of the other including a rental car otherwise, you are shortchanging yourself.

13. Havasu Falls (5 hour drive plus a helicopter or 11 hike):

About Havasu Falls: Located in Supai with its large secluded waterfalls and blue-green water, this is the closest thing to a fairytale oasis you can find anywhere. Because of the terrain, Supai is about a 5-hour drive from Vegas toward the Grand Canyon.  Due to the drive time, most visitors stay in the town of Peach Springs AZ only 85 miles out the night before so they can get to the falls early and rested.

To get there from Vegas: take Hwy 93 south 108 miles to Kingman AZ, from here take Route 66 48 miles to Peach Spring AZ (last spot for gas), a little ways past Peach Spring go north on Indian 18 for 68 miles to the trailhead parking lot, from here it is an 8 mile hike/pack horse/helicopter ride.  Note: You must make reservations for horse/helicopter transport ahead of time and visiting the Supai Reservation requires a $35 fee per visit.

Read More: Havasu Fall Travel Guide.

14. Sedona, Arizona (4 Hours & 15 Minutes):

About Sedona: Sedona is probably the most beautiful city in all of Arizona, if not the American Southwest.

15. Flagstaff, Arizona (3 Hours & 45 Minutes):

About Flagstaff: Flagstaff is sometimes overshadowed by the natural beauty of Sedona, but it definitely packs a punch of its own.  The city marks the line of demarcation where you start climbing out of the Southern Arizona desert into a more lush mountain area.  No matter which direction you come, you’re sure to notice the explosion of plant life in Flagstaff.  The city itself is dominated by a series of urban mountains including Mount Elden which offers some great views and Humprey’s Mountain which offers Arizona’s best skiing.

For us, the highlight of any visit to Flagstaff is a stop at the ancient Sunset Volcano Crater.  It is a huge black ash covered volcano that you has a very defined caldera as you drive up to it, but why stop at driving as you can actually hike right into it!  Other worthy nearby attractions are the Coconino’s Lava Tube Cave, the Wupatki Pueblo Monument, and wide Meteor Crater.