The strip, the neon lights, the flashy people… That can be fun. It’s not always what you want on a family vacation, though! If you’re looking for more family friendly activities in the Las Vegas area, you’ve come to the right place!
We love Las Vegas. We visit family in the area a few times a year, and have never run out of things to do. Before our first visit to Las Vegas I was concerned about what to do with my 5-year-old, but then I realized there is tons to do with kids that has nothing to do with the Strip!
While there are a lot of things to do with kids on the Strip (believe it or not some of those resorts are actually really kid-friendly!), if you’re trying to avoid the crowds and craziness read on for our best suggestions on where to take kids off the strip!
Read on for a list of fun things to do outside of Las Vegas!
1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
This Red Rock park is so fun! At only $7 per car entrance and around 20 mins. away from Las Vegas, it’s definitely worth a trip to climb and hike over, across, and under the incredible landscape.
First of all, the color of the red rocks is truly unbelievable. It’s so easy to see the layers of rock and how they changed over time. It’s like visiting a Geology museum! If you’re around during sunset the color of the rocks changes to a deep, purplish red that is absolutely mesmerizing!
Red Rock Canyon Park is full of easy to moderate hiking. Follow the designated walking path from the main parking lot down to the valley of the park. From there you are free to climb, hike, and walk in any direction you choose! The rocks are smooth an easy to climb, making it the ultimate natural playground.
What to know about visiting Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area:
- Entrance is around $7/ car
- Parking is extremely limited, so try to carpool!
- Bring hiking shoes with good grip to walk around the smooth rocks and plenty of water and snacks
- While the Red Rock Canyon is out of town a ways, there is a neighborhood with a few restaurants and stores nearby if you want to plan lunch or dinner while you’re out
2. See the Seven Magic Mountains Temporary Art Installment
Yes, they’re magic. And yes, they’re temporary.
Seven Magic Mountains is a largescale, outdoor art exhibit by famed artist Ugo Rondinone. The seven totem “mountains” are comprised of boulders made from local rock which was colored and carefully placed to form tall structures. The installation is meant to consider the relationship between people and nature, and does so in an incredibly powerful way.
You can see the shine of the seven magic mountains from miles away as you arrive toward them from the highway, and being in their presence is unbelievable. Although it’s quickly become one of Las Vegas’ most popular tourist spots for Instagram pictures and YouTubers, you can still feel immense peace while being there!
The installation has been initially extended until the end of 2018, but keep your fingers crossed that they’ll stick around even longer!
to see these incredible, colorful totems. Just off the highway a few miles outside of downtown Las Vegas, they are so worth the detour! They absolutely GLOW. I love them.
What to Know Before Going to The Seven Magic Mountain in Las Vegas:
- The mountains are pretty far outside of Las Vegas. They are really easy to find, but around 40 minutes drive on I-15
- There aren’t many restaurants or a gas station nearby, so fill up on all essentials before you come!
- The Seven Magic Mountains Park is free to park and enter
- The Mountains are really popular, so don’t expect to have the space to yourself!
- Drone videography is allowed, but only if you take off, land, and control the drone from the parking lot.
3. Visit the Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is a famous feat of American engineering, and for good reason!
Before visiting the Hoover Dam I didn’t really think it was a big deal. I only went because my husband is an engineer, and he and our son both love seeing how things work. Well… Here it is, folks: I. Was. Wrong. It is so cool!
The Hoover Dam is massive, Lake Mead (on one side) is gorgeous, and the engineering is really interesting. I’m not going to get into how it was built and why it’s so impressive. Mostly because I don’t understand it.
The point is that it’s one of the best things to do outside of Las Vegas when visiting Nevada!
Even our 4-year-old loved it! Some downsides are that the parking areas are uphill of the Dam, so some walking up and down steep stairs is involved. Also, it’s a popular tourist attraction to visitors from all over the world, so be prepared for some extra foot traffic. Thirdly (and my main concern), it’s HIGH. I’m always afraid of one of us falling to our deaths, so this was kind of a big deal for me. But be careful and keep an eye on those kids and you’re fine! And you should probably avoid sitting your child on the rail to look over the edge of the Dam, as my husband insisted on doing.
What to know about visiting the Hoover Dam in Las Vegas:
- This is one of the farthest things to do outside of Las Vegas. You’ll drive out of Las Vegas and past Henderson towards Boulder City to get there, but the 45 minutes (or so) is worth it!
- There is a Hoover Dam Museum, a new (terrifying) walking bridge, and more to do and see at the Hoover Dam.
- Entrance and parking is free, but close parking is limited so be prepared to walk a bit to get to the actual Dam!
- BE CAREFUL.
4. Hike or Mountain Bike Bootleg Canyon
Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City is best known for it’s incredible mountain bike trails.
We love mountain biking so we go here often, but Bootleg Canyon is much more than just mountain biking!
If you aren’t interested in going to the top there’s a nice park at the foot of the canyon. If you have a car with 4-wheel drive you should definitely try driving up the rocky road, though!
Driving to the top of the hill (slowly) will lead to some spectacular views of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. The road is unpaved and goes from wide and packed to narrow and rocky, so be slow and careful as you drive. The drive ends at a small parking area on the top of the mountain. Get out there and take a short walk up an easily visible trail to the top of a rock scrag for even better views!
Hoover Dam and the beautiful desert is on one side, Las Vegas is on the other side. It can get windy (especially in the winter months), so take a sweatshirt with you! Bootleg Canyon is definitely one of the coolest things to do outside of Las Vegas.
What to know about Bootleg Canyon:
- Bootleg Canyon is found off the main road driving through Boulder City. It’s in the same general area as Hemenway Park and the Hoover Dam, so you may as well go to all of them on the same day!
- Be watchful for oncoming traffic when driving to the top of the hill. The road unexpectedly narrows, and only one car will be able to drive at a time.
- There are public bathrooms and a water fountain at the base of Bootleg Canyon
4. See the Big Horn Sheep at Hemenway Park
Rated #5 on TripAdvisor for things to do outside of Las Vegas, Hemenway Park is pretty unusual, which makes it a must-see for me!
The main reason is that Hemenway Park is home to a herd of wild Big Horn Sheep. Yes, you read that right: Big Horn Sheep!
This herd lives between the park and the mountain foothills nearby, but comes to the park to graze daily. And only there. It’s so strange, but pretty cool! The park is small and features a basketball court and picnic tables, so you can bring a bag lunch and watch the sheep during lunch time.
To see the sheep graze along the green grass with Lake Mead in the background makes you feel like you’re in Scotland! It’s not worth staying for a long time (unless you just really, really like to look at sheep), but it’s definitely worth a quick stop!
What to know about Hemenway Park:
- Hemenway Park is easy to find in Boulder City by using Google Maps
- Keep your distance from the Big Horn Sheep. They are skittish, anyway, but could get aggressive if they feel threatened
- Watch for sheep poo!
I hope you can make it to Las Vegas soon, and that if you bring some kiddos you enjoy this list of things to do outside of Las Vegas!
If you have any other fun things to do outside of Las Vegas to share with the rest of us please leave your idea in the comments to help another family!
If you’re going to be in Las Vegas with your family pin this list of the best things to do for later!
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