Four Quick Getaways Around Las Vegas
You may want to go somewhere else for an exciting or relaxing weekend. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far to find attractions for every taste. Here are four simple travel destinations less than a day’s drive from Las Vegas.
Travel with Pride
Did you love watching “Born Free” about Elsa the Lioness when you were a child? Did you long for the opportunity to make contact with one of these magnificent felines? Your dream of cradling a lion cub in your arms could come true at the Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson (just 20 minutes southeast of Las Vegas). Enjoy a relaxed photoshoot with an adorable baby lion and leave with a set of unforgettable portraits. When no cuddly cubs are available, you can still enjoy a wild dining experience on a veranda with transparent walls. Lions mill about just beyond the glass, watching you want your meal… and waiting for theirs.
The ranch offers an immersion experience as a lion tamer if you feel particularly bold. During a four-hour training course, you can learn to feed and care for a lion–and even put on a show! Since none of your friends will believe your tale of training a lion, be sure to pay extra for a “point of view” camera documentary or have your exploits filmed by a professional videographer.
For the Pro in You...
With so much land and such a relatively sparse population, it’s no surprise that Nevada is home to a huge number of outstanding golf courses. Wolf Creek Golf Club in Mesquite (an hour northeast of Las Vegas on the Arizona state line) is consistently ranked among the best in the state. In 2011, golf fans participating in a Golf Digest poll even chose Wolf Creek as their favorite public golf course in the United States. That’s par for the course with such a phenomenal location and the attention to detail shown in the site’s layout and upkeep.
Wolf Creek Golf Club is carved out of the desert canyon landscape for maximum visual effect. Prepare to tee off overlooking stunning vistas that pair natural beauty with carefully cultivated courses. Deep, emerald green turf nestles in red sand like jewelry. If you can tear your eyes away from the panorama, you’ll enjoy a par-72 golf experience that rivals any championship course in the nation. The luxurious Eureka Casino Resort offers nearby accommodations if you plan to stay and play an extra day.
An Oasis in the Desert
The beauty of the natural environment abounds throughout the “Silver State.” There’s certainly no shortage of places to go if you love the great outdoors. However, it can be a little dry out there. If you love the water and feel spry enough to tackle some fishing, boating, or watersports, travel to the Lake Mead National Recreation Center for your next outing. It’s the most extensive body of water for miles in any direction.
Of course, you don’t have to overexert yourself to have a good time. There’s plenty of wildlife to spot and some unique landscape to capture on camera if you prefer a more sedate outing. While the lake has the allure of a natural feature with 820 miles of shoreline to enjoy, this refreshing destination didn’t develop on its own. Lake Mead is the 16th largest artificial lake in the country. The construction of the Hoover Dam created this enormous reservoir.
Speaking of the Hoover Dam, this is another must-see attraction in Boulder City for history and engineering buffs. For the most inclusive experience, you may want to have a guided tour. Learn the history of this epic structure along with trivia that will delight your imagination. For example, you’ll discover that this incredible piece of infrastructure was completed two years ahead of schedule. That’s no small feat given the equipment and technology available at the time! The dam itself is just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t miss the tour of the power plant with its gigantic machinery or the visitor’s center packed with exhibits. Bring your camera, because you’re sure to have a “dam” good time. The images you capture overlooking the lake will make this a trip ending up in the scrapbook.
A Grand Adventure
If seeing the Grand Canyon is an item you must mark off your bucket list, you’ll be glad to know that the west rim of this landmark is within 120 miles of Las Vegas. While this canyon area isn’t as notable as the more famous south rim, it is undoubtedly breathtaking in its own right. The western boundary has only been accessible since the late 1980s when the Havasupai and Hualapai tribes decided to open their reservation land to tourism. You’re in for a slightly more rugged experience with fewer commercial amenities than the Grand Canyon’s southern region. However, since the west rim is only a few hours from Vegas, you can make it a day trip. While you’re in town, drop by the Hualapai Ranch to enjoy western-style entertainment with lariat performances and a wagon ride.
The jaw-dropping Skywalk is the central attraction. This structure curves out over the canyon and is suspended over a 4,000-foot drop. The glass bottom of the horseshoe-shaped display bridge will make you feel lucky when you make it back to firm ground again—plan to purchase photos rather than taking your own when you are on the Skywalk. Handheld cameras and camera phones aren’t allowed (although a helmet-mounted cam might be acceptable).
One drawback of sightseeing in the canyon is the sheer distance involved to get from one spot to the next on foot or by mule. For example, the rugged and traditional village of Supai is located eight miles from the nearest road. If you want to view the beauty of the canyon and see the sights without wearing yourself out, consider taking a helicopter tour. You won’t have to settle for an aerial view. Some choppers can take you down to land safely at the bottom of the canyon. Fortunately, they also fly you back up again so you don’t have to climb!
These are just a few of the incredible travel destinations you can enjoy without straying too far from Vegas. With so much to explore, you may find yourself planning short trips year-round.