One question I get asked more than any other about Las Vegas is just what there is to do there non-gamblers/non-partiers. My answer? SO FRICKIN’ MUCH. I wrote a whole list of 10 things you can do in Vegas (that doesn’t involve partying or gambling) which you should definitely check out if you’re planning to visit this whirlwind of a city any time soon.
But one thing that people often overlook is just how well situated Vegas is for incredible day trips. While in Sin City, I only managed two myself (Valley of Fire and the Grand Canyon) because of time and cost constraints, but the reality is that there are just so many possibilities you’d need weeks to see it all!
In no particular order, here are 12 day trips from Las Vegas that should be on your radar. Of course, you can do all of these by yourself in a rental car, but for any non-drivers (like I was at the time I visited Vegas!) I’ve popped some links in to various companies who offer tours to each place. And if you do head out on any of these trips, be sure to let me know your thoughts either in the comments below or on my social media channels!
(p.s. Just so you’re aware – this post does contain some affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you!)
1. Valley of Fire
Time needed: around 6 hours
Who with?: Pink Jeep Tours were who I used and I would recommend them every single day of the week!
The Valley of Fire could easily have been one of the best day trips I took on my entire two-week tour of the West Coast. Our visit with Pink Jeep Tours was not only informative and super comfortable, it was also wonderfully extensive, covering virtually every part of the State Park.
For those who aren’t familiar with the Valley of Fire, it’s Nevada’s largest state park, situated in the Mojave Dessert. Not only does it contain a number of mysterious 2000-year old petroglyphs, it’s also home to colourful vistas – many of which have been widely used in TV adverts and movies! This little round-up of the tour is doing it a slight disservice, so if you’d like to know more I’d recommend having a look at my in-depth review.
2. Red Rock Canyon National Park
Time needed: 4+ hours
Who with?: Viator’s got a choice of 4 or 6-hour tour, each with a tour of the 13-mile scenic loop.
Red Rock Canyon, situated in the Mojave Desert, is one of the closest places you can visit from Vegas, just 20 miles from the Strip. While there, you can hike, or simply take in the views of the stunning 3,000-ft high formations from the comfort of your car! You can also bike, camp or climb in certain areas, or visit some of the indoor and outdoor exhibitions, so there’s lots to keep you entertained.
3. Bonnie Springs Ranch
Time needed: 2 hours+
Who with?: I can’t actually find a company that offers a specific day trip to Bonnie Springs Ranch, but considering its close proximity to Vegas, it wouldn’t be too expensive to jump in a cab – especially if you split the cost between several of you!
Bonnie Springs Ranch is probably not the most recognisable on this list, but it’s definitely worthy of a visit from Las Vegas! It’s actually in Red Rock Canyon, so it’s more than easy to combine the two. Bonnie Springs is a western-themed amusement park, complete with a zoo, an ‘Old Western’ town, a miniature train and horseback riding.
4. Death Valley
Time needed: 10-11 hours
Who with? This tour from Viator and Casino Travel and Tours is one of the most comprehensive and cheapest I’ve found!
If there’s one trip I regret NOT doing while in Vegas, it’s this one. Not only does it sound pretty bad-ass (How many people can actually say, “Yeah, I just popped to Death Valley for the day”?), but it looks spectacular. Again, it’s in the Mojave desert, but you have to travel to Eastern California to see it, which explains the long journey time.
Death Valley is the ‘hottest, driest, and lowest’ National Park with temperatures often reaching 50°C during the summer. You might have heard of the ‘sailing stone’ sensation, where rocks move across the valley floor (with no help from animals or humans whatsoever), leaving trails behind them. (Bear with me while I geekily recite what I found out on Wikipedia…) This is actually all down to large ice sheets start breaking up during summer days, which shoves rocks at anywhere up to 5 metres a minute.
5. Lake Mead/Hoover Dam
Time needed: 2 hours +
Who with? Don’t just see the Hoover Dam; take this tour with Viator and take a cruise down Lake Mead!
I’ll put these two together as one – after all, it’s unlikely you’ll see one without seeing the other. Situated on the border of Nevada and Arizona, the Hoover Dam is only around a 40-minute drive from the bright lights of Vegas. Of course, you may decide to pop in and see it on your way to the Grand Canyon (like we did), but if you have more time to dedicate to it you can take a Hummer H2 tour, go mountain biking, or even take a cruise.
6. Bryce Canyon
Time needed: 12 hours+
Who with?: It might be a long journey from Vegas, but this tour makes it completely worth it.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a good 5+ hours away in the car from Vegas, so you might want to consider an overnight trip if you have the time. This is another one I wish I’d done because those unique rock structures are just out of this world! Fun fact: despite being called a canyon, it’s actually a collection of giant natural amphitheatres. And while you’re there, you might as well go to the next place too…
7. Zion National Park
Time needed: 11 hours
Who with?: This day tour gives you transport and a professional guide.
Found in Utah, Zion National Park is an hour and a half drive from Bryce Canyon, so it’s definitely worth combining the two if you can. Zion was actually Utah’s very first National Park, and it’s where you can hike, bike, or even take part in some horse riding if you fancy!
8. Monument Valley
Time needed: 15+ hours
Who with?: OK, you might need to drive yourself to this one. Road trip, anyone?
I’m going to include Monument Valley on this list, even though it’s a good 6.5 hour drive from Vegas. However, considering its close proximity to Bryce and Zion National Parks, it’s easily one you can tag on to the end of a road trip. Or, y’know, just get up at 2am for one epic day trip from Vegas!
Monument Valley is one of THE most recognisable places in all of America, having been used as a backdrop for various music videos, movies and video games. Still want to get here one day for sure! Maybe next time I’m in Vegas?!
Time needed: 15 hours
Who with?: See Santa Monica, Beverly Hills AND Hollywood in this 14-hour tour.
This is definitely one for the hard-core day-trippers amongst you.
While I’m definitely of the opinion that LA is best explored over a few days (and hey! It may not even be as expensive as you thought it was going to be…), annual leave restrictions and tight budgets can mean that we need to sometimes compromise.
If you want to get a taste for the City of Angels while you’re living it up in Las Vegas, then that’s totally possible – if you’re up for a 15-hour day (8-9 hours of which will be spent on the coach). It’s definitely not a tour for the faint-hearted, but it’ll be like you’ve had 2 holidays in 1, so that’s a crafty little bonus. Many tours take in all the key sights such as Hollywood Boulevard, Santa Monica and the Hollywood sign…
10. Mojave National Preserve
Time needed: 3 hours+
Who with?: Always wanted to see the desert via ATV? Now’s your chance.
Less than a one-hour drive South from Vegas, Mojave National Preserve is the perfect half-day day trip. The colours aren’t as vibrant as other valleys and canyons on this list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less photogenic. It’s home to sand dunes, Joshua tree forests and mountains, plus mountain lions, coyotes and other wildlife.
11. Area 51
Time needed: 10 hours
Who with?: Viator offer a day tour from Vegas, complete with lunch and a full history debrief.
Who hasn’t heard of Area 51?! This US Air Force facility is surrounded by so many myths and stories, mainly surrounding aliens and UFOs. Love a good conspiracy theory? Hit the open road from Vegas and find out more for yourself!
12. Grand Canyon
Time needed: 12-14 hours
Who with?: We chose this tour from Viator and plumped for the optional Skywalk too!
How can you go to Las Vegas and NOT go to the Grand Canyon?! It’s the day trip to do from Vegas, and the options are endless: do you self-drive, take a guided coach tour, or even jump in a helicopter for that birds-eye view? And which part of the Canyon should you visit? We took a tour to the West Rim to try our hand/feet at the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway that hangs out over the Canyon itself. However, the South Rim arguably offers some of the best views.