Adventure By Dayna Engberg

Neon & Nature: Side Trips from Las Vegas

When you're ready to travel again, will you choose the action of the city or the call of the wild? Perhaps you're looking for a bit of both. Often regarded as America's premier adult theme park, Las Vegas isn't just high-rolling glamour and high-flying entertainment - although you'll find plenty of that, too - it's also a city snuggled between wide-open spaces and some of the country's most breathtaking natural landscapes. Whether you have a few hours or a few days, read on for our top picks for exciting side trips to add to your next Las Vegas vacation.


IF YOU HAVE A FEW HOURS...


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RED ROCK CANYON, NEVADA

Las Vegas is a destination whose attractions come full circle, from fast-paced city attractions to vast desert landscapes - and these bold contrasts are all part of the experience. Located in the Mojave Desert just 20 miles from Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is the ideal destination for an easy day trip. Whether you're into hiking, mountain climbing or simply enjoying the scenery, the towering sandstone peaks will not disappoint. Our recommendation? Splurge on a convertible for the scenic drive along the 13-mile one-way road that carves through the canyon, stopping for a hike to see the seasonal waterfalls and sweeping views within Ice Box Canyon.

As dusk approaches, make your way back to the bright lights of the big city for dinner and a show at one of Vegas' many five-star resorts. We recommend Wynn Las Vegas and Encore for their range of truly spectacular dining options. From Wing Lei, North America's first Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant, to Costa Di Mare, where you can enjoy fresh seafood flown in daily from Italy while seated in a private cabana on a magical lagoon or Mizumi, the award-winning Japanese restaurant overlooking private Japanese gardens surrounding a tranquil koi pond with a 90-foot waterfall, this is dining in true Vegas form.

IF YOU HAVE A FULL DAY...


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ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH

After a few days of gambling, dining, shopping and non-stopping, you might be craving something more than a just quick day trip. For a hefty dose of much-needed silence and wide-open wilderness, we recommend one of Southwestern Utah's most pristine areas: Zion National Park. Its namesake 15-mile Zion Canyon is only the beginning of the diverse terrain here. From dramatic switchback trails to panoramic plateaus, giant basins and hidden waterfalls, Zion National Park is a hiker's paradise.

Embark on an adventurous scramble on the five-mile cliffside trail leading up to Angels Landing, a 1,488-foot-tall rock formation with panoramic views of the canyon below, watch the shadows shift from inside the dramatic sandstone cliffs surrounding the Court of the Patriarchs or feel the refreshing mist from waterfalls on the Emerald Pools Trails. Although the drive from Las Vegas takes less than three hours, there is enough to see and do here to span several days, so plan ahead.

IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE DAY...


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GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA


Standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon at sunrise is an experience that easily rivals any Vegas show. Watch as the rising sun casts dramatic moving shadows on the colorful layered bands of the canyon walls, first in deep blues and purples, then in vibrant oranges and yellows as the sun illuminates millions of years of geologic history, inch by inch.

Although you can technically reach the westernmost edge of the Grand Canyon in just two hours, mobile maps can be misleading. To reach the primary trailheads (and the best views) you'll need to head to Grand Canyon Village on the park's south rim, which takes over four hours from Las Vegas. Experiencing one of North America's most iconic natural wonders is absolutely worth the drive, but if you're looking for a luxurious alternative that will also cut your travel time in half, a private helicopter ride provides stunning aerial views and the opportunity to be welcomed at the very bottom of the canyon floor with a private Champagne toast.

Through Travel Leaders UK SELECT, you'll receive unique amenities and VIP-worthy privileges to enhance nearly every moment of your Vegas adventure, only when you book through our agency.




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