Las Vegas is a self-proclaimed adult playground. But that doesn't mean that it's all fun and (table) games. A trip to Las Vegas can include time spent in nature, meaningful and historical value, and quirky and cute surprises, too. Having gone to Vegas 3 times while under the age of 21 (family vacations, Sin City style), my recent trip back was a breath of new experiences and adventures. I had the chance to show Brandon what Vegas was all about, and discover new things for myself at the same time. If having reservations is holding you back from making them, take a look at my roundup of unique and interesting things to do in Las Vegas:
Explore the Downtown Container Park
A collection of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, the Downtown Container Park near Fremont Street gives old shipping containers a new purpose - with style. We made our way into the park because we were in search of vegan food in Las Vegas and found Simply Pure on the map. Wandering into the Downtown Container Park, we passed a friendly grasshopper and other odds and ends of art. Once we had a chance to get in and look around, we stopped to admire the colorful containers stacked three stories high. Simply Pure was easy to find, a 100% plant-based restaurant that's small, but mighty. While waiting for our food to be ready we perused through some of the other shops and restaurants. The Container Park is also a great place to people-watch, as we did while we ate outside. One of my favorite parts about this area was the green, where parents watched from comfy lounge chairs as their children played with soft blocks and other outdoor games. There was a stage for live music and it was just so lovely. That family feel was really nice to experience, and if I lived in Las Vegas I'd be going to the Downtown Container Park allllll the time.
Go to Seven Magic Mountains
Okay, so you have to have a car to get here, but it's so worth it! Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone in the middle of the desert right outside Las Vegas. There are - you guessed it - seven magical towers of colorful rocks stacked high into the sky. While there isn't much depth to the installation, it's an Instagrammer's paradise just waiting to be realized. It's fun, happy, and a nice opportunity to meet people too. You're more than likely accidentally in someone's picture, or taking it. But the opportunity to marvel at this massive artwork against the barren land around it is really a special thing. If you're thinking about visiting, act quick! The installation will be up for the rest of 2018, but there's no definite timeline past that (as of now). It's worth the 30-min drive to take in this manmade piece against our earth's natural backdrop, with no sign of Las Vegas and its flashy signs in sight.
Hang out at The Park
Take a Drive (or Hike) Through Valley of Fire State Park
When Brandon and I visited Las Vegas, we had exactly 1 full day during our trip and that was the day we rented a car to do all the things. What was actually last on our list for the day was Valley of Fire State Park, but it did not disappoint. This was the first state park in the state of Nevada and its incredible red rock formations are unique and gaze-worthy. There's a lot to see and do in the park, so you could spend your whole day there. We had about 3 hours and made the absolute most of it, so it's also doable in a half day! The highlights: petroglyphs, amazing views, and no cell service. You can drive from end to end of the park and make your stops in between, opting for short photo-ops or longer hikes. Either way, you'll be in awe of what our earth has been, and still is today.
If you want our crazy packed itinerary for the day, here goes:
1. Seven Magic Mountains (totally, 100% free)
2. Hoover Dam (parking fee)
3. Lunch in Henderson, NV (weird, but cool)
4. Drive through Lake Mead National Recreational Area (heads up, it'll cost ya, but it's worth it)
5. Valley of Fire State Park (also has a small fee)
6. Back to Las Vegas (priceless)
Visit the Neon Museum Las Vegas
Last but not least, one of the unique things to do in Las Vegas that I was looking most forward to was our visit to the Neon Museum Las Vegas. It's a collection of the old and forgotten neon signs that used to light up the strip, creating a cornucopia of history and Las Vegas culture. You have to sign up for a tour in order to see the display, but along the way you have the chance to learn about the signs and the stories behind them. Like the Moulin Rouge hotel marquee, which was designed by the same artist who made the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, but has an unparalleled significance. The Moulin Rouge was the first non-segregated hotel in Las Vegas, making a strong mark on history and the city itself. When the sign came in pieces to the Neon Museum, it fit best as, "in love." The Neon Museum is a must-visit destination on a trip to Las Vegas for its history, preservation, and photo-worthy set-ups. Bonus: You can go back and tour the museum at night for a totally different experience!
If you have the chance to visit Las Vegas, I encourage you to invest your money in unique and meaningful experiences, which are not hard to find. There's more to this slice of the state than what you've known it as before, and it's worth it to dig a little deeper.