Looking for the best day trips from Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is ideally located between a lot of stunning desert scenery and National Parks making it really easy to take day trips from Las Vegas to escape the neon lights and sneak in some outdoor adventures and experiences.
There are many popular day trips from Las Vegas, like Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, and Hollywood.
There are also several off-the-beaten-path or lesser-known day trips from Vegas, such as kayaking in Emerald Caves, visiting the Extraterrestrial Highway, Mount Charleston, Lake Havasu, Boulder City, Snow Canyon Park, and more.
Discover both popular and under-rated day trips from Las Vegas, how far they are from Vegas, top things to do there, and where to eat.
In a hurry, and looking for the best day excursions from Vegas? Below are the most popular excursions and day trips from Vegas:
- Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Helicopter tour with landing in Grand Canyon – Best helicopter tour from Vegas
- Grand Canyon West Tour With Skywalk, Hoover Dam Stop and lunch – Best Grand Canyon road tour from Vegas
- Half-Day Mojave Desert ATV Tour from Las Vegas – most popular ATV tour from Vegas
- Scooter Tour of Red Rock Canyon – fun way to see the Red Rock Canyon
- Emerald Cave Kayak Tour from Las Vegas – best water excursion from Las Vegas
- Death Valley Small Group Day Adventure From Las Vegas – See the lowest point in North America in Death Valley
- Zion and Bryce Canyon Small Group Tour from Las Vegas – See two iconic National Parks in one day
21 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a prime destination to explore National and State parks and other attractions in the states of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and California by embarking on some fabulous day trips.
Some of these day trips are only an hour or two away from Vegas, but others might require an early start in your day to allow time to explore. Some of these places are remote desert areas so it’s a good idea to always have enough gas in your car and water and snacks.
You can also take a guided tour from Las Vegas to many of these places to enjoy the scenery without worrying about driving and ensure you see all the highlights. These tours pick up from Las Vegas hotels and mostly include meals as well.
1. Grand Canyon by Helicopter
Taking a helicopter tour from Las Vegas to see the massive Grand Canyon is an unforgettable experience and one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. It has to be at the top of this list due to its popularity and the bucket list experience it provides!
A helicopter tour to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is a popular way to see stunning aerial views and experience the natural beauty of one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Visiting the Grand Canyon by road from Las Vegas can be a very long day trip and you will only be able to see the massive Canyon from one viewpoint.
The helicopter tours from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon are typically 4 hours total (with 1 to 2 hours of flight time) and include views of several iconic landmarks, including the Mojave Desert, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Colorado River, and the impressive Grand Canyon.
Many tours also include below-the-rim landing on the Canyon floor with a Champagne picnic for a unique bucket list experience.
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Helicopter tour with landing in Grand Canyon – This highly rated helicopter tour from Las Vegas includes epic views of the Las Vegas Strip, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon. Land inside the Grand Canyon for a Champagne toast picnic (or sodas for kids!) and see the canyon up close!
➡ Check rates and availability for Grand Canyon helicopter tour from Las Vegas
2. Hoover Dam
Visiting Hoover Dam is one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas! Hoover Dam is located on the border between Arizona and Nevada, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, and is easily accessible by car or an organized tour.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam: 37 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam: 45 minutes by car
Top things to do in Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam, built in the 1930s, is an engineering marvel and generates hydroelectric power for Las Vegas and the surrounding states. There are several ways to explore the dam and its surroundings, depending on your interests and time constraints.
One popular option is to take a guided tour of the dam and its facilities. The Hoover Dam Powerplant Tour takes you deep inside the dam to see the massive turbines and generators that produce electricity for millions of people. If you are taking a Hoover Dam tour from Las Vegas, they include a guided tour of the dam.
There are several hiking trails and scenic overlooks around the dam that offer breathtaking views of the dam and the surrounding landscape.
You can combine your Hoover Dam day trip from Las Vegas with a visit to the Grand Canyon West and Skywalk.
Where to eat in Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam Cafe is a good place to grab lunch or a meal, snacks, and coffee. If you are taking a guided morning tour from Las Vegas, they sometimes include lunch.
Best time to visit Hoover Dam
You can visit Hoover Dam in all seasons, but summers can get very hot in this region. Visiting during Fall, winter, and spring months will have more pleasant temperatures to explore the dam and the surrounding areas.
Las Vegas to Hoover Dam Guided tour
Best Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas With Lunch – This highly rated half-day Hoover Dam tour from Vegas includes a Power plant tour inside the dam, and an exclusive ‘Walk on the Top’ tour. Take epic photos of the dam from the bypass bridge.
The tour includes a photo stop at the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign’. Round-trip transport from Las Vegas hotels and lunch are included.
➡ Check rates and availability for Las Vegas day trip to Hoover Dam
3. Grand Canyon West and Skywalk
Grand Canyon is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders that stretches over 440 kilometers along the Colorado River. The entire canyon is filled with breathtaking scenic spots.
The Grand Canyon National Park is in Arizona, and the west rim of the Grand Canyon is in close proximity to Las Vegas for a day trip. The best way to get there is by driving and it is about 2 hours away from the Las Vegas Strip.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West: 125 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West: 2 hours by car
Top things to do in Grand Canyon West
The Grand Canyon West is a privately-owned tourist spot and one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. It is home to the Hualapai Indian tribe, and the tribe turned the site into a tourist operation with a mix of lookouts, helicopter rides, and Native American cultural heritage.
One of the most striking attractions at the site is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a U-shaped, 21-meter-long cantilever walkway with a transparent glass floor that offers a view from the top of the canyon, 1,450 meters above its bottom.
The architecture was designed by architect Mark Ross Johnson and completed in 2007. The skywalk welcomes over 1 million visitors annually.
There are two viewpoints along the edge of the canyon – Eagle Point is a sacred rock formation that resembles a giant eagle opening its wings. The rock is of significance to the native Hualapai tribe.
Guano Point offers an unobstructed panoramic view of the majestic canyon and Colorado River. Notice that the river has a distinct azure color because of the minerals in the water.
At the Native American Village, there are different types of traditional dance performances, photo exhibitions, and a gift shop that shed a light on the history and culture of the indigenous tribes of the region.
Where to eat in Grand Canyon West
There is a Sky View restaurant and a Skywalk Cafe at the West Rim, serving classic American dishes with an open view of the Grand Canyon.
Best time to visit Grand Canyon West
The best time to visit Grand Canyon West is during the shoulder seasons in spring and fall. Summer months can get really hot, but are also very crowded.
Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West tour
Grand Canyon West Tour With Skywalk, Hoover Dam Stop and lunch – This full-day tour from Las Vegas to the west rim of Grand Canyon includes stops at Hoover Dam and Boulder City. You can upgrade to include the Skywalk and you should! Other upgrades are including a helicopter ride or boat ride in the canyon.
➡ Check rates and availability for Grand Canyon West tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Kenny of Knycx Journeying
4. Death Valley National Park
Visiting Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas! One day in Death Valley is usually enough to see the main highlights.
Death Valley is one of the hottest, lowest and driest places in North America, but despite that and its scary name, Death Valley National Park is beautiful and unique and a must-visit in California. Death Valley National Park is the largest National Park in the US.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Death Valley: 131 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Death Valley: 2 to 2.5 hours by car
Top things to do in Death Valley
The most popular place to visit in Death Valley is Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. Dante’s View is an elevated viewpoint to see stunning panoramic views of the valley floor and salt flats.
Zabriskie Point is a highly photographed spot in the park and provides excellent views of the rock formations and unique landscape. This is a great place to watch the sunrise in the park.
Artist’s Drive is a scenic route to watch colorful rock formations in the hues of oranges, greens, pinks, and yellows. Mesquite Sand Dunes are popular for photography and climbing to the top of the sand dunes for excellent views. Great place to watch the sunset.
Camping is a popular thing to do in Death Valley and there are several campgrounds here. Death Valley has some of the darkest skies in the country, making it an ideal place for stargazing.
Where to eat in Death Valley
There are quite a few excellent places to eat in Death Valley. The Last Kind Words Saloon is a great place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at The Ranch at Death Valley, which is a convenient, comfortable place to stay within Death Valley National Park.
The Ranch 1849 Restaurant, also at The Ranch at Death Valley, serves buffet-style meals.
Best time to visit Death Valley
Death Valley can be unbearably hot in the summer and temperatures are often over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters can be cold at night and not ideal for camping. Early spring and late fall months are the best times to visit with comfortable temperatures.
Las Vegas to Death Valley Guided tour
Death Valley Small Group Day Adventure From Las Vegas – This highly rated small group day tour of Death Valley from Las Vegas will cover all the park highlights and attractions, and also stops at Rhyolite Ghost Town on the way. Includes round-trip transportation from Las Vegas and lunch.
➡ Check rates and availability for Death Valley guided tour from Las Vegas
5. Hollywood, California
Even though a long day trip from Las Vegas, Holloywood in California is a must visit for anyone coming to Las Vegas from international destinations or the East Coast of USA. Instead of planning a seperate trip to Hollywood and Los Angeles, you can see the highlights by making a day trip from Las Vegas.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Hollywood: 275 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Hollywood: 4.5 to 5 hours by car
Make sure to start your day by 6 AM latest, so that you are in Hollywood by 11 AM and have the day to explore. If driving yourself, an alternative is to arrive the night before, and have the whole day to explore.
Better yet, you can take a guided tour from Las Vegas to Hollywood and leave the driving to someone else. Taking a guided tour will make sure you see the main highlights and can cover more places than you can on your own.
Top things to do in Hollywood
One of the most popular things to do in Hollywood is to follow the Hollywood ‘Walk of Fame’, the famous sidewalk on Hollywood Blvd, which features the stars of famous actors, musicians, directors, and other celebrities who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry.
The historic Chinese Theatre and Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Blvd are popular iconic landmarks of Hollywood. You can see the legendary Hollywood sign from one of the balconies of Dolby Theatre complex, it looks small from here but you can definitely see it!
Drive on Beverly Hills and pass through popular celebrity houses. Stroll on Rodeo Drive for some designer high end shopping or window shopping!
Where to eat in Hollywood
There are several resturants on Hollywood Blvd ranging from fast food to table service restaurants.
Best time to visit Hollywood
You can visit Hollywood at any time of the year. Los Angeles weather is usually great in all seasons.
Las Vegas to Hollywood Guided tour
Los Angeles and Hollywood Day Tour from Las Vegas – This small group (only 14 passengers) full-day tour from Las Vegas covers major Hollywood highlights like the Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive. It also includes a visit to Santa Monica beach.
6. Zion National Park
Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is an easy day trip from Las Vegas by car. In roughly 2 ½ hours, you’ll go from the bright lights and busy streets of Vegas to a nature trail surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Zion:
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Zion: 2.5 hours by car
Top things to do in Zion
Zion National Park’s unique geological features, including towering sandstone cliffs, narrow canyons, and colorful rock formations provide a breathtaking backdrop for hikers. And luckily, many of the hikes are easy enough to do, even if visiting Zion with kids.
One of the park’s most famous trails, the Narrows, requires some wading and possibly even swimming through the Virgin River, making it a refreshing and adventurous way to explore the park.
Other popular hikes in the park include the Angels Landing Trail – considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the world – and Canyon Overlook, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and canyons without much effort.
Where to eat in Zion
In the nearby town of Springdale, the gateway town to Zion National Park, you’ll find lots of great restaurants and breweries like the Spotted Dog and Zion Canyon BrewPub.
There are also lots of family-friendly hotels for those who want to extend their day trip from Las Vegas and spend an extra night in the area.
Best time to visit Zion
Summer is the most popular season to visit the park, and the best time of year to go if you want to hike through the chilly water in the Narrows.
If visiting in summer, keep in mind that parking in Zion is very limited. For this reason, the park utilizes a shuttle system that allows visitors to access trailheads and scenic spots throughout the park without the hassle of driving and looking for parking
To avoid the crowds in this popular national park, visit in late spring or early fall.
Las Vegas to Zion Guided tour
Zion and Bryce Canyon Small Group Tour from Las Vegas – See two iconic parks in one day! This highly rated full-day tour from Las Vegas will take you to both Zion and Bryce Canyon, an ambitious itinerary, but they do it well! The tour has a maximum of 14 passengers, so you get full attention of your tour guide. Round-trip transportation from Vegas hotels is included.
Zion National Park Small Group Tour – This small group tour from Las Vegas allows you 6 Hours of exploration time in Zion National Park which gives you enough time to see the highlights. Note that during the shuttle season in Zion, which is from March to November, you have to take the park shuttle to reach viewpoints inside the park.
Recommended by Melissa of Parenthood and Passports
7. Valley Of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is one of the most stunning state parks in the entire USA and definitely needs to be high on your list of Las Vegas day trips. Only 1 hour from Las Vegas by car (52 miles), this is an easy day trip to get out in nature and enjoy some beautiful scenery.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire: 52 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire: 1 hour by car
Top things to do in Valley of Fire
As you’re driving up to Valley of Fire, you’ll be surrounded by tan and gray, dry, scrubby desert. Then you round a corner, and BAM! The deep red, fiery, boulder-like rocks almost explode out of the non-descript desert around it.
The absolute best thing to do in Valley of Fire is hike out to the Fire Wave. This cone-shaped rock formation has striated, multi-colored bands of red, orange, tan, and pink swirling up it.
And while the Fire Wave itself is definitely the biggest highlight, the surrounding area is full of similarly striated bands of colored rock. It’s truly incredible.
Besides exploring the Fire Wave, some other great things to do in Valley of Fire include seeing the ancient petroglyphs on Mouse’s Tank Trail, hiking through the slot canyon section on White Domes trail, seeing the Fire Canyon Overlook from Rainbow Vista Trail.
One of the most famous viewpoints of the park (aside from the Fire Wave) comes from a viewpoint of Mouses’ Tank Drive, just by the Rainbow Vista Trailhead. This view shows the road undulating up and down as it cuts through tall, rocky, deep red canyon walls.
Where to eat in Valley of Fire
There are no restaurants, cafes, or food for sale in Valley of Fire (or anywhere nearby), so make sure you bring snacks and lunch from Vegas.
There is one (free) water fill-up station on the west end of the Visitor’s Center where you can refill your water bottles in the park.
Best time to visit Valley of Fire
The best time to visit the Valley of Fire is in the fall, winter, and spring. Winter temperatures are still very mild, which makes it a great time to visit.
Summer, in general, should be avoided. Temperatures regularly get over 100 degrees (sometimes up to 120 degrees F), and the Fire Wave is usually closed in the summer due to the heat and the fact that you are entirely exposed to the sun.
Las Vegas to Valley of Fire Guided tours
Valley of Fire Hiking Tour from Las Vegas – In this small group guided hiking tour from Vegas you can pick an easy, medium, or difficult hike-level tour. The tour duration varies depending on the level of hike chosen. Round-trip transport from Vegas and snacks are included.
Valley of Fire and Seven Magic Mountains Day Tour from Las Vegas – With this small group 8-hour tour from Las Vegas you will explore the top sights in Valley of Fire State Park and visit the Seven Magic Mountains art masterpiece. Hotel pickup included.
Recommended by Stephanie of The Unknown Enthusiast
8. Seven Magic Mountains
The Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation in the desert, just a 30-minute drive (21 miles) from the Las Vegas Strip. A visit to the Seven Magic Mountains is best combined with a day trip from Las Vegas to Valley of Fire State park or Hoover Dam.
Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and installed in 2016, this was originally intended to be a temporary exhibit lasting two years. However, due to its popularity, the art installation has been extended indefinitely.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Seven Magic Mountains: 21 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Seven Magic Mountains: 30 minutes by car
Top things to do in Seven Magic Mountains
Upon reaching this flat stretch of Nevada land on S Las Vegas Boulevard, you’ll find seven towers of balanced rocks, called “boulder totems”, each rock is painted a bright color, standing out against the even, neutral sand tones.
There is a small parking area next to the stones. No reservations are necessary and there is no charge to visit the Seven Magic Mountains. The space is open 24 hours a day, so try to arrive early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds, as this is a popular destination.
The towers of stones occupy a fairly small space, so you’ll have to work around other people trying to get their perfect Instagram shot.
Because the Seven Magic Mountains are so close to Las Vegas, they make the perfect addition to a cross-country road trip– you can stretch your legs, admire the art installation, and take some brilliant photos.
You can also visit the Seven Magic Mountains on a day trip that combines a visit to the Hoover Dam, or a hike in nearby Valley of Fire State Park.
Where to eat in Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is in the middle of the desert and there is nothing nearby. The nearest restaurants are back on the Vegas strip, so you’ll want to plan your visit in between meal times.
Best time to visit Seven Magic Mountains
The Seven Magic Mountains are in the middle of the desert- so it can get quite hot! From June to September, you can expect temperatures to break 100 degrees on most days.
The best time to visit is in the Fall, Winter, or Spring seasons when you can enjoy pleasantly cool temperatures. If you do decide to visit in the summer, make sure to visit in the early morning to avoid the worst of the heat.
Las Vegas to Seven Magic Mountains Guided tour
Valley of Fire and Seven Magic Mountains Day Tour from Las Vegas – This small group 8-hour tour from Las Vegas combines a visit to the top sights in Valley of Fire State Park and the Seven Magic Mountains art masterpiece. Hotel pickup included.
Hoover Dam and Seven Magic Mountains Small Group Combo Tour – This 4-hour small group tour combines a trip to Hoover Dam and the Seven Magic Mountains. Great for families as it is a short tour with two great attractions!
➡ Check rates and availability for Hoover Dam and Seven Magic Mountains Small Group Combo Tour
➡ Check rates and availability for Valley of Fire and Seven Magic Mountains Tour
Recommended by Cynthia from Sharing the Wander
9. Extraterrestrial Highway / Area 51
If you’re looking for an easy day trip from Las Vegas you won’t soon forget, consider a road trip on Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway! Area 51, which is a classified United States Air Force Facility, is strictly off-limits, but the Extraterrestrial Highway will surely satisfy your UFO and alien curiosity!
- Distance from Las Vegas to Extraterrestrial Highway: 109 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Extraterrestrial Highway: 1 hour 40 minutes by car
This route stretches 98 miles between the towns of Crystal Springs and Warm Springs along State Route 375. The starting point of Crystal Springs is only 109 miles from Las Vegas, so about a 1 hour and 40-minute drive to get there.
Top things to do in Extraterrestrial Highway
Extraterrestrial Highway is mainly about the drive. Once you turn onto the Extraterrestrial Highway, things really start to get interesting! There are lots of quirky attractions along the way, and all of them are alien-themed.
One of the first stops you’ll make is ET Fresh Jerky, which is a good place to load up on road trip snacks. They sell everything from cowboy beef jerky to martian soda.
You’ll then come across the iconic Extraterrestrial Highway sign plastered in stickers from travelers who’ve made the pilgrimage, the Alien Research Center where you can pick up souvenirs and listen to UFO lore, as well as the Black Mailbox where believers come to leave mail and other trinkets for otherworldly creatures.
The final stop is the Little A’le’inn, a motel, bar, and restaurant that’s hard to miss thanks to the UFO-towing pick-up truck out front!
Where to eat in Extraterrestrial Highway
Little A’le’inn has a restaurant where you can grab a bite to eat. ET Fresh Jerky is also a good place to pick up snacks and drinks for the drive.
Best time to visit Extraterrestrial Highway
While this road trip can be done year-round, you’re probably better off avoiding the summer months when the desert is scorching hot! Also, fuel up before you begin the drive since it’s a fairly remote area.
Las Vegas to Extraterrestrial Highway Guided tour
Area 51 Day Tour from Las Vegas – This highly rated full day tour from Las Vegas to Area 51 / Extraterrestrial Highway is a unique fun tour to see a variety of interesting sights and hear about Area 51’s history and stories. Includes lunch at Little A’le’inn.
➡ Check rates and availability for Area 51 Day Tour from Las Vegas from Las Vegas
Recommended by Audrey of That Backpacker
10. Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park offers a whimsical landscape of hoodoos, towering pink and orange rock spires, and pine tree forests, all within a short drive from Las Vegas.
Bryce Canyon is 260 miles from Las Vegas or about a 3-hour and 45-minute drive away. Thanks to the epic scenery you’ll have along the way, the drive will pass quickly! Make sure to start early for a day trip from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon: 260 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon: 3 hours 45 minutes by car
Top things to do in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is a fairly small national park, and you can easily hit its best highlights in a day.
For example, hike along the Navajo Loop trail, which dips below the rim of the canyon to offer unique views of the hoodoos soaring overhead. This trail is famous for its Wall Street section, a series of tight switchbacks between two rows of hoodoos that disappear into a slot canyon.
From here, you can loop back to the trailhead along the Queen’s Garden Trail, which offers archways carved into the red rock walls and plenty of interesting rock formations (including one that allegedly resembles Queen Elizabeth!).
For a lower impact way to explore the park, consider cruising along the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive, with several scenic overlooks, like Bryce or Inspiration Point, to get unique views of the colorful amphitheater below.
Where to eat in Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon isn’t exactly known for its culinary spots, but if you need a pick-me-up after hitting the trails here, consider stopping at Pizza Place for some solid pie and a cold beer.
Best time to visit Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is higher in elevation than most of the surrounding area and experiences a longer and snowier winter than Las Vegas—in fact, the ice and snow that the park receives is actually what causes the unique hoodoos here (the largest collection of hoodoos on the planet!).
Accordingly, the best time to visit is in late April through May or September through October, when the trails are snow- and ice-free, and the summertime crowds are absent.
Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon Guided tour
Zion and Bryce Canyon Small Group Tour from Las Vegas – This higly rated full day tour from Las Vegas allows you to explore both Zion and Bryce Canyon, a challenging day trip itinerary, but well executed! See two iconic National parks in this full day tour from Las Vegas.
A small group of mazimum 14 passengers allows a more relaxed experience. Includes round trip transportation from Vegas hotels and lunch.
➡ Check rates and availability for Zion and Bryce Canyon Day Tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Jess of Uprooted Traveler
11. Emerald Cave
Although there are many amazing day trips from Las Vegas, a kayaking trip to the Emerald Cave is one of the very best Las Vegas day trips.
To reach the picturesque cave, you can either take a guided tour from Las Vegas or rent your own kayak right at the Willow Beach Marina. Most tours offer pick-up from Las Vegas hotels, so you do not even have to have your own rental car for this day trip.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Emerald Cave: 55 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Emerald Cave: 1 hour by car
Top things to do in Emerald Cave
After leaving Las Vegas and arriving at the marina, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime! After gearing up, you’ll head out on a 2-mile (one-way) trip along the beautiful Colorado River. Although the cave is your final destination, the journey is almost just as breathtaking!
After reaching the cave and checking out the emerald green water inside, start your 2-mile paddle back. On your way back make sure to stop at the sandy beach for a picnic lunch and a quick hike up to the overlook. Be sure to give yourself at least 3+ hours to fully enjoy this experience.
If you still have energy after your kayak tour, you can make a pit stop at the Hoover Dam before making your way back to Las Vegas.
Where to eat in Emerald Cave
There are no places to eat nearby, so pack your own picnic lunch!
Best time to visit Emerald Cave
Kayaking at Emerald Cave can be enjoyed in all seasons. There truly isn’t a best time for this Las Vegas day trip as each season brings a different adventure.
Winters bring cooler weather and a more enjoyable paddle, while summers bring scorching heat, but the ability to go for a swim during the trek.
Las Vegas to Emerald Cave Guided tour
Emerald Cave Kayak Tour from Las Vegas – Enjoy a unique kayaking experience in Black Canyon and kayak to the Emerald Cave with beautiful emerald color water on this kayaking group tour with a guide.
You can drive yourself to Willow Beach, or select the pickup option from Las Vegas. Includes all kayaking equipment, snacks, and water and is family-friendly.
➡ Check rates and availability for Emerald Cave Kayak Tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist
12. Red Rock Canyon
One of the easiest day trips from Las Vegas that will offer you a completely different view of the desert region is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
This is a 16-mile drive from downtown Las Vegas, which equates to only a 20-minute drive. Plus, you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of activities in Red Rock Canyon that make this area great for any kind of adventure seeker!
- Distance from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon: 16 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon: 20 minutes by car
Top things to do in Red Rock Canyon
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, consider doing a bit of rock climbing. Red Rock Canyon offers hundreds of different climbing routes that draws every type of climbers from all over the world to this desert area. So no matter your skill set, even complete beginners and little kids can find a few boulders to climb.
And if you’d rather stick to the roadside, consider biking your way through the scenic canyon. Biking will allow you to get some exercise in, discover the area at your own pace, and breathe in the cool fresh air! Red Rock Canyon has a 13 mile paved loop road on which you can ride electric bikes and scooters for a fun adventure.
Meanwhile, those who enjoy hiking can take to one of the many trails that range from beginner to expert level. For example, a popular trail is the Moenkopi Loop as it’s an easy 2-mile trail. Just make sure to bring more water than you think you’ll need as you’ll sweat quite a bit in the sun!
Where to eat in Red Rock Canyon
If you’re wondering where to grab food in the area, your best option is to either pick something up at a nearby gas station or haul food in from downtown Las Vegas.
Best time to visit Red Rock Canyon
For those interested in visiting, the best time to go is during the Spring or Fall season. This is when the desert experiences pleasant, moderate temperatures and will allow you to avoid both the sweltering summers and freezing cold winters.
Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon Guided tours
Red Rock Canyon Electric Bike Half-Day Tour – This highly rated small group guided tour from Las Vegas allows you to see the Red Rock Canyon on a electric bike. Bike on a 13 mile paved road through the canyon with the ease of an e-bike.
Scooter Tour of Red Rock Canyon – Explore the Red Rock Canyon 13 mile paved loop on a scooter! This is a unique fun adventure for adults and teens!
Red Rock Canyon Hiking Tour – Hike through the Red Rock Canyon on this highly rated small group guided tour from Vegas. You can choose your hike from 3 different hike intensity options, thus making this tour suitable for all fitness levels.
Recommended by Kristin of Global Travel Escapades
13. Lake Mead
With its crystal clear waters and breathtaking red rock formations, Lake Mead is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas and a top spring break destination for travelers looking to explore the great outdoors.
Located just 30 miles from downtown Las Vegas (a 40-minute drive), Lake Mead is an easy day trip from Vegas.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Lake Mead: 55 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Mead: 1 hour by car
Top things to do in Lake Mead
Lake Mead offers stunning views and plenty of activities to enjoy. From boating, fishing, and swimming to exploring nearby hiking trails, Lake Mead has something for everyone.
Hiking is a popular activity in Lake Mead, and the easiest and most beautiful trails are the Historic Railroad Trail and the River Mountains Loop.
For the more adventurous, you can go water skiing. If you’re visiting Lake Mead as a family, the little ones will love a paddle-wheeler boat cruise.
Lake Mead is an oasis amidst the desert of Nevada, and it’s a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. It’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike, with the wide range of water and land activities available here.
Where to eat in Lake Mead
If you get hungry after a full morning enjoying the lake and all its activities, you can have a picnic outdoors, or try the delicious dishes at The Boat House, a floating restaurant located in the Marina, which has beautiful views of the lake and mountains. Don’t miss the fish tacos or the sweet potato fries covered in cheddar and BBQ sauce. Delicious!
Best time to visit Lake Mead
If you are going to visit Lake Mead, it is best to do so in the spring, as it is a perfect time for camping, wildflowers, and hiking.
Las Vegas to Lake Mead Guided tour
Lake Mead Hoover Dam Historic Railroad Trail eBike Tour – Explore the scenic Historic Railroad trail next to Lake Mead on an electric bike on this 3-hour tour from Las Vegas. End your ride at Hoover Dam for some stunning views of the dam and surrounding areas. You can select the option to pickup from Vegas hotels.
➡ Check rates and availability for Lake Mead and Hoover Dam ebike tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Sara of Mindful Travel
14. Snow Canyon State Park
Just a short 2-hour drive from Vegas will transport you to the other-worldly Snow Canyon State Park. Home to some of the most unusual and diverse landscapes, this incredible park is an ideal location for a day trip from Las Vegas.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Snow Canyon: 130 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Snow Canyon: 2 hours by car
Top things to do in Snow Canyon
Take a scenic drive through Snow Canyon park, stopping to explore the many short trails that will allow you to discover a plethora of desert treasures including slot canyons, sand dunes, petroglyphs, and even petrified dunes.
The main highlight of Snow Canyon State Park is the Petrified Sand Dunes. Tiger-striped rocks appear to twist and flow through this area creating unique textures and patterns in every direction.
Take a short half-mile stroll to Jenny’s Canyon to experience a Utah slot canyon. Then do some underground exploring at the Snow Canyon Lava Tubes.
During your day trip to Snow Canyon be sure to stop at the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and explore the impressive red cliffs. For the best hike, take the Red Reef trail to a small but beautiful seasonal waterfall. Even when the water isn’t flowing, the scenery along this trail is still well worth the visit.
Where to eat in Snow Canyon
On your way back to Vegas, stop in nearby St. George for dinner at Chef Alfredo’s. Located within the Historic Pioneer Village, the restaurant offers authentic Italian cuisine in a charming historic setting.
After dinner, take time to wander around the historic downtown area of St. George and admire the old buildings and art sculptures dotted about.
Best time to visit Snow Canyon
The best time to visit Snow Canyon State Park is during the spring and fall months when the weather is mild and the crowds are thinner.
Recommended by Sophie of We Dream of Travel
15. Mount Charleston
The city of Las Vegas sits in a rugged rather flat, desert valley surrounded by mountains, there is one peak in particular that stands out, Mount Charleston. At an elevation of 11,916 ft, you can see Mount Charleston from almost everywhere in the city.
Mount Charleston is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas to escape the summer heat. Mount Charleston overlooks Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon which are host to a variety of recreational activities.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Mount Charleston: 39 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Mount Charleston: 45 minutes by car
Once you clear the city, the desert views and foothills are impressive. Deep canyons, winding roads, and incredible views are right out your car window. The best way to see the entire area is a scenic loop drive from US 95 to NV Rt 156, to Rt 158 to Rt 157, and back to US 95.
Top things to do in Mount Charleston
All four seasons in Mount Charleston present opportunities for all types of enthusiasts. In the winter you can ski, sled, and snowboard at the Lee Canyon Resort.
During the spring, summer, and fall you can take a scenic ride on the chair lift, play some disc golf, practice archery, axe throwing, do yoga, and mountain biking.
Year-round you enjoy camping and exploring nature on one of 13 designated hiking trails.
Be alert and keep your eyes open for the bountiful wildlife in the area from wild horses and burros to mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and mule deer.
Where to eat in Mount Charleston
When it’s time for a bite you can find something good at one of Lee Canyon Resorts’ three restaurants.
The Brewin’ Burro will get you started, stop in the Bighorn Grill for something hot or you can relax, and enjoy the view and a signature cocktail at the Bristlecone Bar.
In Kyle Canyon stop by the Canyon Restaurant & Tavern for some Big Mountain Chili inside The Retreat on Charleston Peak. On Friday nights be sure to stay for the live music.
Best time to visit Mount Charleston
The best time of year to visit Mount Charleston is anytime you can get there. The scenery is spectacular and there is always something to do. In the winter before going be sure to check the forecast and road conditions for ice and snow.
When visiting, always make sure you fuel up before you leave the city because there are no gas stations.
Be sure to dress properly. The elevation in Mount Charleston will always make the temperature about 20 degrees cooler than in Las Vegas so be prepared.
Las Vegas to Mount Charleston Guided tour
Mount Charleston Tour – This 5-hour small group tour from Las Vegas will take you from desert scenery to the mountains where if you are traveling in winter or early spring months you will get to experience the snow! The tour includes pick-up from Vegas and lunch in Mount Charleston.
➡ Check rates and availability for Mount Charleston Tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Robb Strobridge of thestromads.com
16. Boulder City
Ready to get away from the Bright Lights, Big City? A day trip to Boulder City is a welcome respite from the hustle of Las Vegas. You won’t find any casinos here as Boulder City is one of only two cities in Nevada where gambling is prohibited.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Boulder City: 26 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Boulder City: 40 minutes by car
Top things to do in Boulder City
There are several places and activities to explore in and near Boulder City. Boulder City enjoys close proximity to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.
Standing over 724 feet, the massive concrete structure of Hoover Dam will leave you mesmerized. Take the dam tour deep inside the power plant. After the tour, be sure to take a walk across the dam to Arizona. The views are spectacular.
Lake Mead is the man-made reservoir created by the Hoover Dam. Outdoor enthusiasts are sure to love this area with its blue water and spectacular views. With swimming, hiking, boating, cycling, and fishing there is something for everyone. You can even book a cruise on an authentic Mississippi-style, three-level paddle-wheeler while you enjoy some time away from the city.
The unique Historic Railroad Trail is accessible and will lead you through five abandoned construction tunnels used to build the Hoover Dam.
At Nevada State Railroad Museum enjoy a relaxing train ride and even a ride in the cab with the engineer. The open-air pavilion is free and features several unique locomotives you will only see in Boulder City.
If horror movies and monsters are your jam, stop by Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum and check out all the art and history of special effects makeup.
Take a stroll along Historic Downtown Boulder City and enjoy over 30 sculptures, among the unique shops and quaint restaurants.
Where to eat in Boulder City
You won’t go hungry while visiting Boulder City! The Dillinger restaurant is housed inside an old bank. The architecture is fun and the burgers are amazing.
If BBQ is your thing be sure to check out Fox Smokehouse BBQ. Owned by a competition BBQ team they will do whatever it takes to make you happy.
The Tap is one of several breweries in town worth a stop as well. Be sure to save room for dessert at Grandma Daisy’s Candy & Ice Cream Parlor.
Best time to visit Boulder City
The climate in Boulder City can be extremely hot in the summer with temperatures in the 90’s F and above from May to September. Early spring and late fall are ideal times for a visit and mild weather.
Las Vegas to Boulder City Guided tour
Nelson Ghost Town, 7 Magic Mountains, Boulder City and Hoover Dam Tour – This highly rated, small group tour will take you to several unique and popular attractions outside of Las Vegas while enjoying stunning desert scenery. Round-trip transportation from Vegas hotels is included.
➡ Check rates and availability for Nelson Ghost Town, 7 Magic Mountains, Boulder City and Hoover Dam Tour from Las Vegas
Recommended by Robb Strobridge of thestromads.com
17. Lake Havasu
If you’re looking for desert heat, hop in the car and make the 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas to Lake Havasu City, AZ. Located on the east side of Lake Havasu – a man-made widening of the Colorado River – this small city is known for its unconventional pairing of arid climate and water sports.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Lake Havasu: 153 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Lake Havasu: 2.5 hours by car
Top things to do in Lake Havasu
Obviously, the biggest attraction in Lake Havasu is the lake itself. If you just want to dip your toes in the water, head down to London Bridge Beach and wade into the buoyed swimming area.
Otherwise, rent a boat and take advantage of Lake Havasu’s excellent fishing. Most anglers come for bass fishing, but other commonly caught fish include crappies, bluegill, and catfish.
While speed boats often choke up the canal in Lake Havasu City, the large lake also offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. You’ll find plentiful hiking and mountain biking trails in nearby state parks and SARA Park.
Don’t forget to visit London Bridge. Lake Havasu City’s first mayor famously purchased the historic bridge at auction in the early 1970s and had it shipped to Arizona, brick by brick, via the Panama Bridge. Today the bridge spans a man-made channel that separates Pittsburg Point from the rest of the city.
Where to eat in Lake Havasu
Barley Brothers Brewery is a great place to grab a beer and bite while overlooking the Lake Havasu channel. Other favorite eateries include Juicy’s and La Vita Dolce Italian Bistro.
Best time to visit Lake Havasu
With its hot desert climate, the best time to visit Lake Havasu is in the winter. Come July, the average high temperature is 109 degrees! December and January are the coolest months to visit with average highs in the 60s.
If you’re looking for heat, but not too much heat, consider visiting in November or March, but be prepared for spring break crowds if you opt for the latter.
Contributed by Ada of Beyond the Yellow Brick Road: A Travel Blog
18. Mojave National Preserve
Las Vegas is undoubtedly best known for its bright lights and flashy casinos. But if you’re looking for something that’s a bit more off the beaten path, consider taking a day trip from Las Vegas to the Mojave National Preserve.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Mojave National Preserve: 108 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Mojave National Preserve: 1 hour and 45 minutes by car
Top things to do in Mojave National Preserve
The Mojave National Preserve may not be one of the best nature destinations in the west, but it is home to some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find. From its vast desert landscape to the strange flora to its towering sand dunes, this area has something for everyone.
One of the most popular attractions in the park is the Kelso Dunes. These sand dunes stand 650 feet tall and are some of the highest you’ll find in the USA.
Next, the Joshua Tree Forest is a must-see. Visitors can hike through the unique plants where, believe it or not, the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world are found.
Next, visit the Hole-in-the-Wall hike to see an area filled with unusual rock formations. Lastly, check out the naturally formed Lava Tube in an underground cave system carved out by lava millions of years ago.
Where to eat in Mojave National Preserve
Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks with you from Las Vegas as the park is large and empty.
Best time to visit Mojave National Preserve
The best time to visit this desert locale is in the spring and fall when temperatures are mild but the sun still shines. If the area experienced rain, you might even catch spring wildflowers.
Recommended by Monica of This Rare Earth
19. Joshua Tree National Park
Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is a unique day trip from Las Vegas to explore an otherworldly desert landscape with stunning natural rock formations. Located in Southern California, the park is named after the Joshua tree, a type of yucca plant that grows in the Mojave Desert.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree: about 204 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree: 3.5 hours by car
Top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua tree is a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing. One of the highlights of Joshua Tree National Park is its unique rock formations.
The park is home to a variety of interesting geological formations, including massive boulder piles, monoliths, and arches. You can explore these formations by hiking through the park’s many trails, which range from easy walks to strenuous hikes.
Another popular activity in the park is rock climbing. Joshua Tree is renowned among climbers for its challenging granite formations, and many climbers come from around the world to test their skills on the park’s rocks.
The climbing routes in the park range from easy to extremely difficult, so climbers of all skill levels can find a suitable challenge.
The park is far from major cities and has very little light pollution, making it an ideal spot to observe the night sky and stargazing.
Where to eat in Joshua Tree National Park
There are no restaurants in Joshua Tree National Park, but he nearby town called Joshua Tree is only 10 minutes from the park entrance and has a lot of restaurants and cafes.
Best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree park is open year-round but be prepared for hot desert temperatures during the summer months and cool temperatures in the winter, especially at night.
20. Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs in California is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. It lies 281 miles from Las Vegas and will take about 4 hours. If you have the time, spend more than a day and explore more of Palm Springs!
- Distance from Las Vegas to Palm Springs: 281 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Palm Springs: 4 hours by car
Top things to do in Palm Springs
There are so many fun things to do in a day trip to Palm Springs. One of the most popular things is to take the Palm Springs Tramway up 2.5 miles to the top of the mountain. This offers amazing views of the Palm Springs area.
Another popular stop is the Moorten Botanical Gardens. This small botanical garden has thousands of species from all over the world. For those who love hiking, make sure to spend some time at Indian Canyons. This hidden oasis has several hiking trails throughout the canyons.
Other popular things include the Palm Springs Air Museum, viewing the mid-century modern homes, and spending time visiting the animals in the Living Desert.
During the springtime, make sure to check out Desert X, a contemporary art display scattered throughout the desert.
Where to eat in Palm Springs
Make sure to stop at Las Casuelas and the Tropicale. Both offer a delicious choice of foods and make for great lunch or dinner spots. For those with a sweet tooth, grab some ice cream at Kreem to wrap up your day.
Best time to visit Palm Springs
You will want to visit Palm Springs in the late fall to early spring so you can avoid the heat. Winter is the best time to visit.
Recommended by Francesca of Homeroom Travel
21. Kanab, Utah
Kanab’s nickname is Little Hollywood, which it has earned from decades of movie and television productions based here. Kanab is a must-see if you’re a western movie buff, especially of films and shows filmed in the middle of the 20th century. Kanab is one of the off-the-beaten-path day trips from Las Vegas.
- Distance from Las Vegas to Kanab: 199 miles
- Travel time from Las Vegas to Kanab: 3 hours by car
Top things to do in Kanab
Movies filmed in Kanab include The Misfits starring Clark Gable, The Big Trail starring John Wayne, and The Rainmaker starring Katherine Hepburn. That’s a lot of star power for one little town, and it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the town’s cinematic history.
Television productions that have been filmed in Kanab include The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, and The Six Million Dollar Man.
If these shows and movies spark your interest, head to Kanab’s Little Hollywood Museum.
You can visit Kanab on a combined day trip with Zion National Park, or you can dedicate your day to the town and visit the museum along with Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Moqui Cave, and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Set aside some time to stroll around the town’s small but charming downtown and look for the colorful murals around the center.
Where to eat in Kanab
If you’re looking for great places to eat in Kanab, you can’t go wrong with pastries from Wild Thyme for breakfast or a simple lunch, while dinner at Vermillion 45 is a great place for a celebration or elevated meal.
Best time to visit Kanab
The shoulder season is the best time of year to visit, specifically April, May, September, and October. This will help you avoid the high season when Kanab is swarmed with visitors traveling to see Utah’s national parks.
The weather is better this time of year as well, so you can enjoy Kanab’s slot canyons and hiking opportunities.
Recommended by Stephanie Craig of History Fangirl
Travel Tips and FAQs about Day Trips from Las Vegas
Below are some travel tips and FAQs to help you plan and make the most of your day trips from Vegas:
Final Takeaways: Day Trips from Las Vegas
Las Vegas enjoys a central location among many amazing National Parks, State Parks, and other attractions in the states of Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California and there are several epic day trip options from Las Vegas.
Summary of most popular day trips from Las Vegas:
- Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Helicopter tour
- Hoover Dam
- Grand Canyon West and Skywalk
- Death Valley National Park
- Hollywood, California
- Zion National Park
- Valley Of Fire State Park
- Seven Magic Mountains
- Extraterrestrial Highway / Area 51
- Bryce Canyon
- Emerald Cave
- Red Rock Canyon
Off-the-beaten path day trips from Las Vegas:
- Lake Mead
- Snow Canyon State Park
- Mount Charleston
- Boulder City
- Lake Havasu
- Mojave National Preserve
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Palm Springs, California
- Kanab, Utah
Hope you get to explore some of these locations on your trip to Vegas and enjoy unique and breathtaking vistas along the way.
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