Do you have 24 hours in Las Vegas that you need to kill, and you’re sick of The Strip, tired of The Scene? Had enough bells, flashing lights, frat boys, bleached-blondes, gondolas, cigarette smoke, fake skies, fake pyramids, fake boobs, Celine Dion, overpriced clothes, overpriced food, overpriced drinks, sequins, feathers, bling and buffets? I am offering an antidote.
24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: MORNING
Your first 24 hours in Las Vegas are actually not going to be spent in Las Vegas: you’re renting a car and heading to Hoover Dam. Do NOT do as I did and go with Fox Rent a Car to save a measly ten bucks: despite how it markets itself, Fox is located miles from the McCarren Rent-A-Car Center, and cars in this city are inexpensive.
Hoover Dam is an easy drive of only 30 minutes. When you approach, keep your eye out for the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge sign and swing into the parking lot for it. Completed in 2011, at a cost of $240 million, it is the second-highest span in the country. Take the steps leading up from the parking lot to the pedestrian walkway for some quick exercise and an awesome view of the dam from above.
Continue on towards the Visitors Center, forego the $7 parking, and instead park on the other side of the dam for free: it’s a pleasant five-minute walk. Have doubts about seeing a stupid dam? So did I, but the engineering, view and art deco design are worth the trip. Between the fresh desert air and morning light, the experience was exhilarating.
24 HOURS IN LAS VEGAS: AFTERNOON
Come to think of it, the next couple of hours of your 24 hours in Las Vegas are not really in Las Vegas either, which is probably why this itinerary is so sane and serene.
Return to Las Vegas the way you came, taking exit #5 (Green Valley Parkway) to Whole Food Market to buy a picnic meal (as well as lots of water and some sunscreen). Continue west to Red Rock Canyon, 15 miles on the other side of Las Vegas. Skip the Visitors’ Center: the trail map provided upon entry provides detailed descriptions of the hiking trails, which vary in length and difficulty. Pick a trail, grab your picnic lunch (and water!) and go. The scenery is stunning and you might spy wild horses, eagles, coyotes or sheep.