If you’re a casino fan and it’s your first visit to Las Vegas, obviously the slots and the tables are going to be what you enjoy most. But everyone needs a break now and then; and that’s before you consider any friends who tag along for the adventure, without really caring for the gaming. Here are 10 thoroughly unusual ways to refresh your head while you’re in Vegas:
1) Visit the Mob Museum
Vegas doesn’t shy away from its Mob-money roots; they have a museum of the Law’s battle against organised crime downtown. Fancy posing for a photo in the electric chair?
2) Pay Respects to Dead Neon
Neon lighting is another Vegas icon, and when signs get old, they go to a farm upstate, where they can run and play… Actually, no: they moulder and rust at the Neon Boneyard, a short distance north of downtown on Las Vegas Boulevard. Visitors get a close-up look at signs we’ve seen in hundreds of movies.
3) Tour a Gold Mine
Believe it or not, Nevada is the fourth-largest gold producer in the world. For a somewhat cheesy taste of old-world mining, take the gold mine tour at El Dorado Canyon.
4) Shop for the Zombie Apocalypse
Vegas attractions range from the sublime to the ridiculous, and we’re not sure which end of the scale the Zombie Apocalypse Store sits at. But if you do feel a need to stock up on stun guns, baseball bats, gas masks, first aid kits and zombie apocalypse survival manuals before the Undead come for your brains, this is the spot for you.
5) Kayak the Colorado River
Anyone who gets cabin fever from a long time indoors might be getting squirrely after a few days in the casinos. The great outdoors beckons: and what could be a more refreshing change than kayaking the Colorado River, starting at the base of the majestic Hoover Dam?
6) Enjoy Breath-taking Scenery
The top of the Hoover Dam is also worth a visit, with plenty of watersports offered on Lake Mead behind it. But just 37km west of Vegas, you’ll find Red Rock Canyon, one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the area. Brilliantly coloured rock strata and the occasional fossil make the view a soul-soother, even though it’s just as intense, in its own way, as the neon on the Strip.
7) Laze in Hot Springs
If you’re nipping across the Arizona border to visit the Hoover Dam, you should also treat yourself to a lazy spa day at Arizona Hot Springs, 45 minutes from Vegas. A hot soak after a hike through the multi-coloured canyons is blissful.
8) Visit Bedrock
Other states have Creation Museums or Noah’s Ark; Arizona has a theme park celebrating a fantasy cartoon TV show. The Flintstones are well remembered at the Bedrock City theme park, but it’s a bit of a ghost town, and quite far from Vegas. Rather than make a special trip, treat it as a diversion on your way to the Grand Canyon.
9) Go Alien Hunting
Rachel, Nevada is the closest town to Area 51, famed in conspiracy theory as the place the US military first ‘met the aliens’. There’s now a thriving industry along Extraterrestrial Highway, with an Area 51 Alien Gift Centre and several themed bars and motels.
10) Visit an ‘Independent’ Country
The tiny three-person ‘micronation’ of Molossia, about a seven-hour drive from Vegas, claims sovereign independence and bans walruses, incandescent light bulbs, and ‘anything from Texas’. It also allows tourists three-hour visas. So far, the US government hasn’t tested ‘President’ Keven Baugh’s claim of running an independent republic, but his tiny ‘state’ does ask big questions about who gets to decide what a sovereign nation actually is.