I loved Las Vegas however in order to break up the 24/7 party and get away from the party scene we made our best decision of the trip. We hired a car. Now whilst Las Vegas is worthy of many posts to explore all of the wonders on offer I thought it would be worth writing about some of what the surrounding area has to offer.
We stayed in the Tropicana at the bottom of the strip which is certainly not the most glamorous of the hotels available but we certainly enjoyed staying there and made good use of the free parking and easy access off the strip to get around. Another good point is that it allows decent access to the airport which avoids the busy strip and benefits from cheaper taxi fares as a result. As the airport is typically where all the hire car centres are located this means if you want one you will no doubt be heading there to pick it up; unless you pick it up when you land that is!
Although it was our first time in Vegas we decided that we would get out and see some of the surrounding country after a few days of adjustment. Destination aside, it was also our first time hiring a car abroad and driving on the wrong side of the road 🙂 so we went with the safe option and hired it through our hotel rep. In fairness, I think we got a good deal with a c.$60 a day hire for a Mustang (cliche I know, but hey, when in Rome!) and we were set to get out and about exploring.
Surprisingly we found driving easy, probably easier than the UK, as the roads are huge and easy to navigate and in most cases quiet; maybe except the strip. Another surprise is that I actually enjoyed driving an Automatic car for a change and can see why manual’s (Stick) are not as popular in the US. There is definitely something to be said about sitting back and cruising through the desert on a lonely road with the top down singing terribly with the radio. It certainly beats a motorway commute to work in the UK.
Obviously we wanted to see all the main sites and whilst we opted for the Grand Canyon helicopter tour (amazing) we decided to drive everywhere else and here’s where we went:
The Hoover Dam
Wow…even if you’re not a construction lover like me this is something to behold. The scale of it, and what can only be described as one of mankind’s great legacies on this planet. Love it or hate it, this behemoth is undoubtedly at the pinnacle of engineering even if it was being built today let alone 80 years ago. Only 30 minutes from Vegas its a must see.
Red Rock Canyon
With scenery straight out of a western film this 13 mile drive through the red rock and desert is an ideal road trip. Just don’t forget to take enough water for the trip!
Now without the good forward planning skills of the fiance I would never have thought about visiting this place. As a getaway from the lights my fiance booked us a one night stay at Mt Charleston Cabins which overlooks Kyle Canyon which is part of the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest. I can honestly say that this was one of, if not the highlight of our trip and I would recommend to anyone who is visiting Vegas as a relaxing alternative to the city. The log cabins set on top of the canyon are surreal in comparison to the bright lights and energy of the strip and are only 45 minutes away!
Our cabin was stunning with beautiful views over the tree lined canyon with the crisp scent of nature all around you. The temperature is much cooler up there and it even snows in the winter with nearby Lee Canyon offering skiing in the winter months. The cabins are right next to a bar/restaurant which serves food and even allows you to take the food back to your cabin to enjoy on your balcony.
Just driving around
After our stay at Mount Charleston we soon got the bug for simply driving around through the desert and up and over the nearby mountains on empty roads just soaking up the surrounding views. Something I never imagined doing on a trip to Las Vegas.
I have always had an American Road Trip on my bucket list but this trip cemented my desire to see what this awesome country has to offer, simply lightly packed driving on the road to nowhere and living the dream.