Okay, so there’s technically a lot of places within 24 hours of Las Vegas, but this list will summarize all the best trips that are feasible to do within 1 day! AKA less than 5 hours of driving… because NOBODY wants to drive more than 5 hours + sight-seeing in a day. Am I right?!
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- Summer Packing Essentials
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- 40 FREE things to do in Las Vegas
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- Las Vegas Packing Guide
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What to Pack for a Road Trip
Before we dive into the guide, I always like to recommend a few “must-have’s” for the specific itinerary. I have done SO many road trips (exhibit A, B & C), that I am confident you will regret not bringing these goodies!
Getting a good pair of sunglasses is such a priority for a long road trip! If you are driving, you are constantly glaring at the road and the sun beating off your dashboard. Finding a pair of polarized sunglasses is crucial for any road trip! Click here for a really cute pair!
I don’t think you always need a GPS, especially when you have an I-Phone with reliable maps, but in certain areas you loose all your service. For example, Valley of Fire State Park (mentioned in this guide), you loose service before you even enter the park! If you are trying to find an exact locations or hiking spot, you may want something that is more reliable than an I-Phone. Click here for an affordable GPS!
This is such a fun thing to read during the road trip or on the plane ride to your destination. I feel like this gets you in the traveling mood and sparks a lot of inspiration. Click here to check it out!
Okay, I know this sounds weird to think of but I truly feel like this is a must-have on a road trip. Doesn’t it make you cringe thinking about all the gas station and national park bathrooms you’ll be going in?! YUCK.
1. Antelope Canyon / Horseshoe Bend (4 hours and 30 minutes)
The longest drive on this list, but by far the best. Antelope canyon and Horseshoe bend are within minutes of each other so you get the chance to see two world wonders in one trip. I did an entire 3 day itinerary on this trip, but you can easily do it in one day if you go with someone else. After hiking and a long drive, you’ll want to make sure you either stay the night or have the opportunity to switch off driving with someone else.
Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon that is broken up into two sections, “Lower Antelope Canyon” and “Upper Antelope Canyon.” Creative right? This is by far the most photographed canyon in the southwest due to its smooth, flowing, sandstone walls.
Horseshoe bend is a portion of the Grand Canyon where the river carves the canyon into the shape of, you guessed it, a horseshoe! Stay to watch the breathtaking sunset, grab some dinner at the few restaurants in Page, and have plenty of time to drive back to Las Vegas.
2. Grand Canyon National Park (2 Hours)
2. Grand Canyon (2 hours)
You have a few options here. The Grand Canyon is a HUGE stretch that is nearly 2,000 miles long. There are several different lookout points that people refer to them as “rims.”
The closest rim to Las Vegas is the West rim, which is only a short 2 hour drive, making this an easy day trip. This rim is known to be the least impressive (if you’ve never seen the Grand Canyon before, it is still absolutely incredible). Because it’s the closest to Las Vegas, it’s the most touristy rim because there are tour buses, helicopter tours and plane tours shuffling people in every hour! If you prefer to do a tour, Viator has great options that give you the option to bundle with other Las Vegas attractions. You can find those here.
If you chose to go to the other rims, It is 5+ hours each way making it a brutal day trip. You’ll definitely want to make a weekend out of it if you choose to see the other rims. Hotels can be costly and will be far in advance because there are not many!
I visited the West Rim during sunset and it was truly magical. I’ve never seen the other rims to compare it to, but I can’t ever imagine myself saying the West Rim wouldn’t be worth the drive. It costs $45.00 to enter the Hualapai Land. When you get there, you’ll get on a shuttle and they will take you to 2 different lookout points. If you aren’t afraid to drive at night, I would HIGHLY recommend going for sunset!
3. Hoover Dam (45 minutes)
If you are going to the Grand Canyon, this is on the way! The Hoover Dam is only a short 45 minutes away from the city. You can either do the free bridge lookout, or you can drive into the museum and do a tour.
The Hoover Dam is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world and has a lot of history to it. If you’re a history buff, then I would definitely opt in for the tour. Otherwise, the bridge lookout is impressive, free and quick!
To get to the free bridge lookout, look for the signs that say Hoover Dam Access Road. Take the exit for the Hoover Dam and go through the security check point. You should reach the parking lot soon after that and it will be on the right hand side.
4. Lake Mead (45 minutes)
If you’re making your way down the Hoover Dam, you will also see Lake Mead. Being one of the largest man-made lakes in the world, there is so much to do! You can rent boats, go on a dinner cruise, paddle board, check out some of the many beaches, jet ski, or do a kayaking tour to the hot springs along the lake!
I would recommend going in the summer, because the winter can get very cold. And if you’re in Las Vegas during the summer, you will definitely want to incorporate some water-filled activities!
5. Valley of Fire (1 hour)
Valley of fire is a unique hiking experience that should NOT be done in the summer. Temperatures reach well over 100 degrees and there is minimal shade. Being only an hour away from the city, you can see the beautiful red-rock formations. Think Red Rock Canyon’s big sister!
The most recommended and picturesque hike for Valley of Fire is the fire wave hike. You have likely heard of The Wave in Arizona that is extremely popular and has a very strict permit program (only 20 per day). This hike looks very similar, but you don’t need a permit to access it!
6. Mount Charleston (1 hour)
Mount Charleston is a short 45 minutes away from Las Vegas and will give you cooler temperatures and beautiful scenery! If you are sick of the desert and want some greenery in your life, head up to Mt. Charleston for one of their endless hiking trails.
The most popular hike is Mary Jane Falls, which I have done this a few times and it is free, not too challenging, very easy to follow and ends with an amazing view!
If you are in Las Vegas during the winter months, you can head up to our ski resort, Lee Canyon, for snowboarding or skiing!
7. Zion National Park (2 hours and 30 minutes)
More hiking?! Yes, hopefully you can tell by now I like to hike! Zion is a little further for a hiking trip, 2 hours each way. But I can promise you it’s worth it!
The most famous hike in Zion is their river walk hike where you walk through a large, red canyon along a stream. This is perfect for the summer because even though it’s hot outside, the canyon provides a lot of shade and you are constantly wet with you feet in the river.
If you like to camp, there are endless camp sites either along the river or along other hiking paths. I’ve never camped there, because… I’m more of what you call a glamper. BUT I’ve heard great things about the camp sites there.
8. Badwater Salt Flats (2 hours)
Located just 2 1/2 hours from Las Vegas, you can head over to Death Valley National Park. This is also not a good place to go in the summer, they do call it Death Valley for a reason!
Death Valley National Park has had a record high of 134 degrees and has the lowest elevation on the continent.
You could easily spend an entire weekend exploring Death Valley for all its unique viewpoints and hiking trails. While you are there, be sure to check out Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Rainbow Canyon.
9. Area 51 (2 hours and 30 minutes)
For all you science fiction fans out there, you can check out Area 51 located in Lincoln County. Even though it has only been confirmed as a testing facility for air crafts and weapons, many people believe it ‘s a facility to study Extraterrestrial life (AKA Aliens).
To (kind of) access this, you will need to take Extraterrestrial highway. You can visit all of the neighboring towns, like Rachel, and see the quirky Alien decorated cafes. From there, you can drive all the way up to the military base gates.
Keep in mind, this is a top-secret, military facility. Be respectful and do not try to break in by any means.
10. Lake Havasu (2 hours and 30 minutes)
I’ve only been to Lake Havasu for College Spring Break, which I’m sure it’s just a tad different from normal days, ha. During spring break, there were booze cruises full of drunk college kids and beach parties surrounding the entire lake, gooood times…
Anyways.. Lake Havasu is located in Arizona and is only a short 2 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas. It’s filled with warm beaches, fun parties, tons of boats, water sports and several golf courses along the lake.
Just a few minute drive from the Lake, is a small city that has restaurants and shops. This is a fun day trip or even over night trip from Las Vegas because Lake Mead, is well… not the prettiest lake in the world. You can rent a boat, have a picnic out on the lake, sign up for some water sports and head back at a reasonable time.
11. Los Angeles & Hollywood (4 hours)
So this is pushing it a bit because 4 hours, one way is a far drive! However, a lot of people travel from Europe wanting to see two famous cities in one trip so I thought I would include this one. Even though the drive is long in comparison to the other ones on this list, the “City of Angels” is an absolute must see.
Hollywood is a neighborhood within the large city of Los Angeles, California. Here you can walk on the same streets as some of the most famous people in the world! You can take a picture on the walk of fame with your favorite stars and visit historic music venues and theaters.
Once you venture out beyond Hollywood, you will find gorgeous beaches, perfect weather, celebrity spottings, amusement parks, great nightlife, history + more!
12. Pahrump Wine Tasting (1 hour)
Pahrump is a very small town located just 45 minutes from Las Vegas. They have a handful of family owned wineries with so much charm! If you’re going to go wine tasting, please make sure you don’t drink and drive. Get some food and go shopping for a few hours before driving back or there are plenty of tours that will take you there and back!
The best part about tasting wine in Pahrump is that both wineries are completely FREE. They will give you a free tour throughout their small properties and give you a free tasting! The two wineries are Pahrump Valley Winery and Sanders Family Winery.
13. Brian Head (3 hours)
Brian head is a really great ski resort located in southern Utah, only 3 hours from Las Vegas. I have done day trips to go snowboarding up in Brian Head on countless occasions and the drive is very scenic. If you wake up early (like 5am), you can get to Brian Head by 8am and have a full day of snowboarding before having to drive back home.
TIP: If you stay the night, get a ski in/ ski out cabin and bring your dogs! Once the lifts close you can let your dogs run free on the slopes. SO. FREAKING. CUTE!
14. St. George, Utah (2 hours)
St. George is located in southern Utah, only 2 hours from Las Vegas. Not only is the drive reasonable, but it’s a beautiful drive! If you plan to head out to St. George, I would pair it with Valley of Fire (#4), because it is on the way.
When I think of St. George I think of red sandstone cliffs, religious sites, and beautiful hiking trails. If you plan to do a lot of hiking while you’re there, I would not recommend going in the summer because it is very hot! A lot of desert hikes such as red rock, valley of fire, and death valley do not have a lot of shade!
15. Bryce Canyon (4 hours)
Bryce Canyon, located just 4 hours northeast of Las Vegas, is known for crimson-colored hoodoos. What are hoodoos you may ask? They are spire-shaped rock formations ranging in colors of deep red to gold. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, which will give you one of the best desert views in the world.
Many people travel to Bryce Canyon for its desert wild life. If you keep on the lookout, you can try to spot snakes, deer, antelope, lizards, eagles, coyotes and even mountain lions!
TIP: If you plan to travel to Bryce Canyon, don’t miss my all time favorite hike, Navajo Loop Trail!
That’s a wrap! These are all my favorite places to travel to that aren’t too far from Las Vegas! It’s nice to have a little get-a-way without missing too much work.
Want more guides on Las Vegas? Don’t forget to read these:
- 40 FREE Things to do in Las Vegas
- How to spend your 21st Birthday in Vegas
- Best Instagram Spots in Las Vegas
- Las Vegas Packing List
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