Sin City is known for its nightlife and casinos, but there’s much more to this world-famous destination that most people miss. Whether you’re seeing the city from new heights via Las Vegas balloon rides or you’re learning about the city’s secretive atomic past, there are plenty of places to check out in and around Las Vegas that show its lesser-known sides. Whether you’re planning a unique first date or want to see something different with friends on vacation, these five alternative activities will give you a whole new respect for the city.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
For a truly unforgettable experience, Las Vegas balloon rides are the way to go. With an experienced pilot, you’ll fly over the city while getting a bird’s eye view of its famous attractions. If you fly during the evening, you might also catch an incredible sunset. Best of all, you’ll be far above the masses, which means you avoid the crowds. If the experience is for a special occasion (like a birthday or anniversary), you can request a private ride from a hot air balloon company.
The Neon Graveyard
No bones about it—the Neon Graveyard is another excellent choice if you want an unconventional Vegas experience. With over 150 pieces of neon signage, this colorful graveyard pays tribute to the city’s glamorous past. The signs, which range from motel signs to casino names, cover over two acres of land. You can sign up for a tour to learn more about the different signs and why they’re an important part of the city’s past.
Red Rock Canyon
With its many manmade attractions, it’s easy to forget that Las Vegas is also a place of stunning natural beauty. But a trip to Red Rock Canyon, which is a national conservation area, showcases the area’s mesmerizing landscapes. Red Rock Canyon has hundreds of unusual red rock formations, which are also responsible for giving the canyon its name. Here you’ll also find incredible sandstone peaks, some of which rise over 3,000 feet high.
The Mob Museum
You might think of New York City when you think of the word “mob,” but there have been plenty of outlaws and formidable individuals in Las Vegas’s past, too. The Mob Museum showcases some of the city’s most notorious and dangerous characters. Electric chairs, police photos and interactive displays comprise the museum’s eerie collection. The museum is located in the former Las Vegas Courthouse, which is a historical attraction in its own right.
National Atomic Testing Museum
Historically, Vegas’s isolated desert location and “anything goes” attitude made it a refuge for those seeking an escape. Starting around 1950, these factors also made the city perfect for atomic testing. What you might not know is that during that time, the city’s population exploded as scientists, researchers and others wanted to be close to, and even be a part of, the nation’s most prominent nuclear developments. Today, over 12,000 pictures, stories and other mementos take you through this little-known part of the city’s past.