Three Day Southern Nevada Road Trip with Travel Nevada
I was recently invited out to Las Vegas to go on a three day southern Nevada road trip with Travel Nevada, the states top tourism company. Here, I’ve outlined the itinerary and included a few bonus locations to check out on your trip to Las Vegas. These locations are all within an hour of downtown Las Vegas, so even if you are just visiting plethora of casinos on the Strip, you can easily make a quick trip outside the city to see the natural beauty and historical diversity this incredible state has to offer.
Pro Tip: It’s pronounced Nev-AD-a, not Nev-AH-da, and if you say it wrong expect to be corrected by the locals…a lot.
Day 1: Las Vegas Arts District and Fremont Street
Before the Strip, Las Vegas’ entertainment and gaming center was on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. Today, the city’s historical center can be experienced in the Fremont East District.
Lodging: The Downtowner Motel
Step back in time into this 60’s era motel. This budget-friendly option is located in the Arts District, within walking distance of Fremont Street. Upon arrival, you’ll check in at the bar in the lobby. If you arrive early, the staff is happy to hold on to your bags for you so you can head out and explore the area. For families, the motel has in interesting mini golf course in the courtyard perfect for kids! For adults, I imagine making a mini golf drinking game would be loads of fun! The motel also has a pool area to take a dip in on those hot Vegas days.
HeadzUp Vegas: Trick Art Museum
The first activity on your Southern Nevada road trip is HeadzUp Vegas, a quirky, interactive 3D trick art museum located within a mall to capture some cool Instagrammable shots! The museum has 50 interactive murals on display here. I imagine this would be quite fun with children, however when we visited there were only adults wandering around the displays! My favorite mural was the dreamy “Stairway to Heaven” piece. And, it actually played the Led Zeppelin song every time someone stepped into it!
The Las Vegas Downtown Container Park
After checking out the trick art museum, head back to The Downtowner and take a walk over to Fremont Street. Your first stop on this neon-covered, brightly-lit street is the Downtown Container Park, an open air shopping and entertainment center. You’ll notice a metal Praying Mantis sculpture out front that looks like something straight out of Burning Man, and that’s because it is! The Mantis drove up to Burning Man (the vehicle it is coming out of does indeed actually drive) on two separate occasions! This awesome sculpture lights up and shoots 6-story high flames of liquid propane out if it’s antennae in beat to music every day at sunset!
There’s also a 4k visual dome experience (you’ll see the dome right behind the Praying Mantis). Inside, an indoor dome lights up 25 recliner seats with animated imagery accompanied by music. Some artists featured in this light show include U2, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd.
Historic Fremont Street
After exploring Fremont Street and the Las Vegas Strip, I found Fremont Street to be a way more fun, authentic experience. Although both are crowded with tourists, I found this only added to the Las Vegas experience. The street is lined up and down with bars and restaurants, shops, clubs, and in typical Vegas fashion, loads of neon lights. Stop by The Smashed Pig for a fun dining experience perfect for the entire family. They have a good variety of menu choices, including a couple vegan options. They even made me a yummy vegan desert!
After dinner, head next door to Corduroy Bar. This historic bar is one of the oldest in Vegas. My favorite thing about this bar was the house brewed ginger beer and the on-tap Moscow Mules!! Apparently, this is the place to be on the weekends, so expect it to be completely packed on Friday and Saturday nights. They also have a fun Lightbox photo room that’s perfect for Instagram shots. The Lightbox room is actually so popular, that on weekends they have a separate bouncer just for this room!
Day 2: Hit the Road for A Day Filled with History
Breakfast at PublicUS
This trendy breakfast spot boasts some of Vegas’ best coffee, as well as delicious breakfast foods for all (vegans included!). It’s located right on Fremont Street, within walking distance from The Downtowner. I loved all the plant life throughout the store, some of the tables even had live ficus trees growing through them!
Hoover Dam Postcard Tour
The next stop on your Southern Nevada road trip brings you to the Hoover Dam. This raft tour, lead by Black Canyon Adventures, gives you a unique perspective of the Hoover Dam that can only be seen on this specific tour. On top of seeing this massive feat of construction and engineering, you’ll also go further down to Colorado River and see some beautiful views of the canyon that divides Nevada and Arizona.
Perhaps my favorite part of the tour was when the raft stopped at a small, secluded beach, giving you a perfect view of the picturesque mountains. Make sure you bring sunglasses, clothes you don’t mind getting wet, and lots of sunscreen! Also, for the fellow photographers, I recommend putting your gear in a dry bag. If you don’t have a dry bag, you can ask an employee at the Hoover Dam Lodge for a clean trash bag to put your gear bag in.
No Southern Nevada road trip is complete without stopping by one of the many mining towns in the region. Techatticup Mine in particular is a small ghost town (population: 3 people) within the Eldorado Canyon. This site boasts the oldest, richest, and most popular gold and silver mine in Southern Nevada.
It has also been used for a variety of films, photoshoots, and music videos. The movie 3000 Miles to Graceland, starring Kurt Russell and many other A-list actors, was shot here, as well as music videos for Beyoncé, Paramore, and photoshoots for high end fashion designers, like Prada.
The tour itself lasts about an hour. It walks you through the history of the mine at the main building up front, as well at through the mine itself. I highly recommend taking some time to explore the surrounding property after the tour. Here, you’ll find old, broken down cars and buses, the blown up airplane from 3000 Miles to Graceland, and many other visually interesting items, as well.
Lodging: Boulder Dam Hotel
Time to relax from the busy day you just had by checking into The Boulder Dam Hotel, located in Boulder City. This quaint hotel, built in the 1930’s, has a speakeasy lounge where you can enjoy cocktails during the evening. It also houses the Hoover Dam Museum on the first floor. Boulder City is a small town, and the hotel is located within walking distance from shops, bars, and restaurants. I recommend heading across the street to the Boulder Dam Brewing Company for dinner! Try a flight of all of their house-brewed beers that you can’t buy anywhere else! The Boulder Dam Hotel has complimentary breakfast, too. Therefore, you can enjoy a quick morning bite to eat and coffee before heading out the next morning!
Day 3: Art, History, and Adventure
Seven Magic Mountains
These vibrant rock statues, known at the Seven Magic Mountains, in the middle of the Mojave desert make you question human presence in the desert. Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone partnered with the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund in 2016 to complete this art installation approximately 10 miles south of Las Vegas. Originally scheduled to be on display for two years, the sculptures received so much attention that in 2018, the Bureau of Land Management issued a three year permit extension, allowing the installation to remain in the Mojave until the end of 2021.
Make sure you arrive early! The sculptures get really crowded throughout the day, so try to arrive around or before sunrise in order to avoid the crowds!
Goodsprings and the Pioneer Saloon
Time to head to the historic ghost town of Goodsprings! Located about 15 minutes down the road from the Seven Magic Mountains, this down is home to the famous Pioneer Saloon. The saloon was used as a site for many movies, TV shows, and music videos. On the weekends, expect it to be packed with tourists and locals alike all trying to get a little taste of history.
Fun fact: you can actually purchase and age a barrel of whiskey here, adding your own flavors and aging it for however long you like!!
Vegas Off Road Tours UTV Ride
Located in Goodsprings, Vegas Off Road Tours will take you on a guided UTV tour through the Mojave Desert. This was by far the highlight of my trip with Travel Nevada! Prepare to get dusty! Vegas Off Road Tours provides goggles and a buff to cover your face and shield it from dust. We even got to see a group of wild horses on the tour!!
Lodging: Park MGM
Head to the newest hotel on the Strip for your final night in Las Vegas! Park MGM (Previously The Montecarlo) is home to a casino, a variety of restaurants and bars, and the high end NoMad restaurant and hotel (yes, it’s a hotel within a hotel). Gamble the night away, relax at their spa or pool area, or just meander around the Strip and people watch (this can be quite comical). Whatever you decide to do, you won’t be bored here!
I highly recommend checking out the Korean BBQ restaurant Best Friend. It looks like a little asian snack shop from the outside, but go up to the counter and ask for a table and you’ll realize that that snack shop is just the waiting area. Hosts dressed in all red will escort you through the red curtains to the back, where the actual restaurant is. Everything on the menu is phenomenal, and the portions are HUGE! I recommend trying a Korean BBQ dish (they have vegan options) or the Whole Fried Fish. And definitely get a side of their famous Kimchi Fried Rice!!
Day 4: Sunrise at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
If you have some time before departing Southern Nevada, I highly recommend heading over to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park for sunrise! It’s located about 35 minutes from Las Vegas, Unfortunately, I did not get to go here for sunrise that morning, but here’s a beautiful shot my friend Linda (@the_dragonfruit) took when she went!
So there you have it, a fun-filled, three day Southern Nevada road trip itinerary that you can bring the whole family on!
Have you ever been to Southern Nevada? What was your favorite activity? Comment below!
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