Nevada

The theme of Nevada seems to be sin. Obviously you have Las Vegas for gambling, sex, drugs, drinking and pretty much whatever you fancy. Most of the state is desert, although you can find some pretty incredible natural beauty.

My Favorites


1. Las Vegas

Vegas Sunrise

Highlights: Casinos, nightlife
Suggest Staying: 3-5 days
Stay Around: The Strip or Freemont Street (Oasis at Gold Spike)
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I’ve been to Vegas twice and I don’t gamble. There really is a ton to do and it’s quite the spectacle. I personally don’t buy into the lifestyle and resources drain that is the city of extravagance known as Las Vegas, but I do think it’s a place everyone should at least visit once in their life. It’s like no other place on Earth. From shows, to insanely beautiful casino hotels, and nearby man-made and natural feats, it’s a worthwhile destination or stopover for any road trip out west.

See & Do

  • Visit a Casino. They are quite remarkable and each has it’s own character. Some even connect to each other. They are open 24 hours. Even if you don’t gamble, it’s an adventure just to walk through. My favorites are the Venetian (looks like Venice), Bellagio (amazing lobby, water fountain shows), Caesar’s Palace (like Rome), Luxor (giant pyramid with light that can be seen from space), Mandalay Bay, Mirage, New York-New York, Treasure Island (pirate ship), MGM. I’ve heard the Stratosphere has a great rooftop pool and parties.
  • See a Show. So much to choose from, there’s always something. Penn & Teller were awesome, I’ve heard great things about Blue Man Group, and there are always live concerts.
  • Experience the Nightlife. Bars and clubs are everywhere. From Studio 54 to dueling piano bars, most charge a cover, but you might be able to find coupons to get them waived.
  • Eat at a Buffet. They are fantastic. All kinds of food, all you can eat. Found at just about every casino.
  • Freemont Street. The “old strip” still full of fun experiences.
  • Hoover Dam. Straddle 2 states and 2 timezones at this engineering marvel. I think it’s possible to take a tour.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Huge lake, neat drive through, great for boating.
  • Valley of Fire State Park. Haven’t been myself, but looks cool (no pun intended).

Tips

  • The Strips. There are two “strips” in Vegas: the new strip and the old strip downtown. The old strip is featured in older movies with the famous cowboy and has a covered zip line that runs over a covered outdoor strip of casinos, shops, and restaurants. It’s a bit “calmer” on the old strip and you’ll likely find better deals on accommodations. It’s a quick ride to the new strip. The new strip is where all the giant, modern casinos are, and thus more of the action. Many people like to stay in some of the casinos with rooftop pools if you’re going to relax. The ones at either end of the strip are likely to have better deals.
  • Accommodations. Try Hotel Tonight which gets you deals on unbooked rooms in nice hotels. You can only book 24-48 hours in advance. Great for passing through on a road trip, especially during the week, but maybe not so much if it’s your planned destination and you have a more rigid schedule.

2. Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay

Highlights: Lake, nature, hiking, gambling
Suggest Staying: 2-5 days
Stay Around: South Lake Tahoe
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What a beautiful place. Lake Tahoe is actually shared between California and Nevada. In my opinion the California side is better, but it’s certainly worth exploring both parts. Although the borders are east/west, the areas of concentration for lodging and attractions are more like north/south.

See & Do

  • Emerald Bay. Breathtaking views.
  • Taylor Creek. Fish and salmon.
  • Eagle Lake. Beautiful lake nestled in the mountains.
  • Fallen Leaf Lake. Even more beautiful lake nestled in the mountains.
  • Kings Beach. Popular beach up at the north end.
  • Carson City. Nearby town. Not much to it, although I just drove through.

Food & Drink

  • Heidi’s. Breakfast.
  • Driftwood Cafe. Breakfast.
  • Capisce. Italian.
  • Naked Fish. Sushi. Not great, but a good option.

Nightlife

  • Harrah’s. Casino.
  • Hemmel House. German restaurant and bar.
  • Center Bar. Montbleu casino.
  • X Hale. Hookah bar and lounge.

Tips

  • Weather. Water sports on the lake during the summer and skiing in the winter. I visited in October which was nice during the day, perfect for hiking. At night however, I camped and it went down into the mid 30s. Since I’m a wuss with the cold, I stayed at an inn my next visit.

Other Considerations


Reno

Reno

The little brother of Las Vegas, Reno has similar ambitions, but doesn’t get to the same level. It mostly just casinos and places to eat. That said, it’s a convenient stop for a break and worth driving through. Didn’t explore much, but Circus Circus was awesome with a bit of creepy.

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