There is so much to do and see on the Las Vegas Strip that it can be difficult to break away from it. But once you do — whether it's because you're on a budget, don't gamble, or want a break from the hubbub — there's all sorts of attractions to explore. It doesn't matter if you're in Vegas with a bunch of friends or for a family reunion, because you'll find something that everyone will love, from beautiful nature hikes to quirky museums.
pinball hall of fame
When it's time to unwind after hiking it up and down the Strip, head to the Pinball Hall of Fame. The guy who runs it just loves pinball, from vintage machines he's fixed up, to the latest versions. It's just a ton of pinball machines in a big room, but it's free to get in, and you play with quarters. Find favorite machines and hunker down for an hour or two to try and beat the high score.
downtown container park
The Downtown Container Park is a hip open-air shopping center and entertainment venue built mostly out of recycled shipping containers, right down to the massive kids play area. There's a dome for showing movies and concerts, and plenty of places to eat and drink. Look for the giant metal praying mantis sculpture and you'll know you're in the right place.
the haunted museum
Between the Strip and Downtown is Zak Bagans' The Haunted Museum. It's a cross between a haunted house, funhouse, and museum with 30 rooms that hold spooky collectibles, paranormal objects, and just plain creepy stuff like the "propofol chair" from the room where Michael Jackson died. This one is not for children.
gold & silver pawn shop
If you're a fan of the TV show "Pawn Stars," a visit to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is a must. The shop itself is pretty small — it looks bigger on TV — and you're not likely to run into Rick, Corey, or Chumlee. But Saturdays at noon you can meet Mark Hall-Patton, aka the Beard of Knowledge, which is a pretty good compromise. You can also check out the Pawn Plaza next door where Chumlee has a candy shop.
Though it's not cheap, operating heavy machinery at Dig This can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Choose a bulldozer or an excavator, then live out childhood construction fantasies. You can tear, push, dig, and even play "bucket basketball." Kids as young as 8 can join the fun in a mini excavator.
One of the most well known off-Strip attractions is the Neon Museum, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Las Vegas' vintage neon signs. The "Boneyard" includes hundreds of signs arranged like murals, which makes walking among them totally surreal. Visit at dusk for the best photo and Instagram ops.
The Grand Canyon is about a four-hour drive from Las Vegas. And while you could rent a car and go at your own pace, there are tour companies that will take you round trip for a less stressful experience. Some, such as Pink Adventure Tours, will even take you there and back by plane, helicopter, or boat for amazing views in 12 hours or less.
red rock canyon
For awe-inspiring nature that's closer to Vegas, head to Red Rock Canyon, just west of the city. There's a 13-mile scenic drive if you don't want to leave your air-conditioned car, but there's also hiking trails, campsites, and all the geology you could ask for. Start at the visitor center for information, exhibits, and a gift shop.
Head north of the Strip to Fremont Street, also known as Downtown. It's a pedestrian street with a 1,500-foot canopy of light shows every hour at night. Many of the old school casinos can be found here, including Binion's and the Golden Nugget. There's shopping, zip lining along the canopy, free concerts, restaurants and plenty of "only in Vegas" attractions, including taking a free photo with a million dollars in cash.
The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement, affectionately known as the Mob Museum, is a top-notch facility. There are three floors of exhibits, including a speakeasy and a crime lab experience. Children are allowed, though only adults 21-plus can participate in experiences such as distillery tastings.
Golf lovers who want a baller Vegas experience will find both at Topgolf. The swanky, high-end facility has multiple bars, lounges, pool, and cabanas, and a three-story driving range with views of the Strip. Thanks to the view, this may be the only range where prices go up when it gets dark out.
About 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas is the Pioneer Saloon in a little town called Goodspring. It opened in 1913, making it one of the oldest bars in Nevada. Belly up and learn about the building's long, interesting history: Clark Gable drank here while waiting for news of his wife, who was lost in a plane crash nearby, movies have been shot here, there's bullet holes in the walls, and it's said to be haunted.
sunbuggy fun rentals
Rent an ATV or dune buggy from Sunbuggy and go off-roading. You can choose tours for adrenaline junkies by chasing an expert dune buggy driver, or opt for a sightseeing tour of the Valley of Fire instead. Kids are welcome on family-friendly dune buggy romps.
ethel m chocolates
Ethel M Chocolates in Henderson, a Vegas suburb, offers factory tours where you can see how they source and produce the candy. Behind the factory is the largest botanical cactus garden in the Southwest. You can stroll through the 4 acres of cacti and succulents anytime. If you're there around the holidays, they even deck the plants in Christmas lights.
discovery children's museum
For an attraction that's sure to be a hit with kids, check out the Discovery Children's Museum. Play, creativity, and exploration are fostered throughout the three floors of hands-on activities. There's pirate ships to climb through, a Water World room, and even a Toddler Town for the little ones to explore.
national atomic testing museum
Science lovers and history buffs adore the National Atomic Testing Museum. Its purpose is to tell the story of the nuclear weapons program at the Nevada Test Site, including world events that led to nuclear weapons, and the weapons' relevance today. You can even experience a simulated nuclear bomb blast — without the radiation, of course.
In the middle of Las Vegas is the Springs Preserve, a 180-acre site of botanical gardens, amphitheater, museums, butterfly habitat, and waterworks. Besides strolling through the gardens, tickets include admission to the site's Nevada State Museum and Origen Museum, with their dinosaur bones and live animal exhibits.
valley of fire state park
The Valley of Fire State Park is less than an hour from Las Vegas, and worth the trip. It gets its name from the vibrant red Aztec sandstone that's prevalent in the park among the drab limestone. There's ancient petroglyphs, petrified trees, and natural stone arches that make hiking and picnics a treat. It's worth getting up before dawn to experience sunrise over the red rocks.
Skiing near Vegas? Yep! Head just 40 miles west of the city to Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area and you'll hit snow in winter. There's a few locations on the trails designated for snow play when there's at least a foot of snow. Camping and hiking up the almost 12,000-foot peak are great during the warmer months.
Lake Mead is surrounded by a 1.5-million acre National Recreation Area with horseback riding, hunting, and lake-related fun: There are always boats, canoes, and kayaks on the lake, and fishing is allowed 24 hours a day.
One of the most popular attractions in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is Hoover Dam. Finished in 1935, the dam is what created Lake Mead. There are tours you can take to go inside the dam and see how it works, and you can cross the top by car or on foot.