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8 of the Best Hidden Gems in Las Vegas
With more than 30 casinos, a cadre of top-notch restaurants, and countless shopping destinations, the Vegas strip is a one-stop-shop for visiting tourists. On the other hand, not everyone appreciates the neon lights, splashing fountains, and crowded streets. Thankfully, there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas that are a little more “off the beaten path.” The next time you’re in Las Vegas, live like a local and try one of these eight hidden gems. For your convenience, the list is organized from most central to most remote.
A HIDDEN CABARET
Combine provocative humor with acrobatic feats in a cabaret-style setting, and what do you get? Absinthe. Nestled inside a tent in the back of Caesar’s Palace, this self-proclaimed acro-cabaret has been called “the most inventive and daring show to open on the Strip in years!” The venue doesn’t offer a lot of elbow room, but that’s part of its charm. From your spot in the audience, you’ll be close enough to see the sweat beading on the performer’s skin. Seating is first-come-first-served, so get there early to choose your seat. While there are no bad seats, spectators in the first few rows are often asked to participate in the show.
A HIDDEN RESTAURANT
You’ve probably eaten at a “hole in the wall” before, but never like this. Battista’s Hole in the Wall is a small, family-owned restaurant located one block away from the Vegas Strip. Established in 1970, this Italian trattoria has been offering traditional dishes like sausage cacciatore and spaghetti with meatballs for almost 50 years. While the red leather boots and scattered wine barrels are a far cry from the glitz and glam of the Vegas Strip, the food here won’t disappoint.
A HIDDEN ART INSTALLATION
In 2013, Louis Vuitton commissioned James Turrell to design a piece for a hidden space on the fourth floor of his City Center store. The final product is a dazzling, yet serene light display known as Akhob. This immersive experience consists of a room with two circular openings leading to chambers filled with multi-colored lights. As you explore, the shifting colors create an experience that is both immersive and contemplative. You may even have trouble finding your way out. Mandatory reservations also mean that the space is never loud or over-crowded.
Downtown Container Park is a family-friendly shopping center built from more than 40 repurposed shipping containers. This local favorite is home to a number of boutiques, several watering holes, and even a sculpture of a fire-breathing praying mantis. For some semi-authentic Mexican food, head over to Pinches Tacos. For handmade items from local artists and craftspeople, visit the Art Box. For unique, handcrafted cocktails, visit the Oak & Ivy Whiskey Bar. Container Park even has a built-in play area for young children.
If you have access to a set of wheels, consider visiting the Seven Magic Mountains. Designed by Ugo Rondinone, this colorful art installation includes seven 30-foot-tall rock towers made of stacked neon boulders. They’re particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset. This hidden gem is located twenty minutes from the Vegas Strip and offers a peaceful reprieve from all of the hustle and bustle. Make sure you pack lots of water, though. The Mojave Desert is one of the hottest places in the United States.
For another Mojave Desert excursion, pay a visit to Bootleg Canyon. This natural rock formation earned its name during prohibition when it was used to hide illegal alcohol. Today, it’s home to numerous hiking, biking, and running trails where you can also catch a glimpse of lizards, hawks, big-horned sheep, and other wildlife. The ziplines, however, are the crowning jewels. After some hiking, visitors take four different zip lines more than one and a half miles to Boulder City, Nevada. Participants travel at speeds of approximately sixty miles per hour, and the whole experience lasts close to three hours.
This recommendation may be my personal favorite. Located 15 miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock National Conservation Area is home to massive sandstone rock formations, the tallest of which juts more than 8,000 feet into the air. The rocks get the reddish hue from iron oxide which has built up for hundreds of years. Once there, visitors can hike, rock climb, and take stunning pictures. However, use caution if you run into a wild burro or horse. These animals are wild, and feeding them comes with a hefty fine.
This recommendation may come as a surprise given my warning about the dangers of the Mojave desert. Nevertheless, powdery, white snow can be found less than an hour away. Mt. Charleston offers more than twenty different areas for hiking, picnicking, and camping. It’s also home to the aptly named Mt. Charleston Lodge. This rustic hotel offers overnight accommodations and a restaurant with everything from fish to fried cheesecake. During the winter, the lodge also operates a ski lift for adventurous skiers and snowboarders.