Stunning desert scenery and outdoorsy diversions are much closer to the Strip than you might think. Make the 25-mile drive southeast of Vegas to Boulder City, stopping for a quick look at the handsome and historic Boulder Dam Hotel. Continue 8 miles to spectacular Hoover Dam for a tour and some great photo-ops of the Colorado River and Black Canyon. Next, it’s a short drive to Lake Mead, where you can rent boats, take a cruise on the Desert Princess paddle-wheeler, or hike or sunbathe along the beach.
On your way back to Vegas, detour to the glam Las Vegas Lakes Resort, where you can enjoy a dinner of sushi or mod Pan-Asian fare at the stellar Japengo Restaurant. (During hot summer days, plan your time at Lake Mead for the morning or perhaps very late afternoon.)