Natural wonders and water excursions await

The glamorous casinos, celebrity-driven restaurants and live shows of Las Vegas draw millions of annual international visitors, but there is far more to discover with your group beyond the Strip. Las Vegas boasts a rich cultural community and is surrounded by natural wonders easily accessible from the city’s core. Whether you want to hike through dramatic canyons, learn about Nevada’s ranching history or browse through boutiques, Las Vegas has plenty to offer.

An artificial reservoir fed by water from the surrounding Hoover and Davis Dams, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area brings vibrant color and cool breezes to the harsh desert of southeastern Nevada.

Groups can take advantage of a variety of hiking and horseback riding trails that circle the reservoir and explore the ghost town of St. Thomas, a Mormon settlement abandoned in 1871 during their migration to Utah. You can also set sail with a group excursion aboard Lake Mead Cruises. This three-level, Mississippi-style paddlewheel vessel hosts scenic tours of the historic hotels along the Lake Mead shoreline, champagne brunches and sunset dinner cruise where the cool breeze will refresh you after a day in the dessert.

Visitors will also want to visit Hoover Dam itself, an engineering marvel that towers over 726 feet and produces hydroelectric power from the Colorado River. Register for a guided tour to learn about the dam’s arch-gravity technology and the immense construction effort that took place during the heart of the Great Depression.

Located in the Mojave Desert west of the city, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a massive protected area distinguished by its sandstone peaks that gain their rust red color from iron oxide in ancient sandstone deposits. Surrounding these peaks are easily accessible walking trails, wildflower fields and protected desert tortoise habitats. Visitors can best experience this area with a stop at the Visitor Center before traveling the 13-mile Scenic Drive that passes by notable landmarks like the Great Red Roof and the Sandstone Quarry Overlook.

Travelers seeking a break from the high-energy Strip can head north to the Las Vegas Arts District, a bohemian neighborhood populated with eclectic galleries, offbeat cocktail lounges and public squares that often present live entertainment. The district’s largest draw is the Art Factory, a massive warehouse space that hosts rotating exhibitions, a funky cocktail bar and gallery space that showcases local painters and sculptors. Visitors will also want to explore ReBar (an industrial-themed lounge where even the barstools are for sale) and Retro Vegas (an antique bonanza filled with mid-century modern pieces to bring home).