“Let’s party on The Strip!” – the never ending phrase I seem to hear whenever I have a friend in town. After living here for a little over a year and a half, I’ve learned two important things about this glamorous, party-driven city. The first – there is life beyond The Strip. The second – yes, there are other things to do that don’t involve partying until 4:30 in the morning that are actually fun, and dare I say, not on The Strip. So if you’re planning a trip to Vegas anytime soon, be sure get your full day of non-stop drinking, crazy people-watching, lets party until my hair smells like Vodka Red Bull and cigar smoke night on (I mean, would it really be Vegas without it?) but also take some time to explore the non-Strip world. In case you need a guide, here are five of my favorite things to do in Vegas that take you off The Strip and leave you hangover free. J

  1. Take a hike!

No seriously take a hike! When I first moved here, I was astonished by the pure beauty of this desert terrain. I mean, if you take your eyes off of the randos bumping into each other on The Strip and look around, you’ll see that we have mountains. And no they’re not fake, they’re actually real mountains! Las Vegas happens to offer a number of hiking trails that you can get to in less than half an hour. One of my favorites is Calico Tanks at Red Rock Canyon. After treading through the sand and scrambling up a few rocks, you’ll have one of the best views of Las Vegas – if not the best (in my opinion anyways). Just make sure you don’t fall!

  1. Downtown Vegas…what’s that?

I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard this question. Yes, people. Long before The Strip there was this place called downtown and be grateful for it because it actually helped evolve The Strip into what it is today (How’s that for a little Las Vegas history?). Anyways, over the last couple of years a group of entrepreneurs known as the Downtown Project revamped the once forgotten area into an energized, creative and innovative space for locals and tourists alike. Being that, it’s home to a number of classic Vegas style hotels like the Golden Nugget and El Cortez where you can experience old Vegas while still gambling for less than half the standard limit on The Strip. On top of that, it also has some of the best places to eat in the city. Try Pizza Rock, Le Thai and Therapy. You’re welcome. There are also some cool hipster spots to check out like Container Park, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness a fire-breathing mantis terrify bystanders (no, I’m not making this up and yes it’s quite hilarious). If you’re still missing The Strip, you can always walk down Fremont Street for a tamer experience. In addition to endless bars, gambling and fatty food offerings, Fremont also provides a stage for talented artists and performers looking for their big break. The best part – they wear clothes.

  1. Shop till you drop!

Las Vegas is clearly a fan of the outdoor mall and who can blame them when they have great weather 80% of the year. With shopping centers like Townsquare or Downtown Summerlin, there really is something for everyone even those of us who tend to overdo it on the retail therapy. The best part is you can avoid all the hustle and bustle of The Strip and find stores that you actually enjoy and can afford to shop at – ahh the key to life!

  1. Eat, eat and then eat some more!

A lot of tourists tend to think all the best restaurants are the ones you can find on The Strip. Yes, there are a ton of celebrity chef and five-star restaurants that you can go to, but there are also a lot of other places off The Strip that are just as good, if not better. Plus off The Strip dining tends to be more cost effective which means more treat yo self helpings of ice cream, nachos and burgers. If you don’t mind gaining a couple of LBs (I mean it is vacation right), try out some of my favs – Public School, Honey Salt, Monta Ramen, Echo & Rig and Doh Korean BBQ.

  1. Dam it up!

I would think this goes without saying, but if you’re in the Las Vegas area and you haven’t made you’re way to the Hoover Dam, you’re seriously missing out. I mean it is a National Historic Landmark and one of the highest concrete dams ever built (just saying). It also happens to be completely free to visit! For only a 45 minute drive, it’s definitely one of those things you have to see sometime in your life. And if that view isn’t enough for you, you can always take a tour of the Dam and / or Power Plant for a history lesson. It’s pretty insightful and cheaper than the average show ticket!

Submitted by Tasha Walker