Visiting Las Vegas During COVID: Staying Safe and Still Having Fun
There’s no need to remind anyone at this point that gathering in groups is not recommended or even permitted in many places, including the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. In fact, most casinos will not allow congregating of groups larger than 4 and are even requiring reservations just to sit at the sports bar. If you’re planning to visit Las Vegas this year, don’t feel discouraged.There are so many exciting activities and opportunities to explore in the surrounding area that are both socially distant and safe - not to mention much cheaper than feeding your cash into a slot machine.
Las Vegas and the surrounding area is home to so much astounding nature that to many locals it’s quite the shame that visitors often do not take advantage of the numerous exploration opportunities available - even during this pandemic. From hiking, to camping, helicopter tours, and more, you can experience some of the Southwest’s most coveted locations.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a couple seeking something romantic, or a family simply looking to have some fun outside, the city offers so much beyond the casinos lining the Strip. Check out some of our top recommendations for Las Vegas activities.
Tour Hoover Dam
Contrary to popular belief, Hoover Dam is not nestled deep in the middle of the desert. In fact, it’s just a little over a half an hour drive from the Strip, right on the border of Nevada and Arizona. You can visit Hoover Dam in an afternoon’s time and discover incredible aerial views and photography opportunities safely from the O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge directly across from the dam. The bridge offers a parking pull-off area where sightseers can capture professional-looking photos of Hoover Dam and the Colorado River beneath them.
Visitors to Hoover Dam can also access all outdoor areas including the observation deck, the gift shop, the cafe, and of course the O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge.
Hoover Dam is open to the public from 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM daily
Get Your Picture at Seven Magic Mountains
Looking for the best Las Vegas Instagram spot? Here it is. You’ve probably seen this art installation across Instagram, Pinterest, and the rest of social media - but you probably never realized how close to Vegas it is. Just over 20 minutes from the Vegas Strip, the Seven Magic Mountains is a collection of stacked rainbow-colored boulders forming seven rock towers, each standing over 30 feet tall.
Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the Seven Magic Mountains is meant to represent the human presence in the midst of the Southwest Desert. This joyful and photogenic exhibition was unveiled in 2016 and was scheduled to be removed after 2018. The installation quickly became such a sought-after photo spot that the Bureau of Land Management continued to extend its stay in the desert.
Currently, the Seven Magic Mountains is scheduled to stand until the end of 2021. With its popularity nowhere near diminishing, it’s safe to say the exhibit will likely grace our city for several more years to come; but just in case, make sure you stop by during your stay in 2021.
Seven Magic Mountains is open for public visitation with responsible social distancing and mask usage.
Hike or Camp at Red Rock
You know those massive red-striped mountains toward the southwest of the Las Vegas Strip? That’s Red Rock National Conservation Area. The aptly-named region consists of ancient rock formations, winding canyons, and numerous hiking trails, as well as a 13-mile scenic driving loop. Currently The Bureau of Land Management is accepting timed entry reservations to enter, but once inside you’ll find trails like Ice Box Canyon, which stays cool and shaded most of the year with a seasonal waterfall. There’s also Calico Tanks, a trail with a short summit at the end offering a spectacular view of the entire city of Las Vegas. Hikers with a sharp eye may also spot ancient petroglyphs, bighorn sheep, and tortoises.
Red Rock National Conservation Area is open to visitors, hikers, and campers with advanced reservations.
Get Lost in the Forest at Mount Charleston
Just an hour away from McCarran International Airport and the Las Vegas Strip is Mount Charleston, a mountainous region that feels more like Colorado or Northern California than the desert. The mountains here are heavily forested and make for both scenic and shaded hiking. Trails range in difficulty, so there’s a path for adventurers of every ability. Keep your eyes open for a variety of birds, rabbits, foxes, bats, and even wild horses. Rainfall is more frequent here than in the city, and winter snow is almost a guarantee. In the springtime, hikers can reach waterfalls on trails like Mary Jane Falls or follow creeks along Fletcher Canyon.
Mount Charleston offers numerous camping sites, some First-Come-First-Serve and some based on reservations. If you’re looking for a more modern stay, the Retreat on Mount Charleston combines hotel accommodations and dining with a cabin-like feel. If you want the real cabin feel, you can rent individual Mount Charleston cabins and relax from a day of hiking in the indoor jacuzzi tub in front of the fireplace - perfect for a Las Vegas couples’ getaway.
Near the cabins and several trailheads is the Mount Charleston Lodge, offering a full menu, a full bar, live music, and a pet-friendly outdoor dining area. Even day visitors will want to fuel up at the Lodge for one final view of the tree-covered mountains. Whether you’re a lover of nature or just a lover of relaxation, Mount Charleston truly is the ultimate Las Vegas getaway.
Mount Charleston is open to the public with reservations required at dining locations. Responsible social distancing and mask usage is enforced.
Experience a Las Vegas Strip Helicopter Tour
You can still experience the magic of the Strip even if wandering the crowded casinos isn’t quite your style. Experience the neon lights and magnificent fountains aboard a Las Vegas Strip helicopter tour! This 10-15 minute flight operates daily with multiple tour times until 10pm, when the glittering lights are on full display. You’ll fly over the New York-New York, the Bellagio fountains, the astounding architecture of the Venetian, the High Roller Observation Wheel, and around the Stratosphere tower before looping back to see it all again.
For an extra-luxurious experience, you can upgrade your helicopter tour to include a Las Vegas limousine-style transport that will pick you up at your Vegas Strip hotel and return you once the tour is finished. You can even request the helicopter’s front seats! Masks are required during flight, and separate groups may be combined onto one flight. Papillon does offer a private helicopter tour option for your party if you’d prefer to have the aircraft all to yourselves. A Papillon Las Vegas helicopter tour is the safest and most socially-distant way to enjoy the Strip and its world-famous casinos.
Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters operates in full compliance with COVID-19 safety restrictions. Helicopters are sanitized between tours for passenger safety.
Las Vegas was built with the mindset that its visitors should leave knowing that they’ve had the best time of their lives, and that mentality still stands strong today. If you feel discouraged about your upcoming Las Vegas vacation, you shouldn’t. There are are still plenty of exciting activities and opportunities nearby to ensure that your visit is still a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.