There are hundreds of lists of things to do in the USA, or individual states like Nevada, but we’ve come up with one thing in every state plus D.C. in 21 different categories. Truly something for everyone, from historic places to foods you have to try, from the downright quirky to amazing museums, and from weird places to stay to fun things to do. Our primary criteria were we have or want to see them, and they are things you can physically visit or try.
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Historic Place: Sedan Crater
Sedan Crater is the result of the nuclear test of the same name within the Nevada test site. Over ten million tonnes of earth were displaced by the 104 kiloton thermonuclear explosion on the 6th July 1962. The resulting crater measures 1280 by 320 ft (390 by 100m).
Famous Person: Vegas Vic
Whilst not technically a person, Vegas Vic is as synonymous with Las Vegas as gambling. Originally created for the Pioneer Club in 1947, the neon version, complete with a waving arm, was erected in 1951.
Natural Wonder: Fly Geyser
Map County Rd 34, Gerlach, Nevada 89412
Whilst it is natural, it needed human interaction to get it started due to a 1964 drilling expedition for geothermal energy. The vibrant colours are due to thermophilic algae and water is released constantly, thrown as high as 16 ft (5m) in the air
Food & Drink: Hotel Buffets and Red Bull
We struggled to find a truly Nevada food and drink, so if you can point us in the right direction, please leave us a comment below. For now, we’ll settle on the infamous Las Vegas hotel buffets, followed by a Red Bull (or two) to keep you gambling long into the night.
Factory Tour: Ethel M Chocolates
Take a self-guided tour along the edge of the factory to see how premium chocolate is made, then enjoy a sample or two before deciding how much delicious chocolate you want to buy in the shop! Afterwards, take a short walk around the small cactus garden to burn off a few of the calories!
Man Made: Hoover Dam
Producing electricity since 1936 the ginormous Hoover Dam sits astride the border between Nevada and Arizona. This, of course, means that it sits in two different time-zones! Over 700 ft (200m) high and 1,200 ft (350m) long, the dam contains over 3.2m cu yd (2.4m m3) of material and holds back Lake Mead which spreads across 247 sq mi (630km2). All of which allows it to generate over 2GW of electricity.
Record Breaking: Las Vegas
Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other city on earth! And yet, at busy times of the year, they still sell out. Try booking over New Year’s Eve and prepare to pay through the nose for a room.
Quirky Record: Worlds Largest Gold Nugget
Known as the ‘Hand of Faith’, the largest gold nugget in the world is on display at the appropriately named Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas. It weighs 960 oz (27.2kg), which would make it worth, just for its content, over $1million.
Activity: Take a punt on Red (or Black)
What else can you do as an activity than take a chance? Red? Black? A specific number? Either way, the chances are the house wins, all those amazing sites the casinos construct to attract you are all paid for from gamblers losses!
Atlas Obscura: Seven Magic Mountains
20 minutes south of the Las Vegas strip stands seven amazingly brightly coloured stacks of boulders. Generated as an art project, they now attract around a thousand people a day to come out to a nondescript piece of desert to check out this incredible artwork.
Most Visited: The Las Vegas Strip
The beating heart of Las Vegas and where all the biggest casinos are. Three miles of indulgence and opportunity to lose, unless you’re lucky, your money
State/National Park: Valley of Fire
So called due to the deep red of the rocks that can look like fire when the sun is shining just right; Valley of Fire State Park is full of amazing rock formations and ancient petroglyphs to explore.
Top Tip: Don’t try and take the “back” way (Route 167) out of Vegas to get here, unless you have the National Park Pass or are happy to pay $20 to get into Lake Mead en route!
Event: Burning Man
Once a year an empty section of desert becomes Black Rock City and burning man begins. Based around artistic self-expression and solid attitudes towards inclusion, co-operation and responsibility, the event takes its name from the symbolic burning of a large wooden effigy “The Man”.
Different Place to Stay: Little A’Le’Inn
Solidly based on the myths arising from the proximity to the infamous Area 51, Little A’Le’Inn comes complete with a tow-truck recovering a crashed flying saucer.
Different Place to Eat: Pioneer Saloon
Built in 1913, Pioneer Saloon is full of history and has appeared in several films. Made of stamped tin, it is possibly the last such building of its kind in the US.
Have Some Fun: Pinball Hall of Fame
Even if you are deaf, dumb and blind, you can still play the silver ball; well according to The Who’s legendary “Pinball Wizard” song anyway. While away an hour or two playing dozens of different pinball machines, from ancient to modern and everything in between.
Film Location: The Island
Map Rhyolite, Nevada 89003
The ruins of the Cook Bank Building were used in the 2004 film The Island. Explore the rest of this ghost town that collapsed as fast as it rose during the gold rush of the early 20th century.
Map Lake Mead, Nevada
Lake Mead is the only lake in Nevada that has an outlet to the sea; it is also, of course, man-made due to the construction of the Hoover Dam.
Something Different: Gilcrease Orchard
Pick your own fruit and veg at Gilcrease Orchard, it simply can’t get any fresher than that.
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Museum: National Atomic Testing Museum
Website | Map 755 E Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
Documenting the history of nuclear testing at the Nevada Test SIte not far from Las Vegas. Back then, above ground tests were watched by people from their hotels in Vegas, waiting for the flash of light to appear on the horizon! Seems crazy now right?
Scenic Drive: Pyramid Lake Scenic Byway
This short drive still manages to encompass stunning vistas, the beautiful oasis of Pyramid Lake and of course the striking rock formation from which it gets its name.
Don’t miss Anaho Island, a refuge for migrating birds and American White Pelicans. It’s off-limits to humans, so you’ll have to view it from afar.
We’d love to hear what you think. What did we miss? What do you think we should have chosen instead?
If we love your idea, we might just swap it into the list, if we like it, maybe will give it an honourable mention; either way we’ll be sure to give you credit, AND add it to our list of things to see and do when we are in the area.
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