Las Vegas City Guide


Relaxing & Unwinding in Las Vegas
©2006 Las Vegas News Bureau The Venetian Hotel offers gondola rides through the hotel's  canals to ramp up the romance and calm the nerves.

Las Vegas can be tiring, considering it's the city that never sleeps. Everything from grocery stores to wedding chapels is open 24/7. But if you're looking for a low-key getaway, there's plenty to sample to help you relax and unwind.

Each major hotel is home to deluxe spas for those who want to be pampered for hours on end. Or if you want the feeling of being on a secluded lake, there's dining along the banks of many of the city's manmade ponds.

The surrounding area, although it's a desert, offers its own opportunities to enjoy nature in all its glory. Area state parks offer self-guided tours and interpretive trails, and botanical parks showcase the animals and plants of this southwestern region. You can also look to several golf courses to help you escape on the greens. So if you can't find something relaxing, then you just haven't looked.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Relaxing & Unwinding in Las Vegas

The best way to unwind is a trip out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area (1000 Scenic Dr), where you can take in the stars and breathe fresh desert air in less than an hour's drive. Las Vegas isn't fantastic for literal stargazers, as the massive lights of the city block out many of the constellations, but the mountains rising around you in the dark and the sky opening above those peaks make for an awesome experience. 

The Red Rock loop, about 35 minutes from The Strip, is a five-mile expanse of two-lane road that hugs the park's looming mountains. This is also a relaxing bike ride during the day in cooler months.

The city of Las Vegas sits at an elevation of roughly 2,400 feet above sea level, so it's a climb of more than one vertical mile to the top of Mount Charleston (about 15 miles northwest on Highway 95). And in winter, great skiing can be found at nearby Lee Canyon. It takes less than one hour to drive from the Las Vegas Strip to the top of Mount Charleston. With pine and aspen trees and 52 miles of hiking trails, Mount Charleston looks like a little piece of Colorado transplanted to southern Nevada.

The Floyd Lamb State Park (9200 Tule Springs Rd) is a 2,000-acre recreational park with four small fishing lakes, so it's best to pack your fishing pole in the car before heading over. Other family members can enjoy the walking or bicycle paths, volleyball courts, and horseshoe pits.

Badlands Golf Club (9119 Alta Dr) offers three sets of nine holes on a course designed by former PGAers Chi Chi Rodriguez and Johnny Miller. Part of the course offers challenges for seasoned players and yet is playable for beginners, too.

The Royal Links Golf Club (5995 E Vegas Valley Dr, 702-366-1616) tries to re-create an atmosphere of traditional Scottish or Irish golf links on this par-72 course. The Painted Desert Golf Club (5555 Painted Mirage Rd, 800-470-4622) is a par-72 course designed by architect Jay Morrish. It's designed for all skill levels, especially since eight of the nine par-fours measure less than 400 yards.

The Spa at Mobil Three-Star Bally's Las Vegas (3645 Las Vegas Blvd) offers some of the most exotic body-care treatments. The co-ed fitness center features state-of-the art equipment, including computerized circuit training and free weights.

One of the best places to enjoy a kiss is on a gondola floating through the canals of the Mobil Four-Star Venetian Hotel (3355 Las Vegas Blvd) or in front of the musically choreographed water and light show known as the Fountains at the Mobil Four-Star Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd).

If you'd rather explore Vegas with the help of a guided tour, check out the next section for suggestions.