Sandwiched between one of the world’s top vacation destination cities and one of the nation’s most popular national parks, southeast valley residents need not look beyond their own backyard to find suitable diversions from summer doldrums. And despite something of an island in the Mojave, many vacation opportunities lay within a half day’s drive. Here are ten great spots to consider if you want to get away – but not too far away – this season.
Lake Mead by Houseboat Relax at Lake Mead with family or friends aboard a houseboat. Swim in the perpetually cool blue water, fish for bass, hike or explore the some of the 550 miles of coastline. Cook meals on the lake and enjoy a peaceful evening (or romantic or raucous depending on mood and present company, of course) a world away from home. Several companies operate houseboat rentals in the park and prices vary.
Lake Las Vegas The lake community remains in the midst of attempting to recover from numerous economic setbacks, and part of that effort is the enticement of locals with attractive staycation deals and special events. Book a room at the Astor MonteLago Village Resort (30 Strada di Villaggio, 702.564.4700) or the Westin Lake Las Vegas (101 MonteLago Blvd. 702.567.6000). Enjoy breakfast at xxx then try your hand at the paddle boarding the lake at Paddle to the Core (101 MonteLago Blvd. 702.567.2187). Lunch at Auld Dubliner (40 Via Bel Canto, 702.567.8002) or Sonrisa Grill (30 Via Brianza, 702.568.6870) Look for scheduled events lakeside including performances by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra. Finish the evening with dinner at Bernard’s Bistro (15 Via Bel Canto, 702.565.1155) or the Asian fusion restaurant Marssa (101 MonteLago Blvd. 702.567.6000) or after dinner drinks at Sunset and Vines (40 Costa Di Lago, 702.382.7900).
Kingman, Az. Only an hour and change from Henderson via I-93, the ‘Heart of Historic Route 66’ is home to the ‘Route 66 Museum’ (fittingly enough), the Kingman Army Airfield Museum and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts. But the real draw is the authentic small town vibe (40 structures on the U.S. Register of Historic Places) and the Grand Canyon West Skywalk, about an hour away. Rent a cabin at the pretty Hualapai Mountain Park (6250 Hualapai Mountain Road, 928.753.6593) or Upton’s Hidden Pines Bed and Breakfast (499 S. D W Ranch Road, 928.279.7394. Take dinner at Dambar & Steakhouse (1960 Andy Devine Ave., 928. 753.3523) or Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner (105 Andy Devine Ave., 928.718.0066) Cap off the night at the wine bar Cellar Door (414 Beale St., 928.753.3885)
Flagstaff, Az. It’s 7,000 feet elevation affords Flagstaff cooler climate and greener topography than much of the desert Southwest. Great for outdoor fun including camping, hiking, mountain biking, boat and seasonally skiing. The town offers many shopping offerings, from souvenirs to contemporary art, antiques and authentic (and not so authentic) Native American art, jewelry and craft. Get at room at the Weatherford Hotel (23 N. Leroux St. 928.779.1919) if you like a bit of history and atmosphere over room size and new amenities or the Hotel Monte Vista (100 N. San Francisco St., 928.779.6971) if you want to be in the heart of old town and don’t get easily spooked by reported hauntings in the 1926 building. Take a hearty breakfast at the Horseman Lodge Restaurant (xxx) Grab lunch at Simply Delicious Café Daily Fare (408 E. Route 66, 928.774.2855) and dinner at the barbeque joint Satchmo’s (2320 N. 4th St., 928.774.7292) or the Cottage Place Restaurant (126 W. Cottage Ave., 928.774.8431)
Big Bear Three hours from the Valley, Big Bear is the high elevation retreat of choice for Vegas and Angelinos alike. Camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and mountain biking are all popular activities. Don’t want to rough it? Several nice spas and in-room massage services are also available. Rent one of the many cabin options or get a room at Sleepy Forest Cottages (400 Eureka Drive, 909.866.7444) or Kleine Haus – Lindberg Individual Suites (904.844.0559) Try breakfast at the Grizzly Manor Café (41268 Big Bear Blvd., 909.866.6226), lunch on Indian and Nepalese cuisine at the Himalayan Restaurant (672 Pine Knot Ave., 909.878.3068) and dine at the Asian fusion restaurant Dynasty (40989 Big Bear Blvd., 909.866.7887) or try the Mexican and Italian dishes at Botana (41618 Big Bear Blvd., 909.758.8484). The AV Bar & Nightclub (909.866.7377) is one of the most popular after-dark hangouts on the mountain.
Mt. Charleston Even in summer, the high altitude air and Alpine topography makes you feel much further than an hour and a half from the desert cities below. The valley’s high point, part of the Spring Mountain Range, remains beautiful despite the damage from 2013 wildfires and subsequent mudslides that have closed trails and created challenges to mountain residents. Camping and hiking in (relatively) mild conditions are the major summertime draws. If you aren’t pitching a tent (and campground space can be competitive) book a night at the Mt. Charleston Lodge (5375 Kyle Canyon Road, 702.872.5408) or down the mountain a bit at the Resort on Mount Charleston (2275 Kyle Canyon Road, 702.872.5500).
Dining options are pretty much limited to what you bring with you, or nice and generally hearty meals at both the Lodge and Resort dining rooms.
Venice Beach Stroll the boardwalk any summer day and you won’t be bored (weekends afford the most colorful – and crowded – experience). Street performers of all kinds, artists and craftspeople of all talent levels vie for attention with visitors soaking up the atmosphere. Some love it, some hate it, but there is no place else on the planet like it. And it is only 5 hours away from downtown Henderson (if the Southern California traffic gods are smiling, that is).
Book two nights in the heart of things at Venice Suites (417 Ocean Front Walk 310.566-5224) or the spacious Loft 46 Rose (310.430.2724).
Breakfast at the Rose Café (220 Rose Ave. 310.399.0711). Rent a bike and peddle north past Santa Monica to the Palisades and take a swim in the ‘refreshing’ Pacific. Lunch and drinks at Library Ale House (2911 Main Street, 310.314.4855) or sushi at Chaya Venice (110 Navy Street, 310.396.1179) Check out the shops on Abbot Kinney (Tortoise, ). Don’t forget some of the best ice cream around at N’Ice Cream (locations at 619 Ocean Front Walk and 1410 Abbott Kinney Blvd.)
Stroll along the Venice Canals in the evening. Dinner (if you can get seated) at the tiny and fantastic Italian restaurant Piccolo (5 Dudley Ave. 310.314.3222). Finish the night off with live music at venues along Ocean Front Walk.
Historic Boulder City Only a few miles down I-93 is southern Nevada’s small town jewel, which is much more than the gateway to Lake Mead. Book a night in the historic Boulder Dam Hotel (1305 Arizona St. 702.293.3510), which was completed in 1933 is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Spend the afternoon browsing through the eclectic collections of vintage and antique shops that line the historic district’s main artery and adjoining streets. Check out the works of local artists at the Boulder City Art Guild (1305 Arizona St. 702.293.2138) or a bit of local history at the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum (600 Yucca St. 702.486.5933), which is particularly popular with kids. Grab some lunch at Milo’s Cellar (538 Nevada Way, 702.293.9540), and dinner at The Dillinger (1224 Arizona St., 702 293.4001), along with live music. Hit Chilly Zilly’z (1680 U.S. 93, 702.293.2373) for coffee and a light breakfast before heading home.
Pamper yourself at a spa The southeast valley has several spa options to consider, but you might want to opt for a trip to the Strip and mingle with the tourists to enjoy one of the world’s most luxuriest day spas. The city has no shortage of such establishments, but some of the best choices include the Aria Spa and Salon (3730 Las Vegas Blvd., 702.590.7757) which features an expansive 2-floor facility, multiple massage options and ganbanyoku chairs (Japanese stone saunas) and the Mandarin Oriental Spa (3752 Las Vegas Blvd., 702.590.8886), which lends a Vintage post -colonial Shanghai atmosphere. Closer to home is the Spa at Green Valley Ranch (2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, 702.617.7777), which features a 40,000 square foot space and multiple treatments, including the Green Tea Wrap and the Paradise Papaya. Where ever you choose, you will no doubt leave reluctantly and feeling like a new person.
Springs Preserve This oasis just west of downtown Las Vegas is a great day-long getaway for the family, engaging kids at every age range (and their care givers) with nature walks, historic sites, science exhibits, presentations and special events. Experience a flash flood, stand at a nineteenth century land auction, step inside an early Piute dwelling, stroll through award winning gardens and trails that snake along the springs that served as the historical lifeblood of the valley. Plus classes for kids and special exhibits that cover a range of subjects from forensic science to Da Vinci’s inventions. Oh, and then there’s the Nevada State Museum.
Dining options are limited to a single outlet, the pleasantly contemporary Divine Café that offers a limited selection of quality dishes at moderate prices, plus occasional live jazz and happy hour. In other words, there’s plenty of reason to visit – with or without the kids.
St. George and Zion Bonus destinations! St. George is the gateway to great nature destinations including the Zion National Park. St. George also features golf, hiking and biking, plus a relatively robust arts scene, including a popular Shakespeare Festival and Art Festival (in April), playhouse and art museum focusing on regional and local works (with exhibits such as ‘Here Come the Gowns: 150 years of Wedding Dresses’), historical sites including the winter home of Brigham Young and the LDS Temple and Tabernacle, built in 1871 and 1876 respectively.
This article was featured on page 28 of the June 2015 issue of Inside Henderson Magazine.