The Best Weekend Getaways from Las Vegas This Summer

Pack your bags and check your tires. Time for a road trip.

Las Vegas is a furnace in the summer and you might be ready to skip town. If so, no worries, Sin City is a quick and easy drive to numerous vacation spots to take the edge off the summer heat, ranging from lakeside casinos to refreshing mountain escapes. Read on to learn about the best road trips and weekend getaways from Las Vegas. It could be just the thing to make a busy summer season even better.

Wild West Junction | Photo by Rob Kachelriess

Distance from Vegas: 3 hours, 30 minutes
The best way to visit the Grand Canyon this summer? Take an old-school train ride from Williams, Arizona, which provides direct passage to the scenic South Rim inside the national park. The small town values its reputation as a gateway to America's largest hole in the ground, but Williams is a pretty cool place to visit all by itself. Spend a few days here and you'll see a proud history that combines a rough-and-tumble Wild West past with a legacy as the last operational stretch of Route 66, which helped usher in a new era of road tripping. Roam the streets of downtown, where old brothels and saloons have been converted to bars and restaurants. Ride down a mountain on a self-controlled alpine roller coaster at the Canyon Coaster Adventure Park, get into the cowboy spirit at Wild West Junction, and check out vintage gas pumps and other antiques inside Pete's Gas Station Museum. Just outside of town, animal lovers can feed dozens of deer, meet a zonkey, and hang out with a camel at the Grand Canyon Deer Farm or drive through the Bearizona wildlife park, which also includes a walkable zoo.
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Lake Havasu, Arizona
Lake Havasu, Arizona | Pamela Au/Shutterstock

Distance from Vegas: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Lake Havasu is the best island getaway within a three-hour drive of Vegas. Breaking up the Colorado River between Arizona and California, the vacation town definitely has a quirky side. The waterfront is decorated with scaled-down replicas of historic lighthouses from around the country and the island connects to the mainland with a brick-by-brick restoration of the same London Bridge that crossed the River Thames in the late 1800s. Lake Havasu is known as a spring break party destination, but the pace picks up even more in the summer when it gets hot. Really hot. Lake Havasu holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded in an incorporated American city: 128 degrees. Fortunately, between boating, cruises, JetSkis, hanging out on the beach, and rock jumping at Copper Canyon, there are plenty of water activities to help cool you off.
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Caliente, Nevada
Caliente, Nevada | Photo by Leslie Kehmeier

Distance from Vegas: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Want to get away from the crowds this summer? Caliente, the only incorporated city in Lincoln County north of Las Vegas, is a quiet community with a small-town feel and an unexpected variety of outdoor activities. Early growth was based on its role as a railway stop between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles—a legacy recognized with a mission-style depot, still standing as a photogenic piece of history with the Box Car Museum just steps away. Spend some time here and further explore the great outdoors with mountain biking at Barnes Canyon and hiking at Kershaw-Ryan State Park. Caliente is also a great home base to visit the towering rock formations and slot canyons of Cathedral Gorge State Park, about 15 miles away. Otherwise, hang out for a while and mingle with the locals at Side Track, one of our favorite restaurants on the outskirts of Vegas, and its sister weekend cocktail lounge, Side Car. The Caliente Hot Springs Resort is closed for renovations until 2023, so ask for the log cabin at the nearby Pine Tree Inn & Bakery bed-and-breakfast in Panaca.
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Lake Powell, Arizona
Lake Powell, Arizona | Gleb Tarro/Shutterstock

Distance from Vegas: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Just like Lake Mead, Lake Powell is watching water levels drop to dangerously low levels, but remains a popular summertime destination near the Arizona-Utah border. The area is best known for Horseshoe Bend, a photogenic corner of the Colorado River where it's impossible to take a bad photo. You can also tour the Glen Canyon Dam, which created Lake Powell, and visit Antelope Canyon—although tours affiliated with the Navajo tribe are required to pay a visit. Book one well in advance. Spend the night at the Lake Powell Resort "down-stream" at Wahweap Bay, just steps from where Lake Powell Boat Tours offers a sunset cruise with a three-course meal included.
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Photo by Sydney Martinez, courtesy of Travel Nevada

Tonopah, Nevada

Distance from Vegas: Three hours
Getting lost in the desolate central regions of Nevada has its appeal. Camping out near one of the state's many historic ghost towns probably isn't the answer during summer, so find the right balance with a visit to Tonopah. The small town has two very different overnight accommodations to choose from: a creepy Clown Motel (next to a cemetery) or the historic Mizpah Hotel. Both places are said to be haunted. Just make sure to visit the Tonopah Historic Mining Park (an outdoor museum dedicated to Nevada's gold and silver rush) and load up on beer and barbecue at Tonopah Brewing Company. Yet half the fun of visiting is the road trip itself. Stop along the way in Goldfield, often described as a "living" ghost town with historic Old West architecture and the International Car Forest, a bizarre art installation of beat-up automobiles sticking out of the ground.
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Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest | Cheri Alguire/Shutterstock

Cedar City, Utah

Distance from Vegas: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Cedar City is an ideal jumping-off point for exploring the great outdoors in Southwest Utah. The largest town in Iron County is close to Brian Head, one of the most convenient ski resorts to Las Vegas, which offers biking, adventure trails, a zip line and other outdoor fun during the summer season. Drive through the scenery of Dixie National Forest to reach the colorful cliffs and sweeping views of the Cedar Breaks National Monument. Hikers also love the Kanarra Creek Slot Canyon, which leads to two waterfalls. Cedar City itself has a college town vibe (thanks to the presence of Southern Utah University) and calls itself "Festival City, U.S.A." due to its schedule of big events. Come for the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which runs between June and October.
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Rhyolite, Nevada
Rhyolite, Nevada | Gchapel/Shutterstock

Beatty, Nevada

Distance from Vegas: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Beatty is best known as a getaway to Death Valley National Park—a place that's much too hot to fully enjoy during summer. So stick around and see what this old mining and railroad town is all about. Beatty is close to the ghost town ruins of Rhyolite, the weirdness of the Goldwell Open Air Museum, and the Tom Kelly bottle house, made from more than 50,000 glass bottles. All three places are within steps of each other west of Beatty. For another weird photo spot, travel three miles north of the town center on U.S. 95. You'll see wreckage from an airplane crash by a roadside sign for what used to be the Angel's Ladies brothel. Back in the heart of Beatty, you'll want to try the chili and beer at the Happy Burro, an old saloon with vintage spirit, quirky decor, and a boardwalk-style patio. Hang around long enough and you might see burros roaming the streets. With a travel time of less than two hours, Beatty is a great day trip from Vegas, but if you want to spend the night, check out the renovated rooms at the Stagecoach Hotel & Casino.
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The Resort on Mt Charleston
The Resort on Mt Charleston

Mt. Charleston, Nevada

Distance from Vegas: One hour
Here's a road trip that's quick and easy, but still feels a world away from Las Vegas. Mt. Charleston, the highest peak in the Spring Mountains, is just northwest of Sin City. The elevation is a welcome change of pace from the desert valley floor and draws crowds throughout the winter for skiing and snowboarding. However, it's a great place to enjoy the elevation and mild weather in the summer too. Lee Canyon shifts into a new seasonal direction with hiking, archery, disc golf, and scenic chair-lift rides providing gorgeous views of the surrounding Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. New this summer—a downhill biking course that's set to debut in August. The loss of Mt. Charleston Lodge in a fire hit the community hard last year, but plans are in the works to build the restaurant back better than ever in 2022. Its on-site cabin rentals were unaffected. You can also book a room at the Retreat on Charleston Peak (formerly the Resort on Mt. Charleston), which has a bar and restaurant.
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Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona | Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Sedona, Arizona

Distance from Vegas: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Summer is a great time to visit Sedona. The temperatures aren't nearly as hot as other Arizona destinations (we're looking at you, Phoenix and Tucson), and the crowds drop off a bit after the spring peak. In addition to more than 300 miles of hiking and biking trails, Sedona is known for its Native American history, bed-and-breakfast accommodations, and art galleries. The town also carries a certain sense of mysticism—said to be in a vortex with the energy of nature especially strong in four locations: Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon—all easy to reach without shelling out cash for a tour guide. Just south of Sedona is the Verde Valley, where the old mining towns of Cornville, Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and Jerome each have their own charm and character. Follow the "wine trail" with 25 tasting rooms between them.
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Laughlin Nevada
Laughlin, Nevada | Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock

Laughlin, Nevada

Distance from Vegas: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Describing Laughlin as a mini-Vegas on a river isn't entirely off base. Both towns—less than a hundred miles apart—are famous for casinos, entertainment, and bright neon lights. But Laughlin is less chaotic, with a small town feel and employees who actually do recognize regulars by name year after year. The dining and nightlife is lowkey and low pressure. Yet the character of the town is best shaped by its location along the Colorado River, which separates Nevada from Arizona. Rent a JetSki, go kayaking, or hang out on the beach at the Big Bend of the Colorado. Take water taxis from one hotel to another and board guided boat tours and dinner cruises. Save hikes for the early morning temperatures during the summer, especially at Grapevine Canyon, where you can explore a dried river bed and examine petroglyphs—drawings on stone walls left behind by Native American tribes hundreds of years ago.
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World's Tallest Thermometer
World's Tallest Thermometer | Photo by Rob Kachelriess

Distance from Vegas: Four hours
When someone says “road trip” and “Las Vegas,” in the same sentence, nine times out of ten, they're talking about Southern California. So hop in your car and start driving southwest on Interstate 15. You’ll hit Baker (stop for gas), Barstow (stop for Starbucks), San Bernardino (keep going) and finally, Los Angeles. But what makes the trip worth the drive is going all the way to Santa Monica to finally see the coast. Of course, you can always play tourist in Hollywood, check out the LA restaurant scene, or just see what's going on over the weekend. Half the fun in driving to SoCal is seeing all the weird roadside attractions along the way, like the World's Tallest Thermometer or Lake Dolores (a creepy abandoned water park that will give any ghost town a run for its money).
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Hoover Dam Rafting Adventures
Hoover Dam Rafting Adventures

Distance from Vegas: 45 minutes
A quick drive from Vegas, Boulder City is the closest town to the Hoover Dam and has a small tourism industry based around the engineering masterpiece. Book a raft tour with Lake Mohave Adventures on the Colorado River to get an up-close look at the dam, one of the coolest things you can do this summer. Keep in mind—Boulder City is the only Nevada community that doesn't allow gambling. So if you need a fix, stop by the Hoover Dam Lodge while driving down on U.S. 93 and play a few slots. However, the casino-free Boulder Dam Hotel (with a Hoover Dam museum in the lobby) offers a more satisfying sense of history. Boulder City is a great homebase for hitting Lake Mead, where swimming, boating, and kayaking remain popular, despite the ever-dwindling water levels. For more outdoor fun, hang out with the bighorn sheep at Hemenway Park or grab a seat on the patio at Milo's Cellar for wine, the Dillenger for burgers, or Jack's Place to drink a beer and watch a game.
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Mesquite, Nevada
Rainbow Vista in Valley of Fire State Park | Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

Distance from Vegas: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Mesquite, about 95 miles northeast of Las Vegas, tends to market itself as a more laid-back alternative to Sin City, but it's really a casino town for the party animals who live right across the border in Utah. A vintage vibe is felt in the tableside food presentations at Katherine's Steakhouse or the seven golf courses squeezed within a few miles of each other. Interact with exotic animals at Camel Safari or go off-roading with an ATV. Yet half the fun of a road trip to Mesquite is getting there. Detour off Interstate 15 and take one of America's most scenic drives through the Valley of Fire State Park before reconnecting later. The bright, dramatic sandstone formations almost appear to be on fire when the sun hits them just right. Hence the name. The red sand at Rainbow Vista creates a life-on-Mars feel, so it's no wonder parts of Total Recall were filmed there back in the ‘80s. 
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Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe | topseller/Shutterstock

Distance from Vegas: Seven hours
Lake Tahoe, often connected to Reno tourism, is the largest alpine lake in North America and worthy of a road trip on its own. The area is loaded with ski resorts for winter sports, but the clear blue waters, sandy beaches, and miles of pine trees make it a fantastic summer destination as well. South Lake Tahoe is tourist-oriented with ample resorts, sunset cruises, and water sports. The Nevada side (officially the town of Stateline) has four casino resorts, but the Hard Rock is easily the most contemporary and appealing. By comparison, North Lake Tahoe is more residential, especially Incline Village, where exclusivity is part of the charm. It's quiet and serene without intrusive attractions designed for mass appeal. The best way to vacay is booking a room at the Hyatt Regency, which feels like the world's largest log cabin and has its own private beach with cabanas and the Lone Eagle Grill, the town's best restaurant. Roast marshmallows at fire pits near the pool and rent bikes for checking out the luxe real estate on a stretch of Lake Shore Boulevard modestly known as Billionaire's Row.
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St. George, Utah
Zion National Park | OverlandTheAmericas/Shutterstock

St. George, Utah

Distance from Vegas: Two hours
St. George is the first place Las Vegans run into after cutting through the northwest corner of Arizona and crossing the border into Utah. The city combines a charming downtown area with a thriving art scene, and proximity to four state parks—including the bright red sandy beaches of the Sand Hollow reservoir. But outdoor explorers will be most excited to know St. George is the largest city outside Zion National Park, one of the most colorful examples of rock formations, sweeping cliffs, and waterfalls in Utah. The infamous Angels Landing is a 2.5-mile hike with steep and narrow pathways. It comes with a warning sign that mentions the number of people who have died on the trail. Just make sure to apply for passes at least a day in advance. Balance out all that outdoorsy stuff by visiting independent restaurants, art galleries, and shopping in downtown St. George. The Painted Pony and Wood.Ash.Rye. are the top spots for dinner and drinks.
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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than eight years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He fills up the gas tank before crossing into California. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.