Off the strip: Unique things to do in and around Las Vegas

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After our time spent within The Badlands of South Dakota, we decided to head south-west towards Nevada — home to America's sin city, Las Vegas. This marks our second visit to this glittery desert, with our previous one having been centered around cards and cocktails. However, this time around, we vowed for our visit to be rather different, and so we made a point to sway away from the seductive glitz that can be found along Vegas' famous Strip.

For example, just an hour's drive from the centre of Vegas is the Valley of Fire State Park, a desert dreamscape where sandstone boulders are coloured in warm shades of tan, sienna, and firebrick. As we entered the park, winding roads allowed us to leisurely enjoy the scenery that appeared up before us. We spent many hours here admiring and photographing the boundless landscape until the searing desert sun retired.

[SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THIS VISIT HERE]

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Nestled only a short walk from Fremont Street, we found a whole other Vegas experience within the Downtown Arts District. Being one of the most historically rich areas in the entire city, we loved this hub for its cafe scene, its many mural paintings at every turn, and for its hub of antique and secondhand stores. It also gets bonus points for not having (sweaty) crowds of people walking the streets, like that of the Strip.

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During our visit, we also made a booking to see the Neon Boneyard, an outdoor museum where the signs of Las Vegas go to rest. The Boneyard was established in 1966, and holds over 200 donated and rescued signs, most of which are from the golden era of neon, elegantly resting in a colourful and nostalgic display. We paid for a guided tour of the collection, which allowed us to learn more about the history of the city, as we wandered through rows of signs including some from the iconic Sahara, Golden Nugget and Stardust.

[SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THIS VISIT HERE]

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Just when we thought the city had played all of its cards, on the evening of us leaving, we stumbled upon a dry lake bed just 30 minutes into our drive out. We decided to stay until sunset, playing around with photos and watching the moon slowly but surely dominate the night sky.

When it came time to hop back in to our motorhome to set forth for our next destination, this much was clear — putting a bet on Vegas having more to it than meets the eye, really paid off. And just like that, we left the city with a winning grin.

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