Ming started this list a while back, super duper fun things to do in Las Vegas post. I’m cleaning it up and annotating it. It’s a work in progress! Check back for updates.
in town Las Vegas attractions
our house, the Nevada Desert Experience house
We have a spare bike now, so let’s go for a ride. You can take a tour of the garden. We can go for a walk and see the beautiful trash. I can cook you delicious foods. See the peace pole–meet the cats.
Serving the hungry since 1983?, the Las Vegas Catholic Worker located in the historic Westside provides a nutritious meal three mornings a week, maintains a food pantry, grows beautiful gardens, and more. Call to make an appointment for a tour or to learn how you can volunteer. You don’t have to be Catholic.
Barrick Museum at UNLV https://www.unlv.edu/ba
Free admission art museum with exhibits that change, free postcards, and an art bar where you might be able to make a collage or other masterpiece using free supplies. There’s also a little theater and a desert botanic garden outside. Home to the Las Vegas Zine Library.
Las Vegas Zine Library https://www.facebook.com/lasvegaszinelibrary
Housed at the UNLV Barrick Museum, Las Vegas Zine Library contains more than a thousand zines, many of them local. Self-expression, creativity, DIY.
This is a huge warehouse filled with pinball machines and other games. Admission is free–just pay quarters to play the games. Photo booth, arcade games, a Laffing Sal, but mostly pinball.
Jewelry and Mineral of Las Vegas 410 E Sahara jewelryandmineraloflv.c
One of the weirdest stores I’ve ever been to, this jewelry and mineral shop is huge and has fossils, crystals, jewelry, beads, art. Some areas of the store seem neglected and things are falling apart and in disarray. We went there for a hunk of amethyst for my birthday, a few years ago, and liked what we found.
This gallery is full of ideas and and urban beauty. I love its ideas and fun subversion. Three rooms of joy, free to enter.
Some days you can buy fresh produce grown here–kale, herbs, fruits. It’s fun to look around at what’s growing in the different beds, and there are chickens. In a back corner is the old permaculture garden. There’s a cob bench that Ming and I helped make, nine years ago. A good experience.
San Miguel Community Garden
This is a beautiful garden–special place, big and gorgeous, with a little orchard and chickens also. There’s a huge shade structure with picnic tables where you can hang out.
I’m mostly immune to architecture, but Ming says this public library has a reputation for a beautiful building. We saw a Buddhist sand mandala presentation there that I think I will remember my entire lifetime. The library has some great free programs worth looking into.
Writer’s Block https://www.thewritersblock.org
My favorite bookstore in the world, they moved and have a cafe now. Artificial bird adoption, ask a question of King Pigeon, beautiful stationery, smart workers, and books too. They have events and readings.
Atomic Testing Museum
Learn what the system has to say about the Nevada National Security Site. This fancy museum presents a mainstream view of the death and destruction caused by nuclear weapons testing near Las Vegas.
The origins of Las Vegas are related to some crime people known as the Mob. Ming visited this museum when the library was giving a huge discount for locals. He liked it.
Happy Earth Market
We haven’t gone there since they moved to Henderson. Happy Earth Market is a vibrant community resource: progressive event space, art gallery, ecological store, and caring place to find connection and get hugs.
Little Free Library
We’ve stumbled upon some nice Little Free Libraries in Las Vegas! If you would like to seek them more systematically, the website might help. https://littlefreelibrary.org
daytrips from Las Vegas
Peace Camp is an historic site where thousands of protesters have camped and made art out in the desert across from the Test Site. Tunnels have historic graffiti, and there’s wild sculpture to be found as well. Contact Ming for GPS coordinates of Shadow Children.
Temple of Goddess Spirituality Dedicated to Sekhmet
Located around an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, there’s a gorgeous open-air goddess temple dedicated to Sekhmet at Cactus Springs. You can pray, sing, meditate, leave an offering. Rituals are held. Call ahead and speak to the priestess to let her know you’re visiting or to ask about events. There’s also a labyrinth you can walk and a beautiful pavilion that can be reserved for events.
Red Rock Canyon redrockcanyonlv.org
There’s a one-way drive through the whole thing. You can park and look, walk, take pictures. Beautiful rocky colorful scenery that may be new to you, if you’re not from the desert–this is the most beautiful place near Las Vegas. Gift shop and little museum too, with informative displays. It’s free to get in if you have a national parks pass.
Hikes around Las Vegas http://www.birdandhike.com/
Ming likes to hike, and this website is by someone who is helpful and knowledgeable.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge fws.gov/refuge/desert
If you’re crazy about desert plants, wildlife, or geology, don’t miss this refuge and Corn Creek. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle, there are additional amazing places you can go. The museum and gift shop have rangers and maps that can help you learn how to get there.
This wetlands has concrete paths and some manicured dirt paths–it’s very managed, less naturey. But it’s still a good place to take a walk and see a stream and birds. The little museum is cool, and you could check out binoculars, before covid. Who knows, now.
Valley of Fire http://parks.nv.gov/parks
Beautiful park about an hour away from Las Vegas. Lots of hiking–worth visiting if only for petroglyphs.
Free, but there is little to see, factory-wise–some conveyor belts and workers in there, through the glass, on work days. The cactus garden is good, if you like plants. We saw a roadrunner there.
Death Valley National Park
This used to be my favorite place in the world. The huge, impossible expanses, the amazing colors of rocks, the specialness of Badwater, which is the lowest elevation place in North America–walking on all that salt. It’s extreme and unique–some might say barren? There’s camping and a hotel, but you can do it as a daytrip from Vegas, depending on how much you want to see.
Tecopa is a small town less than two hour’s drive from Las Vegas. There are hot springs there visited by people from all over the world, prized for their medicinal waters–wild hot springs by the side of the road, a place run by the city where men and women are in separate areas and naked, and then there’s Delight’s, which is more expensive and has private rooms. Best visited in the winter.
China Ranch Date Farm chinaranch.com
Near Tecopa is a very special date farm. It looks like another world. There are orchards with different types of date trees, places to walk and hike, a gift shop where you can sample different types of dates, buy date shakes and special honey, look at books, and buy postcards. Outside there are places to picnic, but some months there are these evil huge flies that bite, so be careful. It’s definitely worth a stop, especially if you’re already going to Tecopa.
Huge multi-building, multi-area plant store outside of town in Blue Diamond, Cactus Joe’s has great desert plants, statuary, minerals, and a labyrinth you can walk. I love it there. We got our courtyard Quan Yin statue there, and some gorgeous rocks.
City of Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve 350 E Galleria, Henderson cityofhenderson.com/
restaurants and food
Pasties are like big empanadas or calzones. They can be stuffed with all kinds of foods. I like all the vegetarian options here, the bread and butter, the super-rich mushroom spinach walnut soup, and the pavlova.
Thai – Le Thai 2
Our new favorite Thai place in town. I love the ginger fried rice and the Tom Kah soup. Yum!
pupusas – Salvadoreno 720 N Main
This is our favorite restaurant, partially because the pupusas are around two dollars each, so you can get full for about four dollars. A favorite of the Catholic Workers, it’s nearby, with nice waitstaff. I heard the bathroom is terrible, so you might want to use the bathroom before you go.
This Japanese curry is good and you can get it vegan. You can customize your spiciness level and get extra spinach or extra rice…
It’s fun to order mushrooms, corn, or asparagus and cook it yourself on the grill in the middle of the table. They bring you small bowls of sides, which are free–seaweed salad, fishcake, marinated cucumbers, kimchi, macaroni salad… I love the tempura kabocha squash which is like pumpkin–my favorite. They give you sauces to dip everything in, and it’s just a nice experience. Fun to go with friends and not too expensive for us since we avoid the meat.
Lucy Ethiopian Restaurant
You’ll be delighted by the many different dishes bursting with spicy flavor. It can be expensive, though, and Ming doesn’t like that they don’t itemize their receipts.
This may be the best Indian food in town. It’s my favorite. The malai kofta is perfect. The veg food is all delicious. They know how to do it.
special Chinese vegan – Chef Kenny’s Asian Vegan 6820 Spring Mountain Rd Ste 111, Las Vegas, NV 89146 https://www.chefkennysasianvegan.com
This place has delicious flavors and textures, nice veggies, and great fake meat. I love the soup. I’ve loved just about everything I’ve tried. Special, what a treat, and not too expensive. Great place. Where else are you going to get a vegan durian shake, in town.
Vegan Mexican food, very nice. They have pozole, burritos, breakfast burritos. They have pizzas, impossible burgers, pretend chicken burgers. Very chill and unassuming, not too expensive.
We go to this Vietnamese place for the huge bowls of delicious, nourishing vegan pho. They also have a ton of flavors of boba drinks, but they’re too sweet. It’s across the street from the university.
popcorn – Popcorn Girl popcorngirlvegas.com
This is special gourmet popcorn worth trying, the best popcorn I’ve ever had. They give samples to help you decide. The cheese flavor is my favorite. Ming like spicy ones.
This is probably the best boba in town, customizable with lots of options, in a hip atmosphere in Chinatown.
You can check their website for flavors of the day before you go. We like the Western Special with caramel sauce, hot fudge, and pecans.
Super-mysterious Korean cafe Gabi has a special weird vibe.
Albo’s Pizza–1510 S Las Vegas Blvd
Their carryout large one-topping special is a good deal, and they offer fresh garlic as a topping. Delicious flavor and texture, but they’ve burned the bottom so we always ask them to cook it a little less.
vegan donuts – Ronald’s Donuts 4600 Spring Mountain
People come from all over to eat Ronald’s vegan donuts in Chinatown, which are amazing, yet it’s not expensive and fancy, like Voodoo Donuts in Oregon, for example. The vegan ones are the top two tiers.
Hare Krishna vegan — Govinda’s
Delicious vegan food, it opened in January 2019. Seems similar to the other Govinda’s we’ve visited. Nice people and delicious food.
Ikea — They have vegan hot dogs for 75 cents.
POTs–delicious vegan Egyptian
coffee – Madhouse
International Marketplace 5000 S Decatur Blvd
Huge international food market, lots to find, but there’s a markup if you’re not a member.
A friend said she liked this list and said something about difference. I didn’t know what she meant, then remembered there are casinos here too.
The desert is beautiful, and the city is amazing, with variety and delights. We visited a friend the other day, and saw a horse walking down the street, being led by a human. This was just a few blocks from a newish shopping area of huge chains.
The neighborhood Ming and I live in is vibrant and urban, with abandoned houses, beautiful trash, and friendliness. The Chinatown is big, some great food is here, and the daytrips are wonderful.
I love Las Vegas. I have never gambled. There are a lot of people to help here, who did gamble and lose. I always think the streets should be paved with gold, because you would think the taxes on tourism would make the city rich. But I guess pockets of CEOs are taking all of that? Strange, how power works.
Summers are an ordeal of heat, to the point of near-impossible endurance required of me, in this body. But winter is lovely. Wish you were here.