From decadent nightclubs and shows to multicourse meals, visitors flock to Las Vegas to experience the Strip's great indoors. But those in need of a respite from the clang-clang of the casinos can leave the bright lights behind in favor of fresh air and open spaces not far from the Strip.
Nevada translates to "snowy" in Spanish, so it's fitting that there's plenty of powder in the mountains surrounding Las Vegas. With the ski season lasting until April (weather permitting), visitors can hit the slopes well into spring. The Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, just an hour from Strip, boasts 400-plus acres of terrain fit for skiing, snowboarding or hiking. The resort's certified ski and snowboard instructors offer guests free lessons, while off-slope amenities include restaurants, a bar and a new all-ages area for snow tubing. www.skilasvegas.com
For fun in unfrozen water, make a splash at Lake Mead, just 40 minutes southeast of the Strip. Formed by the Hoover Dam, the lake offers kayaking, fishing and sailing, while land-lovers will find plenty of camping, biking and hiking along the lake's expansive shoreline. For high-octane fun, Las Vegas Water Sports offers private charters with the gear for waterskiing, wakeboarding or tubing. www.lasvegaswatersports.net
Get high: Take flight on a copter journey
Helicopter tours are an amazing experience anywhere. But Vegas, with its proximity to wide-open spaces, may provide the biggest distinction of scenery. Book a flight on a sightseeing experience like no other.
Casino-to-canyon: Trade glitzy casino signs for the naturally painted walls of the Grand Canyon for once-in-a-lifetime views. The experience, a 45-minute flight from the Strip, includes a landing in the canyon bottom. For an extra dose of beauty and color, take the trip at sunset.
Gold in them hills: Get dropped off in Eldorado Canyon and jump on a horse, ATV or even kayak to set off for Nevada's historic gold mines. Get a fully guided tour of the mines and hear stories of fortunes made, along with murder, greed and other ghosts.
Since this is still Vegas, helicopter rides come with VIP treatments such as champagne picnic lunches and limo service for those who need their rugged adventure to have a soft touch. www.papillon.com
Walk it off
Get out and join thousands of Sin City do-gooders Sunday, April 19, for the 25th annual AIDS Walk Las Vegas. The three-mile loop starts at Town Square and laps the famed "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign, with activities and entertainers at the finish line. Magic duo Penn and Teller will again serve as grand marshals. Last year, 10,000 people walked and raised nearly $440,000 for HIV/AIDS programs. www.afanlv.org