In 2016, on our way home from Arizona, we stopped in Las Vegas to pick up my cousin from the airport and show her around Vegas and area. She had never been there, so it was fun seeing everything through new eyes.

We had been to Nevada several times before and had explored everything from Lake Tahoe to Reno to Las Vegas and everything in between. Because we only had a week with my cousin, we chose to show her our fave spots in the Las Vegas area.

My cousin isn’t a gambler, so she and I donned our walking shoes and spent 2 days exploring the north strip and then another 2 days walking the south strip. In between, we toured out to Laughlin, Hoover Dam, and Grand Canyon West Rim.

It was Chinese New Year when we were there and the casino resorts were spectacular in their decorations to celebrate The Year of the Monkey. If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, I’d highly recommend going at Chinese New Year.

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As you can see in the above photo, we wore sneakers with good support for our walks up and down the strip. Walking the Las Vegas Strip isn’t for the faint of heart. The casino resorts are massive so there’s significant distance between them and the insides of these properties are equally massive once you explore beyond the casino floor. We marveled at the number of women we saw walking in spike heels and couldn’t imagine how their feet must have felt at the end of the day.

There are so many beautiful gardens and grounds surrounding the resorts. They’re well worth exploring!

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In the middle of our week, we drove to Laughlin to spend a couple nights and to check out the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon West (I’ve covered our adventure to the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West in a previous post). Laughlin has very reasonable hotel rates and shortens the drive to these two attractions. It was a windy day on our drive to Laughlin and the dust from what appeared to be salt flats was blowing. Thankfully, it didn’t reduce driving visibility.

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Hoover Dam never gets old. We’ve visited there several times and have seen and learned something new on each visit. The deep blue of Lake Mead and the Colorado River has provided some of my favorite photo captures.

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On our second day in Laughlin, we traveled out to Grand Canyon West Rim. The ruggedness and raw beauty of this side of the Grand Canyon is really difficult to capture in photos. It’s also impossible to capture in a photo, the feeling one gets when viewing the West Rim for the first time.

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If you’re not a gambler, don’t let that cross the Las Vegas area off your travel list. My cousin was pleasantly surprised that she could visit here and experience so much more than gambling!

I was born and raised in the high desert of Nevada in a tiny town called Searchlight. My dad was a hard rock miner. My mom took in wash. I grew up around people of strong values – even if they rarely talked about them.