THERE so much I never appreciated growing up in Las Vegas until I left — the mountains, the weather, the fact that you can go anywhere and do almost anything at any hour of the day or night. But what I found I missed most when I moved to the midwest was the sunsets. Since moving back to my home state of Nevada a few years ago, I’ve come to look forward to that time of day when the dark seeps in and the skyline lights up.
Here are some of my favorite places to watch a sunset in the Vegas area:
Lone Mountain Regional Park
Roughly a 25-minute trip from the Strip, this free public park on the north-west side of town offers a view of the entire Vegas skyline. Walk past the equestrian training area — which on weeknights often has riders exercising their horses — and up the paved path; or challenge yourself with a moderate 2-mile hike to the top of Lone Mountain to overlook the city at sunset.
One of the hippest neighborhoods to hang off-Strip is East Fremont. You can peruse the new vinyl arrivals at 11th Street Records, attend a free author event at The Writer’s Block, or savor a latte from PublicUs. But at sunset, be sure to step outside to watch the sky change colors over Southern Nevada’s oldest casino, the El Cortez.
High Point Overlook at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Drive half an hour west of the Strip to Red Rock Canyon — park entry is $7. After you check out their visitor center, you can head out on the one-way 13-mile scenic loop. Make sure to stop at the High Point Overlook, a parking area on the left shortly after the Sandstone Quarry trail entrance. It’s one of the best places to watch casinos light up as night falls. Be aware that Red Rock Canyon’s park hours change with the seasons, so check the website for current hours during your visit.
The 8th Floor of The Mirage’s Parking Garage
Although the days of unlimited free parking on the Strip may be nothing more than a memory, you can be comforted by the fact that your fee doubles as your ticket to view the sunset over the classic signs of Las Vegas Blvd. Any long-time local will tell you the 8th floor of The Mirage’s parking garage has unparalleled views. Parking here for under an hour is free, but you can always make a night of it and get a burger, fries, and shake afterwards at LVB Burger.
Lake Mead Overlook in Boulder City
This small town that housed the workers who built Hoover Dam sits half an hour south-east of Vegas and has one of the quaintest diners in the state, Southwest Diner. You can watch the sunset from their patio seating — with a slice of their homemade pie, or you can take your dessert to go and drive 10 minutes to the Lake Mead Overlook, a road pullout on Nevada Highway between Denver St. and Avenue I, with a spectacular free viewing area to watch the sunset over the lake.
The Village at Lake Las Vegas
Forty minutes from the Strip, Lake Las Vegas will reward you for your efforts with dramatic colors at sunset and local birds gliding through the sky into the night. This resort area features walking paths around the manmade lake; dining, retail, and on weekends draws crowds for local music festivals, outdoor movie screenings, and special events. Enjoy the sunset here while walking the shoreline with a treat purchased at Seasons Grocery.
The Neon Museum
North of Fremont Street on Las Vegas Blvd., The Neon Museum gives you a chance to catch a sunset while learning about the city’s history on an hour-long guided tour. Reservations are required and cost $26 per person for the evening option when restored signs are lit. If you’re having trouble deciding on what time would be best to view sundown, feel free to call and ask the staff’s advice. Bonus, the small city-owned park just outside of the old sign storage boneyard offers sights of restored iconic signs.