We’re quickly approaching the change of seasons here in Vegas, transitioning from the three nice weeks of dreamy Spring weather to the soul crushing hot hot summer scorch.
While I prefer the fall and winter weather here, there are a number of ways I’ve found over the years to really enjoy the triple digit summers:
Cowabunga Bay: We’ve had season passes here in the past and have really loved it. Before we had our little girl, we spent many a weekend afternoons in their lazy river, hanging in the wave pool, and enjoying moderately priced treats from the snack bar.
Mt Charleston and Lee Canyon: This is a perfect place to beat the summer heat and enjoy some outdoor time. It’s usually at least 10 degrees cooler up in this area (sometimes more) and although you still need to be thoughtful about sun exposure, it’s one of the few places you can still get some outdoor time in when the rest of the city is totally overheated. Lee Canyon usually also runs their ski lift during the summer if you fancy a great view of the area.
Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art: Summer is the perfect time to finally take the drive over to the UNLV campus and visit the Barrick. Although UNLV offers classes year round, it is significantly less busy during the summer months, and the Barrick is still open! At a $5 suggested donation it is one of the best deals in town, and their current exhibition “Sorry for the Mess” by Justin Favela and Ramiro Gomez is a beautiful love letter to the people who make Las Vegas run behind the scenes.
Dive in Movies at the Cosmo: At $7 for admission to the pool & a movie viewing on the big screen, this is a steal. They’ve got a reasonably priced food menu with bites like mini burgers and fish tacos, and movie lineups include everything from Jaws to Black Panther to A Star is Born. For my fellow non-drinkers, FYI they do serve alcoholic beverages here, but since it isn’t at all the main attraction I’m including it on the list. 😉
Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch: I’ve written about Super Summer Theatre in the past, but it bears repeating because this is such a great way to spend an evening. The drive is about 25 minutes, but you get to watch a professional show while the sky turns from sunset to darkness all from the comfort of your very own picnic blanket.
Adventuredome at Circus Circus: Confession….deep down I’m still kind of a kid when it comes to theme park type places. I love them. And the Adventuredome is a Vegas classic for killing time during the summer, as it’s an indoor theme park. At a little over $30 for a day pass, it’s a bit of a treat for our budget. However, every once it a while there are promos for locals and it’s worth taking advantage.
Level Up Nitro Creamery and Boba: In addition to satiating your sweet tooth, Level Up Nitro Creamery and Boba hosts video game tournaments most weekends. If you’re not the competitive type, you can also play with your friends on one of their inviting leather couches, or even enjoy a board game from their in house collection of favorites. One of the most sober-friendly places to socialize in town.
Lake Mead: Growing up near here we spent so many summer afternoons on the rocky beaches at LMNRA. There are guided tour options if you feel like braving the open waters (like Blazin Paddles) and many companies offer the option to rent your own kayaks, jet skis, or small boats for the day.
Crystal Palace Skating Center: Indoor skating seriously needs to make a come-back. It’s cheap (about $10 a piece with a skate rental), it’s air conditioned, and it’s physical. I know during the summer months I start to feel sort of cooped up, so this such a great alternative to scrolling around on Netflix for an hour and then deciding to watch a repeat episode of The Office.
Salt Room Las Vegas: I’ve been here a few times to relax for an hour. I find that during the long hot months of summer (which seem to last until about October here) that I can get cranky being lots of loud places indoors. The Salt Room offers a place of peaceful rest in a nice, dark, cool room for an hour. It’s $35, so a bit of a splurge, but I have always felt more relaxed and centered afterward.
Brilliant at The Neon Museum: Okay okay, full disclosure, this one is outdoors and UN-airconditioned….BUT…it’s at night time, so I’m giving it a pass. Yes, it will be a little hot. But because this attraction features projections that happen after the sun goes down, it’s totally doable in the middle of summer. And I promise you it will be one of the most rewarding things you do for yourself. Craig Winslow has recreated the light patterns of many of the vintage signs in the Neon Museum collection, and then projected them onto the unrestored signage to the tunes of Sinatra, Elvis, and the like, while giving a little bit of a Vegas history overview.
KISS Mini Golf: This is probably one of the sillier things on my list. Like, I don’t even really like KISS. But I do like really silly things that are fun to do in groups that aren’t at a bar, so KISS Mini Golf is kinda perfect. At $12 it’s one of the cheapest things you can do on the Strip (well, at the Rio so not technically the Strip but very, very close) and purely on kitsch value it’s high up there on my list of faves. I also appreciate that they’re open late at night, because there are way fewer sober-friendly outing options at night than during the day.
Sam’s Town: If you’re a local you already know the beauty of Sam’s Town, so this is more for my out of towners looking to do something off the beaten path. During the summer I love recommending this to travelers because the restaurant options in the atrium offer natural light dining without getting totally sunspanked, they have bowling and a movie theatre on site, and if you stay until dark you get to see the free Mystic Falls Park show that has lasers and animatronics and it is pretty much the best thing ever.
Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet: I rarely post about retail here on the site…but the Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet is so much more than retail. It’s magical. It has plants, pets, antiques, art, handmade items, clothing, vintage items, home goods, gourmet food….really anything that you could imagine. And unlike so many of the recently built malls, it’s not outdoors. Win/win!
The Dome at Container Park: Does anyone else remember the scene in Freaks and Geeks where the group goes to see a Pink Floyd (that later turns out to be Southern Rock…) Laser Light Show? This is kinda the modern version of that. There are educational movie options as well as animated imagery set to classic rock, all of which you can watch from the comfort of a reclining chair. Tickets start at $12 depending on the time of the show, and they also offer all day passes for $25.
Chilly Jilly’z: I sometimes drive out to Boulder City just for Chilly Jilly’z. Dole Whip, Broaster Chicken, and Tater Tots are among the top reasons, second only to the very sweet staff here. They have a small indoor seating area and a larger back patio area for groups, and this place is always nice and cool during summer afternoons. Bonus: they have a drive thru. When my daughter was super little and the only thing that could calm her was a ride in the car, we often did the 40 minute drive to Chilly Jilly’z because I knew I could get something yummy to eat without having to rattle her awake. THEY ARE THE BEST.
Public Pools and Aquatic Centers of Las Vegas: The Vegas valley has so many public pools available (both indoor and outdoor) that it’s hard to keep track. Some offer water slides, some offer classes, some offer lap swimming, and most offer free swim in the afternoon. Entrance is usually under $5, and lockers are available at most locations. It’s a great option for those of us that don’t want to mess with the upkeep of having out own pool at home.
Nevada Climbing Center: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I need physical activity. And during the summer months it can be really hard to find that outlet. I’ve come around on indoor climbing gyms, and while I am by no means good at climbing, I have a new appreciation for the sport and intellect required. It’s awesome to have an option for physical activity and community out of the sun, and Nevada Climbing Center offers both classes and open climbing areas for as low as $14 for a day pass.
Pinball Hall of Fame: An old standby for many locals, the PHOF is great because it’s dark and cool during the bright, long, hot summer days. It’s about a 15 minute Uber/Lyft ride from the strip, and has rows and rows and rows of vintage classics like the above Elton John machine. They have change machines for your dollar bills and vending machines for snacking options, and it’s a low key way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Vegas.
Sobe Ice Arena at The Fiesta: I cannot think of anything that feels better on a triple digit day than walking into a crisp cool ice arena. The Sobe Ice Rink offers affordable skating at $10 for admission and skate rental and scratches the itch of doing something physical without overheating.