Las Vegas is easy to get to from anywhere and offers something for everyone. Less than an hour away from the glitz and hubbub of this popular destination are hiking and biking trails amid the breathtaking beauty of the desert. Spend a day taking in the incredible scenery in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with its cool paths leading to beautiful waterfalls. History buffs will enjoy Petroglyph Trail in Sloan Canyon – you may even encounter some bighorn sheep on this hike. Photographers will want to visit Valley of Fire State Park to capture the swirling patterns of orange and red rock that mimic ocean waves. You’ll want to plan your hiking trip for travel from December through April if hiking is on your list – most parks are closed at other times because of the extreme heat.
Maybe your friend group is more interested in entertainment than outdoor activities, or you’re planning to travel in the spring or summer. Las Vegas is the right place for entertainment – jazz clubs, comedy shows, magic acts and extravaganzas like Cirque du Soleil will dazzle even the most jaded audience. Test your luck at the casinos or racetrack. Schedule some spa time for a relaxing makeover. How fun would it be for the group to come home with new hairstyles?
Do you and your friends like to shop? The Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian Resort has over 160 shops and restaurants, ranging from high end retailers like Louis Vuitton to unique boutiques. The Forum at Caesars Palace is another shopping venue not to be missed with its realistic painted ceilings and impressive statues and fountains that will convince you that you’re in Europe. The Fremont Street Downtown Container Park is the place to go if you like art galleries and handcrafted jewelry (also a great location for some tasty street food!)
And speaking of food, if your group is into trying new restaurants you’ll find an infinite variety here. The Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere Hotel not only offers gourmet delicacies like shellfish tower, spring pea ravioli, and hummingbird cake, the views from this rotating restaurant are unmatched. Less expensive options that garner rave reviews are Esther’s Kitchen (Italian) and Main Street Provisions offering comfort food with a modern twist.
Another option for a long weekend trip that will allow you to relax and catch up with each other is a spa vacation. There are fabulous spa retreats all over the country – following are a few that stand out from the crowd.
- Pretend you’ve been magically transported to the French countryside and enjoy a weekend stay at Cal-a-Vie Health Spa in Vista, CA. The beautiful setting and opulent accommodations have attracted a very exclusive clientele, including Michele Obama! Spa packages here are all-inclusive – fitness classes, spa treatments, chef-prepared meals, daily outdoor activities and laundry service are all provided by an experienced staff excelling in customer service. This large 500 acre estate comprises 32 villas recreated (one brick at a time) from 16th century French cottages, which are surrounded by fragrant lavender fields. The on-site vineyard is the source of beauty and health products in the private Vinotherapie Line.
- Mii amo Health Spa is set amidst the spectacular red rock desert landscape of Sedona, AZ. This recently renovated facility focuses on the outdoors with features like a hammock grove, a sensory garden, a yoga lawn and a quiet Crystal Grotto, perfect for meditation and self-reflection. Choose from sessions for self exploration and techniques for emotional release and healing, aromatherapy and detoxification massages, reflexology and myofascial release as well as healthy aging massages are just a few of the spa services offered. Healthy dining options are served in tranquil surroundings, or you can opt to dine in your personal casita. Hiking and biking activities organized in the spa’s Trail House encourage you to explore the surrounding canyons and desert trails.
- In direct contrast to Mii amo’s desert atmosphere, the Lodge at Woodloch Spa is set in the lushly forested Pocono Mountains in Hawley, PA. This adults-only facility encourages harmony with nature, whether you’re hiking nature trails, discovering the area’s wildlife, relaxing in the Aqua Gardens Hydromassage WaterWalls or experiencing a Himalayan Salt Sauna. Studios for yoga, cardio training, aerobics, Pilates, and meditation are all led by certified trainers making your comfort and well-being a priority. The Blackmore Farm and Orchard provide farm-to-table produce for the lodge’s restaurants as well as herbs and flowers used in the spa treatments.
- Lake Austin Spa Resort is located in the beautiful hill country surrounding Austin, TX. Over 100 different spa treatments are offered here from facial elasticity and skin regeneration treatments to intense foot repair, relieving chronic aches in your lower legs and feet. All the body parts in between are tended to as well – how about a lime and ginger exfoliating scrub or a total body hydration wrap? If you can tear yourself away from the spa, the resort also offers many lake activities like paddleboarding and kayaking, fitness and yoga classes, guest speakers and entertainment. The best news yet is that there are special programs and rates for groups! The resort specializes in creating unique programs to suit your group’s preferences and coordinate activities just for you.
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