Every word association tells us that when the state of Nevada is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is Las Vegas. Gambling and all-night parties might be evocative of the same 21-esque vacation that comes around once in a lifetime, but this only takes away from everything else Nevada is known for. One city in the middle of the desert does not make a state great (although Vegas is pretty exceptional) but it's everything from its natural wonders to its other once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that make it a bucket list destination.

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And considering what Vegas, alone, holds for newcomers, can you imagine what exists just outside of the city limits for those ready to take on an adventure? This state is practically a one-stop-shop for thrill-seekers and while it might start with Vegas, the fun never needs to end when you're open to experiencing more than slot machines and gondolas.

The Grand Canyon

Most people who visit Vegas forget that the Grand Canyon is only a three-hour drive away, and visitors who didn't bring their own cars can take a shuttle bus. This three-hour ride will get them to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and if the urge is there to explore more of this incredible world wonder, the South Rim is an additional two hours away. To make this an even more luxe day, visitors can opt to do a helicopter tour or Colorado River boat trip to see it from a unique perspective.

Live Like A NASCAR Driver For A Day

Both Exotics Racing and the Richard Petty Driving Experience offer opportunities like no other. For those who are eager to try their hand at a NASCAR-style race, the Richard Petty Driving Experience allows guests to ride with pro drivers (or become drivers, themselves) as they hit speeds of 140 MPH around the Las Vegas Speedway. Exotics Racing adds a little decadence to the deal, allowing drivers to get behind the wheel of cars most could only ever dream of owning.

Experience The Wonder That Is The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is an incredible feat of modern engineering but it's also one that's forgotten about, despite the fact that it's only a few miles outside of bustling Vegas. Visitors can tour the facility easily with guided tours that are offered often, giving them an up-close look at this dramatic waterway structure.

Head Indoors To Try Out Skydiving

Not everyone is keen on throwing themselves out of a plane which is why indoor skydiving is a great alternative. At Vegas Indoor Skydiving, the excitement is there without the actual fear as guests make the jump and are greeted with a powerful fan that keeps them floating in midair. This is also an all-ages activity, so it's great for thrill-seeking families, as well.

Learn About Atomic History At This One-Of-Its-Kind Museum

Who says that visiting Nevada can't be educational? You'll want to set aside time to explore this museum; the National Atomic Testing Museum goes back seven decades to educate visitors on the nuclear testing done by the military. Each exhibit is interactive and engaging, and visitors will even have a chance to explore a replica control room.

Earn A CSI Diploma For Solving Crimes

If you've ever wanted to be a forensic scientist for a day (or just can't stop watching those true crime documentaries) then CSI: The Experience is the place for you. Jump into the shoes of a crime scene investigator with the professionals as you go over a crime scene and process evidence, with a CSI diploma as the reward for solving the case. Guests even get to analyze real (artificially duplicated) evidence to gather as many clues as possible.

Hunt For Gold At This Wild West Mine

Nevada is also home to what was once considered to be the Wild West and while it's been immortalized in film and literature, exploring it in person is a whole new experience entirely. At the Eldorado Canyon, visitors can make their way through ghost towns, explore the history of this western wilderness, and try their hand at gold panning. These abandoned mines might be creepy but finding that one gold nugget will make all the spooks worth it.

Learn What All The Fuss Over Death Valley Is About

Death Valley might have a name that's menacing and ominous but it's also one of the most fascinating geological locations in the world. It's also the point of lowest elevation on the continent, and visitors can explore its incredible landscape. There are several points of interest in this massive desert and if you don't know where to start, consider going on a guided tour.

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