Five ways to jazz up your weekends

After a long week at the Health District, many of us may have a standard routine — clean house, do laundry, buy groceries — but that’s no fun. Why not add a new and exciting activity with friends or family and make cherished memories? Try one of these possibilities on a weekend in the near future:

Play Tourist

The Strip is ever changing. Have you seen all the newest shops and venues? A few hours exploring Las Vegas Boulevard through the eyes of a visitor can really feel like a vacation. Start at one end and walk down to the other end and back. Stop to take a cheesy photo in front of every major landmark. Cool down in an air-conditioned casino, win a few bucks on your favorite slot, and have a meal or snack. Imagine you’re in another county while visiting one of the internationally inspired resorts. Ride the High Roller or visit the top of the Eiffel Tower for a top-down view of our great city.

If the parking fees have dissuaded you from visiting the Strip in recent months, don’t shy away, as free parking is still offered at Stratosphere, SLS, Circus Circus, Fashion Show, Treasure Island, The Venetian and Palazzo, Miracle Mile Shops, and Tropicana. Parking elsewhere is often free for the first hour.

See a Show

We’re not known as the Entertainment Capital of the World for nothing. At any hour of every day in every corner of the Valley, there’s some form of live entertainment going on. The Strip is known for its over-the-top Cirque du Soleil productions and superstar residencies, and both The Strip and Downtown alike have numerous comedians, magicians, and hypnotists. For a local, ticket prices may be much higher than one would wish to pay. That’s where discounters like Tix4Tonight and Groupon come in, offering as much as 50 percent off.

When The Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2012, it made grand touring productions of Broadway plays and musicals a staple of the entertainment scene. But even before then, live theater was alive and well thanks to the work of local performers at Las Vegas Little Theatre, Super Summer Theatre, Cockroach Theatre, and many others. These smaller productions are quite affordable, and your attendance supports your neighbors who work hard at their craft.

If acrobatics and musicals aren’t your thing, live music can be found all over, from casino lounges to sold-out arenas. Major acts regularly bring their tours through Vegas to venues at Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand, among others. For a more intimate experience, enjoy live bands at places like Bunkhouse Saloon and The Sand Dollar Lounge. Even Fremont Street offers free concerts many weekends (Billy Ray Cyrus and The Cult are both coming in July).

Visit a Museum

Las Vegas has museums? Yes we do — tons of them, actually. Go back in time at the Mob Museum, National Atomic Testing Museum, Neon Museum, or Nevada State Museum. Have a hauntingly good time at the recently opened Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum on East Charleston Boulevard. The 30-acre Clark County Museum in Henderson is cataloging items left at the 1 October memorials at the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. If you’re a Bank of America customer, admission to the Discovery Children’s Museum, Las Vegas Natural History Museum, and Springs Preserve is free on the first full weekend of each month. This is only about half of the museums our area has to offer, so why not view some amazing artifacts on your day off?

Attend a Festival

When you hear “festival,” do you think of Electric Daisy Carnival or San Gennaro? Whether it’s music or food, we have reasons to celebrate year-round. Musically, you could enjoy the Exodus Festival, Las Vegas Bluegrass Festival, Las Vegas Elvis Festival (of course that’s a thing), Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival, or Reggae in the Desert. For delicious eats, try the Ice Cream Festival, Grapes & Hops Festival, Greek Food Festival, Vegas Uncork’d, or Vegas VegFest. For both music and food plus amazing art, Life is Beautiful is uber-popular. Start your engines for Las Vegas BikeFest, dress in period attire for the Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival, or enjoy Hawaiian culture at the Pure Aloha Festival and Ho’olaule’a Pacific Islands Festival. The Matinee Las Vegas Festival and Las Vegas PRIDE festival are popular with our LGBTQ and allied community. If you like it, there’s likely a festival for it.

Enjoy Nature

We don’t live in the greenest of environments with the mildest of temperatures, but Nevada offers beautiful outdoor areas to explore. Without leaving town, you could visit Springs Preserve or Clark County Wetlands Park to walk or bike the miles of trails that meander through natural environments. Or, download the Health District’s Neon to Nature app to discover trails all across the Valley. These trails are also detailed on posters in each conference room throughout our main Health District facility.

If you wish to venture outside the city a bit, Red Rock Canyon offers a 13-mile scenic drive, 26 numbered hikes and trails, camping opportunities, and plenty of places to observe geology and wildlife. Admission to this natural park is just $15 per car per day, with free admission on certain holidays and other occasions. For beautiful greenery, visit Mount Charleston to our west. It’s considerably cooler than in the city and is a stunning place to hike and camp, with tasty dining options available at The Resort on Mount Charleston and the Mount Charleston Lodge. Winter is an especially wonderful time to visit the area, with skiing and snowboarding available in Lee Canyon — just be sure to put chains on your tires first!

Southeast of Las Vegas, the Lake Mead Recreation Area offers the perfect place to go boating, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, hunting, picnicking, and swimming. Scenic photography opportunities are abundant, especially in early morning or early evening when the shadows and contrasts are more pronounced. As with all outdoor activities, be sure to wear sunscreen. The water can amplify its effects.

With all these abundant options close by, why would you ever stay home on weekends?