Many of my regular readers know that before I made the leap to London, Las Vegas was my home. As my four-year anniversary in the UK capital approaches, it dawned on me that I’ve never really talked much about my time in that very special part of America.
Las Vegas, with all its glitter and glamour, sits at the epicenter of the American Southwest, a fascinating destination that a lot of tourists overlook. Rich cultural heritage, to-die-for food, jaw-dropping scenery – you name it, the Southwest’s got it. Still not convinced? Let me show you why the American Southwest should be on your travel bucket list.
Ok, while I admit that Las Vegas may not be the cultural capital America, there are plenty of other cities and towns around the Southwest where culture vultures can get their fix. A personal favorite of mine is Santa Fe, which I made a point of visiting one last time before moving to London. Founded all the way back in 1610, Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the US, and boasts tons of beautiful historic architecture. The New Mexico Museum of Art is also worth of visit if you’re a fan of the famous painter of Southwestern landscapes, Georgia O’Keeffe.
Whether you prefer burgers, BBQ, or Mexican food, I guarantee that you will not go hungry in this corner of America. Great food is available everywhere you turn, and foodies need look no further than Sin City for good eats. That’s right, Las Vegas offers a lot more than buffets these days. Excellent and affordable restaurants and cafes line the famous Las Vegas Boulevard, meaning you won’t have to travel far to fill your stomach.
Two words: Grand Canyon. It sounds cliché, but you have to see it in person to really appreciate it. If you’re visiting Vegas, I recommend taking a day trip out to the South Rim at the very least. The views are nothing short of amazing and if you really want unbeatable views, splurge on a helicopter ride above the canyon.
A little closer to Vegas, Zion National Park is also great if you’re looking for a change of scenery. A 15-mile long canyon runs through the park, which is famous for its wildlife, hiking trails, and unique rock formations.
From conquistadors and cowboys, to mobsters and Route 66, the American Southwest has the history buff in you covered. If it’s classic Americana you’re after, I recommend stopping in Seligman, Arizona. About halfway between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Seligman is the birthplace of Route 66 and looks like its been frozen in the 1940s. Another historical gem worth visiting is Tombstone, Arizona. The famous Wild West town was the site of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral and much of its old historical center is still standing today.
Easier than You Think
For my UK and European readers, visiting this part of the US is easier than you might think. Direct flights are available from London and Frankfurt to Las Vegas. From there you can rent a car or take guided tours of the Southwest’s major highlights. If you want to beat the heat I recommend visiting from October to May, just remember to check the weather ahead of your trip and pack accordingly.