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Las Vegas vs. Phoenix: What’s the Difference?

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Do you want to plan a trip to either Las Vegas or Phoenix? Are you looking for things to do that are outside of the normal travel itineraries? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

We will look at Las Vegas vs. Phoenix: What’s the Difference? We will discuss both the differences and similarities between them.

They are both great places to choose for your vacation, or even to live, but you want to know which option will suit you better.

Both options have unique landscapes that hold great options for hiking and traversing. Las Vegas and Phoenix have many food and shopping options for the entire family.

There are many things to do in both cities, and we will try to tackle as much as possible! Let’s start by looking at Las Vegas vs. Phoenix and which one will suit your vacation needs best.

FactorLas VegasPhoenix
Main AttractionsCasinos, entertainment shows, nightlife, The StripDesert Botanical Garden, Heard Museum, Camelback Mountain, Papago Park
ClimateHot and dry, with mild winters and very hot summersHot and dry, with mild winters and very hot summers
Outdoor ActivitiesRed Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, Valley of Fire State ParkHiking, golfing, horseback riding, hot air balloon rides
Food SceneWorld-renowned chefs, celebrity restaurants, buffetsSouthwestern cuisine, Mexican food, farm-to-table restaurants
ShoppingLuxury shopping malls, outlet malls, souvenir shopsBiltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Fashion Square, vintage shops
NightlifeNightclubs, pool parties, bars, loungesBars, lounges, live music venues
Nearby AttractionsGrand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Zion National ParkSedona, Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park
AccommodationLuxurious hotels, themed resorts, budget optionsResorts, vacation rentals, hotels, bed and breakfasts
TransportationTaxis, rideshares, monorail, public busesRental cars, rideshares, public buses, light rail
Family-FriendlyCircus Circus, Discovery Children’s Museum, AdventuredomePhoenix Zoo, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center

Las Vegas

We all know Las Vegas is famous for the party, the nightlife, and the scene. But there are more things to do than just party and gamble all night.

Many activities include hiking, boating, canyon exploration, sightseeing, and just being outside.

The Strip is fun, but Nevada and Las Vegas are home to some beautiful desert landscapes that lead down into the Grand Canyon.

See what Las Vegas offers, and plan a trip that won’t be on anyone else’s itinerary.

1. SlotZilla Zipline

Slotzilla Zip Line experience in Las Vegas
Slotzilla Zip Line Las Vegas / Facebook

Have you ever wanted to go ziplining? How about 11 stories high over the beautiful Fremont strip in old-town Las Vegas?

If you know about Las Vegas in any capacity, you know that Oldtown Fremont is on the top list for things to do in Las Vegas.

There are two ways to fly in the sky through Fremont with the help of SlotZilla. The original zipline costs $39 and starts at 77 feet high. In a seated position, the rider takes off and hurdles down the line, ending halfway through the Fremont Street Experience.

The Zoomline takes things to a whole new level. Starting at $59, the Zoomline takes off at over 10 stories high. Sending them zooming nearly 2,000 feet down the entire length of the Fremont Street Experience.

The best part about this option is the fact that you’re sent down “superhero-style,” meaning it looks and feels like you’re actually flying through the sky. Depending on the rider’s weight, the zip lines can fly up to 40 miles per hour!

If you don’t want to fly through Fremont and the rest of Las Vegas, the city has great ride-share options. Uber, Lyft, taxi drivers, and private car rental companies are great ways to get around the city.

Las Vegas is where you don’t have to wait more than five minutes for your ride to get to you; they’re everywhere! Scan the best flights with Skyscanner for the best deals and rates on flights and hotel bookings.

See Related: Things to Do in Arizona

2. Pole Position Raceway

Pole Position Raceway Go Kart Racing
Pole Position Raceway / Facebook

If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Las Vegas, and still have fun, look no further. How about killing an afternoon on the track?

From novice and the most experienced racers, get your blood pumping and hit the track with their state-of-the-art go-karts. Starting at $18, prices are very reasonable for a fun day on the track!

The 60,000-square-foot facility allows racers to racers to delve into racing on a real European-style track.

The track was built by professional race car drivers, so every corner and turn was carefully thought of.

The go-karts are the most impressive part of the whole racing experience. With almost 20 horsepower, these fully electric go-karts are capable of speeds close to 50 miles per hour. This is very powerful for a full indoor course; fully electric means no exhaust emissions.

The setup is the same as a real racing scenario, you will be timed with each lap, and a screen will show your position against your fellow racers. On the track, you will find straightaways, hairpin turns, and other unique track features.

As we all know, Las Vegas is home to some of the biggest and brightest hotels. Make sure you’re getting the best deals when booking dates.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Zion National Park

3. Lake Mead

Sunset view in Lake Mead
AnnBoulais / Pixabay

If you’re ever wondering what the difference is between Las Vegas and Phoenix’s climate, they are very similar! Phoenix does have an average of five degrees hotter each year, as well as higher humidity. If you like warm weather, either choice of city will be a great option for you.

When you’re looking for a fun adventure during the summer months, head to Lake Mead, just east of Las Vegas, to cool off!

It is important to keep a close eye on children on Lake Mead as there are no lifeguards on duty. Lifejackets and flotation devices are always recommended while in the water.

There are beautiful blue waters that are surrounded by canyons and coves. Swimming, boating, hiking, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are all very popular on Lake Mead.

With over 750 miles of shoreline, Lake Mead has outdoor adventure opportunities for anyone and everyone who wants it! This is a very popular option for outdoor things to do in Las Vegas.

If you’re looking for more great adventures in your hunt for Las Vegas vs. Phoenix, visit GetYourGuide for some of the most adventurous activities both cities offer.

See Related: Can You Pay Cash for Hotels?

4. Kid-Friendly Activities

Now, we all know Las Vegas can’t only be for adults. There have to be adventures for the little ones, too, right? Correct! I have also compiled a few items on a list, and children of all ages are welcome in Las Vegas.

Here is a list of family-friendly things to do in Las Vegas with kids.

  • DISCOVERY Children’s Museum

Take a day out of the sun and step inside a kid’s wonderland.

With brain-buzzing activities for all ages, this massive museum is home to some of the best learning experiences offered to children.

With nine different exhibits at all times, there is never a shortage of learning.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Las Vegas?

  • Gondola Ride at the Venetian

Take your kids on a ride of a lifetime they’ll never forget (without the expenses of an actual trip to Europe).

Ride in the man-made canals through the Venetian Hotel and along with the Grand Canal Shoppes, while your gondolier sings in Italian.

  • Madame Tussauds

See all your kid’s favorite celebrities and characters at the world-famous wax museum! Find all sorts of big names in the real-life-like form.

  • Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

For the superhero fans of the family, make sure to check out the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N., which is an interactive experience that brings to life the Marvel Universe right in front of your own eyes.

Find everything from the Avengers gear to full uniform exhibits.

You can have a chance to participate in the recruitment process and training exercises to become an S.T.A.T.I.O.N. agent.

  • Vegas Indoor Skydiving

As long as your child is over 40 pounds, they can definitely experience an indoor skydiving experience that they will surely never forget. Catch some serious flight time at the vertical wind tunnel at Vegas Indoor Skydiving.

Plus, Vegas is home to plenty of great restaurants, so after a day of exploring, grab one of these best desserts in Las Vegas.

See Related: Best Road Trips With Kids

5. Historical Sights of Las Vegas

Petroglyph Art
Norm_Bosworth / Pixabay
  • The Mob Museum

Learn how the mob took the rise of the gambling institutions in early Las Vegas and how law enforcement responded to its presence.

  • The Neon Museum

Take a guided tour of the vintage signage and famous landmark signs in Las Vegas from the 1930s until today.

This incredible fossil bed is home to Ice Age paleontological discoveries established in 2014 to protect the entire area.

The massive 23,000-acre monument is home to prehistoric fossils of mammoths, lions, and camels.

There is even a place to dig for your fossils!

  • Petroglyphs and Rock Art

Nevada and Las Vegas are home to some amazing petroglyphs and rock art from early Native people that had lived there originally.

There are at least eight different known public sights, most of which are easily accessible by trail.

Some have been better preserved than others, and some are still completely unknown to the general public.

See Related: 8 Minimalist Accessories for Traveling Light

Phoenix

Sunset view in Arizona, USA
joaopfrancisco / Pixabay

Are you still wondering about Las Vegas vs. Phoenix and which would suit your vacation or living needs better? Let’s look at what Phoenix has to offer compared to what Las Vegas has to offer!

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona, known for its year-round bright sunshine and warm weather. The sprawling metropolis is known as the Valley of Sun. With many things to do due to its always-sunny nature, Phoenix has no shortage of fun.

The cost of living in Phoenix vs. Las Vegas is about seven percent cheaper overall than in Las Vegas.

From the nightlife in the city to the bright green golf courses to the expansive desert landscape, I could never forget the food. The food of the Southwest is something indescribable, beyond tasty.

There is something fun for everyone and every age group in Phoenix. Let’s see how the capital city matches up in the Phoenix vs. Las Vegas showdown.

1. Desert Botanical Garden

Cacti succulents plant
Alexas_Fotos / Pixabay

Do you want to get out and enjoy that beautiful southwestern sun with the family? What about things to do with dogs in Phoenix? Look no further than the Desert Botanical Garden. They do have it all.

Come to the Desert Botanical Gardens for Dog Days. Take a morning stroll through the gardens and let your dogs explore the natural beauty of all the different types of flowers and cacti. Make sure you don’t let their noses get too close!

Do you want to enjoy music with that special someone on a romantic date? Check out the Music in the Garden Concert Series. Listen to live music, and while you’re grooving, take in some of the sunset views the desert has to offer.

Check out Flashlight Nights, where you can bring flashlights and walk the trails to shine on night-blooming desert plants, as well as little animals that run around during the nighttime.

This beautifully landscaped desert getaway is home to some of the most unique and beautiful plants in all of the United States and some plants that thrive in some of the hottest and driest parts of the world.

Make sure to download their trail map from their website, as there are many hiking trails. This garden offers a unique perspective on how desert flowers flourish in their harsh climates. This is at the top of the list of things to do in Phoenix with kids.

They will love the bright, blooming colors, beautiful cacti species, spacious trails, and the learning activities of the Desert Botanical Garden.

See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Options

2. Hiking

Canyon with Cactus plants in Arizona

If you’re one of those people who don’t like to sit around all day on vacation, you’ll love Phoenix. Phoenix, another huge metropolis, makes it very easy to get around town. Rideshare apps, taxis, and private car rental companies have made it a breeze to navigate the big city.

But if you don’t want to get around the city by car and want to take your travels into your own hands, Phoenix is home to some of the best southwest hiking in the United States!

Phoenix is home to a massive amount of trails for all skill levels. There are over 200 documented trails in the city alone.

Make sure to use SafetyWing the trusted traveler’s insurance company. This company ensures you have all the coverage you need before taking that next big hiking adventure.

If you’re looking for things to do in Phoenix, you don’t have to look any further. Although I can’t list over 200 trails, I will name a variety of them to cover all different skill levels.

Easy

  • Hole in the Rock Trail
  • Pima Wash Trail
  • Warpaint Loop
  • Papago Buttes
  • Charles M Christiansen Northern Loop

Moderate

  • Holbert Trail to Dobbins Lookout
  • Telegraph Pass Trail
  • Freedom Trail
  • Dreamy Draw Loop Trail
  • Pyramid Trail

Hard

  • Lost Ranch Ruins Trail to Lost Ranch Mines Trail Loop
  • Corona de Loma Trail
  • Alta Trail
  • Piestewa Peak Circumference and Summit
  • Bees Knees National Trail Loop

All of these trails are located in and around the Phoenix area, and most are easily accessible! Always be prepared in the desert climate while hiking, and even casually walk one of the easier trails.

Heatstroke and exhaustion are real and are not to be taken lightly. Make sure to bring more than enough water, especially depending on the length of the hike.

The harder and steeper the hike is, the more water should be considered. Always hike with a first aid kit, and better to hike with at least one other person, if not more.

Some animals can harm you in the desert, so always keep that in your head! After a long hike, ensure you have a place to rest your head and book a stay with Vrbo.

3. Phoenix Zoo

Face of an Owl
Pavellllllll / Pixabay

The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the entire United States. They care for over 3,000 animals, with almost 400 species encapsulated throughout the zoo, many of which are threatened or on the endangered species list.

With over eight exhibits at all times and four different water areas and playgrounds, there is fun for the entire family.

There are even talks each day for a half-hour with conservation scientists for an inside perspective on how the Arizona Center for Nature Conservation and the Phoenix Zoo works around the clock to save animals in Arizona and the rest of the world.

Don’t forget to check out Going.com (Formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) to score huge deals on flights around the United States and beyond.

See Related: 15 Best Travel Lenses

4. Kid-Friendly Activities

Empty Playground
apriljlamb apriljlamb / Pixabay

Phoenix may not be known as one of the most kid-friendly vacation spots in the country compared to Yellowstone or something like that. But that doesn’t mean Phoenix doesn’t have all sorts of family fun!

There are plenty of options for kid-friendly activities. Here is a list of some top adventures for the little ones to tag along.

  • Arizona Science Center

Located in the heart of Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center is a haven for all things educational and family-friendly. They have a staggering 300 different hands-on, interactive exhibits that will hold your child’s attention for hours and give them an educational learning experience.

Check out the 5-story IMAX theater as well as their planetarium! Ages six and up will be mesmerized by all the wonders there are to learn about the world.

  • Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Not only is this option fun for the kids, but it is also fun for adults! With a number of different attractions and water slides, this is a must-try for things to do in Phoenix with the entire family.

Hit their main attraction, Maximum Velocity, a unique coaster ride where you race in a pair of water tubes down a slide of tracks with nearly 1,000 feet of curves and drops. There are smaller kid-themed play areas and plenty of in-between attractions!

  • OdySea Aquarium

This is by far one of the best kid-friendly activities in Phoenix. But again, this can be fun for the entire family. This massive 2-million-gallon aquarium is home to some of the ocean’s largest predators and other beautiful species of aquatic life.

Spend hours learning about the underwater habitats and the species that live in them. Hit the sea carousel and become submerged in their underwater escalator!

  • Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Spark your child’s curiosity and engage their minds while visiting the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Imaginative play and journeys are encouraged throughout the museum with interactive exhibits and hands-on learning that lets your child’s mind wander and be free of wonder. This is also a great option for wheelchair-accessible things to do in Phoenix.

Before the long flight home, check out Priority Pass to ensure your flight home and wait time in the airport is as comfortable as possible.

See Related: Best Hotels in Page, Arizona

5. Historical Sights of Phoenix

Sunset view in Phoenix, Arizona
City of Phoenix, AZ USA / Facebook
  • Taliesin West

This was the Arizona home of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A true masterpiece for a truly talented artist.

  • Pioneer Living History Museum

Many people don’t know, but Phoenix was a part of the Wild West before the turn of the century. This 90-acre plot is home to some of the original houses and buildings as well as a few reconstructed structures as well.

Gain a real sense of what it was like to live back in 1863-1912.

  • Pueblo Grande Museum

Native American tribes were living in Phoenix long before the 1800s. Learn their stories at the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park.

View ancient artifacts and art and also tour the 1,500-year-old Hohokam village still excavating.

See Related: Day Trips from Phoenix

Recap

Each city has its unique things to offer. Las Vegas has a lot more to offer than just the strip, as many people go there to vacation on the strip. Specifically, many other places in Las Vegas are left alone and untouched by the typical vacationer.

Phoenix is a beautiful city with much to offer, more than just cacti and desert! Both towns have wonderful food options, along with a multitude of outdoor and family-friendly activities.

Whether you are looking to stay in either city for a week on vacation or are thinking of moving to either city, I hope this article has helped aid your decision on which city to choose.

Both are great options with a lot of potential to offer.

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