Where to cool off: Nevada’s best watering holes


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Summer approaching in Southern Nevada means it’s time to find creative ways to cool off. Whether it’s wading in a nearby spring, taking a dip in one of our beautiful lakes or kicking back with a cold beer at a Sagebrush Saloon, many of these watering holes could soon be your favorite.

Sagebrush Saloons

Though there are many exceptional cocktail bars and breweries in Las Vegas, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a drink off the grid. Enter: Sagebrush Saloons. Rich in history, often remote and always an adventure, these taverns are a great way to beat the heat and get in touch with your inner Nevadan.

Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings (41 minutes from Las Vegas): More than 100 years old, Pioneer Saloon is the oldest bar in Southern Nevada, evidenced by the original stamped-tin walls, Clark Gable’s cigarette burns on the bar top and cowboy shoot-out bullet holes throughout. There’s also plenty of paranormal sightings. Try their signature Kentucky Mule and pair it with a Ghost Burger.

Mountain Springs Saloon, Mountain Springs (44 minutes): Bikers and travelers have frequented this saloon since its founding in the 1950s. Situated on Mountain Springs Summit between Pahrump and Blue Diamond, it’s the perfect place for a pit stop when exploring the many parks in the area. Go on the last Saturday of the month for the famous pig roast.

Happy Burro Chili & Beer, Beatty (1 hour, 47 minutes): Named after the wild burros that roam the town, Happy Burro Chili & Beer is a popular hangout of the Beatty Cowboys. Beatty itself was a hotspot for gold mining at the turn of the century, making this saloon a must-see for any history buff, or individuals looking for a cold PBR, chili burger and history.

Other sagebrush saloons within driving distance

Miss Kathy’s Short Branch Saloon, Crystal

The Shamrock Pub, Caliente

The Overland Hotel, Pioche

A little farther out…

Longer than an afternoon’s drive from Las Vegas, put these on your radar for your next big trip:

Santa Fe Motel & Saloon, Goldfield: Home of “Nevada’s meanest bartender”

Dirty Dick’s, Belmont Ghost Town

Red Dog Saloon, Jarbidge

Beat the Heat

Spending time outdoors to escape the heat may seem counterintuitive, but these spots will allow you to enjoy the summer weather and cool off.

Desert Adventures, Boulder City (30 minutes): Offering kayak trips you won’t soon forget, begin at Hoover Dam and then coast down the Black Canyon National Water Trail to hot springs, waterfalls and more. It’s also great for wildlife spotting, including bighorn sheep.

The Retreat on Charleston Peak (45 minutes): Only 39 miles from Las Vegas but a world apart, Mount Charleston is routinely at least 20 degrees cooler than the Valley—a welcome reprieve during the dog days of summer. Hike Mary Jane Falls in the morning and enjoy the afternoon at the lodge’s restaurant and bar.

Laughlin (1 hour, 30 minutes): For an adventure on the Colorado River, including Big Bend of the Colorado State Recreational Area, head to Laughlin to rent jet skis, boats and other on-the-water options.

Worth the trip

Day trips or weekend getaways for when you want to head a bit farther out.

Lake Tahoe: One of the most beautiful and serene lakes in the world, head to Tahoe for every water adventure you can imagine and some cooler mountain temperatures.

Beaver Dam: Beaver Dam State Park is the least-visited state park and possibly one of Nevada’s best kept secrets. Less than four hours from Las Vegas, Beaver Dam is nothing short of magical. Green trees, clean air and a beautiful stream flowing throughout, this site is ideal for camping and rainbow trout fishing. Hike the Waterfall trail to a series of cascades and a warm spring to splash in.

Cave Lake, Ely: With stunning mountain views and crystal-clear water, Cave Lake State Park should be on everyone’s bucket list. Kayak, paddle board and camp in this pristine area. If you don’t make it up this summer, consider it for a winter trip: When the lake freezes over, Ely hosts the Fire and Ice Festival on Cave Lake, turning the area into an interactive ice sculpture stage.

Reno: The Truckee River is a favorite place to float down the stream. Bring an inner tube, beers and prepare to kick off your trip at Mayberry Park and finish in Downtown Reno. It’s about 3 hours start to finish and ends at the Whitewater Park, where you’ll find multiple swimming holes.

Legendary Ice Cream Shops

Stop off at one of these spots for a cone after your next outdoor adventure.

Chilly Jilly’z, Boulder City: Pro Tip: Get the famous Dole Whip

Seemore’s, Pahrump: World’s Tallest Ice Cream Stand

Sugar’s Home Base, Overton

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