Despite being the second biggest city in Nevada, Henderson exists quietly behind the shadows of nearby Las Vegas. But being next to such a juggernaut has not diminished Henderson. In fact, quite the opposite.
The town has slowly developed a wide range of tourist attractions and an easygoing culture that will appeal to many travelers. The city has all the fun of Vegas, but without the chaos, thanks to its several beautiful resorts and casinos. Without the madness, it’s a family friendly destination with plenty of things to do in Henderson that will appeal to the kids such as water parks and a lion sanctuary.
Outdoor adventurers will also be kept busy by the number of protected lands. Without having to venture far, you can explore soaring canyons and glistening lakes.
12. Ethel M Chocolate Factory
There are many reasons to pay a visit to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. Of course, all sweet tooths will want to explore the factory and try their amazing creations. But the surrounding cactus garden is a surprising highlight.
Ethel M offers the best chocolate experience in town. Embark on a self-guided tour of the factory that will end with a tasting of their premium chocolate paired with some delightful wine. The best part? The tour is free!
Afterwards, take a stroll through the beautiful cacti garden. The vast collection is one of the best in Nevada and adds a fascinating layer to what is otherwise a traditional English garden.
11. Emerald Island Casino
In the heart of Henderson is the Emerald Island Casino. Away from the Vegas Strip and the several extravagant resorts in town, the Emerald presents a welcoming local vibe. It’s the best little casino in town where you can enjoy a carnival-like experience with no over-the-top dramatics.
Those enjoying some light gambling can make the most of the delicious free snacks and mixed drinks that are actually the same as what you’d get from a bar. The Emerald Casino is also home to the only 24-hour restaurant in Henderson, meaning it’s the perfect place to go for a late night meal.
10. The District at Green Valley Ranch
A short drive from downtown Henderson, the District at Green Valley Ranch is an eclectic mix of shopping, entertainment and nightlife. By day, the District is a beautiful maze of boutiques and brand name stores.
It’s the place to go to indulge in some retail therapy with ample eateries to fuel up for the afternoon session. Young kids can join the daily Stroller Strides program or enjoy the Outdoor Picture Show. The District also hosts a fun weekly farmers market.
As the sun falls, the District becomes even more vibrant with restaurants filled with patrons while others make a beeline for the casino within the Green Valley Ranch Resort.
9. Lake Las Vegas
A more local version of the Hoover Dam, Lake Las Vegas, is the premier spot for watersports in and around Henderson. The area only got traction in the 1990s and quickly the shoreline of the lake became laden with elegant summer homes and luxury resorts.
Locals and travelers alike make use of the large lake for waterskiing and wakeboarding along with kayaking while sailing is top dog. You’ll be able to rent kayaks and SUPs within Henderson to make the most of the experience. Along the lake are several artificial beaches where you can lie back and enjoy the warm Nevada sun.
8. Sunset Station Casino
Henderson’s opulent palace, otherwise known as Sunset Station Casino, is a great place to stay on your visit. But even those who aren’t checking in should check out perhaps the most fabulous building in town. Travelers can enjoy a taste of the Vegas Strip without leaving Henderson.
Sunset Station Hotel has a sprawling casino floor packed with poker and blackjack tables, slot machines, roulette and craps. But it’s the range of restaurants and nightly entertainment that will provide you with a well-rounded experience. Wine and dine at Pusta Cucina or the Oyster Bar before settling in for a night of live music on the Sunset Station stage.
7. Cowabunga Bay Water Park
Henderson has great year-round weather (if you can ignore the often scorching summers). This leaves travelers, and especially families, with plenty of opportunities to check out the Cowabunga Bay Water Park. It’s one of two in the United States and features an array of exciting (and refreshing) action.
You’ll find the park at the northern end of town. As you approach, the wild mix of colorful water slides come into view and so do the butterflies and nervous energy. Once you’re inside, you’ll have a range of choices from the surging water slides and thrilling wave pools to lazy rivers and swim pools. To get the heart racing, check out Point Panic slide and the Surf-A-Go-Go, a crazy mix of surfing and a water slide.
6. Las Vegas Distillery
There’s no shortage of places to enjoy a beverage around Henderson. This is why the Las Vegas Distillery is so noteworthy. The family-owned and run artisan distillery was the first distillery in the entire state. It’s a small-batch grain-to-bottle distillery that produces exceptional bourbons, gins, rums and vodka along with a splash of moonshine.
Stepping into the distillery is like experiencing a part of local history firsthand. Guests can embark on a guided tour and tasting that lasts for just shy of an hour. You’ll learn all about the process from start to finish, including the family’s famed attention to detail. Afterwards, try some samples and even purchase a bottle to take home.
5. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Henderson is so close to the bright lights and hedonism of Sin City that you’d be forgiven for thinking there would be few nature spaces. But the sprawling desert ridges that fringe upon the town feature their own intriguing nature. In fact, for those that like to hike, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy within the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.
Similar to the nearby Red Rock Canyon, Sloan Canyon has all the spectacular geography to keep you on your toes. These include the rugged ochre rocks strewn with petroglyphs and towering ridges that drop steeply down to a vast gorge.
The gorge itself has earned the nickname the Sistine Chapel of Nevada thanks to its array of ancient rock art. Take the Dutchman Pass trail to see the best of them.
4. Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
On East Galleria Drive, the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve is the perfect opportunity to experience local bird life. The preserve has become a prominent stop for migratory birds, leading to a wide and varied number of species.
The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve comes with a mix of marshland strewn around the preserve’s nine ponds. The water is a major attraction for migrating birds and the several trails will provide you with an excellent viewpoint to admire the local nature.
Each season brings the winds of change, providing you with a unique experience each time you visit. So bring along your binoculars and, as always, refrain from feeding the birds,
3. M Resort Casino
Henderson may exist in the shadows of the behemoth, otherwise known as Las Vegas. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to try your hand at the poker table while in town. If you’re ready to put on your best poker face, set yourself up for a night at the M Resort Casino.
The beguiling building of endless metal and glass will pique your interest alongside the nearby Sloan Canyon. But it’s inside that will really capture your attention. The sprawling complex has everything you’d expect of an upscale casino, from rows of slot machines to screams of joy and sadness at the roulette table.
Guests can also indulge in some fine cuisine at the multiple on-site restaurants and bars or stick around for a night in the plush hotel rooms.
2. Clark County Heritage Museum
To learn more about the world in and around Henderson, pay a visit to the Clark County Heritage Museum. The county is the southernmost in Nevada and comprises the rich history of Native Americans and the many tales of the westward expansion.
The museum has several sections broken up into eras and themes. One of the highlights of the experience is the numerous Native American artifacts that take you on a journey through time. The most famous town in Clark County, and indeed all of Nevada, is Las Vegas. Fittingly, the Heritage Museum has several gaming machines, including a Dewey slot machine front way back in 1898. Guests will also be able to see historic cars and a reconstruction of the Boulder City train depot.
1. Lion Habitat Ranch
A short walk from the M Resort Casino, the Lion Habitat Ranch offers travelers a unique opportunity. Today, the large ranch is the home of around 50 lions. A number that continues to grow thanks to the adorable cubs that add to the herd. Lucky visitors will have the chance to feed them.
For more than a quarter of a century, the goal of the Lion Habitat Ranch has been to educate the community about this amazing species. Much of its time is also spent supporting Conservation International, which helps lions in Kenya. Many of the lions on-site have been rescued from unfortunate situations and are now able to enjoy an authentic habitat in safety.
Guests can embark on tours of the facility and learn not just about the lions but about the wonderful work by the ranch. The feeding program involves lions and also giraffes, giving you a rare opportunity to interact with these spectacular animals.