Recently, my family and I were on vacation in Las Vegas. We've seen quite a few of the decadent sights Sin City has to offer, so decided to visit some of the region's more wholesome venues. We also took advantage of unseasonally low temperatures in the 90s to explore outdoors.

First up was Hoover Dam. About an hour east of the Las Vegas Strip, depending on traffic, this national landmark is easily a day trip. The dam, built in 1931-36, is a sight to see, and, if you're like us, inspires an entire day's worth of dam jokes:

  • Everyone in the dam elevator!
  • Fine, we'll take the dam stairs.
  • We sat through the dam movie.
  • Yes, I do want to take the dam tour.

You get the idea.

The full dam tour was not available the day we visited, but we took the powerplant tour, which began with a short film detailing the construction. Then we packed into an elevator that took us deep into the lower levels of the dam to see the giant generators and pipes that move the water and create electricity for much of the southwestern United States. After the tour, we were free to wander the top of the dam and the visitor center.

If you're uncomfortable in high places, there are indoor observation areas from which to see the sights safely behind glass. If vertigo is not a problem, you can get some great shots by leaning over the railing outside and taking some photos looking straight down all 726 feet of the dam's height.

Coming up: We check out Death Valley and the Grand Canyon.