When picturing Las Vegas, you probably see shimmering lights, felt-covered poker tables and the ecstatic sound of slot machines. Located on the edge of the vast Mojave Desert, this uniquely American destination is constantly reinventing itself with every passing day, which makes it an ideal holiday spot for virtually every type of traveller. To help you get the most from your next trip to Vegas, here are seven attractions in and around the city that you will not want to miss.

The Neon Museum

Since 1996, this magical outdoor art gallery has collected hundreds of old and discarded neon signs from the Las Vegas strip and displayed them for visitors on a 2-acre plot of land. With so much colourful history available to see, it is no wonder that the Neon Museum is one of the city's top Instagram spots. Though new signs are constantly being acquired and refurbished, many date back to the glory days of the 1950s, when Vegas icons like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were the entertainment headlines at the casinos.

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Red Rock Canyon

This stunning nature reserve is just a 15-mile drive west of Las Vegas and is the perfect place to experience all the scenic beauty that Nevada has to offer. Red Rock Canyon features 26 clearly marked hiking trails, indoor and outdoor conservation exhibits and a plethora of majestic wildlife and desert flora to view. There is even a picturesque waterfall, so bring your camera along with your sunscreen and bottled water. A variety of educational programmes are held each month, including a popular "Bats in Our Belfry" presentation in which rangers take visitors on a bat sightseeing tour of the canyon.

The Mob Museum

Because the birth of Las Vegas is intricately connected with organised crime, this fascinating museum is a must-visit for anyone who wants to understand how a dry Nevada desert became a worldwide symbol of glitz and glamour. Filled with amazing artefacts, vintage photos and life-size recreations of some of the city's most infamous residents, the Mob Museum focuses on both the gangsters who built Las Vegas and the law enforcement heroes who pursued them. A rotating collection of exhibits brings the town's colourful history to life in a way that no film or book could ever hope to duplicate.

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The Hoover Dam

A monument to man's industrial spirit and a marvel of American engineering, the spectacular Hoover Dam is located less than an hour's drive from Las Vegas—and it is a truly unforgettable sight to behold. Tours of the 726-foot-tall dam are highly encouraged and will fascinate young and old alike. While you are in the area, why not spend some time cruising the beautiful waters of nearby Lake Mead, which was created by the dam itself. Boat tours are available all week long from several locations around the lake, so advance reservations are not necessary.

Dig This Las Vegas

Are you visiting Las Vegas with children? If so, then this one-of-a-kind experience should definitely be on your travel itinerary. Dig This Las Vegas lets you and your kids drive and safely operate heavy duty construction equipment such as bulldozers and excavators on a massive outdoor playground in the heart of the city. Anyone who grew up with toy tractors and plastic earth-moving machines can now climb behind the wheel and try them for real. With the help of trained instructors, children as young as 8 years old can make their dreams of operating a genuine Caterpillar D5 bulldozer come true at this hands-on attraction site.

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Spring Mountain Ranch

This Nevada state park is a relatively short drive from downtown Las Vegas and will instantly transport you back to the region's historic past. The perfectly preserved Old West-style ranch is an excellent place for an afternoon picnic when you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the casinos. Thanks to the lush green surroundings and man-made lake, the temperature at Spring Mountain is noticeably cooler than you might expect of the hot Nevada climate. Explore further as gentle hiking trails allow you to stretch your legs in comfort while you navigate some of the loveliest scenery in the entire state.

Lotus of Siam

Widely considered to be one of the best Thai restaurants in the United States, Lotus of Siam earned its prestigious James Beard Award the hard way by serving incredibly delicious Northern Thai dishes every day for the past 19 years. Owner and head chef Saipin Chutima recently opened a second location in Las Vegas, which means you will have no trouble making reservations while you are in town. Considering that top foodie magazines like Gourmet, Saveur and Bon Appétit have praised this restaurant's incredible dishes for almost two decades, you would be wise to book a table in advance. Try their crispy rice salad with house-made pork sausage for a flavour that will make your taste buds sing.

Getting there

When you are ready to experience the fun and excitement of Las Vegas, book your flight at united.com or by using the convenient United app and share your story on social media with the #UnitedJourney hashtag.