A Good-for-You Las Vegas Vacation (Yes, it’s Possible!)
Las Vegas isn't widely known as the sort of place you go to keep New Year's resolutions. But in fairness, there is a flip side to the anything goes vibe: For every bottomless buffet, 24-hour casino and club crawl, you'll find a spa (more than 45 on The Strip alone), hiking trail (whether paved or red rock) or yoga class (some of them 550 feet off the ground, see above).
And now is an ideal time to experience the city's alter-ego: 60-degree days + thinned-out crowds = prime hiking conditions and wallet-friendly room rates.
Check in to a health-boosting room
Stop one was the private check-in lounge of the Stay Well section of the MGM Grand Las Vegas, where the spa water, nutritious snacks and aromatherapy-infused air set the stage for the rooms to come: Think plant-based, pressure-relieving memory foam mattresses topped with hydrating, antimicrobial linens; a lighting system that includes everything from a dawn simulator to a jet lag fighter; a chlorine-reducing shower infuser for softer skin and hair; a private app's worth of wellness content (the guided meditations by Deepak Chopra are magic); and custom-scented, purified air (Matt and Melissa's choice: Energize, an all-natural blend of citrus, lavender and peppermint). You can also find Stay Well Rooms at the Park MGM and the Mirage Hotel and Casino.
Bliss out at a spa
But not just any spa. One of the world's biggest (134,000 square feet) and most beloved day spas -- Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian sits on The Strip. "We felt so pampered here from the moment we walked in," says Melissa, whose favorite spot -- beyond the treatment table where she got the intensely hydrating and glow-giving 24K Facial -- was the Wave Room (below). "Waves are projected onto the ceiling above you -- and ambient sound piped in around you -- inducing a kind of dream-state before or after your treatment."
For his part, Matt went with the Ashiatsu Massage, if only to see what happens (spoiler alert: total bliss) when a therapist uses overhead bars for balance as she uses her feet to ply the length of your body. Other -- forgive us -- standouts at the spa include the meditation pod, the crystal steam room and the "Experiential Rains" (showers that simulate everything from a cool fog to a Caribbean downpour).
If you don't want to limit yourself to one spa -- and in this land of plenty, why should you? -- a few other favorites to keep in mind: the mosaic-tiled hammam at the Forbes five-star Mandarin Oriental Spa, the Watsu (in which you're gently stretched and swirled around a warm pool) at Spa Bellagio and the chakra balancing at the Spa at Encore (home to the most Insta-worthy, lantern-lit corridor).
Yoga to your own beat
How do we love Vegas yoga? Let us count the ways. Actually, there are too many local options to list here, so let's stick to a top five. You can do yoga by candle light, with goats, suspended from aerial ropes, in a helicopter, or on The High Roller (below). Picture yourself in headphones (like at a silent disco, except that you hear the instructor's voice along with the music) -- getting your Zen on as you peer down on the Strip, ideally at sunset. "It's such an amazing experience to open your eyes and see that view from the top," says Melissa, who adds that while the mats, water and headphones are provided, you should definitely BYO towel.
Feast on vegan ... everything
The Wynn's Jardin was one of our team's tastiest stops, with a feast that ran the gamut: pretzel bread ("DO NOT SKIP THIS," said Matt and Melissa), plus amazing avocado toast, mushroom toast, kale salad, avocado and quinoa salad, veggie pizza, buffalo cauliflower, minestrone; green juice, an antioxidant smoothie and vegan tapioca dessert.
Another notable healthy eating stop: The downtown Container Park, where you'll find an all-vegan menu -- from lasagna to enchiladas -- at Simply Pure.
Work it out
Imagine someone stationed at a piece of indoor equipment in Vegas, and your mental image no doubt includes a lever and some whirring cherries. But dip into the local gym scene even briefly, and you'll come away with a whole different picture. Arrive early to beat the crowd at the Cosmopolitan's Fitness Center, advises our team: "The new treadmills and elliptical machines have huge screens that connect straight to YouTube for great fitness inspo, so this section of the gym fills up pretty fast." (Three more highlights: the onsite tennis courts, the zero-impact kinesis wall and the Sweat 60 boot camp class).
Other favorites on the Vegas gym scene: the 40-foot rock climbing wall at Canyon Ranch SpaClub, the indoor hiking class at ARIA and the Bod Pod's personalized body analysis at the Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being.
Hit the trails
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area proved the best kind of shock and awe to our team: "We had no idea this kind of natural beauty was just minutes away from Vegas!" Indeed, sitting just 20 miles from the Strip, this nearly 196,000-acre swath of the Mojave Desert is home to 26 gorgeous hiking trails (Calico Tanks will give you one of the best intros to the area), plus climbing routes. Go at sunrise or sunset for fitness-friendly temperatures and photo-friendly lighting. And before you head back to town, you'll want to drive the loop and stop at each of the viewpoints. Just know that the road is one-way, so there's no turning back.
Go for an urban hike
Of course, you don't have to get outta Dodge to get your steps in. Vegas is an eminently walkable town, with all kinds of organized and improvised treks on offer. If you're Downtown, walk up Fremont Street for street-art spotting starting with the Shepard Fairey mural at The Plaza and heading to Fremont East and the only-in-Vegas Neon Museum.
If you're staying on the Strip, it's four miles from end-to-end -- with plenty of diversions along the way.