What better way to escape the desert and the flash of the Las Vegas Strip than to get away to the outdoors scene in Oakland and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Oaktown has plenty of big-city charm thanks to professional sports, a thriving arts scene, and exciting dining, but if ecotourism is your thing, put Oakland in your plans.
A short trip west after you land at Oakland International Airport will take you to amazing heights that only California redwoods can provide. Redwood Regional Park and adjacent Joaquin Miller Park let visitors experience the grand trees along with other native species like golden eagles and giant ferns to abundant wildflowers and much more. Depending on when you visit, you may also see plentiful mushrooms and fungi, which love the cool, damp environs redwoods provide. Just remember they're protected and not for foraging. Trailheads offer fun, sometimes challenging counterpoints to the dry, red-rock hiking available outside Vegas.
If you don't want to travel too far into the woods, consider Lake Merritt, a popular place for exercising alone or gathering for barbeques. The Gardens at Lake Merritt, located toward the water's north side, is a must-see themed garden that can be enjoyed by all, green thumbs optional. Every side of Lake Merritt offers an outdoor escape while keeping you close to the city.
Finish off your travels with a visit to Crown Memorial State Beach, a 2.5-mile beach stretch bordered by bike trails. Located on San Francisco Bay, it provides the ideal environment to go swimming or try your hand at kite or wind surfing. There's also a bird sanctuary, a marine reserve, and an aquarium attached to the state-run park.