Las Vegas is smack in the middle of one of the biggest deserts in North America. This means that in the summer, temperatures on the Las Vegas Strip regularly enter into the triple digits. It also means that sometimes, those temps can top 115–weather so hot you can literally feel your skin drying out as you walk across the street.
Thankfully, Sin City has a handful of reliable ways to stay cool when the temperatures rise. Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorites.
Arctic Ice Room, Qua Baths & Spa
It’s only 55 degrees in the Arctic Ice Room at the spa inside Caesars Palace, but considering the triple-digit temperatures outside, the place might as well be the arctic. This co-ed room features stone-heated benches, snowflakes that cascade from the ceiling and an ice fountain that dispenses shaved ice chips to revitalize and remedy sore, tired muscles. Aqua blue glass pebbles and iridescent Sicis mosaic tiles offset by fiber optic lighting create an otherworldly backdrop. There’s even a cold-plunge pool nearby.
The few times I’ve visited, I’ve likened the experience to sitting inside a snow-cone maker. After a tough workout (or a night with bottle service at a club), there’s no better way to whip your body back into normalcy.
Minus 5 IceBar
There are two locations of Minus 5, and, at both of them, everything, including the glasses out of which you drink your drinks, is made of ice. Seriously. The walls are ice. The bar is ice. The barstools are ice. EVERYTHING. The concept originated in New Zealand and appeared in Vegas in 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, and again in 2010 at the Monte Carlo Resort & Casino.
Viewfinder Tip: Most outdoor restaurants in Las Vegas have misters to keep people cool. If you must walk outside in extreme heat, seek these out during breaks in the action.
To experience Minus5, you must don a (branded, of course) parka and gloves, which you must wear for the duration of your time in the bar. What’s on the menu? Vodka, of course. There also are dozens of ice carvings and other works of ice art.
Epic frozen treats
Ice cream shops are everywhere on and around the Las Vegas Strip. Some, however, are better than others. At Serendipity 3, for instance, many sundaes are the size of an adult human’s head—some come standard with six—you read that right, SIX—scoops of ice cream. Elsewhere on the Strip, at BLVD Creamery in the Monte Carlo, employees make ice cream sandwiches to order with freshly baked cookies.
There are worthwhile options off-Strip, too. On the outskirts of Downtown, Luv-It Frozen Custard is in institution, even if it is in a sketchy neighborhood (just tell the taxi to keep the meter running while you wait in line); flavors change every week so be sure to check the website before you go. Finally, on the West Side, Kuma Snow Cream, a creation of celebrity chef Jet Tila, serves up a mix of ice and custard that will make your mouth water.
Loving the custard from Luv-It
Hitting the mountains
Perhaps the least-known (at least to visitors) place in the Las Vegas Valley to chill out from the summer heat is the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, located about an hour north and west of the Strip. This region compasses the tallest mountain in Nevada—Mount Charleston—and the canyons that surround it. Because it’s so high (and because so many of the canyons are shaded from direct sun), the region can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the Valley floor.
When you visit, be sure to check out the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway, which opened in May. Not only is the facility climate-controlled to stay a comfortable 72 degrees, but it also boasts exhibits with tons of educational information about the region and its distinct microclimates.
How do you like to beat the heat during summer travel?