Let’s face it: Area 51 is far from a mystery. While it was once a happening hotspot, back when the Nevada desert was remote enough that anyone with a half-decent spacecraft could touch down without tripping any alarms or ending up on TMZ, those days are long gone. What remains, sadly, is little more than an intergalactic tourist trap—and that’s if you can actually get inside, a dicey proposition even among the most skilled teleporters and Jedi mind tricksters.
In other words, don’t believe the hype. And more importantly, don’t waste precious Vegas vacation time driving all the way out there, just to pose at the gate—and possibly get arrested. (Unless that’s your thing, in which case, good on ya.) Hot for an alien encounter? Take it from Captain Kunton of the starship OPM73 and chart a course for one of these out-of-this-world, only-in-Vegas hotspots instead.
Seven Magic Mountains
Located just south of Las Vegas along the I-15 highway, Seven Magic Mountains is among the galaxy’s most instagrammable works of public art. While often attributed to Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, the true source of these mysterious, brightly colored monoliths has long been an open secret—off-planet, anyway. (Hint: it rhymes with “schmaliens.”)
Spocktails at the OPM73 Space Bar
If modern mixology is equal parts art and science, Cosmopolitan’s Mariena Mercer Boarini is Las Vegas's most inspired mad scientist. For irrefutable evidence of her expertise, book a flight aboard the spaceship OPM73, hit the bar and begin working your way through Boarini’s out-of-this-world menu of spaceflight-inspired Spocktails.
Lost Vegas: Tim Burton @ at the Neon Museum
Already one of the coolest under-the-radar destinations in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum recently upped that ante with a sitewide installation of original art pieces by acclaimed director Tim Burton—including many that fans of his 1996 sci-fi comedy, Mars Attacks!, are sure to recognize. Tickets from $30, through April 12, 2020.
Located just south of Area 51, Alien Cathouse is a legal brothel specializing in—what else?—sci-fi fantasy and other forms of cosmic kink. Not into close encounters? Grab a burger and some scandalous, space-themed souvenirs at the onsite bar/restaurant and gift shop.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Vegas is well known for its natural abundance of stars, albeit largely of the terrestrial variety. Surprisingly, you don’t have to venture too far outside the city to spot the celestial sort, as well. Surrounded by mountains, Red Rock Canyon’s 13-mile scenic drive is one of the best places to stargaze near Vegas.