First things first — don’t expect me to talk much about the Strip.  Everybody and their dog go to the Strip, but there is so much more to Vegas than just Las Vegas Blvd.

Join me as I tell you about some of my favorite places in Sin City!

The National Atomic Testing Museum

One of the most interesting places in town, The National Atomic Testing Museum offers a look into the history of atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site.  You get to see actual atomic weapons that were never used, real equipment and protective gear, and other exhibits.  There are tons of videos that show the tests, and it’s incredibly fascinating to see.

They also offer tours out to the actual test site itself.  I haven’t had a chance to go yet, but I really want to!

Sometimes they even have additional exhibits, which are often not directly related to the atomic testing.  I once went while they were having an Area 51 showcase.  It was mostly about aliens and pretty entertaining.  They had creepy alien voices, and the lighting was weird.  It was really a lot of fun.

I LOVE going to the Atomic Testing Museum.  I have been there many times.

Tickets are $22 ($18 for locals, students, and military).  They also often have buy one, get one free deals on Groupon.

The museum is right near the university UNLV and is roughly 5 minutes east of the Strip, so even if you mainly want to go the Strip while you’re in town, you can pop on over for a few hours.

Downtown Summerlin

Downtown Summerlin is a lot of fun.  It’s a great place to go if you want a lot of shops, restaurants, and interesting places without having to go to the Strip or Downtown.

There are a bunch of awesome restaurants, including Dave and Busters, where you can drink some booze with a sea monster in it and play arcade games.  There are department stores for more expensive options, but they also have Old Navy and other affordable shops.  There are always interesting events at Downtown Summerlin, and they even have an ice rink in the winter.

Downtown Summerlin also has CREAM, which is an amazing ice cream shop.  You can get an ice cream cone, ice cream sandwich, or even an ice cream taco!  Although, just a warning, we went in the fall and I got a waffle cone, which was some kind of pumpkin spice flavor.  It was not terribly enjoyable.  Otherwise, the ice cream is great!

Downtown Summerlin is a hotspot on weekends, and it attracts people of all ages.  Don’t want to shop?  Have some lunch.  Not hungry?  See a movie.  Not into movies?  Play some games.  No games?  Take a yoga class.  There are so many possibilities, and it makes it a great place to go for variety and entertainment.

Downtown Summerlin is just about 20 minutes from the Strip, and it’s right next door to the Red Rock Hotel and Casino.

The Springs Preserve

This is actually my favorite place in Las Vegas.  My family and I became members the year that the Springs Preserve opened.  I have watched as they’ve added new attractions and areas, and I’ve gone to holiday celebrations and other events.  The Springs Preserve is a great place not only for families but also for twenty-somethings.

The Springs Preserve is home to the Nevada State Museum, which is full of surprising and fascinating information about the whole state.  One of the other main areas is the Origen Museum, which includes information about Las Vegas’s past, including the building of the Hoover Dam.  The other part of the Origen Museum changes every so often.  One of my favorites was their Leonardo da Vinci exhibit, which featured some of his inventions actually built based on his designs.  Absolutely incredible.

Not long ago, they opened Boomtown, which shows realistic representations of houses and other buildings between 1905 and 1920 in Las Vegas.  Most recently, they opened Water Works.  I haven’t been able to go since it opened, but I will definitely stop by next time I’m there.

The most beautiful part of the Springs Preserve, however, is the botanical gardens.  Many different species of desert trees, bushes, and flowers can be found here, and they are each marked so that you know what they are.  They have little areas set up almost like part of houses that are opened to nature, with vines and flowers growing throughout them.  I remember seeing a white, new gazebo when they first started expanding the gardens, and now it’s covered in greenery.

The Springs Preserve offers not only great information for being sustainable and eco-friendly, as well as entertainment for the whole family, but also a peek into the history that even locals are not entirely familiar with.  It’s definitely worth a visit, and you could easily spend a whole day doing everything.

Tickets are $19 for adults, $11 for children ($10 for NV resident adults, $5 for NV resident children).

The Springs Preserve is just about 15 minutes west of the Strip.

Next time you go to Las Vegas…

Remember that it is more than just the Strip.  There is a whole, gigantic town comprised of many communities and municipalities, all of which make up the Las Vegas Valley.  We have a rich history, and we are united as a strong community because of what has happened in this desert oasis.

So check out the other areas.  They may just surprise you.


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