See Something Off the Beaten Path in Las Vegas

Things to Do — By thmeeks on December 30, 2011 at 10:06 pm

You’ve seen the Strip. You’ve watched the Bellagio’s fountain show so many times that you know the order of the songs. You yawn when the ship sinks in Sirens and Pirates show at the TI. You need something off the beaten path to do in Las Vegas, something you just don’t hear about every day. Jot a note to:

1. Visit the Arts District.
Downtown Las Vegas has its very own Arts District. Galleries, bistros, and funky shops have taken root in a formerly industrial area. During First Friday, the streets are closed and a big block party brings out a crowd. You can wander through the area at any time, however, to check out the growing art scene in Las Vegas.

Cornerstone Gallery in the Las Vegas Arts District During a First Friday Event

2. Learn about the Atomic Age at the Atomic Testing Museum.
Something as momentous as the atomic bomb certainly deserves its own museum, and Las Vegas is an appropriate location for it. When above-ground detonations were the norm, the mushroom clouds became tourist attractions since Las Vegas was so close to the testing range.

3. Explore the Springs Preserve.
This is the site where Las Vegas got its name, and the Springs Preserve honors the history of Las Vegas—from long before it was Las Vegas. Visit the Origen Museum or the recently relocated Nevada State Museum, walk the trails, and enjoy this oasis in the middle of Las Vegas.

The Springs Preserve

4. See a Big Horn Sheep at Hemenway Park.
Hemenway Park was once on the outskirts of town, but town has grown up around it. The Big Horns who hang out there are perfectly happen to eat the grass and watch the tourists. As accustomed as they are to people, remember that these are still wild animals, and those horns on their head are there for a reason.

Big Horn Sheep in Hemenway Park in Boulder City

5. Ride a train at the Railroad Museum.
The Southern Nevada Railroad Museum takes visitors across the tracks that were put down in 1931, in vintage railroad cars. History buffs and railroad enthusiasts alike will enjoy this trip back in time.

6. Play a game at the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Return to a time before computerized games and play the vintage pinball machines. Remember to bring lots of quarters.

7. Shoot a machine gun at the Gun Store.
If you’ve got the urge to shoot something, this is the place to go.  A variety of weapons are available, and instructors are on hand to help you.

8. Visit the ruins of St. Thomas at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
St. Thomas was once a bustling town on the edge of the Colorado River. Then Hoover Dam was constructed, and Lake Mead’s waters swallowed the town. Today, St. Thomas is back above ground for you to explore.

Ruins of St. Thomas, a town once covered by Lake Mead

9. See rescued artifacts at the Lost City Museum.
At the same St. Thomas was disappearing under Lake Mead, Indian artifacts were in danger of the same fate. Those rescued artifacts are on display at the Lost City Museum in Overton, a small farming community close to the Valley of Fire State Park.

10. Go back in time at the Clark County Museum.
Now that museum curator Mark Patton Hall has become a regular on the television show “Pawn Stars,” more people are making the drive to the Clark County Museum. History isn’t just on display behind glass here. A street of rescued historic Las Vegas homes—even a vintage trailer—line a shady street, and a train depot and train are frozen together in a snapshot of days gone by.


Photo of Springs Preserve courtesy of Ken Lund. All other photos courtesy of Terrisa Meeks, the post’s author.

Tags: Atomic Testing Museum, Clark County Museum, Gun Store, Hemenway Park, Las Vegas Arts District, Lost City Museum, Pinball Hall of Fame, Railroad Museum, Springs Preserve, St. Thomas Ruins