Springs Preserve: the Most Peaceful Place in Las Vegas

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When I visited Springs Preserve northwest of downtown Las Vegas a few years ago, I figured it would only be a matter of time before it added a sponsor’s name, like Trump or Mlife, to its surprisingly un-catchy title. To its credit, it hasn’t, but neither has it quite lived up to the promise it had when it first opened. Part science museum, part desert garden, and part eco-innovator, the sprawling property is owned by the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the polar opposite of the nearby madness of the Strip. It’s a wonderful respite from the casinos, but it can be eerily quiet and devoid of activity on weekdays. The heat (110+) kept visitors inside the Origen Museum or Nature Exchange and the beautiful drought-resistant gardens and playground were as deserted as an East Coast mall in the middle of a snowstorm.

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The highlight of our visit was a better-than-average lunch in the air-conditioned Springs Cafe (pricey, but super-fresh and a welcoming change from the burgers and fries we had been subsisting on). You can see the Stratosphere and other Strip resorts from inside and outside the 2nd-floor cafe. The kids also lingered in the Nature Exchange, where like Kidspace in Pasadena, you can answer questions or trade things found in nature for cool rocks, shells, and minerals.

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A tip: try to visit Friday through Monday. The adjacent Nevada State Museum is open, and admission is included with a Springs Preserve ticket. It looks like a sleek mastodons-meet-stalactite-caves kind of place, but we missed out on our Tuesday visit.

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