It's the first day of Fall, which here in Vegas means today will be a cool 95 degrees! It's a hot day for tourists, but a lovely fall day for the residents of this valley coming off a summer of 100+ temps day in and day out.
Either way it's the perfect time of year to visit MY favorite place in Vegas: THE SPRINGS PRESERVE.
If you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, you're not alone. It's not unusual for me to talk to people who have lived here for YEARS and not only never been there, but not even HEARD of it and I always tell them: Get over there ASAP because you are missing out!
The Springs Preserve is many things, but originally it is where this little town in this big dusty desert began. Going back thousands of years this area in the center of our spread out metropolis was the location of natural springs. From the Native Americans to the early settlers these springs were the water source that made a habitable oasis for people in the middle of the inhospitable Mojave Desert. The springs themselves have long since dried up, but on this site protected by the National Historic Registry exists an architecturally stunning campus of museums, gardens, desert exhibits, and walking trails spanning 180 acres.
Inside the Origen Museum you will find interactive exhibits about desert living, a mock- up of the original Las Vegas land auction, revolving art exhibits and my favorite: the flood room where every 10 minutes you can experience the stunning swiftness of the desert’s ability to flash flood. Out back you can get up and personal with some of the desert’s toughest residents. It takes a lot to survive in this desert. Though we may hope to never cross paths with them in our daily life rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions all have ambassadors on display here. Getting a chance to observe them up close will not only give you a new appreciation for them, but give you the opportunity to properly identify them out in the world should you ever cross paths.
At the Nevada State Museum you can take a look back at the history of the Las Vegas Valley from pre-historic dinosaur bones to early mining settlements to the swingin’ showgirls of the Vegas golden era including 10,000 fossil specimens temporarily homed here for the National Park Service. Where else in the world could you possibly go form saber tooth tiger teeth to sequins in just a few steps?
By now you may need a break, so lunch at the Divine Cafe is a must. Unlike the requisite cafes in other museums, zoos and botanic gardens the Divine Cafe is exactly what it says it is… simply divine. When you step in and up to the counter it may seem like the cafe at any other attraction, but you will soon find that it is anything but that. The Divine Cafe also houses Divine Events one of the most popular catering companies in town and their revolving menu reflects that they take their food very seriously. Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad, Brick Oven Pizzettes, thoughtful wine and beer selections and even a flavored water of the day are just a few examples of the well executed options. On Thursday they even feature a Crafted Cocktail menu and live music for Happy Hour. Did I mention the view? Settle on the spacious outdoor balcony and enjoy one of the secret best views in Vegas. Don't get too comfortable though, you have plenty more to see.
Next get down to the train station and take a train ride back in time to Boomtown 1905 where you can see not just a reproduction of what the original Las Vegas settlement looked like (the saloon, the bank, the general store) but 4 of the original cottages including one that has been completely restored for viewing.
From there its just a few steps down to the Waterworks where you can tour what it takes to bring enough water to this desert to support 42 million annual visitors and the 3 million people who make their homes here. It’s an undertaking so massive that if you take water for granted after seeing this, you simply were't paying attention.
You’ve taken in a lot information by now so its probably a good time to meander through the botanic gardens and right now is the right time of year to meander straight back to the Butterfly Habitat where you can walk among a flurry of live fluttering butterflies in hopes that they land on your shoulder for the perfect Insta worth photo-op. As you head back through the Botanic Gardens you’ll also pass the Sustainability Gallery where you’ll discover eye popping facts about conservation and waste in the desert as well as Desert Sol a one bedroom solar powered home that was built by the UNLV Solar Decathlon Team and came in as one of the top three entries in the GLOBAL contest in 2013.
Just like the host on a late infomercial though THAT’S NOT ALL! The Preserve also offers daily activities for the kids, live shows on the weekends, all kinds of classes and a bevy of fun festivals throughout the year. There's the Pacific Rim Celebraton, The Icecream Festival, The Blues and Brews Festival, Dio De Los Muertes, and next up The Grapes and Hops Festival a beer and wine festival where you can enjoy an evening of sampling fine wine and beers while supporting breast cancer research.
Whether you see it all in one day or come back for multiple visits the Springs Preserve is truly a place where you can take a break from the fast pace this town is known for and soak in a leisurely day of nature and slow paced exhibits in relative quiet.
Have you been to the Springs Preserve? What's your favorite thing to see there?
Have a great first weekend of fall everyone!
The Springs Preserve is located off of I-95 and Valley View Blvd
Open from 9 am-5 pm
Nevada State Museum is open Tues-Sun 9 - 4:30
The Divine Cafe is open Mon to Fri 11- 3pm plus Thurs 4-8 pm and Weekends 10-4pm
Non-resident: Adult… $18.95
NV resident: Adult… $9.95
Annual Memberships start at just $40