|Hands-on activities to keep kids engaged|
The Nevada State Museum is now part of the overall Springs Preserve facility. Here you can witness an atomic explosion, hear the tales of Nevada’s miners, go inside of a stalactite cave and learn about the glitz and glamour of early Las Vegas. The museum also houses a 20,000-year-old Columbian Wooly Mammoth – or his skeleton at least.
|Stardust time capsule rocket was found in a downtown garage before being displayed at the museum|
|Who can resist these delicious gourmet chocolates?|
|Relaxing view of the Cactus Garden|
|Vintage travel court, complete with canned ham style travel trailer|
If you have ever watched Pawn Stars, you will recognize so owner Rick Harrison’s Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. This popular tourist spot generally has a line-up of folks eager to catch a glimpse of one of the series’ stars. Once inside the shop, you have the opportunity to view Rick’s collection of Superbowl rings among other items that have been featured on the show. You can also take home a souvenir – perhaps a Chumlee bobblehead will suit your fancy.
In addition to the pawn shop, you can visit the recently opened Pawn Plaza. Here you will find Smoke’s Poutinerie from Quebec, Rita’s Italian Ice and Harrison’s own Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern. This is probably a stop more suited to the older kids in the family but even the younger ones will enjoy an ice and custard at the colourful outdoor seating area.
|Checking out the menu|
5. Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) – Home of Tanked
What child doesn’t love an aquarium? I’m sure there are some but they don’t live at my house. Animal Planet’s hit show – Tanked – follows the exploits of Wayde King and Brett Raymer, two brothers-in-laws who work with other family members to design and build some really awesome fish tanks. You can call ahead and arrange a tour of their facility or simply drop into their shop. We ran into the friendly and gregarious Brett on our last visit and he was happy to pose for a picture.
|Chance encounter with one of the show’s stars|
6. Hershey’s Chocolate World
Ok, this one is on The Strip, but it’s popular with families too. This 13,000 square foot flagship store offers visitors the opportunity to customize their own chocolate bar or star in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup TV ad. You can also see a milk chocolate Statue of Liberty! The tough part of a visit here is deciding which of the 800 different candies you want for a treat.
|Hubby next to the giant chocolate Statue of Liberty|
The next spots are on the western outskirts of Las Vegas but well worth the drive.
7. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Located a short 15-mile drive from Las Vegas, this ranch that was once owned by Howard Hughes, feels as though it is a world away from the glitz and neon of Sin City. Families can enjoy living-history programs that describe some of the valley’s early history. There are also hands-on opportunities including demonstrations of pioneer skills and even reenactments of Civil War battles.
This park is a great spot for a family picnic with it’s picnic tables, grills, clean facilities and wide open park space. There are a number of hiking paths with breathtaking scenery suitable for all ages. You might even spot a wild burro or two!
|Lake Harriet, home to the endangered Pahrump poolfish|
8. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
If you like hiking and beautiful scenery, Red Rock Canyon is the place for you. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, this national conservation area boasts a 13-mile scenic drive through the spectacular Mojave Desert landscape and unique geologic features. There is a well-designed visitor center with both indoor and outdoor exhibits plus a book store/gift shop. A word of caution, this park can get very busy on summer weekends, resulting in a back-up on the scenic drive. It’s best to plan your visit for early in the day.
|Beautiful blue skies above the red rocks – a great place for hiking and rock climbing|
There are so many things to see and do in Southern Nevada. I can hardly wait for our next visit!