December 16, 2017

Las Vegas Without the Sin

I took yet another trip to Las Vegas where I successfully avoided going into any casinos. Well, almost. When you have friends and family in Sin City, you don’t encounter much sin. This visit introduced me to three intriguing places which I recommend to you if you need a break from the “ding, ding, ding” of casino slots.

If you’d like to see where Las Vegas got its start, head to Springs Preserve, a 180 acre park on the westside of the city. The greenery above this spring prompted the Spaniards to call it “The Meadows” or “Las Vegas.” Still a work in progress, the property features indoor attractions such as the Nevada State Museum, Origen Museum, and DesertSol, a 745-square foot solar-powered model home. The outdoor activities include a Botanical Garden, hiking trails and a cute motorized vehicle that “trains” you around the property. Butterfly and Tortoise Habitats are scheduled to open later in 2014. There is a restaurant on premises which I sadly cannot recommend. Still and all, a visit to this nature habitat and museum campus will neutralize your exposure to flashing neon.

Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs is a veritable oasis in the northwest part of Las Vegas. Historically, it was a dude ranch where uncoupling spouses could stay for six weeks thereby establishing residency for their divorce proceedings. Today one can tour 23 historic buildings on the 2,040 acre park property. Admittance is a reasonable $6 for everyone in your car. Features include peacocks and geese roaming the grounds, a fantastic petting zoo where my niece got to commune with both full-size and miniature goats, a  cow, a sheep and an alpaca. Horse-riding is also available. The real heart of the park is a series of the small lakes fed by Tule Springs where one can see people fishing for rainbow trout, bass and other varieties of fish. (A license is required.) A stroll around these charming lakes with cottonwoods and other greenery is just the antidote if the desert climate is sucking your soul dry.

Decidedly urban but refreshingly gambling-free is the Downtown Container Park, a conglomeration of small boutiques and food and drink venues constructed with shipping containers, a caboose, a boxcar and corrugated metal. The entrance features a fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture and a lit white geodesic dome. A central area features inventive play structures for toddlers as well as older children. A grassy area doubles as a setting for live music which we heard during cocktail hours. The boutiques are start-up businesses for bohemian types with art, jewelry, clothing and other youthful accessories for sale. The business concerns include everything from cupcakes to vegan food to wild leggings and wacky watches.My personal favorites were an accessory store called Redstich and Sasasweets Chillspot for frozen dessert selections.

The bar and food options are rather like a food court where you buy your items and then choose your outdoor seating overlooking the children’s park or the music area. I hope you are lucky enough to catch a drum circle where kids and adults joyously pound away at African percussion instruments set up at the entrance to the park.
As a final note, Downtown Container Park is part of a multi-million dollar rejuvenation of downtown Las Vegas spearheaded by Tony Hsieh of Zappos fame. However, many Vegas visitors have yet to discover this welcome addition to the “the Strip scene.”

Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs
9200 Tule Springs Road, Las Vegas, NV 89131
http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/find/21180.htm

Springs Preserve
333 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89107
https://www.springspreserve.org/

Downtown Container Park
707 Fremont Street Las Vegas, NV 89101
http://downtowncontainerpark.com/

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