Photo by Eat Sleep Shoot Travel via Trover.com
There’s more to Las Vegas than gambling, neon lights, and mega-buffets. You can visit the Old Mormon Fort where the city was first settled, the site of the natural springs which gave the city its name, the Neon Museum and Graveyard, and several noteworthy state parks that are well worth exploring. Come visit like a local and check out some things to do in Las Vegas that are off the usual tourist trail.
Old Mormon Fort
When you’ve had your fill of “Glitz Gulch”, head out from The Strip along East Washington Ave to the Old Mormon Fort. This quiet state park is where Mormon pioneers settled beside a small creek. Visitors can still see the remains of the old curtain walls, adobe structures, and historic implements inside the 150-foot square compound. It’s fascinating to walk around with a guide and learn about the restored buildings that once provided shelter for the settlers and passing travelers. Learn why the Mormons left after just two years, and who moved in later.
The informative Visitor Center is well laid out with brightly lit exhibits, costumes, and photographs of life in this desert oasis just 160 years ago. The best time to visit is on Saturdays, when volunteers dress in period costume and provide Living History Days and interactive visitor programs. All this for an entrance fee of just $1!
Another attraction just 15 minutes’ drive from Las Vegas Boulevard is the birthplace of Las Vegas at Springs Preserve. The name “Las Vegas” means “The Meadows,” which were once found here. Natural springs bubbled to the surface in this desert area and provided crops and drinking water for the Paiute Indians.
This extensive site combines a history museum with botanical gardens of desert plants and trees, live animal shows of desert creatures, a fossil dig, hiking trails, and a narrated train journey around the Exploration Loop Trail. Galleries, films, and state-of-the-art exhibits take visitors back in time from the creation of the Mojave Desert to present day Las Vegas. It’s a fascinating place to explore history and learn about the importance of water and sustainable living.
Neon Museum and Boneyard
If you ever wondered what happened to those early neon signs before the advent of LED lights and LCD screens, the Neon Museum and Boneyard has the answer. The Neon Museum is packed with retired signs that are displayed in the Visitor center and outdoor Boneyard. It provides a trip down memory lane for many visitors who will recognize the iconic signage from landmarks such as Benny Binion’s Horseshoe and the sparkling shoe from the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall. Guided night tours are the most fun as the signs are lit up to relive their former glory days.
Valley of Fire State Park – Photo by Land Tripping via Trover.com
There are many more hidden gems within easy reach of Las Vegas hotels. Look out for the Valley of Fire State Park, the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” shop, the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden, and the architectural antiques in Main Street Station Casino including a graffiti-covered length of the Berlin Wall. With so many off-the-beaten path attractions, you’ll certainly never be bored in Las Vegas.
Looking for somewhere to stay near The Strip? Read more about the well-located Alexis Park Hotel.