Hidden Gems: The History, Entertainment, and Natural Beauty of My Las Vegas Tina Marie Gonzales May 9, 2017 Las Vegas, Personal Travel Essays, Travel Guide As a child, Las Vegas was the city I claimed would be my home one day. The bright lights going down the strip, the endless buffets, and all the knick-knacks on offer made it seem like the kind of place I could call my hometown. Luckily, Sin City obliged and made my childhood dream come true. Here are some of my personal favorite places and experiences in Las Vegas that I love, and I’m sure you will too! Las Vegas History & Museums Photo: Tina Marie Gonzales © 2017-Present. All Rights Reserved. When I want to dive into the rich history of Vegas, one of my favorite places to go is Springs Preserve, located on S. Valley View Blvd. It consists of Las Vegas Museum, Botanical Gardens, and an event space. What I really like about the Springs Preserve is the Nevada State Museum — a real hidden gem. This museum has some interesting artifacts from early Vegas, including cabaret show outfits, Native American exhibits, rock displays, and even a section on dinosaurs. Each exhibit has a narrated audio story you can listen to. This place really brings history to life for me. While history is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vegas, I always like to remind people of its colorful past. Las Vegas got its name in 1829 from a member of the Antonio Armijo exchanging party that stopped for water heading to Los Angeles from New Mexico — it means “The Meadows” in Spanish. Why? Even though the city (officially a city in 1911) was in the middle of the desert, it was surrounded by meadows at that time. “Sin City” was the nickname given to Las Vegas for its gambling, strip clubs, 24/7 liquor sales, quick marriages, and quick divorces as early as 1867. But an interesting fact that most tourists wouldn’t know: Prostitution is actually illegal in Las Vegas, and it has been ever since the U.S. Army built a Las Vegas gunnery school in 1942 and outlawed the practice. Other cool museums you should visit: The Mob Museum: The history of the Mob and a unique view into the world of organized crime. Counts Kustoms: A museum of various types of automobiles and choppers that are shown on the reality series “Counting Cars.” Gallery of Music & Art: Brings together music, art, and pop culture to make it come to surreal life. The Las Vegas Strip Photo: Tina Marie Gonzales © 2017-Present. All Rights Reserved. The Strip is world famous as the center of all the action in Vegas, and it’s one place I always recommend people to check out. It has casinos of different themes, some of the best restaurants in the world, water shows, and small shops that cater to everyone. One eye-catching place that’s worth a look is Fashion Show. It has shops, restaurants, liquor stores, and various screens to keep tabs on the latest Las Vegas show times. The screens are mesmerizing and you can actually spend hours watching them, and the beauty of the colors and surroundings is like a work of art. What I love about the Strip is all the things you can see, try, and buy. My favorite places to eat in Vegas: Amazing Thai: Their Shrimp Yellow Curry is divine! Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers: They’re always busy for a good reason — their food is delicious. They’ve got locations all around town. Umiya Sushi: Hands down the best sushi in Las Vegas The Fremont Street Experience Photo: Tina Marie Gonzales © 2017-Present. All Rights Reserved. I like the Fremont Street Experience because it’s quite unique. You’re basically covered under thousands of lights that form moving images, which gives you the feeling of being in a futuristic world just like in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. There is a block of shops, entertainment, casinos, buffets, and bars, each with its very own theme. For new year celebrations, Freemont Street is blocked off for the huge block party. Usually, 200,000 people show up to party and celebrate. When the countdown to the new year starts, all the lights go out on the whole block. Once the count gets to “1”, every casino on Fremont Street lights fireworks. During the summer, you can catch free concerts by some big-name artists. The Fremont Experience celebrates music of all types and has lights shows to celebrate nightly throughout the year. Local Tip: Hotels on Fremont Street are cheaper than on the Strip. Other cool things to experience when you’re downtown: Aliante Casino and Hotel: It’s a great place to people-watch and you’re sure to see some very colorful characters that you’ve probably only seen in movies about Vegas. Las Vegas Helicopter Tours: There are several to choose from and they are all breathtaking. Las Vegas Nature Historical Park Photo: Tina Marie Gonzales © 2017-Present. All Rights Reserved. With its lights and entertainment, you might forget that Vegas also has a lot of great natural beauty, but this is one aspect I can’t stress enough for visitors. One stop to make is Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area — a huge national park on the outskirts of Las Vegas (there is a fee charged for access). Red Rock Canyon and Calico Basin Red Springs are two hot spots outside of the actual park that is part of the view. These two stops have no fees and they are great for picnics, pictures, and meditation. My favorite place for getting some great pictures as well as a picnic: Calico Basin Red Springs: This is located on the western part of Canyon National Conservation Area and there’s no fee to access the area. Want to discover another side to Las Vegas? Make sure to check out these deals to get you there! Tina Marie Gonzales is a writer and photographer living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her passions include Business, Education, Gamification, Gaming, Photography, Psychology, Teaching, Traveling, and Writing that keep her busy all the time. Connect with her on her website at tinamgonzales44.com.