Las Vegas Springs Preserve - Water Tower - from WikipediaA few miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Las Vegas and the Strip, you will find the Springs Preserve with exhibits, nature trails, and a bit of Las Vegas history.

The “Springs Preserve” is a 180-acre stretch of protected land around the original source of water for the Las Vegas Valley. These springs formed an oasis in the middle of the parched desert and helped support early inhabitants from local Native American tribes 10,000 years ago to the first settlers in the 1800s.

Unfortunately, the wells dried out in the ’60s, and Las Vegas now depends on the waters of Las Vegas Springs Preserve - Cactus Gardenthe Colorado River provided by Hoover Dam.

Tip: If you are looking for lush green gardens, this is not it. Most plants here are hardy desert plants and a few palm trees.

The preserve is run by the Water District, which is taking measures to restore the area and provide visitors with a unique nature experience.

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Las Vegas Springs Preserve - Kids play areaVisitors can walk through several nature trails and habitats featuring various desert plants or visit one of the museums and special exhibits.

If you have time, you can also take a hike through the extensive trail system.

For a more leisurely experience, take the 20-minute train ride. The train takes you through the expansive preserve with educational narration about the area’s history.

Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring plenty of water, especially during the summer months. Sunscreen and hats are also recommended due to the desert sun.

Closer to the main entrance building, you can enjoy a cactus garden, a Palm Oasis, a few Las Vegas Springs Preserve - Butterfly Exhibitfountains, and a kids' play area. A seasonal Butterfly exhibit is also available for an additional fee. Check their website for times.

We paid the extra $3 fee to enter the Butterfly Habitat and enjoyed the few butterfly species present, but I wouldn’t visit again. The exhibit was small, and you had to look for the butterflies.

During our visit, we mainly stayed outside to enjoy the great weather and get a little workout, but there were plenty of things to do indoors, too.

You can spend some time at the Nevada State Museum, which features informative exhibits, including holographic figures, stalactite caves, fossils, and a history of Las Vegas.

At the Origen Museum, you can explore 75 permanent exhibits, an indoor theater, and some traveling exhibits. The word Origen is derived from two words: original and generations, so expect to learn about the area's origins.

On your way out, you can enjoy a light meal at the Café and maybe pick up a few souvenirs at the gift shop.

We spent around 3 hours in this preserve to kill time before our hotel check-in, but if you have more time, you can spend the whole day here exploring.