Las Vegas Springs Preserve, Non-Gambling Fun

It’s not often that you hear of a quarter-billion-dollar project in Las Vegas that does not involve poker tables, trendy nightclubs or luxury condominiums. But the Las Vegas Springs Preserve — 180 acres of museums, theaters, gardens and trails — is just that.

The project, above, a few miles west of the Strip, had been in the works since the late 1990s.

In June of 2007, the city opened the most unlikely of attractions: the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. The 180-acre tract about four miles northwest of the Strip marks the spot where a natural spring helped give the city its name (“the meadows,” in Spanish). Though the spring all but dried up half a century ago, it’s now the heart of a new non-gaming attraction that aspires to be the Central Park of las Vegas.

“Definitely not your traditional or stereotypical Las Vegas experience,” said Jesse Davis, the marketing and public relations manager for the preserve. It is a “100 percent non-gaming attraction,” he added for safe measure.

The project ( is in an area filled with underground springs that helped give rise to, and later sustain, the desert city.

In 1978, the area was added to the National Register of Historic Places. One section, the Origen Experience, will trace the history of the Las Vegas Valley, and will include a complex with three museum galleries; an indoor IMAX-type theater; and an outdoor amphitheater with about 2,000 seats.

A separate section of the preserve, the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society, will focus on the state over all, and is expected to be completed in 2008.

Another feature of the project is also decidedly un-Las Vegas: a collection of five buildings constructed of materials including straw bales and rammed, or compacted, earth. The Desert Living Center is intended to be a model and a learning center for sustainable and conscientious living, Mr. Davis said.

But what might turn out to be some of the most popular parts of the project are its botanical gardens and trails, both free. Desert gardens are being completely redesigned and expanded, and there will eventually be about two and a half miles of trails for those looking to stretch their legs after hours playing blackjack.


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