Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Fun Day at the Springs Preserve

Pinwheel near the Desert Living Centre at the Springs Preserve
We travel to Las Vegas quite often, not for the casinos, but for the warm weather in the winter and the various attractions and activities year round. There are a number of things to do for families including the Springs Preserve. We decided to visit there today with a friend who lives here since her children had the day off from school. It's always fun for our grandson to spend time with his honorary cousins who he's known since he was a baby.

Arriving at the Springs we all loaded up for a ride on the train that circles the park on the 2.2 mile Exploration Loop Trail through 110 acres of native habitats and historical and archaeological sites. The train and trail were decorated for Halloween and Dia de Muertos complete with devils, skeletons and ghosts.

These decorations kept the babies amused while the older kids learned about the beginnings of Las Vegas. The narrated tour talks about the importance of the Springs artesian wells in the development of the valley and to the railway.

We all learned about Mrs. Stewart, the widow who sold her ranch and water rights to the Union Pacific Railway and is known as The First Lady of Las Vegas. A strong woman who was pregnant and left with four young children when her husnad was killed in a gunfight.

Shipwrecks around the world
Our next stop was Odyssey's SHIPWRECK! Pirates and Treasures in the Origen Museum. The kids were able to experience the power of a hurricane in a wind tunnel, search for pirate ships on the high seas through a telescope and have fun with many more hands-on interactive exhibits including a computer that let them create their own swashbuckler.

Getting creative
After learning about pirates and having a look at some of their treasures, the kids were ready for some time outdoors. There are lots of opportunities for play time at Springs Preserve. One of today's favorites was building a town with foam blocks. Even the babies got involved in this one, sometimes taking down doors and windows that the big kids had just put up. It certainly kept them all busy.

Building their own town
Just down the path from the foam town is an area that houses a ranch house garden, Paiute homes and a live animal exhibit. We spent a lot of time here watching desert cottontails, lizards and frogs in their natural habitats. There was also a lot of climbing on the animal statues and measuring how far they could jump compared to various wildlife.

Concrete cottontail

These lizards tell you their temperature so kids can see the effect of light and dark coloring

Desert cottontail hiding in the shade
We continued inside the Origen museum where we got to experience what it is like to be in a flash flood in the desert, see and hear a land auction, 'ride' on a period rail car, and try our skills at putting the pieces together from an archeological dig. There is also an exhibit and video on the building of the Hoover Dam. Our grandson loved that one, he's really into learning about things like hydroelectric generation these days.

Are we there yet?
I wonder if glue would help?
By the time we got back to the front of the museum everyone was getting hungry and tired so we decided to head to the inside Divine Cafe for a late lunch. I was pleasantly surprised at both the value and quality of the food there. We ordered a child's cheese pizza meal for each of the kids, these were $5.00 each (at time of posting) and included a soft drink in a take home cup. My member's discount brought it down to $4.50. Very reasonable for the portion, especially compared to eating out at many museums and parks. We sat at a large table on the patio to take advantage of the sunny weather and beautiful view.

Woodfire pizza for the adults

Cheese pizza for the kids - each of them got a huge portion plus a soda in a take home cup

Wonderful view of the mountains from the cafe patio
After lunch we went down to the Nature Exchange where each of the kids (and one of the adults) got to crack a geode. They had a lot of fun cheering each other on and revealing the crystals inside the geode they had chosen. It only costs $2.00 per person (for members) and makes a nice souvenir along with the fun.

Cracking geodes
The Springs Preserve is a great place to spend the day for adults and children alike. At only $60 a year, the family membership is a great bargain, especially for larger families since it provides admission for both Springs Preserve and the Nevada State Museum for two adults and up to six children or grandchildren. They also offer a plus membership that is the same as the family one plus a pass for an additional adult for only $20 more.

We had a great day and can't wait for our next visit.