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When most people think of Las Vegas, they focus solely on its gambling and entertainment activities, but there is a lot more to this town than just those pastimes. If you are a resident or visitor who wants to find something beyond the typical Vegas fare, there are indeed places here that will satisfy that desire. Red Rock Canyon State Route 159 from Charleston Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89124 702-363-1921 Website: There are times locals and visitors both want to get away from the noisy, overcrowded casinos, to find a quieter, more peaceful environment.

If you want to see nature at its best in our area, then hiking through Red Rock Canyon is a "must." Admission is only $5, and for that small price, you are gifted with the chance to see colorful scenic views and wildlife such as tortoises, hares, wild burros and more. You can take the guided tour or venture along the trails on your own. You can easily spend an entire day exploring here There is a visitor's center, where you can get information and you can either drive through Red Rock Canyon or hike.

If you do plan on hiking, I recommend the fall, winter and spring months. Summer temperatures can reach as high as 115 degrees or more, so it's not a safe time to do a lot of hiking then, due to the possible dangers of heat stroke, dehydration and other factors. To me, it's a blessing to have an opportunity to distance myself from the typical gawdiness of the Strip and escape to a calmer, more undisturbed world. Sandy Valley Ranch The Ranch HCR 37, Box 1158 Sandy Valley, NV 89019 702-255-7948 Website: Sandy Valley Ranch is just 45 minutes away from Las Vegas and gives visitors the chance to see what it's like to live life "cowboy-style." They offer activities such as wagon rides, trail rides, mounted shooting, calf-catching, team cattle penning, western games and a host of enjoyable things.

You get to choose the activities you want to do. Participants can be anywhere from age 11 to adult, so that they are physically capable of being able to ride a horse. Don't worry if you never rode a horse before, because a large percentage of their guests haven't and their horses are specially trained to deal with this. Every comment I've heard about the staff is that everyone is extremely gracious. This is the way you always fantasized the west to be and something that should be on the itinerary of anyone who wants an authentic taste of cowboy living.

(They even offer locale for filmmakers!) Call or visit their website for more information on pricing and to ask questions. Las Vegas Natural History Museum 900 N. Las Vegas Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89101 702-384-3466 Website: If you are fascinated by dinosaurs and wildlife, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum is a wonderful place to go to and gives visitors a chance to see the kind of critters, past and present, that roamed Nevada.

Their Dinosaur Gallery includes gigantic replicas of real prehistoric creatures, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex as well as prehistoric marine reptiles. They also have galleries related to international wildlife, marine life, and wild Nevada. You know kids always feel the urge to touch something, so the museum has a hands-on gallery, where they can dig for fossils and do other cool stuff where they can get personally involved. It's a lot of fun for them and there are grownups, if truth be told, who may get a kick out of this, too.

Admission is free for kids 2 and under, $3.00 for kids 3-11, $7.00 for adults and $6.00 for seniors, military and students and the museum hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum is one of the best things we've got going in this city, for both locals and tourists who want something to take their kids to that isn't located in a casino. Nevada State Museum and Historical Society 700 Twin Lakes Drive Las Vegas, NV 89107 702-486-5205 Come here and see a real mammoth skeleton or our official state fossil, the ichthyosaur, as well as other exhibits related to our history.

You'll get to see exhibits on Native American cultures and how they have influenced our area, as well as art and a library related to our state's history. Bring along a lunch and relax in an area set aside for picnicking. Admission is just $2.