When you have a family, free is good. In the Las Vegas area, there is an abundance of free activities for families to enjoy: places to go, things to see and activities in which to participate. You can enjoy the beauty of nature, the choreographed spectacle of dancing fountains, the peaceful serenity of the largest park in the area and a hidden nature sanctuary within the hustle and bustle of the Strip itself. So why wait for tomorrow? Visit these treasures today!
Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
350 E. Galleria Drive
Henderson, NV 89011
The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve (or Bird Sanctuary, as it’s commonly known) is located within the water reclamation system and provides a free look at the beauty of the birds residing, or resting, in the Las Vegas area. It covers 140 acres of land, much of it marshy, and houses migratory waterfowl (ducks, geese and more) as well as desert birds that live in the area. Fall and spring are prime viewing opportunities for Canada geese, the beautiful wood duck and tundra swan, all guests to the area, but you can also find resident hawks, quail, roadrunners and the Peregrine falcon. This is a sanctuary so you must not feed the wildfowl. Wear sturdy shoes as the paved road runs 3/4 of a mile and is mostly wheelchair and stroller accessible, while soft surfaces require a bit of navigation. Binoculars are available if you don’t bring your own. You may even catch a glimpse of that elusive roadrunner flitting about.
2601 E. Sunset Road
Las Vegas, NV 89120
Sunset Park is the largest and most beautiful park in the Las Vegas area according to locals, covering 323 acres. Whether you want to hike, bike, fish or have a picnic, you can do it at Sunset Park. The hiking trails are excellent, meandering through the dune and mesquite portions of the park. If you have a fishing license, you can actually fish at the pond, but the ducks alone are worth the visit. Barbecues and picnic tables are available (they may be reserved for groups) and you’ll also find tennis, badminton and volleyball courts. Bring the whole family, furry friends included, as all are welcome at Sunset Park.
7800 N. Tenaya Way
Las Vegas, NV 89131
Fall is the perfect time for a visit to the Gilcrease Orchard, a rare treat in the desert. Here, you can pick your own seasonal fruit and veggies, including pumpkins during October. Children will enjoy the Pumpkin Patch and hay maze while parents will welcome the opportunity to pick their own pears, apples in the orchard and root veggies in the huge garden. You may want to purchase some delicious apple cider or all-natural peanut butter (including “dark and gritty,” with chocolate and peanuts) or honey. It’s a beautiful setting with proximity to the mountains, and something unique to this city. Entrance is free if you walk through, rather than drive your car.
Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
3555 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
This lush oasis is hidden right within the midst of the Las Vegas Strip at the Flamingo Hotel. It’s unique, it’s free and it’s amazing to find something like this in the heart of the city. This is the home of the Chilean flamingos, swans, ducks, koi and turtles. All creatures live on islands and in well-tended streams surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and lush foliage, providing a sanctuary for weary locals and guests craving water and nature. The habitat is open from dusk to dawn every day.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens and the Fountains at Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
The Bellagio is arguably one of the most beautiful casinos in Las Vegas. Its very special attractions include the spectacular indoor conservatory and the outdoor fountains. The Conservatory features seasonal displays of outstanding beauty, with brilliant colors, lush vegetation and all kinds of ever-changing floral arrangements. You’ll find gazebos, bridges and ponds for the perfect photo op with the Conservatory acting as backdrop. The fountains have sparkling water dancing to choreographed music with shimmering lights shining through, providing a peaceful oasis from the glitz of Las Vegas. Fountain shows run every 15 minutes to a half hour, depending upon the day and time. Both attractions are free and open to the public 24 hours a day.
Sharon Damon is a preschool specialist, avid reader, passionate writer and creative baker/ cook. She has been a cooking instructor at a local Rec Center in Henderson, NV since 2011, and has written for Examiner and other publications since 2010. She knows her way around the keyboard and the kitchen! Sharon moved from a small city in Canada to Las Vegas 6 years ago, to marry the love of her life, and has since been swept up in the whirlwind known as Sin City. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.