Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wetlands Nature Center and Park - Free Family and Kid Activities in Las Vegas

It is our first Tuesday of the Summer Game plan and that means its time for Take a Trip Tuesday.   I decided to take the kids to a new place we have never visited, the Clark County Wetlands Park and Nature Center.  I've been hearing good things about the Wetlands for a few years, had seen some friends photographs from the area but until we arrived I honestly didn't know there was a full scale nature center at the park.   Although the temperatures are pretty good today, only a high of 100 versus the end of the world 116 degrees that it was on Saturday, it was still a nice surprise to discover an indoor exhibit area to explore!

The Nature Center was fabulous and turned out to be my kids favorite part of the visit. The Nature Center building includes both an exhibit area, a theater (we didn't stay for the movie) and space for a cafe (not currently open).  According to the staff, the Nature Center opened this April so maybe that is why I didn't know about it!  The Nature Center is a well designed, green building and also includes restrooms and water fountains you can access without actually going into the exhibit area. As a mom of young kids, I love when they make those types of things easy to access. My five year old was fascinated with the cool sink in the family bathroom!

The design of the center is very appealing, especially to children.  The lobby area features a mural with over-sized plants and animals.  There are a number of very large insects that move on the ceiling of the lobby and two fun sculptures they can stand behind, my boys are checking them out in the photo to the left.

The exhibit area opens with another great area for kids with a large mural and more over-sized animals that the kids can touch.  The bull frog even rabbits and the large snake features his most recent meal inside his stomach - yum!
The exhibit space is not very large but has quite a few different displays related to desert life including the plants, animals, water and flooding and early settlers.  There are 8 hands on children's activity tables in addition to the interactive features of the various displays.  My boys were especially impressed with the display related to animal scat.  But then, what little boy doesn't love a scientific display of poop?!?

 The Nature Center and Wetlands Park are free of charge, so this makes it an awesome option for families and kids in Las Vegas to visit.  In addition to the exhibit area there is a movie that is available but we didn't check that out, although I plan to on the next visit. It is located on the east side of town at the end of Tropicana, a few minutes east of Boulder Hwy. The trails are open dusk to dawn and the center is open from 9am - 3pm daily.  The staff were all helpful and friendly.

By the time we finished checking out the exhibit area it was getting close to nap time and much hotter so we only explored a very small portion of the Wetlands trail area. The Wetlands Park covers over 2,900 acres and some areas are still under construction.  The trails are both dirt and paved and those that I observed from the nature center and the parking lot seemed pretty easily accessible with a stroller.  We used a small umbrella stroller on the portion we explored by the small pond and it worked fine.  The kids liked checking out the pond and we were able to see insects, butterflies and what I think were tadpoles from the edge of the pond. We also heard many different wildlife that we could not see and the kids thought that was really cool.

You can access the trails without visiting the Nature Center.  There is also a set of bathrooms in the parking lot.  The entire area, both Center and Trails had very few other guests while we were there (Tuesday between 10am - Noon).  When we were driving into park, there was a sign for a neighborhood park.  I decided to check that out as we were leaving and found a fun little play area that we will check out on our next visit.  It has play equipment that blends in with the Wetlands park including a small climbing wall and large animal play objects.  There is a picnic table and benches, perfect for after you explore the area.  Overall I highly recommend this as a free option for kids and families in Las Vegas.  My kids are 2, 4 and almost 6 but this would be a good option for all ages or if you have a broad range of ages in your family.  I also love that it introduces city kids like mine to nature!  If you are looking for things to do with your kids or family this summer in Vegas check out the Wetlands Park.
Playground Area with small climbing wall -
follow signs for neighborhood park

Clark County Wetlands Park
7050 Wetlands Park Lane, Las Vegas, NV 89122 
(East side by Tropicana & Boulder Hwy)
Open 7 days a week - Trails from Dusk to Dawn, 
Center from 9am - 3pm
Closed New Years Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas

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