With perennially pleasant climate, spectacular desert scenery, and unparalleled entertainment, Las Vegas, Nevada is a dream destination. Aside from the famous Las Vegas Strip and other popular attractions in the area, the city features numerous lesser-known places to visit. Nearby many Las Vegas vacation rentals are picturesque parks, fascinating museums, unusual shopping venues, and unlikely playgrounds. That said, are the top hidden gems in the city of Las Vegas.

1. Wetlands Park

Clark County Wetlands Park lies on the east side of the city of Las Vegas not far from the Las Vegas Strip. This lovely 210-acre nature reserve offers many miles of paved and unpaved trails among stands of cottonwood trees, trickling streams, and pristine ponds. Wildlife blinds allow visitors to observe herons, egrets, and many other species of birds as well as beavers and other mammals. Some of the trails are open for cycling, horseback riding, and dog walking. A nature center with a large exhibition hall has dioramas, display, and activities highlighting the park’s history, ecosystems, and wildlife.

2. Pinball Hall of Fame

The entertaining Pinball Hall of Fame, also known as the Pinball Museum, is on Tropicana Avenue within walking distance of the Las Vegas Strip. The site features over 200 classic pinball machines in a vast 10,000 square-foot warehouse. Most of the games are from the 1960s to the 1980s, which is considered the golden era of pinball, but the full inventory ranges from the 1950s to the 1990s. Admission to the museum is free, but you have to put 25 to 50 cents into the games to play.

3. Flamingo Wildlife Habitat

The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is in a courtyard at the Flamingo Las Vegas hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip. However, it is free to all visitors regardless of whether you stay at the hotel or frequent the casino. This lush 15-acre garden features winding pathways through tropical foliage, ponds, islands, and waterfalls. The star attraction is a lovely flamboyant flock of Chilean flamingos. Other wildlife includes swans, ibises, pelicans, parrots, and hummingbirds. Colorful koi fish swim in the clear waters. The habitat is the perfect place for quiet contemplation in the midst of raucous Las Vegas.

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4. Dig This

Dig This is a five-acre adult heavy equipment playground near the Las Vegas Strip. You have a choice of using a Caterpillar Track-Type Bulldozer or a Caterpillar Hydraulic Excavator. The session starts with safety training and instructions on how to use all the buttons, levers, and other machine controls. Next you go through a series of digging, pushing, and dragging warm-up exercises and tests of skill. Finally, you are allowed hours of free time to dig trenches, build mounds, or generally rip and tear up the ground. When it’s all over, you receive a certificate of completion.

5. Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens

The Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens is near vacation rentals at the southeastern edge of Las Vegas. Forrest E. Mars, the creator of the Mars chocolate line of Snickers, Twix, M&Ms, and other brands, founded the boutique Ethel M. series of chocolates after he retired. A self-guided tour takes you into the factory to watch the fascinating chocolate-making process. You receive free samples upon completion of the tour. Additionally, every hour the factory hosts a chocolate tasting class. Outside is a lovely four-acre cactus garden featuring more than 300 species of desert flora from the southwestern United States, South American, and Australia.

6. Neon Museum

The Neon Museum, also known as the Neon Boneyard, is on Las Vegas Boulevard north of the downtown area. The six-acre site features neon signs of historic and cultural significance from casinos and other establishments. The visitor’s center with its unique shell-shaped architecture introduces you to the collection. Guided daytime or nighttime tours lead you through the over 150 restored and unrestored signs in the Boneyard.

7. National Atomic Testing Museum

Located east of the Las Vegas Strip, the National Atomic Testing Museum highlights the history of atomic testing in Nevada, the U.S. nuclear program, and pop culture during the Cold War. Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, the museum features radiation testing equipment, memorabilia from Cold War pop culture, Native American artifacts from near the testing sites, and films of atomic tests. The Ground Zero Theater allows you to experience a simulated atomic bomb blast, and a special exhibit introduces visitors to mysterious Area 51.

8. Container Park

For a unique and unforgettable shopping experience, check out the Container Park in downtown Las Vegas. Aptly named, this shopping mall is constructed entirely out of shipping containers and multifunctional modular cubes. The entrance features a 55-foot praying mantis sculpture mounted on a dump truck. Inside is an eclectic selection of shops, restaurants, and entertainment facilities. In the center is a playground for children with a shipping container tree house sprouting three slides.

9. Red Rock Canyon

The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area lies on the western edge of Las Vegas. The multitudes of trails amidst spectacular scenery are ideal for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. For the adventurous, there are numerous rock climbing routes over the bright red Aztec sandstone. Animals you may observe include bighorn sheep, wild burros, desert tortoises, rabbits, and ground squirrels. The visitor’s center has fascinating exhibits on the geology and wildlife of the area.

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