Okay, so we all know about the Las Vegas of the movies. Popular culture has it that this desert oasis is packed with lights, noise and adrenaline. And that’s all absolutely true. But there is also a great wealth (that being the operative word in these parts) of cultural activities and experiences to take on in this fascinating Nevada hub.

Las Vegas is the only major city in the American West that was founded in the 20th century, and it has grown like no other. As you’re likely well aware, you can expect an endlessly diverse range of fun activities in the present-day city. But not all of them have to do with bright lights and jingling slot machines! From yoga with dolphins to art gallery tours, we’ll be looking at some of the unexpected and exceptional highlights of Las Vegas beyond the “flash” (although there’s still time for a fascinating poker competition, of course).

The Springs Preserve

This is a way to get away from the bright lights entirely, and experience the local culture through its nature. The Springs Preserve serves as an outdoor museum, showcasing a great range of permanent and temporary exhibitions on everything from photography and fashion to art and wildlife. You can also rent a bicycle (and a locker for your things) and set out on your own to explore some 180 acres of beautiful outdoor space. It’s a nice reminder of the unique quality of the nature in this part of the United States.

The World Series of Poker

This is simply the pinnacle for the world of poker, and a great window into the game for newcomers. It’s a unique event that can only be seen in Vegas, and thus just the kind of local attraction a lot of travelers seek out.

Rather than being some gaudy or over-the-top casino production, the World Series of Poker has actually been described as poker’s most famed live tournament –– almost more convention than sporting event or spectacle. It comprises thousands of players milling about and trying their luck. You’ll see amateurs clashing with pros, and depending on your experience and ambition, you might even consider joining in! In short, this is poker like you won’t see it anywhere else, and it’s far more interesting than your average stroll through a casino poker room.

The Mob Museum

After all that yoga and lightness of being, it might be time to turn to the dark side. This fascinating museum offers a thoroughly enjoyable peek into the tumultuous side of Las Vegas’ history. You’ll be able to check out an array of artifacts linked to mobsters and organized crime, and study the possessions and memorabilia of famous figures like Al Capone, Sam Giancana and J. Edgar Hoover. The museum itself is built into the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courtroom, which is actually included on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (having hosted actual mob trials in its day).

Yoga with Dolphins

While Las Vegas isn’t exactly renowned for being a wellness retreat, it is home to some one-of-a-kind exercise activities and attractions that you’d do well not to miss.

One such activity is doing yoga with dolphins. Admittedly, the dolphins aren’t necessarily partaking in the yoga (although, who knows what they’re really thinking?), but they will be swimming by you during the session in the Mirage Spa at the Mirage Hotel and Casino. The actual yoga takes place in the Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat. You’ll be able to do all kinds of poses to show off for the dolphins passing by in the tanks. Yes, it’s very much a tourist attraction. But at the same time, where else will you be able to try something like this?

The Bellagio Fine Art Gallery

For something a little more refined, be sure to visit the Bellagio Fine Art Gallery. Here, you’ll find original works of art on constant display, as well as temporary exhibitions traveling through. The gallery has hosted work by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol in the past, and rotates delightful new collections through on a regular basis. Truth be told there’s actually quite a lot of art to enjoy throughout Vegas –– including at other galleries and in certain areas known for street art. But this Bellagio gallery is not to be missed.

Hopefully this has given you a sense of how much Vegas has to offer beyond the obvious! It’s a fascinating cultural destination, and one in which there truly is something for everybody.

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