Know where to go in Vegas? Local agents offer suggestions

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NEW YORK -- Travel Weekly spoke with three Las Vegas agents on what insider places they recommend to out-of-town clients. Their suggestions follow:

Rose Dominguez, Discovery Travel

• Sandy Valley Ranch. This dude ranch is 53 miles southwest of the Strip. "If adventure is in your blood and you have never experienced a western vacation, you can do this at Sandy Valley Ranch," Dominguez said. It offers trail rides, lunch and sunset dinner rides and overnight rides that include two days on the trail, a chuck-wagon feast and entertainment.

Three- or four-night packages with roundups, horseback riding, meals, hiking and hay rides are available. For details, call (877) 726-3998 or (702) 631-0463, or visit www.sandyvalleyranch.com.

• Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park. Visitors to this historical ranch can take home samples of heirloom vegetables -- monohybrid varieties grown in the garden.

This attraction is downtown at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard near Cashman Stadium. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For information, call (702) 486-3511.

• Desert Demonstration Gardens. Owned by the Las Vegas Valley Water District, these two-and-a-half acres of gardens feature 12 areas, with such themes as cacti, fruit and vegetables.

The attraction, open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., is closed on holidays. For more information, call (702) 258-3205 or visit www.lvvwd.com

• The Florida Cafe. Set on Las Vegas Boulevard heading toward downtown, the Florida Cafe "serves the best Cuban food in town," she said. For reservations, call (702) 385-3013.

• Chicago Joe's. This Italian eatery, also located in the downtown area, is on Fourth Street.

"Like the Florida Cafe, it's moderately priced, and is a colorful place with locals. It's also one of the oldest in establishments in town." For reservations, call (702) 382-5637.

Frank Curhan, Preferred Travel Services

• Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. "After a drive of 10 miles or so [outside the city], you see these beautiful mountain ranges, where the rocks, based on the time of day, will change color," Curhan said.

The park offers trails for hikers and automobile access roads. There is a $5 per car admission fee. For details, call 702) 363-1921 or visit www.redrockcanyon.blm.gov.

• Bonnie Springs Old Nevada. This Wild West theme park features period shops, restaurants, a zoo and mock gunfights, which cost a small fee to watch.

"These actors play up to the kids," Curhan said. "They do a comedy sketch in one of the taverns, where male actors play both male and female parts. It's pretty funny seeing a guy with a beard playing a woman." For more information, call (702) 875-4191 or visit www.bonniesprings.com.

• Valley of Fire State Park. This attraction is named for its red rock formations. There also is an Indian reservation, which features 3,000-year-old petroglyphs in caves where American Indians once lived. For more information, call (702) 397-2088.

• Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. This shopping area, about 40 miles south of Las Vegas near the California border, houses discount stores from such designers and retailers as Donna Karan and Neiman Marcus. For information, call (702) 874-1400.

• Belz Factory Outlet World. Located three minutes by car from Mandalay Bay, the last hotel on the Strip, the outlet center "has a huge array of stores, and you can take a bus or taxi there from your hotel." For information, call (702) 896-5599

• Ethel M Chocolates factory tour. "[The factory has] one of the most comprehensive cacti gardens in the world, [the Botanical Cactus Garden]," Curhan said. "Visitors usually get a few pieces of chocolate to sample."

The founder of the Ethel M (for Mars) Chocolates Factory moved to Las Vegas because he wanted a place where he could manufacture chocolate at a low cost and add liqueurs to the confections, he noted. For more, call (888) 627-0990 or visit www.ethelm.com

• Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. "These are not to be missed." For details on Lake Mead, call (702) 293-8907. For information on touring Hoover Dam, call (866) 291-TOUR or (702) 597-5970, or visit www.hooverdam.usbr.gov.

Sharna Blumenfeld, Preferred Travel Services

• Jeep or Humvee desert tours. "There are several such operators that have sprung up in recent years," Blumenfeld said.

Operators offer hourlong trips and can take groups or individuals, she said. Three-year-old Adventure Photo Tours runs upscale tours. To contact Adventure Photo Tours, call (888) 363-8687 or (702) 889-8687, or visit www.adventurephototours.com.

• Lied Discovery Children's Museum. The facility is located north of the Stratosphere resort on Las Vegas Boulevard. "It's a small and wonderful museum, appropriate for children ages 4 to 12," she said.

The museum features hands-on exhibits on science and desert animals. For details, call (702) 382-3445 or visit www.ldcm.org.

• Clark County Heritage Museum. This outdoor museum, located on Boulder Highway between Sam's Town and the Hoover Dam, will fit into the budgets of money-conscious tourists, with an admission fee of $1.50.

The museum has a collection of American Indian artifacts, old-fashioned farm equipment and trains, "but the best part of it is a re-created street of houses built [to resemble homes] in the 1930s, when the Hoover Dam was built."

Visitors can enter the houses, which are decorated with period furnishings. For information, call (702) 455-7955.

• Tillerman restaurant. The menu offers a mix, but the Tillerman is "noted for its seafood." The restaurant, about 10 minutes by car from the Strip, is "probably a $10 to $15 cab ride." For information, call (702) 731-4036 or visit www.tillerman.com

• Rosemary's Restaurant. "The food is superb and the presentation is beautiful," Blumenfeld said. Rosemary's is about 15 minutes from the Strip, about a $25 cab ride, she said. For information, call (702) 869-2251 or visit www.rosemarysrestaurant.com.

• The Mediterranean Cafe. The menu of this college hangout, located near the University of Las Vegas off Flamingo and Maryland Parkway, is Middle Eastern and Greek cuisine.

"It recently opened a room connected to the restaurant called the Hookah Lounge, where you can smoke all kinds of tobaccos," she said. "There might even be belly dancers on the weekends. It's a social, happy-hour type of [place]. It's very popular." For information, call (702) 731-6030 or visit www.medcafe-market.com.

• Golf. "We have five major courses within about three miles of each other in the Summerlin area. They're really outstanding courses," Blumenfeld said.

Badlands Golf Club, for example, utilizes the desert landscape. "[Golfers step] off the green and are in the rock, sand and desert," she said. To contact Badlands Golf Club, call (800) 468-7918.

• Spa treatments. "The Venetian, Bellagio and Regent Las Vegas (formerly known as the Resort at Summerlin) all have excellent spas," she said.

To contact the Regent Las Vegas, call (877) 869-8777 (resort reservations), (877) 869-5777 (spa reservations) or visit www.regent lasvegas.com.

For reservations at Spa Bellagio, call (888) 987-7111 or (702) 693-7472, or visit www.bellagioresort.com

For reservations at Canyon Ranch Spa Club at the Venetian, call (877) 220-2688 or (702) 414-3600, or visit www.venetian.com.

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