I decided I wanted to do a redesign of my blog and so I took the following steps to create a "beta" site to play around with.
1) Export a full SQL database of my existing blog
2) Import the SQL database into a new database (I have two from my host). I did not change any table names.
3) Created a subdomain on my site beta.raincityguide.com and uploaded the latest version of WP there along with a few files that I had added (photos and plug-ins).
4) Changed the name of the database within the wp-config.php file to reflect the new database.
5) Loaded on the ".../wp-admin/upgrade.php" (completed without errors)
When I load this beta site, everything is fine except all the blog entries and links point to the non-beta version.
AND when I try to go to the beta version of ".../wp-admin", it redirects me to the live version. This makes I can't load the new theme I've been working on into beta.
It seems clear to me that I missed at least one thing in the configuration but despite my searching, I can't seem to find it.
Now that I've said all this, I should also note that all I want to do is create a beta blog that closely resembles my main blog so that I can minimize errors when I go to push the new design to live. If there is a better way to do this, I'd definitely be interested in hearing about it!