Las Vegas is known for the bright lights of the Strip, long hot afternoons by the pool, and decadent dinners at a hotel buffet. But it’s also so much more than the glittering nightlife. Visiting one of the Las Vegas area’s interesting and unique museums can be a fun activity for locals or an outing with guests from out of town. Here are some museum recommendations Crème de la Crème has for you.
The Neon Museum
“Neon Museum” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by Tom Hilton
The Neon Museum houses a two-acre collection of old neon signs from Las Vegas casinos, businesses, and hotels. Visitors can walk through the outdoor “boneyard” where the signs are stacked on the ground and on each other. Signs that once hung high in the air on the Strip are a fascinating sight at eye-level. During the day, you can see the faded paint and rusted metal, while a night tour leads you around the glitz of the signs that have had their lights restored.
You can take a guided tour where knowledgeable guides take you through Vegas history through its signs, or some general admission tickets are available every day for a self-guided walk. Because the display is mostly outdoors, you’ll want to dress for the desert heat, and you can bring water with you. Because of the tour’s proximity to the signs, the museum recommends the day tour for children 10 and older and the night tour for children 12 and older.
The Pinball Hall of Fame
The lights and sounds of a pinball machine are a perfect complement to the lights and sounds of the Vegas Strip. The Pinball Hall of Fame is located across from the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign and the Mandalay Bay casino. It’s open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. in a brand-new, 25,000-square-foot facility housing the personal collection of one member of the Last Vegas Pinball Collectors Club.
Not only can you walk around and find your favorite pinball machines from the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, but all the machines are restored and playable for 25 or 50 cents a game. Slide your dollar bills into the vintage change machines rescued from the Golden Nugget trash heap, listen to that ping of quarters as they fall into the tray, and enjoy a cool afternoon playing pinball. All games are family-friendly and non-violent. The Pinball Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization, and any extra money after operating expenses is donated to The Salvation Army.
The Nevada State Railroad Museum
About 30 miles southeast of Vegas in Boulder City, Nevada, the kids are sure to be enchanted by The Nevada State Railroad Museum. It marks the spot of the Union Pacific Railroad Depot that hauled supplies and equipment for the construction of the nearby Hoover Dam in 1931. Old maps of Nevada show miles of railroad lines that are long gone, most torn up and sold for scrap. The museum line is one of the last remaining ties to Nevada’s railroad history.
On the weekends, visitors can buy tickets for a 5-mile ride in one of the open-air or closed (and air-conditioned or heated) Pullman coaches. There are three ride times per day, and the journey takes about 35 to 40 minutes. During the week, visitors are welcome to visit the museum and look at the trains.
For special occasions, you can rent out a car for a birthday party or event. Super train enthusiasts might enjoy a cab ride with the engineer and brakeman for an additional fee. The $250 “Engineer for an Hour” program offers guests 18 years and older a session of operating instructions from a certified engineer, followed by your chance to drive the diesel-electric locomotive along one of the branches of railroad track.
About 5 miles north of the lights and glamour of the Strip, the 180-acre Springs Preserve seeks to educate visitors about the natural habitat of the Nevada desert. Advance purchase general admission tickets are available for entry from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday through Monday and give access to the outdoor trails and gardens, outdoor animal exhibits, playground and splash pad, guided garden tours, and special events and exhibits, including a butterfly habitat. Access to The Nevada Museum (closed Monday) is included in the ticket price, and offers a glimpse into the history of the city of Las Vegas.
Boomtown 1905 is an interactive exhibit with replica buildings and streets that teach about the history of Las Vegas from 1905 to 1920. To understand and appreciate how water is distributed in the desert, visit the interactive WaterWorks permanent exhibit. From exploring geology at the bottom of Lake Mead to exploring aquatic creatures, WaterWorks is just one part of the Preserve’s focus on sustainability education.
You can walk or ride a train to the various exhibits at the Springs Preserve.
Bodies…The Exhibition at The Luxor
Bodies…The Exhibition at the Luxor is dedicated to education about all the fine intricacies of the human body. Skeletons, muscles, organs, and nerves from preserved real human bodies are on full display to teach about the complexities of health and illness and the workings of the body. There are 13 full bodies along with 260 organs and partial body specimens. The bodies are respectfully displayed and treated, and the exhibition is open to children and adults. Purchase tickets online in advance for entry from Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.So that’s our list of museums worth visiting around Las Vegas. We hope it covers a huge variety of interests and helps visitors know a little more about the natural and human history of this part of Nevada. We recommend double-checking the museum’s website for all kinds of updated information on hours and special exhibits before your visit. Is there a nearby museum that we missed from this list? We’d love to have you contact us and let us know what you recommend for a fun family outing.