When I think of Las Vegas, the first things that come to my mind are gambling and drinking, but Las Vegas has more to offer than just the glitz and glamor of the strip. I checked out some unexpected adventures to have in and around the city by visiting Las Vegas Museums.
The Mob Museum
For a peek into the real life of mobsters, I visited The Mob Museum, the only museum in the country dedicated to the history of organized crime. The Mob Museum, also known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, tells of organized crime’s history and influence on American society. The three-story museum shows how organized crime has impacted law enforcement in Las Vegas and around the country. Exhibits include weapons, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall, and Bugsy Siegel’s sunglasses. Visiting the speakeasy in the basement, I discovered hidden rooms and drinks are served prohibition-style in jars and hidden in hollow books.[See related story: 10 Amazing Free Things to Do in Las Vegas]
National Atomic Testing Museum
I had an explosive adventure at the National Atomic Testing Museum. Las Vegas experienced a population boom in the mid 1900s because of the jobs available in the atomic testing site nearby. I explored the history and science of America’s nuclear weapons testing program with collections and activities for all ages. They have a nuclear reactor used in developing the nuclear rocket and air-to-air missiles, a piece of the graffiti-marked Berlin Wall and two pieces of the World Trade Center. Short films and interactive exhibits are included in the museum’s offerings.
The Neon Museum
The neon skyline of Las Vegas is one of the most recognizable sights in the world. The Neon Museum celebrates the golden age of Las Vegas and its neon signs. Founded in 1996, the museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and exhibiting Las Vegas signs. The Salt Lake City-based Young Electric Sign Company created the most iconic neon displays from Las Vegas casinos. The company has maintained a three-acre storage yard in Las Vegas, also called the Neon Boneyard, which has become a graveyard for unused neon signs, where you’ll find over 150 neon signs. The museum visitors’ center is housed inside of the old La Concha Hotel, which was moved to the site in 2006 to serve as a visitors’ center. Tickets must be bought in advance and the number of tours is limited, so book early.
The Pinball Hall of Fame
Who says the only fun games are in the casinos? The Pinball Hall of Fame, created by the Las Vegas Pinball Collectors Club, has the world’s largest collection of pinball machines. They have been restored to their original glory and I could play them for their original price. The collection belongs to a member of the club who wanted to create a family-friendly, hands-on museum. It is operated as a non-profit museum and profits are donated to charities. Games range from the 1950s to the 1990s-era, but the majority are from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, the heyday of pinball machines.
Temporarily leaving the land behind, I enjoyed a voyage on the world’s most famous ship in the 25,000-square-foot Titanic Exhibit. I experienced what it was like to be a passenger on the Titanic traveling through replicas of the ship’s grand rooms. The exhibit displays actual artifacts from the ship such as luggage, ship’s whistle and a 1900 vintage bottle of champagne. When I entered the exhibit, I was given a boarding pass with a passenger’s name on it. By the end of the tour, visitors find out if their passenger survived the shipwreck. Happily, mine was one of the lucky ones who made it onto a lifeboat and was rescued.
– Charlotte Davis is a thirty-something travel blogger on a mission to spread optimism by sharing snippets of her incredible travel tours.