One huge pet peeve of mine is when somebody (usually a local) whines about Las Vegas not having any culture. That is soo 10 years ago, it’s not even funny. It just means they have not gotten out to explore what all this little city in the desert has to offer.
As a tour professional, I can tell you that a lot has changed in the last 10 years for Las Vegas. And the tourists are noticing as more of them are opting out of the casino and opting in for a tour or a drive around the valley.
Besides the new Mob Museum (it’s real and its a cultural experience like no other) downtown , we have a few other gems most people are now just discovering. Most are close to the tourist corridor or a short city bus/taxi ride away.
Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas
The photo above is from the Nevada State Museum. That’s out at The Springs Preserve. Awesome way to spend a few hours or an entire day. For $10, you get both the Springs Preserve AND The History Museum.
For those of you who have not been to the Springs in the last year, get out there and see what all has changed. See the museum as it traces the state’s history from per-historic times to the modern era. See where Las Vegas really began, a few million years ago…..
Clark County Museum
This one is not so close. The Clark County Museum is off the beaten path a bit. Out on Boulder Highway, heading out towards Boulder City. But for $2 you can walk Las Vegas Main Street as it looked through the past 100 or so years. Including the wedding chapel I married wife #2 in!! (sorry, that piece of trivia was left off their website for some reason!)
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Other than the Mob Museum, this one has had the most negative comments from the local armchair quarterbacks. But it has proven and will continue to prove its skeptics (including me) wrong!! The Smith Center for the Performing Arts will really change the view people have of Las Vegas and the meaning of arts and entertainment in the desert.
Like the Mob Museum, The Smith Center was a project near and dear to our favorite mayor, Mayor Oscar…. God Bless the man and his martinis!…. This will be THE place for events when it opens in March. Best of all, it’s a stone’s throw from the revitalized downtown.
The Neon Boneyard
Remember all those neon signs you see on all the old Vegas movie clips and postcards?? A lot of the more iconic ones have actually been saved. They will go on display and open to the public at the Neon Museum starting later this year.
Each sign is more than just an advertisement. It represents a unique point in American culture, engineering and marketing progression. It’s a fascinating walk down the highway of modern American dreams and ingenuity. Not to mention how it changed the way companies marketed to the consumer.
The Mob Museum
Also known as National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, recently opened up to great fan fare and excellent reviews from both Law Enforcement and the mobsters themselves.
The Mob Museum is an excellent place to trace the roots of organized crime in America, and how law Enforcement dealt with them. A look at all sides of the topic from the people who lived it. This is not an “attraction” or “experience”… its a very well executed immersion into what happened, why and who did what… Plan about 2-3 hours to see it all.
Atomic Test Site Museum
This Smithsonian partner takes a look at our nuclear history. The National Atomic Testing Museum is more than a look at the above ground atomic tests that Las Vegas used for a tourist attraction (check out the JC Penny Catalog with bomb safe clothing) . Its a look at our cold war technology and what it took to keep us safe. They have changing exhibits. Opening in March is a look at Area 51… The top secret military base that everyone knows nothing about.
The point is that Las Vegas really is more than just gambling. We are becoming more than a one horse town and people are starting to recognize that. It’s nice to finally see that we, as a city and a community, are beginning to notice that we do have a history that needs to be preserved. Not just imploded….
So the next time someone tells you there si nothing to do in Las Vegas but gamble, tell them to come on back out and experience it again!!