Las Vegas is famous for its hotels, gambling, and nightclubs, but it is also home to a number of off-beat and unique museums. From organized crime to desert fauna, you can find a museum dedicated to almost every aspect of life in the Las Vegas desert. If you like museums but aren’t sure where to begin, check out the suggestions below.
The Neon Museum
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The Neon Museum, also known as the Neon Graveyard, is one of the more unique museums to visit in Las Vegas. The institution pays homage to the signage and hotels of the city’s neon-colored history. Inside, you’ll find signs from old businesses offering “free aspirin and tender sympathies,” and original signage from hotels that are still standing today.
Because the museum is outdoors, it’s important to keep the weather in mind during your visit. If you go in the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water; temperatures can be up to 10 degrees higher inside the museum.
Guided tours are the only option available to see the displays, so be sure to book your tickets in advance.
If you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll want to stop by the Springs Preserve. The 180-acre site is home to two museums, walking trails, and Desert Sol, the winner of the 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Springs Preserve hosts events, exhibitions and classes throughout the year for both kids and adults. It’s farther away from the Strip than other museums mentioned, but it’s worth the extra Uber fare to see it. Current attractions include Flash Flood, a simulated flooding experience in the desert, and Boomtown 1905, which showcases Las Vegas’ early days as a mining town.
Admission for adults starts at $18.95, and $10.95 for children.
Organized crime is alive and well in Las Vegas – in a sense. The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, also known as the Mob Museum, is the only museum of its kind in the United States. It chronicles the relationship between G-men and gangsters, and the downfall of an organization that, at one time, seemed impossible to penetrate.
Ticket prices start at $23.95 for non-locals, with discounts available to seniors, teachers, military, and law enforcement. The Mob Museum offers only self-guided and audio tours unless you travel with a group of 10 or more.
The Hollywood Car Museum is for auto enthusiasts and action movie aficionados. Located just on the other side of Interstate 15, this museum is convenient for anyone staying on the Strip. It has a massive collection on display in its showroom, ranging from stunt cars to hot tub limos. Some of the best-known cars on display include the Bugs Bunny Rabbit car, Knight Rider, the Delorean from Back to the Future, and The Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee.
General admission for adults starts at $20. Kids under the age of 16 get in free with a paid adult.
The Harry Mahoney Erotic Heritage Museum, located behind the Strip, showcases the history of erotica and its impact on society. The museum, open since 2008, is connected to the Déjà Vu strip club, which Mahoney also owns. Inside, you’ll find an extensive collection of erotic photography, literature, and artifacts that celebrate human sexuality. Past guest exhibits include The World’s Largest Erotic Bicycle and Eva Braun’s undergarments.
Admission is $30.00 for non-members and $15.00 for members and locals.
A museum full of cadavers and organs may sound gruesome, but Bodies: The Exhibition commits to educating, not offending.
Bodies, which premiered at the Luxor Hotel & Casino in 2009, takes its guests on a unique journey through the human body. The exhibit gives an in-depth look at the human body’s basic functions and how it recovers from injury and disease. In one room, you’ll find a collection of neon-colored veins and arteries. Another room showcases various organs in different states of injury. The resident cadavers of Bodies are arranged to show patrons the form and functions of various muscles and ligaments.
Ticket prices for Bodies start at $32.00 for non-locals, with an extra $5.00 charge for an audio guide.
If you come to Las Vegas with children, you have to check out the Discovery Children’s Museum. The three-story museum allows its little patrons to explore exhibits that focus on science, geology, hydraulic power, and investigation techniques. Located next door to The Smith Center, Las Vegas’ major performing arts center in downtown, the Discovery Museum is a great place for children and their adults to spend the day together.
The Discovery Children’s Museum is open seven days a week, with adult admission starting at $14.50.
The Las Vegas Natural History Museum is one of the more typical museums you’ll find in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t make it any less fascinating. The museum, which opened in 1991, began as a labor of love for locals in search of a home for already-curated wildlife and prehistoric collections. Current exhibits include Egyptian artifacts, galleries dedicated to marine life and prehistoric mammals, and interactive exhibits on life in the rainforest.
The Natural History Museum is open daily, with ticket prices for adults starting at $10.00.
The Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, located on the UNLV campus, is one of the oldest museums on this list. For the past 50 years, the museum has collected, preserved and displayed some of Nevada’s most prominent works and artifacts, and it now houses three different collections, including its own, as well as a number of rotating exhibits. Current exhibits include short films by Casey Roberts, photography by Alexa Hoyer and a mixed-media installation by New York artist Katarina Jerinic.
Admission is free, but voluntary contributions are encouraged.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame celebrates one of Las Vegas’ most famous mascots—the showgirl. Through an extensive collection of letters, props, photography, and costumes, the museum details the rich and sexy history of the art of the tease. Located in the Arts District, the Burlesque Hall of Fame is a one-of-a-kind institution that everyone should see at least once.
The Burlesque Hall of Fame offers free admission, but donations and/or purchases are suggested.