Vintage Las Vegas is easily found if you know where to look. Visit the Neon Museum, Park on Fremont and the Atomic Museum for history and tradition.
Quick! Las Vegas history, anyone? Right! For most of us, Vegas is all about the now, hip and new. But on our recent visit, our hosts, Allegiant Travel and their business partners, made sure we had a fascinating look at vintage Las Vegas. The National Atomic Testing Museum, The Neon Museum and Park on Fremont in the famed historic district are great stops to absorb history and tradition, Vegas-style.
National Atomic Testing Museum
Two distinct exhibits – the permanent exhibit and the Area 51 exhibit – juxtaposed different realities during our visit. Not just kitschy, vintage Las Vegas, but a sobering look at atomic power and ongoing mystery.
For Area 51, we received fun credentials, but were admonished no photography. It was a fun look at UFOs, encounters with extraterrestrials, and ancient evidence that we are not alone. Multi-media displays and an emphasis on video interviews created more questions than answers, though!
The permanent exhibit has over 12,000 artifacts. Beginning with Oppenheimer, Einstein and other pre-WWII notables, we traveled past weapons and defense milestones. Interspersed are snippets of everyday, vintage Las Vegas life: test site workers at a holiday party, “duck and cover” demos, nuclear test spectators. This is a thoughtfully-curated display of a comprehensive collection.
The Neon Museum
A boneyard of vintage Las Vegas neon signs? Just the right amount of creep factor and residual energy was present in our docent tour of The Neon Museum. Since 1996, the Neon Museum has been collecting lighted signs dating from the 1930’s. Each piece has a story.
The volunteer docent who led our party through was enthusiastic and extremely knowledgable. His infectious passion translated into a fascinating, surreal experience.
We were happy to learn that restoration efforts have led to a display partnership: restored signs are installed along the designated National Scenic Byway stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, between Sahara Avenue and Washington Avenue (tour map). This more interactive urban art experience sets just the right vintage Las Vegas tone in the newly-trendy historic Fremont District.
We would be remiss if we didn’t point out a particularly significant piece of vintage Las Vegas at the Neon Museum. Benny Binion‘s Horseshoe sign pays homage to the man who advised, “If you want to get rich, make small people feel big.” Thanks to Benny for thinking of giving free drinks to gamblers!
If you’ll be visiting the Neon Museum during the day, bring sun protection. It gets hot quickly out in the Boneyard, and there is little shade.
Park on Fremont
Park on Fremont is a restaurant with multiple personalities. Some of them are bizarre.
The kitschy enclosed garden in back is a great place to enjoy drinks and grill selections in a comfortable, shaded atmosphere.
There is even a secret little area in back with an adult-sized seesaw! Go ahead! No one can see you!
We enjoyed the experiences our friends at Allegiant Travel Company and the LVCVA selected for us. We felt like we were getting a more well-rounded impression of a city that’s not just about gambling. And we learned some fascinating history, too.
When you’re in Vegas, take some time away from the strip for vintage Las Vegas at these 3 great stops! Check out our roundtrip airfare giveaway courtesy of Allegiant Travel here, too!
Please note that we were the guests of Allegiant Travel Company, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and their business partners on this trip. All opinions and observations in this series are our own.