When visiting Las Vegas, it can be overwhelming deciding where to begin amongst the staggering number of things to experience. There are many different Vegases; some go to gamble, drink, and party; some go to sightsee, explore, and learn about the culture, some go for the food, some for the shows, and a good number of us love to find the offbeat, quirky stuff – of which there is A LOT. So on a recent trip, one of the absolute first things I wanted to see was the Neon Museum, found just north of the iconic Fremont Street Experience. The Neon Museum is an outdoor boneyard consisting of countless retired signs from old casinos, hotels, and restaurants. Many of these old relics are from defunct businesses, although some still exist. Although the yard is not terribly large in size, the signs are packed in pretty heavily, with many just stacked in behind the prominent ones. The more iconic and recognizable signs still light up, making evening a popular time to visit. Some signs have small informational plaques in front, telling the story of a legendary nightclub or casino in Vegas’ early years. Some are restored to pristine condition, some are rusted and beat up. All of them are awesome.
It costs $20 for a self-guided walk through the boneyard, although additional packages with guides and even a light show event run more. You’ll see Vegas icons like the Sahara, the Stardust, Binion’s, and the Hard Rock, and lesser known gems like the Red Barn, Sassy Sally’s, Jerry’s, and the Algiers. Guides are positioned throughout to answer questions you may have. There is a great gift shop at the end with all the souvenirs you could think of as well as books about the history of Las Vegas.
Plan for about an hour to walk through the boneyard and see all of the vintage advertising. It’s incredible to witness the craftsmanship, detail, and color that once went into creating the neon signs. The old cliche “They don’t make ’em like that anymore” is never more relevant than a place like this. One your way out, across the parking lot you can even see a separate storage area packed with many more signs that hopefully will find a home eventually. If you are a neon sign geek like myself, this is one place you will not want to miss on your trip to Sin City.
While in the area: The Neon Museum is located just a few blocks north of the Fremont Street Experience, so if you’re staying on the Strip, plan to take in Fremont and the Neon Museum on the same venture. And just off of Fremont is historic downtown Las Vegas, with its old motels, fun bars, and the Downtown Container Park.