Vegas is full of cool and kitschy museums that celebrate its colorful past. Here are three.
Learn the kind of history you'll never find in a textbook at the Mob Museum, which showcases the notorious battle between organized crime and law enforcement. With high-tech theater presentations, one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive exhibits, you'll get an inside look at organized crime's impact in Las Vegas and around the world. One of the key exhibits is the actual courtroom used in the Kefauver hearings, the first mob-related event to be televised. (www.themobmuseum.org, 702.229.2734)
National Atomic Testing Museum
Remember the good old days when nuclear bombs were tested just outside of Vegas? You might not have seen the massive mushroom clouds firsthand back in the 1950s, but you can travel back to that era at the National Atomic Testing Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Interactive displays, short films, timelines and real equipment from the former testing site put you right in the action. You can even test your own radioactivity. (www.nationalatomictestingmuseum.org, 702.794.5151)
Neon Museum and Boneyard
In a city of bright lights, where does all the neon go to die? To the Neon Museum and Boneyard, an outdoor graveyard for discarded neon relics. See the coolest vintage Las Vegas signage from old casinos and other businesses and learn about their fascinating history. The visitors' center is equally cool, located inside the historic shell-shaped La Concha Motel lobby, designed by acclaimed architect Paul Revere Williams. (www.neonmuseum.org, 702.387.6366)