Everyone thinks they know all about Sin City, but do they really? Those who live in this town know the inside secrets and the top local trivia about Las Vegas, and they are not shy about sharing its history. From its cowboy roots to its mob connection, Las Vegas celebrates it all with passion, glitz and glamor.
The Mob Museum
300 E. Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
The Mob Museum, which opened on the anniversary of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, celebrates the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful people associated with Las Vegas’ Cosa Nostra connection. You can tour and witness the history of Sin City – the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth – and explore the profiteering and money laundering that led to the boom of the casinos. The costumes, the videos and the exhibits all point to the violent beginnings of Las Vegas and the map of the North American Mob Connection brings it all into focus, especially when you look closely at a piece of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall. You can experience an actual slice of history when you tour the corridors and three floors of the old Law Building (which is a piece of deliberate irony on the part of the city). This is where infamous mob trials were held. If walls could only talk!
The Neon Museum
810 N. Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Have you ever wondered where old Las Vegas signs go to die? They go to the Neon Boneyard, of course! It all began with the Hacienda horse and rider and has grown, through time, to include iconic signs from past casinos and businesses. The Silver Slipper, The Aladdin, Binion’s Horseshoe and so many more are represented in this collection. You must take a guided tour to see these old beauties, but some have lately been displayed in Fremont Street, too, much to the delight of locals and guests.
Fremont Street Experience
425 Fremont St.
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Experience “old Vegas” in the heart of downtown, featuring classic casinos, the occasion real live showgirl and lots of gambling. You can even find $1 hot dogs and delicious buffets amid the glitter of the old-style lights and kitschy fronts of some of the oldest remaining joints in town. The first hotel was situated here, with the first phone, first gaming license and first paved street. The Golden Nugget was the first building strictly designed for the purpose of being a casino. If you want local trivia, talk to the barkeeps or the hostesses, or take in the Vista Vision shows to enjoy the music and spectacle that is all Vegas. This is where locals go to ‘come home’ and where guests come to find the ‘real deal’ in Glitter Gulch. Turn down the lights, turn on the show and relax under the huge canopy, drink in hand, to become one with the crowd.
Nevada State Museum – Springs Preserve
333 S. Valley View Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89107
The Nevada State Museum celebrates the nature, history and prehistory of southern Nevada. You can find exhibits featuring prehistoric beasts, including our state Ichthyosaur fossil, explore a stalactite cave, watch ghostly holograms of long-deceased miners, be part of the terror of an atomic explosion and witness the growth and development of Las Vegas. If you want to know about a subject, this is the place to find the answer. The Museum is part of the Springs Preserve complex, and entry is included with general admission to the Preserve.
Clark County Museum
1830 S. Boulder Highway
Henderson, NV 89002
Sometimes you have to leave a town to learn facts about its history, and the Clark County Museum takes you from the local Native American beginnings through the cowboys, the immigrants and mob, the implosions and the growth of this fabulous city in a way that makes you feel as though the past has come to life. The actual museum part features the beginnings of settlements in Las Vegas, and moves to present time. It’s when you exit and go to the outdoor exhibits that the past really comes to life. You can explore the Paiute dwellings and enter an old General Store, explore houses on a fine old avenue and watch architecture and living conditions grow to resemble the homes in which we grew up, or find old historic houses that are still inhabited through generations of families. The trains that brought people and prosperity to Sin City are celebrated in their own displays, and the row houses in which miners and other first urban inhabitants lived are a testament to history. The outdoor exhibit is always growing, with the new addition of a chapel and now a firehouse joining the other buildings. This is a bit of local, living history, populated by mannequins and featuring period music in each home that has been reclaimed, refurbished and proudly displayed.
Related: Top Luxury Hotels In Las Vegas
Sharon Damon is a preschool specialist, avid reader, passionate writer and creative baker/ cook. She has been a cooking instructor at a local Rec Center in Henderson, NV since 2011, and has written for Examiner and other publications since 2010. She knows her way around the keyboard and the kitchen! Sharon moved from a small city in Canada to Las Vegas 6 years ago, to marry the love of her life, and has since been swept up in the whirlwind known as Sin City. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.