There’s more to Las Vegas than slot machines and blackjack tables. Here are four offbeat attractions that are a sure bet for amusement value.
1. THE PINBALL HALL OF FAME More than 400 working pinball machines from every era are here, from stubby-flipper tables of the ’60s to the manic and often incomprehensible tables of today. Looking for your college pinball machine? They probably have it, next to the one you played at the small-town ice cream parlor your family visited each summer. You can also play the exhibits.
2. THE FREMONT EXPERIENCE Fremont Street is a five-block stretch in downtown Vegas that’s less glitzy but even more colorful than the Strip. Every few minutes people fly down via zip line from an enormous slot machine three stories high. Visit the casinos like Binion’s, where you can be photographed with a million dollars. Grab a bite at the Heart Attack Grill; stop by The Neontropolis, a failed retail complex with a few classic signs and three floors of boarded-up stores; tour a burlesque museum; or check out the Mob Museum, where you can kill a few hours and not worry about burying them in the desert.
3. THE NEON MUSEUM You come not to bury Caesar’s Palace, but to praise it at The Boneyard of the Neon Museum. This open-air display is a resting place for Vegas’ gaudy and gorgeous neon signs of the past. Your guide will explain where the signs were, what they meant and why they matter (the Moulin Rouge: first integrated casino. That simple chicken-steaks-cocktail sign? Longest-running eatery in town).
4. NATIONAL ATOMIC TESTING MUSEUM What better way to spend a broiling afternoon than studying the history of thermonuclear detonation? This Smithsonian offshoot collects the lore and mementos of the days when mushroom clouds were visible from the casino rooftops. They blew up a huge number of bombs in Nevada, and the lore and leftovers of this thunderous era is all here, meticulously explained.