Las Vegas, or ‘Sin City’, has long been famed for its neon lights, creating a glowing bright spot in the middle of the desert. As you amble down the strip, gazing in awe at the ‘theme-park’ for adults surrounding you, the lights are unavoidable in a brash yet endearing manner.
Before arriving one of the key attractions on my ‘must-do’ list was a visit to the Neon Museum in Downtown Vegas. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the museum is a not-for-profit foundation, set up to salvage, save, protect and even restore the city’s most iconic art form.
The hour long tours on offer throughout the day are a condensed visual walk through of the city’s history: fast paced, energetic and subject to constant change. The beauty of Las Vegas is that from the days of the mob through to the present, neon signs have not just indicated the big casinos but have been used for everything from motels and restaurants to fuel stations. The neon ‘boneyard’ as it is nicknamed has examples of all of these, with big names including signs from Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget and the Stardust.
Our tour was absolutely fascinating, offering a real insight into the history of the city with signs dating back to the 1930s. Each sign’s story in its creation, styling and the attraction it represented is told, including how its fits into the timeline of Las Vegas.
My advice would be to make sure you book your tickets in advance as we did, for on the day we visited all the tickets were sold out. If you fancy going beyond the regular hour long tour, you can join one of the specialist photography tours offered or book it as an unusual venue for the ding dong of wedding bells – quirky even by Vegas standards!
It’s worth keeping an eye on the Neon Museum social media outlets if you have an interest in the history of Las Vegas, as they regularly share some fantastic photos of days-gone-by.