AAA Travel Tips / 5 Great Vegas Attractions Most People Miss

5 Great Vegas Attractions Most People Miss

AAA/Frank Swanson
By AAA Travel Editor Frank Swanson
May 07, 2019
If you’re ready to escape the crowds shuffling along the Strip and you’ve had enough of smoke-filled casinos, then spend some time exploring these five off the beaten path things to do. Red Rock Canyon offers fresh air and beautiful scenery while the others feature fun exhibits about all those things that make Las Vegas the exciting adult playground and big-time vacation destination it is today.
The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.
AAA/Frank Swanson
The Mob Museum, National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement
300 Stewart Ave.
(702) 229-2734
Journey back to an era of illegal alcohol, flask-sipping flappers and tommy gun-shooting “made men” at The Mob Museum, a AAA GEM-rated attraction near downtown’s Fremont Street. Housed inside a restored 1933 courthouse, the museum recounts the origins of organized crime in the early 1900s, the boom years during Prohibition, the mob’s involvement in making Las Vegas a gambling destination and how law enforcement eventually brought some of the Mafia’s biggest names to justice. The subject matter can get a little grim, but the top-notch exhibits lighten the tone with tongue-in-cheek titles like “The Mob’s Greatest Hits” and for added cheer, there’s a speakeasy exhibit in the basement complete with a well-stocked bar.
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National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas Nevada
flickr / CC BY /Jeremy Thompson
National Atomic Testing Museum
755 E. Flamingo Rd.
(702) 794-5151
Step into the National Atomic Testing Museum’s Ground Zero Theater to feel what it’s like to witness an above-ground nuclear test—simulated, of course. Hundreds of very real nuclear blasts were triggered at the Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas from 1951 to 1992, and the museum recounts that history with exhibits of rockets, Geiger counters and photographs of mushroom clouds, among many other items. A piece of the Berlin Wall commemorates the end of the Cold War, and there are display cases filled with fun pop culture memorabilia including comic books, atomic-themed toys and designs for backyard fallout shelters.
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The entrance to the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada.
AAA/Frank Swanson
Neon Museum
770 Las Vegas Blvd. N.
(702) 387-6366
Historic preservation is not much of a thing in Las Vegas, where novelty is valued above all else, and familiar buildings that have stood for decades regularly succumb to the wrecking ball, but that’s beginning to change. Consider the Neon Museum for instance, where classic signs from casinos and hotels that were torn down years ago enjoy a second life as works of art on display. Huge lightbulb-studded logos proclaiming yesteryear’s vacation destinations like the Stardust and the Sahara are exhibited outdoors in the Neon Boneyard, and nighttime tours are so popular, tickets can be hard to come by.
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AAA/Diana Beyer
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
3205 SR 159
(702) 515-5350
If you’re ready to trade the over-the-top, neon-lit spectacle of the Strip for a more natural and relaxing environment, drive 30 minutes west to AAA GEM Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The colors are more subdued than those of Glitter Gulch, but the reds, browns, oranges and tans of the sandstone formations are stunning nonetheless. Hiking through this stark landscape is one of the park’s many things to do, or if your time is limited, drive the 13-mile-long loop road and stop to snap awesome photos from an overlook.
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The Springs Preserve in Las Vegas Nevada
flickr / CC BY /Renee Grayson
The Springs Preserve
333 S. Valley View Blvd.
(702) 822-7700
Gambling isn’t the first thing that attracted people to Las Vegas. In a place as dry as the Mojave Desert, water was the area’s first jackpot and the Las Vegas Springs were where Native Americans, Spanish merchants and Mormon settlers came for the payout. Today water conservation is the theme at this site, which not only protects those original springs but includes nature trails, botanical gardens, displays of area wildlife, a re-created 1905 Las Vegas streetscape and one of the city’s fun things to do with kids: the Origen Museum.
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