Las Vegas is not your average city, and its museum selection is no different. Instead of art and other traditional cultural institutions, Vegas boasts museums that highlight the city’s distinctive history—think bright lights, entertainment, and the mafia. Here are a few of the top museums to complement your time at the casino or by the pool.
At Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, the likenesses of A-list stars provide ample opportunity for Vegas-themed interaction and photo ops. Experiences include Marvel superheroes, Vegas icons such as Elvis and the Rat Pack, and the stars of the Vegas-set movie The Hangover.
How to Visit: Prebook your admission to avoid the ticket line when you arrive, and consider a combo option that includes a visit to another top attraction such as a gondola ride at the Venetian.
Despite many changes over the years, one thing is a constant in Las Vegas: the neon. Discover classic signs and other neon artifacts at the Neon Museum, whose outdoor Boneyard houses both restored and unrestored signs from old casinos, hotels, and other locations.
How to Visit: Opt for a city tour or museum tour that includes the Neon Museum, or book online admission in advance if you plan to visit independently.
Officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum has been a favorite Las Vegas attraction since it opened in 2012. Learn about real stories and events through exhibits and interactive displays such as “Prohibition,” “The Crime Lab,” “The Speakeasy,” and “The Feds Fight Back.”
How to Visit: Purchase admission in advance to avoid the ticket line at this popular venue, or join a Las Vegas museum tour to explore with a guide and other travelers.
Nevada State Museum
Just a few miles from downtown Las Vegas, the Nevada State Museum is part of Springs Preserve, a 180-acre (70-hectare) complex home to trails, bike paths, archaeological sites, and desert wildlife. The museum features exhibits about Nevada’s cultural history, natural history, and geology, including the state fossil (a complete ichthyosaur) and displays about the Hoover Dam and Native Americans.
How to Visit: Entry to Springs Preserve includes access to the museum; book admission in advance to avoid waiting in the ticket line.
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Great for those visiting the city with kids or looking for a break from the Strip that’s both entertaining and educational, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum features exhibits such as prehistoric fossils, marine life, and Egyptian treasures. See live sharks and stingrays, replicas of bears and big cats, and even a wooly mammoth tooth.
How to Visit: Book admission in advance to visit independently and avoid the ticket line, or join a Las Vegas museum tour (the museums included vary depending on the time of year).