Since March 2005, the National Atomic Testing Museum has focused its attention on a more ominous bit of Sin City’s history: its connection to nuclear testing and the development of atomic bombs.
Located deep inside The Golden Nugget on Fremont Street is a golden nugget, one of the largest on display anywhere in the world. The “Hand of Faith” weighs an astonishing 61 pounds, 11 ounces. Kevin Hillier found the nugget near Wedderburn, Australia, in 1980. A year later, it made its way to the casino where it is on display for the world to see. The nugget — said to be the second largest ever discovered and the largest in existence — is valued at more than $3 million.
Fremont Street Experience is a five-block entertainment district located in historic downtown Las Vegas. It is home to North America’s largest video screen, measuring 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet above the urban pedestrian mall. The zone is also home to a trio of states for free nightly concerts and SlotZilla, an 850-foot long Zipline and a 1,750-foot long Zoomline that launch riders from a 12-story slot-machine themed takeoff platform.
The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, better known as The Mob Museum, is located in Downtown Las Vegas in the historic U.S. Post Office and federal courthouse. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, on Nov. 15, 1950, hosted one of the Kefauver Committee Hearings, which investigated organized crime. The museum opened on Feb. 14, 2012, the 79th anniversary of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. The museum displays artifacts belonging to legendary mobsters, including Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel and John Gotti. It also has St. Valentine’s Day Wall, from the building where members from the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone in Chicago murdered seven men affiliated with the Moran gang on Feb. 14, 1929.
The Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum chronicles the history of aviation in Las Vegas, from the first flights in 1920 to present day. The museum is located inside McCarran International Airport above baggage claim. Additional exhibits are located in ticketing and at the A, B, C and D gates. The museum is free, so even those who lost everything at the Blackjack table can enjoy this attraction.
No trip to Vegas would be complete without seeing the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Built in 1959, the sign is one of the most popular symbols of Las Vegas. The sign, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, is located in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, roughly a mile from Mandalay Bay on the southern end of The Strip.
Since 2006, the Pinball Hall of Fame has featured a vast array of pinball machines – ranging from modern machines to rarer classics. The attraction is free to visit, but it costs to play pinball. Still, it’s cheaper than the craps table.
The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens offers an incredible opportunity to step away from the sensory overload that is Las Vegas and into a more serene setting. The 14,000-square-foot gardens is constantly changing based on the season. The gardens are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost.
The nonprofit Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs. The museum, founded in 1996, is home to dozens of signs that once stood outside of casinos in the city.
In many ways, the Fountains of Bellagio are as recognizable as the Las Vegas Strip itself. The choreographed fountains give spectators a one-of-a-kind show, dancing to a range of music, such as Luciano Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra. There is no charge to view the fountains, which are located within an eight-acre manmade lake.
Built at a cost of $49 million — or $821 million with inflation — the Hoover Dam stops the Colorado River to create Lake Mead, itself a popular attraction. It has been open to visitors since 1937, and today, roughly 1 million people visit annually; the busy season falls between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Located roughly 35 miles east of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is an easy — and worthwhile — day trip from Sin City. A number of tour groups offer sightseeing excursions from Vegas hotels for those travelers who don’t have access to a vehicle.
The 10-acre Hemenway Park features standard park fare: playground equipment, tennis and basketball courts and gazebos for parties. But, the real attraction here is the Bighorn sheep that descend from the nearby mountains to water, graze and rest. Located in Hemenway Valley on Ville Drive, the park also offers fantastic views of Lake Mead and is the perfect pull off between Las Vegas and the Hoover Dam.