Was anyone else really ready for Friday this week?
It’s not every week that I feel like this, but my brain is feeling a little overwhelmed right now and I feel like I need the weekend to do a mind reset.
Like maybe just sit in a quiet dark room for three hours….
I’m so excited to be able to add another place to the alcohol-free list and to talk about one of my all time favorite museums here in Vegas, The Neon Museum.
For over 20 years this museum has been dedicated to preserving the artistry of a very unique part of the landscape here, the neon sign.
In those two decades it has had different locations, and continues to expand. The current location on Las Vegas Blvd. just north of Fremont Street had their campus ‘grand opening’ in 2012, and they are currently undergoing more expansions.
The La Concha Motel that serves as the museum’s lobby was actually cut into several pieces and relocated to this location–you can learn more about this when you check in for your tour or purchase tickets at the front desk.
Here are a few pro tips you should know if you want to come to The Neon Museum:
- The museum collection (ie. the signs) are outside. Be prepared for hot weather (they do offer parasols to protect yourself from the sun) so wear sunscreen, bring a hat or scarf to cover up with, and bring LOTS of water.
- You can choose either a self-guided tour in the North Gallery or a guided tour in the main Boneyard.
- The self guided tour is a smaller area but you can look at the signs on your own timetable.
- In my opinion, their guided tour is a better way to experience the collection. Guided tours are an hour long and run between $19-$26 (depending on the time of day) and give an overview of the Las Vegas history, design elements and history of specific signs, and you see more signage overall.
- If you are doing a guided tour you NEED to book ahead of time on their website.
- Not all of the signage is restored. Some of the signs have been fully restored, other signage is in the state that it was in when the property closed.
- Wear closed toed shoes as you’ll be walking in unpaved areas where there can be broken glass (from the bulbs).
The guided tour, which I mention above, gives an awesome overview of Las Vegas starting with the railroad here in 1905. They also give social histories of the city, such as the Moulin Rouge, the first integrated casino property here in Vegas.
There are benches throughout the tour if you need to sit down, as again, this tour takes place outside.I have done both the day and night tours, and I like them for different reasons.
The day tours allow you to see colors on the signage that isn’t as visible at night with the LED lighting. It allows you to appreciate the different states of decay of the unrestored signage. FYI for day tours, these can be particularly brutal May-October, but November-April they are delightful.
Night tours are great because you get a whole different feel from the signage. They illuminated with color-changing LED lights if they’re unrestored, and the restored signage lights up around the time of sunset.
The guided tour starts with Fremont Street area signage, works through signage from local motels, showcases small business signage from over the years, and finally ends with signage from The Strip.
Each tour guide seems to be able to do their tour slightly differently–obviously they have an outline with specific historical and artistic facts they work from, however, each tour I’ve taken the guide is able to put a little bit of their own spin on it.
I’ve found that each guide, whether a born and bred local, or Vegas transplant, seems to share a love of Vegas culture and history.
At the end of the tour you exit through their gift shop, where you can cool down with a snack and a soft drink.
Across the street from the boneyard is a small public park that has picnic tables so you can relax and also has brass plaques with further information about the signage.
If you still can’t get enough neon, you can download a map of all the restored signs that are on public view here and take yourself for an awesome vintage signage tour. I recommend doing it after the sun sets so you can see them all lit up!