David and I wanted to try something new on this trip to Vegas, and went on an evening tour of the Neon Museum. I learned a lot about neon signs and old Vegas, and it was a lot of fun (minus the annoying ass and his equally annoying family – but more on them later).
The museum is located near Downtown, about a 5 minute taxi ride from Fremont Street. I recommend taking a taxi or a car if you rent one – the area is industrial and we were advised it may be a bit sketchy. But, with a taxi, it was easy to get to (and the friendly staff made sure there was a taxi to pick us up as soon as the tour was over).
You have to book a tour to visit the non-profit museum and the “boneyard” of signs, and a knowledgable guide walks you through all the old signs that have been donated. I would recommend seeing the museum at night, as it is really beautiful to see the restored signs. Not all are lit or fully restored (the cost to have them all lit up would be incredibly expensive, and restoration can cost into the hundreds of thousands). The photo below from an old restaurant was donated in fully-restored glory at a cost of about $130,000.
The tour starts at a visitors centre that is located inside the old La Concha Motel lobby. It is a really cool shell-shaped building that has been moved to this location. There are also some great items in the gift shop, if you are into that kind of thing. The last tour is at 7 p.m. and the cost is about $18 per adult.
Now to the bozo’s who almost ruined our tour. Each tour has about 20 people in it, and it can be hard to hear if people aren’t being respectful. This group had a family with all the men dressed in ridiculous faux-rap outfits with gold chains (these guys were clearly wanna-be’s and drunk). They also didn’t have coats (which was stupid, considering it is February and gets down to about 4 degrees celsius at night).
So, this one young punk is talking back to the guide, sitting on the signs (even though he was warned not to). At one point, I was right beside him and his grandma (I assume) who was giggling as he was talking loudly. Cue Julianne with a side of rage. I very calmly and slowly looked him in the eye and said “It is VERY hard to hear.” He scoffed a bit, but I kept staring at him. I then looked his grandma in the eye and said “Please!” and held that look a few moments too long. It did the trick and the rest of the tour was pretty quiet. I’m short, but mighty.
Back to the tour! Enjoy the wonderful photos that David took, and consider checking out this fantastic museum if you are in Las Vegas! I start with the original Golden Nugget sign, from 1905, and David’s favourite sign of the night – a dancing shirt!
Lots of interesting letters laying around, as well as easily recognizable signs from famous casinos from the past.
Some of the most interesting signs were figures – including the large skeleton face from Treasure Island (the guide explained this was from the 90s when family-friendly theme hotels were all the rage), a large male figure that I totally can’t remember what casino it was from (but he is kinda creepy and has a 70s outfit and a mullet), a duck from an old restaurant, and the cutest girl face!
I leave you with this fact. Did you know that even today there is a bylaw in Las Vegas that if you are a business in downtown Las Vegas, you HAVE to display a neon or LED sign? That’s kinda cool.