I visit Las Vegas often; I love the bling. I have watched Las Vegas reinvent itself many times over the years. I miss the inexpensive food and cheap entertainment. But mostly I miss the extravagant entrances of the old casinos. They called to me with blinking lights and I followed them. Excalibur and Luxor came to the strip in the 90’s minus the bling. Both are extravagant casinos and are lit beautifully at night but it’s been downhill since then.
The days of collaboration between sign designers and architects are long gone. My beloved bling has been replaced by giant screens with LED lights. It’s not the same. During this years Las Vegas trip I made a point of connecting to Vintage Vegas. I spent a night downtown at the Plaza, hung out on Fremont Street, checked out a couple wedding chapels, sought out the restored signs along Las Vegas Blvd and made a stop at the Neon Museum.
The Neon Museum is an open air museum with over 150 vintage neon signs dating back to 1930. One hour guided tours provide a history of sin city and the story behind the signs. You will see everything from casinos and cafes to motels and wedding chapels in this ‘boneyard’. The museum not only preserves, it restores. In 2009 a stretch of Las Vegas Blvd became a National Scenic Byway. Nine restored signs have been installed in the median. There are also several restored signs throughout Fremont Street. Purchase your Neon Museum tickets online; they do sell out. Consider a combo pass and add the Mob Museum to complete the Vintage Vegas experience.
Las Vegas is constantly reinventing itself, always striving for bigger and better. Don’t just stop at the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign during your next trip, head downtown for some Vintage Vegas bling. While you are there zipline under the canopy and stop in Banger Brewing for a beer. Don’t miss the 40-foot-long Praying Mantis shooting fire 6 stories high from its antennae at the Container Park. Wander around Fremont East admiring the Street Art and have dinner. On your way back to the strip admire the incredible night skyline from the top of the Stratosphere, watch the insane people hanging off the edge and marvel at far we have come in the past 70 years. Then go downstairs and gamble. I mean, it is Vegas!
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