Mr ESLT visited Las Vegas with his friends before we met and didn’t see much more than the gambling halls, swimming pool at the hotel he was staying at and the many bars and clubs The Strip has to offer. When we visited Las Vegas together for New Year 2011 for a week we visited every hotel and attraction along The Strip, we seriously did not stop from the second we landed to the second we left. Therefore, when we visited in June last year for four days at the end of our Californian road trip we made the decision to not do much. We wanted long lazy days around the pool and relaxed evenings, drinking cocktails and eating great food.However, we had been told about a couple of awesome museums, the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum in Downtown Vegas, so we thought we would visit for ourselves and see what they were all about. We pre-booked our tickets a couple of weeks in advance and really struggled to get tickets for both on the same night, but we managed it, just. Combined tickets for both cost $32 dollars each, which looking back were great value. Therefore, top tip – book tickets as soon as possible to ensure you are not disappointed. When the evening came we jumped in an Uber, left The Strip in the rearview mirror and headed downtown to our first stop….
The Mob Museum
As we pulled up to the Mob Museum our Uber driver advised us not to walk around downtown after dark especially with our cameras swinging around our necks, which was a bit of a worry as the sun was already low in the sky, but it wasn’t going to put us off and we agreed to worry about it later.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of mafia films and even stopped watching Boardwalk Empire after a couple of episodes, therefore, I was convinced the Mob Museum wouldn’t be for me. However, it honestly blew me away and I loved every second, so did Mr ESLT, maybe even more so.
The Mob Museum does not solely focus on the history of organised crime in Las Vegas which turned it from a backwater town into the world-famous thriving multi-billion dollar city it is today but also the history throughout the United States. With exhibits, some interactive, on three floors, there was so much to see, do and listen to. I learnt so much about law enforcers, gangsters, the mafia and even their molls.
One of the most interesting, yet morbid exhibits at the Mob Museum was definitely The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall. The struggle between the Irish American gang and Al Capone’s South Side Italian gang led to seven men being shot on 14th February 1929 in Chicago. When the building was being demolished the Museum bought the wall and now display it proudly complete with original bullet holes.
We allocated ourselves only two hours at The Mob Museum and even then felt like we rushed through it, therefore don’t make the mistake we did and allocated a lot more time. With loads of new exhibits planned including its own speakeasy, even if you think it won’t be your thing like I did, give it a go, it’s something very different I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Located: 300 Stewart Avenue, Las Vegas
The Neon Museum
Our tour ofthe Neon Museum was booked for 8.30pm and that’s why we had to leave The Mob Museum when we did. With the Uber drivers’ words ringing in our ears I was instantly on edge as we started out on our 13-minute walk. In reality, there really wasn’t anything to worry about and in fact, we have walked plenty of dodgier streets in our time. That did not mean that we didn’t walk at a quicker pace then we normally would, clutching our cameras close to our chests. Outside the museum is a large neon shoe which because of our heightened wariness seemed to be moving further away the closer we got to it.
We arrived with around 5 minutes to spare before we started our organised tour. We intentionally opted for an evening tour as we wanted to see the restored signs lit up in all their glory, also the thought of being outside for an hour during the June midday Las Vegas sunshine simply did not appeal. Our tour leader (can’t remember his name, eeek, sorry) lead us through to the Neon Boneyard out the back of the main building which was full of signs – some restored, the majority not.
Group numbers are limited, therefore another reason to book early, and on our tour, there were no more than around 20 of us, meaning Dave, let’s call him Dave, didn’t have to shepherd too many people around and also we had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers. Dave led us from one sign to another giving us information about where it had come from and the history behind it – when it was erected, when it was taken down, things like that. It was really informative and super fun.
The highlight of the tour for Mr ESLT was seeing the Stardust sign, as he actually stayed at that hotel back in 2005, it was in perfect condition and lit up beautifully. The hour flew by in a flash and after the tour Dave informed us we could wander around to our heart’s content for as long as we wanted. But after visiting the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum we were ready for a drink and decided to head to Fremont Street for a few beers and a bit of gambling, when in Vegas, right?
Located: 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas
By this point, it was pitch dark outside and there was no way we were going to walk to Fremont Streetfrom the Neon Museum, therefore Mr ESLT ordered us an Uber and we made the short journey, around 5 minutes or so. Having never been to Fremont Street before the sights, sounds, and smells hit me like a tidal wave and I’ll be honest I loved it instantly. If you think The Strip is cheesy, this place is a big fat wedge of stinky blue cheese and it’s great! I wanted to do the zip line that runs the full length of the ceiling. I had been told it was for grannies and girls (agest/sexist much?) yet bottled it in favour of a Corona.
With more neon, street performers, live music and scantily clad women then you could shake a stick at, it really is somewhere that has to be seen to be believed and gives off a great street party vibe and is a must when visiting Sin City. We headed for 4 Queens casino which, for want of a better word, was an experience, especially compared to the sleek, modern casinos of The Strip. It wasn’t really Mr ESLT’s thing but he could see my eyes were the size of saucers and loving every second, so he put up with it for me, bless him. We hit the 25c machines armed with $20 dollars each and managed 3 hours of gambling and 6 bottles of Coronas each – bargain.
Money gone, beers downed, tiredness setting in and stomach’s rumbling we decided to head back to our hotel, via Uber of course. I wish we’d had more time down Fremont Street (yes I loved it that much) but I guess it’s a great excuse to visit Vegas again and soon! It was so nice to drive down The Strip at night when it was all lit up, there really is nowhere else like it on earth. After a quick pit stop at McDonalds, we headed back to our room and slept like babies after our great evening in Downtown Vegas. I’m really pleased we veered from the original plan, I loved every second!