Explore Las Vegas

Las Vegas For History Buffs

Las Vegas may be known for its buffets, bright lights and seedy past but the true history of the city is endlessly fascinating.

More than just simple exhibits, you can visit historic saloons, take a closer look at organized crime and prohibition in America, or even get an up-close look at some of the most famous city lights of the past. Take a walk through the past at any of these great spots for history buffs. Please note attractions are operating at a reduced capacity and may require advance reservations.

The Mob Museum

Located in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas, The Mob Museum explores more than just the Mob history in Vegas- it is also the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. The museum covers all three stories (and the basement) of the former courthouse building. With interactive exhibits like their firearms simulator and The Underground (a fully operational replica of a Prohibition-era speakeasy and distillery), the Mob Museum makes history fun for all ages. Looking for more in-depth opportunities? Forums and events are often hosted at The Mob Museum such as the upcoming forum, Celebrating Black Life in Las Vegas: Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future. This event will be held on February 17 at 7 p.m. in conjunction with Black History Month. Tickets are free to museum members, and with ticketed museum entry and the event will also be live-streamed. Find more information here. The Mob Museum is open daily from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and The Underground is open noon- 8 p.m. 300 Stewart Ave., 702.229.2734; The Mob Museum.

The Mob Museum Las Vegas, Nevada | WhereTraveler
The Mob Museum (Courtesy of The Mob Museum)

The Boneyard

The most famous signs in Las Vegas come here to rest after being decommissioned. The Boneyard inside the Neon Museum hosts many truly stunning signs like the iconic Stardust sign as well as smaller pieces that are equally inspiring. Tickets must be purchased in advance for tours and often sell out because of the museum’s popularity. If you have extra time, try to visit during the day and in the evening for two completely different experiences (purchase tickets for Brilliant for an even more magical evening visit). Tickets to the Boneyard are $20 and tickets to Brilliant are $23; both can be purchased here. The museum is typically open from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. but hours are subject to change. Brilliant runs nightly every 30 minutes from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. 770 Las Vegas Blvd N., 702.387.6366; The Neon Museum.

The Sahara Sign at The Neon Museum Las Vegas, Nevada | WhereTraveler
The Sahara Sign at The Neon Museum (Courtesy of The Neon Museum)

Pioneer Saloon

The historic Pioneer Saloon is located in Goodsprings, a ghost town just a short distance away from Las Vegas. Step into the Wild West at this fully operational restaurant with a haunted past. Pioneer Saloon even periodically offers ghost hunting events inside the restaurant after hours. Enjoy a meal and then take a little drive through Goodsprings for more historic vibes- the town, founded in the early 1900's, was a mining district for over a century and historic buildings are still scattered around. The Pioneer Saloon is open daily from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 310 NV-161, Goodsprings, 702.874.9362; pioneersaloon.info.

The Pioneer Saloon Las Vegas, Nevada | WhereTraveler
The Pioneer Saloon (©Melanie Lee)

Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Las Vegas isn’t just a haven of bright lights- the city has its very own natural history museum. Just a few minutes north of the Fremont Street Experience, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum is home to numerous educational exhibits like the “Treasures of Egypt” and the “Engelstad Family Prehistoric Life Gallery” (complete with a 35-foot T-Rex). Special Events are occasionally held allowing visitors a chance to get a more in-depth experience. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are $12 and are available for pre-purchase here. 900 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702.384.3466; Las Vegas Natural History Museum.