Bright lights, entertainment, and the mafia—these top museums in Las Vegas cover it all.
Las Vegas is not your average city, and its museum selection is no different. Instead of art galleries and other traditional cultural institutions, Vegas boasts museums that highlight the city’s distinctive history. Here are a few of the top Sin City museums to complement your time at the casino or by the pool.
Waxwork of Vegas legend Liberace at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. Photo: Eustacio Humphrey / Viator
At Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, the likenesses of A-list stars provide ample opportunity for Vegas-themed interaction and photo ops. Experiences include Marvel superheroes, Vegas icons such as Elvis and the Rat Pack, and the stars of the Vegas-set movie The Hangover.
How to visit: Prebook your admission to avoid the ticket line when you arrive, and consider a combo option that includes a visit to another top attraction such as a gondola ride at the Venetian.
Walk the red carpet with some of the world’s best-known celebrities at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas! Whether it’s hobnobbing with A-List stars like Khloe Kardashian and Channing Tatum in Club Tussauds or rubbing shoulders with much-loved pop stars like Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson and Miley Cyrus in the Music Room, this interactive Las Vegas wax attraction puts you in the spotlight. Upgrades to include a gondola ride at the Venetian and a meal are available.
Exhibits in the Boneyard at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Despite many changes over the years, one thing is a constant in Las Vegas: the neon. Discover classic signs and other neon artifacts at the Neon Museum, whose outdoor Boneyard houses both restored and unrestored signs from old casinos, hotels, and other locations.
How to visit: Opt for a city tour or museum tour that includes the Neon Museum, or book online admission in advance if you plan to visit independently.
If you are in Las Vegas, you have to visit the Neon and MOB museums!
The Neon Museum is a museum that has a lot to say about the city, a museum that looks like it, we could say. In fact, the Neon Museum, as its name suggests, is an open-air museum, created to collect, restore and preserve the neon signs and the history that is linked to them.
And, to really understand what Las Vegas is, even in its most excessive aspects, you cannot miss a visit to the MOB Museum. What is it about? We can say that it is, in a sense, the museum of the American mafia. It certainly sounds strange. But the history of Las Vegas, a city born to profit from the gambling business, cannot be separated from all this.
The Mob Museum in Las Vegas provides an inside look at the world of organized crime. Photo: NeONBRAND / Unsplash
Officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum has been a favorite Las Vegas attraction since it opened in 2012. Learn about real stories and events through exhibits and interactive displays such as Prohibition,The Crime Lab,The Speakeasy, and The Feds Fight Back.
How to visit: Purchase admission in advance to avoid the ticket line at this popular venue, or join a Las Vegas museum tour (the museums included vary depending on the time of year) to explore with a guide and other travelers.
Discover the scandalous stories of the mob’s most infamous gangsters at the Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas. Explore the fascinating immersive exhibits, artifacts and digital experiences, learning more about the lives of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, J. Edgar Hoover and many other criminals from Sin City and beyond. See the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, a Tommy gun, the Nevada gas chamber chair and much more. Then find out how law enforcement brought down Mob operations throughout the years — all inside this world-class history museum.
Trace the history of Nevada, dating back millions of years to the present, at the Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas.
Just a few miles from downtown Las Vegas, the Nevada State Museum is part of Springs Preserve, a 180-acre (70-hectare) complex home to trails, bike paths, archaeological sites, and desert wildlife. The museum features exhibits about Nevada’s cultural history, natural history, and geology, including the state fossil (a complete ichthyosaur) and displays about the Hoover Dam and American Indians.
How to visit: Entry to Springs Preserve includes access to the museum; book admission in advance to avoid waiting in the ticket line.
Discover a quiet sanctuary in the heart of Las Vegas with admission to Springs Preserve. Explore the 180-acre (63-ha) natural area at your own pace; buy a ticket for a 20-minute trackless train ride, or walk 3.7 miles (6 km) of tranquil paths through intact desert ecosystems and archeological sites. Learn about Mojave history in the Origen Museum and Nevada State Museum then see cutting-edge installations that illustrate sustainable practices in the west’s arid landscape.
Exhibits at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum range from dinosaurs to ancient Egyptians and the African savannah.
Great for those visiting the city with kids or looking for a break from the Strip that’s both entertaining and educational, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum features exhibits such as prehistoric fossils, marine life, and Egyptian treasures. See live sharks and stingrays, replicas of bears and big cats, and even a wooly mammoth tooth.
How to visit: Book admission in advance to visit independently and avoid the ticket line, or join a Las Vegas museum tour (the museums included vary depending on the time of year).
Pre-book tickets to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum to explore exhibits that range from dinosaurs to ancient Egyptians and the African savannah. Booking your Las Vegas Natural History Museum tickets in advance is a time-saving strategy for a smooth arrival at the Las Vegas museum, where hands-on features invite visitors of all ages to get in on the action.
Leah Still Joll is a freelance writer based in San Francisco with a specialty in travel writing. Her favorite destinations include Maui, Sayulita, the Northern California coast, Paris, Morocco, Indonesia, and Western Australia.