The Neon Museum Las Vegas: Everything You Need to Know
The Neon Museum of Las Vegas was nothing like we expected. After seeing a brief glimpse on another travel blogger’s Instagram stories, we knew we had to make the effort to get there during our Southwest USA road trip. Signs in Las Vegas are special for their history and the draw to visitors from around the world. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know including the best time to go to the Neon Museum!
P.S. We only spent about 48 hours in Las Vegas and in a city with so much to see, it was well worth taking up some of that precious time!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Closest Airport: McCarron International Airport
Best Hotel Close to The Neon Museum: The Venetian,
Cost: $20 General Admission
Time to Visit: 1-1.5 hours
**Important Note: Don’t touch the signs!**
So what is the Neon Museum of Las Vegas?
The long and short of what the Neon Museum in Las Vegas is? An open-air museum dedicated to the preservation of the signs of Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has a very distinct history marked by gangsters, the mob, gambling, showgirls, and course all of the neon signs peppering the city. To honor the glamorous history of Las Vegas, a collaboration between private and corporate groups founded a not-for-profit organization to catalog these historic signs. The museum opened in 1996, and the collection in Las Vegas representing now preserved historical icons is on display for everyone to enjoy!
As the Neon Museum continues to grow in popularity, so too does the collection of vintage signs. With everyone item that comes into the museums possession, their ability to study and preserve grows too. You can see a record of their findings here!
- You’re reading ‘The Neon Museum Las Vegas: Everything You Need To Know’. Looking for more incredible things to do out West? Get our guide for The Best Places To See Wild Horses in The USA (Including 4 destinations near Las Vegas!)
What To Expect At The Neon Museum
The Las Vegas Neon Museum is a three-part campus spread out across the Neon Capital of The World. The first is the Visitors Center inside the La Concha Motel Lobby (where you walk into the museum). Then visitors will enter the main Neon Boneyard. This small slice of the museum’s collection of roughly 200 vintage signs is spectacularly colorful – but overall smaller than expected.
The collection is very close together and we’re so happy we went to Vegas in the off-season. It would’ve been much harder to see all of the signs while also dodging the people. (We’ll get into the best time to go to the Neon museum soon!)
Signs in Las Vegas preserved by the Neon Museum still retain much of their color and even some functionality. This was totally unexpected because we assumed they would all still be broken!! If you’re hoping to catch a glimse of the lights, keep reading until the ‘Best time to go to the Neon Museum’ section!
- The Neon Boneyard North Gallery: The only way you get to see this collection of preserved signs is if you purchase special tickets. This gallery is reserved for photographers paying fees to the Neon Museum, weddings and other special events.
DO YOU KNOW LAS VEGAS’S NICKNAMES?
This world famous city has been known by many names and some you’ll probably recognize. The Entertainment Capitol of the World, the Neon Capital of the World, the City of Lights (like Paris), and the City that Never Sleeps (like NYC). All in some way related to the telltale signs in Las Vegas that create a city so bright you can see it from space!!
How long does the Neon Museum take?
If you’re trying to plan out your visit to Las Vegas, you might be wondering how long the Neon Museum takes to walk through. When we visited, we only spent about an hour getting a feel for the place. To be fair, we had the place to ourselves and there was no rush. On more crowded days you’ll still have your alloted hour to walk through, but you’ll probably only be there for 30 minutes or so. It’ tough to walk through the masses!
If you’re a huge history buff or a collector of all things vintage, you might need more time to walk through the Neon Museum. For photographers planning on taking photos around ‘magic hour’ – how long you need at the Neon Boneyard might be more than most!! Just remember that the Neon Museum closes between 7-10PM (depending on the time of year and events at the museum).
What To Wear To The Neon Museum?
This is kind of a two-part answer – because it depends on what you want to do there. If you scroll through this post, you’ll notice that the paths lining the Neon Boneyard are basically dusty sand with rocks to keep visitors on the path.
If you’re just a regular Joe wanting to know what to wear to the Las Vegas Neon Museum – then make sure to be comfortable. You’re in a dessert that can reach temperatures of 115°F in the summer and below 50°F in the winter (46-1.7°C). Pay attention to the seasonal shifts for Las Vegas and we’re sure you’ll figure out how for the desert whatever time of year you go.
- The Neon Museum provides umbrellas to help keep off the rain/sun while you browse, and if you don’t take one of those on sunny days sunscreen is a must!! (Beyond what should be part of your daily regimen but we digress…)
- Small bags are allowed, but no bulky camera equipment inlcluding tripods!! Because no camera equipment is allowed with regular general admission tikets, the best time to go to the Neon Museum will be early morning or in the afternoon.
Are you a content creator? If so, what to wear to the Neon Museum becomes a little more tricky. We know you want to look cute, but you’re still in the desert. Apparel like open-toed shoes may not be a good idea around the vintage signs in Las Vegas with their chipping, rusty metals, and fractured glass from the old light bulbs. The same goes for long dresses etc… any and all things flaking off of these artifacts will cling to your clothes!! (Shelbs wore leather leggings, a loose-fitting top, and simple gold jewelery travel staples to stay comfortable on the semi-chilly November dessert day.)
The short and simple? Wear flat, closed-toe comfortable shoes you can walk in and don’t mind getting dusty… as well as seasonally appropriate desert clothing.
Is The Neon Museum Worth It?
We actually only went here last minute after, as we mentioned above, seeing it on someone else’s Instagram story. When we tell you it was 100% worth it to go to the Neon Museum, we really mean it! Some touristy tours will surprise you with how much fun they are and this is definitely one of them!
Beyond being short on time, do you love sparkles and anything vintage? Then the Las Vegas Neon Museum is the place for you. These vintage Las Vegas signs are the link to a bygone era of glamour throughout Las Vegas. As all the signs are lightly coated in patina, any content creator with a pastel aesthetic, a vintage aesthetic, or desert motif will also love visiting!
P.S. Get on our mailing list (above) and once a month we’ll send you other adventure guides for places that absolutely surprised us. Some are within cities and some are tiny towns across the USA!
- You’re reading ‘The Neon Museum Las Vegas: Everything You Need to Know’. Enjoy reading about SouthWest USA Destinations? Get our full guide to exploring Native American Culture in Arizona!
Can I Take Pictures At The Neon Museum Las Vegas?
A tricky multipart answer...
The short of it is yes.. and no. You can take pictures at the Neon Museum as long as you do it with your phone for personal use. No professional camera equipment is allowed with general admission tickets to the Neon Boneyard past the La Concha Hotel Lobby entrance. (Get our guide to The Best iPhone Accessories to make sure you get the best photos you can on the fly!)
- Are drones allowed at the Neon Museum? No.
Videography of any kind is also not allowed. We’re talking no TikTok’s etc. If you get caught – you’ll probably get kicked out! The reason the Neon Museum is so strict about photography? They’re entirely non-profit. They have to make money somehow and requiring permits helps maintain their revenue sources.
- You’re reading ‘Can I Take Pictures at the Neon Museum of Las Vegas’. Looking for more technicolor photography worthy destinations? Explore our guide to over 100 Murals in Louisville, Kentucky.
(After all, who doesn’t want to do a photoshoot at magic hour with these glowing beauties??)
There are multiple ways to get access to photography permits at the Las Vegas Neon Museum. #1 Do a photography walking tour. Specially designed for photographers to have ambient lighting, plenty of room for tripods, and time. P.S. Make sure you tag @theneonmuseumlasvegas in your photos and use the hashtags #neonmuseum and #neonboneyard for more exposure!!
- Guided Photo Walks: $50 (Locals $35) – Once a month at sunset for hobby photographers. As we mentioned above, the best time to go to the Neon Museum for good photos is in the morning or in the afternoons for the coveted half light! These night time guided photo walks will be perfect for getting Instagram orthy shots!
- Portrait Hour Sessions: $50 ($35 Locals) – Personal portrait sessions at North Gallery.
The Best Time To Go To the Neon Museum Las Vegas
The best time to go to the Neon Museum is in Las Vegas’s shoulder seasons on a weekday. From February to April and September to November are considered to be off-seasons for the City of Lights, meaning accommodations are cheaper and everything is less crowded.
- THE BEST TIME OF DAY: We also suggest early morning or in the last tour of the evening for specific times of day. The half-light shows off these vintage Las Vegas signs to perfection!
We went to the Las Vegas Neon Museum in November on a Thursday. For a first-timer like Shelbs – this was ideal. Vegas can be incredibly fun, but there are street performers and millions of people milling about everywhere you go. Walking The Strip and visiting attractions like the Neon Museum are much more enjoyable when Vegas isn’t crazy busy. Especially if you’re a photographer or travel blogger!!
P.S. Did you know you could get married at the Neon Museum!? If ever there was a time to start planning a small wedding, it would be now!!
A Note For Travel Bloggers
Heading to the Neon Boneyard in the off-season gives you more time! The attendants won’t be as strict about ushering people through.
As we mentioned before, you aren’t allowed to do any serious photography inside the Neon Museum and that’s in part due to the business not wanting people to linger all day if they haven’t paid for a photography permit. The more people lingering – the fewer people can visit all day. The Neon Museum’s Boneyard has a maximum number of people allowed for safety reasons.
- Since the best time to go to the Neon Museum is the colder shoulder seasons, get our guides on other things to do in the USA during these seasons including The Best USA Destinations in February, the spectacular Bishop Castle of Colorado and even the enormous Glenwood Hotsprings in Colorado. (February is an amazing time for a winter wonderland roadtrip!)
Las Vegas’s Neon Museum History
Are you excited to experience this eclectic mix of mid-century modern and 20s glamour? You should be because this was one of our favorite things to do in Las Vegas! A little backstory is fun to know before you go if you’re not doing the guided tour. Here are a few pertinent details about Las Vegas signs and neon in general.
THE HISTORY OF NEON: Neon is a naturally occurring gaseous element discovered by two scientists in London, 1898. The first neon lamp wasn’t invented until 1902 by Georges Claude. Keep in mind, this is actually pretty remarkable considering that electricity, in a bulb anyways, was only invented 21 years earlier!!! Then in 1923, Frenchman Georges Claude and his company Claude Neon brought neon signs to the USA. Dubbed liquid fire, the first neon signs in the USA were for the Packard car dealership in Los Angeles!
Las Vegas Signs
Did you know Las Vegas wasn’t officially founded as a city until 1905?
In 1905 the railroad came through the region connecting the Pacific Ocean and mainland USA’s railroads, and thus a city was born. With religious groups settling into the area early on, gambling was outlawed until 1931. In reality though, the underground world of speakeasies, casinos and organized crime had already taken ahold of the city.
1931 was also significant because that’s when construction of the Hoover Dam started with a boon to the population of Las Vegas. Show girls and casinos were once again on top as the thousands of dam workers looked for entertainment. In 1941 the first casino-hotel, El Rancho Vegas, was opened on what we know today as ‘The Strip’.
Considering that it’s been only a little over a century since Las Vegas became a city, documenting the signs of Las Vegas is incredibly important! Without these pieces of history, this fast growing city will outpace our ability to remember it’s origins. To support the Neon Museum, click here!
Where Is The Neon Museum located?
The Neon Museum is easily walkable from a number of attractions including the Fremont Street Experience, The Mob Museum and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. However, go ahead and make a mental note that the Neon Museum isn’t walkable from The Strip. You’ll need to drive or get an Uber to ‘North Las Vegas’, which is north of The Strip.
THE NEON MUSEUM ADDRESS : 770 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89101
If you’re planning an afternoon of walking, The Fremont Street Experience is on the Northern side of the Arts Disitrict. Start there, and walk a few blocks to the Mob Museum, then another 10-12 minutes to the Neon Museum. From the Neon Museum, it’s only a 3-minute walk to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum!
- Where To Park: If you’re headed to the Neon Museum first thing, you’ll want to park in the Neon Museum’s FREE parking lot. The parking lot is directly across from the museum on McWilliams Avenue.
Other Neon Museums Around The World
A little trivia for you if you’re obsessed with the idea of visiting the Neon Museum… There are actually four other museums dedicated to neon signs around the world!
Outside of the USA, the the Neon Museum of Warsaw, Poland is a dark interactive experience perfect for neon lovers. If you’ve visited any of the others – we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
What To Do in Las Vegas Near The Neon Museum
As we mentioned, there are three major attractions withing walking distance from the Neon Museum. Some of these are great for groups and kids, but you’ll definitely want to get tickets before you go if you’re trying to get your timing right!
- The Mob Museum: Tons of immersive exhibits showcasing organized crime’s history throughout the USA and the history of law enforcement around these times.
Address: 300 Stewart Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89101
- The Las Vegas Natural History Musuem: If you’re in Las Vegas with kids, this is a great stop. There are interactive displays, lifesize dinosaur replicas and even shark feeding events!
Address: 900 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Fremont Street Experience: We loved this one! There are light shows, concerts and performers in the walk through area under old Fremont Street. When you’re walking through during the evenings, you’ll also find food trucks and bars open to keep the merriment going. If you love neon signs, this is another great destination to continue the galmorous feel of the city lights at night.
Address: E Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Other than these major attractions, get our entire guide on what to do in Las Vegas. Even if you’re only in town for a short time, theres so much to do!
Where To Eat By The Neon Museum
We’re going to be brutally honest here: a lot of Las Vegas food isn’t great. From the mega-casino buffets to restaurants in Old Las Vegas, we didn’t have a ton of incredible experiences eating out. We’ve found that in these tourist trap towns, the food doesn’t have to be amazing for the millions of visitors who pass through every year to grab a bite to eat.
With that being said, here are a few of our favorite healthy places to eat near the Neon Museum in Old Las Vegas, and a few of the not so healthy spots too! (Gotta include those healthy restaurants to try as well. Vacation can’t be all indulgence or you won’t be able to walk to your next attraction without needing a nap!)
- Carson Kitchen $$: Rich Italian style foods.
Address: 124 S 6th St Ste 100 Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Therapy $$: Seriously delish tacos and great drinks.
Address: 518 E Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Bocho Sushi $$: Sushi and healthy poke bowls.
Address: 124 S 6th St Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Downtown Terrace $$: Great salads, and a decent view.
Address: 707 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101
- Evel Pie $$: Decent rock and roll themed pizza shop with a huge bar selection.
Address: 508 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101
Best Day Trips from Las Vegas After The Neon Museum
Immediately outside of Las Vegas, there’s a ton to do! After visiting the Neon Museum and exploring the main attractions, you’ll want to head away from the city. Within an hour of Las Vegas you’ll find kayacking trips to Emerald Cave, day trips to the Grand Canyon with stops at the Hoover Dam (bringing you back to Las Vegas!), and even day trips to Antelope Canyon.
**A day trip to Antelope Canyon can be so worth it if you’re not used to traveling in Native American regions. Buying tickets, finding bus stops, etc. can be a little challenging!
Best Hotels Near The Neon Museum of Las Vegas
With dazzling signs up and down ‘The Strip’, it can be hard to know where to stay in Las Vegas. With plenty of hotels, Airbnb’s, and casinos to choose from – there are options for every kind of traveler from the highest luxury to super budget-friendly.
The best hotels within walking distance to the Neon Museum are:
- The Circa Resort & Casino: Budget-Friendly Mid Range
- The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino: (We stayed here and there’s actually a vintage sign from the Golden Nugget at the Neon Museum’s Boneyard!) Budget Friendly
- Plaza Hotel & Casino: Budget-Friendly Mid Range
Las Vegas Neon Museum FAQ’s
For all of you who just need quick and simple answers, this section is for you!
- Can visitors stay at the La Concha Motel? No. The La Concha Motel was converted in 2011 for historical purposes only, and serves as the face of the Neon Museum Las Vegas today.
- Are strollers allowed in the Neon Museum? Yes.
- Can I take my bags in? No. You’ll have to check them at the Neon Museum’s Visitor’s Center.
- Is photography allowed at the Neon Museum? In short, only for personal use and a strict no videography policy is enforced. Even for TikTok!!
- What time does the Neon Museum open? 2PM
- What time does the Neon Museum close? 10PM
- Where to buy tickets for the Neon Museum? From their online portal here. See more below.
- Does the Neon Museum refund tickets for inclement weather? No. They provide umbrellas for the sun and rain, but that’s the extent of the weather related help.
Should I get My Neon Museum tickets in Advance?
Should you get your Neon Museum tickets beforehand? Depending on the season, tickets to the Neon Museum can sell out very quickly. Summer and the holidays tend to be sold out days in advance and weekends even more so. We highly recommend getting your Neon Musem tickets in advance during these times.
- General Admission: $20 (Locals $16)
- Guided Night Tours: $28 (Locals $24)
- Brilliant! Night Tours: $23 (Locals $19): A 25 minute show with lights and music!
When we went in November, Shelbs purchased tickets the night before and we were good to go! The great thing about Las Vegas is that it’s a desert so you have a pretty good chance of never having to worry about the rain when you purchase your tickets in advance!
- Get your tickets straight from the Neon Museum here. (**Note: The Neon Museum and the Mob Museum offer a combo ticket that makes for a perfect budget friendly/walkable afternoon!)
Many people get their tickets ahead of time for the bigger attractions in this region because the Southwest is so popular. If you’re Southwest road trip is expanding into Utah, don’t miss including the world-famous Monument Valley on your itinerary! (That’s another attraction you’ll definitely have to plan ahead for!)
Need a little more inspiration? Immediately after leaving Las Vegas, one of our favorite destinatons was the hidden Soldier’s Pass Cave in Sedona. We also have guides on where to travel in Aruba for you warm weather chasers, and 10 Romantic Things To Do in Italy if you’re dreaming of a romantic European getaway.
- Do you like museums? Get our complete guide to a Machine Gun Kelly themed Cleveland, Ohio weekend getaway, including the Rock and Roll Museum & Hall of Fame.
Don’t know when you’re heading to the Neon Museum or Las Vegas? Get our guides for the best road trips in July, where to travel in the USA this December, the best places to see fall foliage in September and the best remote hiking destinatons throughout the USA. Hopefully you’ll be able to add a Las Vegas pitstop on one of your road trips!
A few posts to keep your road trip planning smooth:
- The Best Travel Podcasts (For when you can’t scream your favorite song lyrics anymore…)
- Our Top 7 Habits for Stress-Free Travel
- 50+ Sugar Free Road Trip Snacks
- How To Make the Most of Weekend Getaways
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Las Vegas is an amazing city, and even if you only go for the Neon Museum or you have a few hours to spare on a layover – The Neon Boneyard is worth a visit!
Until next time friends,