770 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Overall Score: B
DAY TOURS $18 (Seniors, students, military, and Nevada residents – $12)
NIGHT TOURS $25 (Seniors, students, military, and Nevada residents – $22)
Fun Potential: B (not recommended for children under 12)
Do you ever wonder where all those old giant lighted signs in Vegas go once they’re torn down or replaced?
Since 2012, the Neon Museum near downtown Las Vegas, has been collecting these retired or broken signs. Because it is incredibly expensive to fix these signs, only seven have been restored to date. The rest of these signs collect in the museum’s “boneyard,” and are on display and lit by spotlights.
Tours are the only way to view the outdoor collection of 200+ signs. These guided tours are approximately an hour long. Docents talk about the old signs, where they came from, and share a bit of history about the sign’s building. It is recommended to purchase tickets ahead of time as their tours often sell out.
Below, part of the 1964 sign outside of Binion’s Horseshoe Casino has been restored and relit. It is on display at the museum.
My husband and I enjoyed visiting the museum, as it was something different to do in Las Vegas. Experiencing a bit of that old Vegas history was educational and fun. Many of these old signs were made by hand and you can see the detail in the craftsmanship. I wouldn’t recommend bringing young kids here. It’s a one hour walk (but you’re not walking far at all) on gravel and most of the time the docent is talking and visitors are standing, listening, and taking photos. In fact, the museum recommends children only over age 10 attend, mostly due to the hazardous nature of these old or broken signs.
The visitor’s center at the Neon Museum is located inside the historic La Concha Motel lobby. This building is a great example of 1960’s futuristic architecture with its curved lines. This motel lobby was saved from demolition back in 2005 and was then moved to its current location the following year. Part of the main roadside sign has been restored and is on display at the museum.
Here are a few more current signs on display at the museum and photos of the signs in use.
If you are interested in learning more about the history and restoration of these neon signs, you can watch a PBS documentary about it here on YouTube.
As technology continues to forge ahead and LEDs continue to light up the Vegas sky, at least we will have a place to remember the Las Vegas of years past – when lightbulbs had to be changed by hand and creating metal signs was an intricate art.
Here’s some important information before you go:
Have fun at the “Boneyard!” Enjoy visiting a piece of vintage Vegas from years past.