Everyone knows about the casinos, nightlife and world-class shows of Sin City. But behind the dazzling hotels and replicas of famous landmarks there’s a whole new world to discover in Las Vegas. So venture away from the Strip and enjoy fun for all ages at these alternative attractions.
Dig This Las Vegas
Who doesn’t want to spend an afternoon at the wheel of a heavy-duty construction machine? Dig This Las Vegas bills itself as The World’s Heavy Equipment Playground and, put simply, is a huge sandpit for kids and adults. Sit at the helm of a bulldozer to push huge tires around and partake in the construction of giant mounds. Or dig trenches, stack tires, and play basketball with buckets while operating a CAT excavator. There’s even some mini excavators for children as young as 3 to try.
Despite being easy to avoid in favor of the Strip, any visit to Las Vegas should include time at Fremont Street. This historic downtown street dates back to the foundation of the city and, in 1925, became its first paved street. The Northern Club opened on the street in 1913 and in 1931 received the first gambling license in Vegas. However, with the rise of the Strip, Fremont Street became outdated and rundown. Things changed for the better in 1994 with the creation of the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall. Today there’s daily light shows, free concerts, a zip line, breweries, casinos, and hotels often cheaper than those on the Strip.
Ever wondered what happens to the gigantic neon signs when Vegas businesses close down or undergo refurbishments? You can find out exactly this at The Neon Museum. Within the museum, the Neon Boneyard has a collection of 200 signs that date as far back as the 1930s. Check out the North Gallery to see the original Golden Nugget sign (and possibly a wedding ceremony taking place). There’s also neon-inspired public art exhibitions and guided tours. Come after sunset to see the signs in their illuminated glory.
Pinball Hall of Fame
Fill your pockets with quarters and 50 cent coins and head to the Pinball Hall of Fame for some vintage arcade entertainment. Behind the door of an unassuming building on Tropicana Avenue are some 150 pinball machines from the 1950s to the 1990s. This isn’t a look but don’t touch museum either. Every machine that you see is in working condition and available to play. Relive your childhood and teenage years on machines inspired by Popeye, Superman, and Super Mario Bros., among other themes. There’s also over 50 classic Atari and Nintendo video games, such as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, and Tetris, too.
Seven Magic Mountains
Driving south from the Strip, the bright lights gradually turn into vast expanses of arid desert. Then, as you begin to approach the town of Jean, a group of seven colorful and striking stacked boulders come into view. They are the Seven Magic Mountains by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. Each of the seven mountains measures between 30 and 35 feet in height and feature from four to six painted rocks. They resemble totem poles and look as if they could fall to the ground at any moment. According to the artist, the installation represents a mid-way point between the natural desert and mountain landscapes and the artificial aspect of the nearby highway.