Las Vegas may be a city of the up-and-coming, but it’s also a living relic of America’s golden age! From Elvis Presley reinvigorating his career at the International Hotel to infamous gangster Bugsy Siegel running one of the glitziest casinos in town, old-school Las Vegas has a wealth of offerings! Take a look at this comprehensive guide to find all your new favorite spots in retro Vegas.
An irreplaceable Las Vegas institution, The Golden Gate Hotel & Casino first opened in 1906. While room and board are no longer $1, this boutique hotel features the richest retro history in the city. Seeing prohibition, the banning (and reinstatement!) of gambling in Nevada and Fremont Street before it was paved, the Golden Gate is a pioneer when it comes to Las Vegas hospitality. Head down to this hotel to drink at the same bar as The Rat Pack, taste the stay in one of the Original 10 rooms, and game in a casino where the past meets the future.
Whether you’re in Las Vegas for work or pleasure, the Arts District is a must-see! Filled with warehouses converted into art galleries and unique performance spaces, this vibrant cultural hub is the place to find retro artifacts. Head to the Antique Alley on main street to experience what locals call the best-kept secret in Vegas. From atomic-themed beauty parlors and makeup shops to eclectic consignment stores and retro bars, this hidden gem is a one-stop-shop for vintage vibes! Situated above the Las Vegas 18b Arts District, head over to the Antique Alley for First Friday, Night Swap, Shop Hops, and other can’t-miss public events.
Source: Ken Lane
One of the most crucial pieces of retro Las Vegas history is the amazing neon signage! You could truly spend years in the city trying to see each iconic sign, but the Neon Museum made it easier for you. Designated as a non-profit 501(c)3, the Neon Museum is an organization dedicated to preserving the city’s most recognizable art form. Don’t miss the museum’s neon boneyard to see the original Stardust, Riviera, Sahara, and Hard Rock Cafe neon signage, along with the historic Golden Gate and Binion’s Horseshoe signs. Another plus? The visitors’ center is housed inside the iconic former La Concha Motel lobby!
Not simply full of retro vibes, Vegas is full of retro history! For the history buffs in your group, be sure to check out the Mob Museum. A 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to examining organized crimes’ impact on American culture, this museum offers a contemporary look at crime via artifacts and immersive exhibits. Take your chance to see the wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the original script from The Godfather, Tommy guns, and even a chair from the first Nevada gas chamber executions. Not only a place to learn, visit the museum’s prohibition bar afterward for a true taste of the 1920s.
Those curious about Las Vegas’ moniker, the Atomic City, should head outside of town to visit the National Atomic Testing Museum. Exploring atomic-era American culture, this educational institute tells the story of the nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test Site. From technological advancements to scientific breakthroughs, take a trip back in time to explore the last 70 years of atomic history in the United States. After learning some more of the history, head up to Fremont Street for Atomic Liquors – the oldest bar in Vegas.
Located just off the Fremont Street Experience, step into the D to experience most electric casino in Vegas! With 42,000 feet of casino floor over two stories, this downtown destination is perfect for trying your hand at the city’s best video poker, all the newest slots, and much more! Featuring Nevada’s longest bar, this downtown mainstay is an ideal spot to watch the game with your friends or party the night away with The D’s stunning dancing dealers. During your stay, don’t forget to try out the classic Sigma Derby! As the only Sigma Derby remaining in Las Vegas, this rare vintage game turns the casino floor into your personal racetrack – no purchase of horse required!
A special blend of new and old, the Fremont Street Experience, is an unforgettable time for all ages. Filled with classic retro Las Vegas casinos, hotels, vintage neon signs, and restaurants, there’s something for everything on this covered pedestrian promenade. Looking for a thrill? Try the Slotzilla zipline! Situated seven stories above the street, the Zip-Zilla flies guests two blocks over the colorful Fremont Street Experience. The promenade features free live music shows every night starting at 6 pm.
Whether you’re a history buff, a thrill seeker, or something in between, there’s an old-school Vegas sight for you! Experience a blast from the past with the very best golden age attractions in Las Vegas. You can really immerse yourself in retro Vegas history by walking around Downtown Las Vegas and staying in the very first hotel in the city by booking a room at Golden Gate Las Vegas Hotel!