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Look away for too long and Vegas changes. The Vegas of Sinatra and Elvis and mobsters and showgirls has been replaced by Cirque shows and Britney Spears and musical fountains. The crooners may be gone but the spirit lives on – here are the best places to channel it.
Decades before garish LED screens presided over the Strip, handcrafted neon signs reigned as Vegas’ original iconic art form. While much of this neon art has been dismantled (and, unfortunately, trashed) you can view over 150 lovingly restored artifacts at the Neon Museum. A tour of the museum’s ‘Boneyard,’ full of retro signs dating back as far as 1930, is one of Vegas’ most fascinating strolls.
While you’re delving into the city’s storied history, you might want to get gussied up in a few vintage duds. How about a hot pair of cat-eye glasses, a Rat Pack-inspired suit, or a cocktail dress worthy of a femme fatale? Our retro shopping pick: The Attic.
While more than one Strip establishment has made a halfhearted attempt to recreate a vintage diner experience, locals know that that the most authentic lunch counter is hidden inside an unassuming drugstore. For cheeseburgers and malts at old-fashioned prices, head to Vickie’s Diner (inside White Cross Drugs, vickiesdiner.com). This original 24-hour restaurant does not pretend to be a 1950s soda fountain, because it is a 1950s soda fountain.
Long before the Bellagio’s soaring water show drew legions of onlookers, the most awe-inspiring view in Vegas was something decidedly more provocative: mushroom clouds. Recalling an era when the word ‘atomic’ conjured modernity and mystery, the Smithsonian-run Atomic Testing Museum remains an intriguing testament to the period when the fantastical – and destructive – power of nuclear energy was tested just outside of Las Vegas…
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