When people think of Las Vegas, they likely imagine The Strip, filled with bright lights, high-rolling casinos, and non-stop entertainment. They’re not wrong, of course. This image is what made “Sin City” famous, after all.
However, there’s also another side of Las Vegas that doesn’t flash with neon and smoke. If you’re not much of a gambler or simply want to see Vegas in a whole new light, this list is for you. Here are just a few of Las Vegas’s best-kept secrets:
Admittedly, the “number 1 steakhouse in Tripadvisor” is not that far away from The Strip. Edge Steakhouse is located in Westgate Hotel Las Vegas, which is only a block away from the famous street. Once you’ve sampled their top-quality Wagyu beef and prime cuts, however, you’ll forget about the flashy location and instead concentrate on the food. If you want, you can also indulge in mouthwatering prix fixe options as well as a five-course chef tasting dinner. Oenophiles will also appreciate Edge Steakhouse’s award-winning wine list.
National Atomic Testing Museum
The rather isolated location of Las Vegas made it the perfect location for nuclear testing in the 1950’s. The Nevada Testing Site or NTS was then rife with activity, which attracted people who wanted to watch mushroom clouds and other scientific hustle and bustle. Today, the area is a tourist attraction. The National Atomic Testing Museum houses over 12,000 photos and artifacts that tell the history of the NTS. It also shows how the nuclear program affected Las Vegas, along with the sociological trends that got triggered by nuclear testing.
In 2013, Louis Vuitton called upon artist James Turrell to transform a hidden space in the fourth floor of their Las Vegas Boulevard store. The result is Akhob, a spectacular show of light and color. The word supposedly means “pure water” in old Egyptian, while the artist himself calls the installations “ganzfelds” or “light fields.”
Akhob is a unique sensorial experience, surrounding visitors with an exquisite, soothing bath of brilliant colors. The vibrant hues change seamlessly and almost imperceptibly, appearing as if they’re flowing into each other in a completely unique process. Each cycle lasts 24 minutes and the orb-like chambers can accommodate only a few people at a time. A guide is also at hand to tell you more about the experience. Make sure to call ahead to make a reservation.
Valley of Fire
About a 40-minute drive from Las Vegas sits an otherworldly landscape of sandstone and geological marvels: Valley of Fire. The state park got its name from its iconic red rocks and sandstone formations that set the horizon aflame with brilliant swaths of lavender, purple, and white. At times, you might even imagine that this is probably what Mars would look like. Apart from enjoying the natural treasures and Native American art in the area, people also visit Valley of Fire to meditate. Indeed, there’s something spiritual about the park’s wild yet serene atmosphere.
Seven Magic Mountains
Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains is only 20 minutes away from The Strip, but the vistas will make you feel like it’s a lot farther. The Swiss artist used locally sourced boulders to create 30- to 35-foot-tall fluorescent “totems” that are the perfect balance of natural and artificial. If you want the full effect, visit either at dusk or dawn when the colors are particularly striking.
Do note that Seven Magic Mountains are a temporary exhibit. As of July 2019, the Bureau of Land Management has issued a permit that allows the art installation to remain until the end of 2021.
Burlesque Hall of Fame
The Burlesque Hall of Fame is one of the very few collections dedicated to the art of burlesque. It began as a burlesque establishment itself, called Exotic World, until Dixie Evans took over. As the founder and curator of the Burlesque Hall of Fame, Evans worked to maintain a historic collection that would tell the story of risqué dancing.
From costumes and props to playbills promoting famous names like Candy Barr and Chesty Morgan, the Burlesque Hall of Fame is a place for exploring history and remembering the seductive art of burlesque. There are also thousands of photos, as well as personal items of burlesque dancers, producers, and comics through the years. Do note that while under-18 guests are allowed to enter, the museum prefers visitors who are aged 18 and over.
Amber Unicorn Books
Bibliophiles visiting Sin City will definitely love Amber Unicorn Books and its impressive selection. It boasts art, theater, and film titles, as well as a diverse collection of fantasy, science fiction, and even metaphysical books. Perhaps what’s most impressive are the ultra-rare cookbooks, some of which are signed by their world-famous authors. You might even find tomes that are more than 100 years old!
Indeed, there’s more to Sin City than meets the eye. Check out these secrets when you’re into to better appreciate the complexity and depth of Las Vegas.