In a city known for “sinful” activities, there are a surprising number of museums and educational attractions to explore.
Whether you’re hungry for knowledge yourself, or looking for things to do with kids in Vegas, I figured it would be helpful to create and maintain a breakdown of museums in Las Vegas, both in tourist centers and just off the beaten path.
I’ve visited almost all of the exhibitions and attractions below, and my full review can be visited by clicking the bolded link for each.
Las Vegas Strip Museum Attractions
Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay: Go “under the sea” and explore the aquarium which boasts more than 2,000 total animals, including sharks.
Among the feature elements of the attraction is a glass tunnel that goes underneath the aquarium, allowing you to “walk the seafloor” and a touch pool that allows you to pet stingrays, horseshoe crabs, and other creatures.
A slight discount on Shark Reef tickets can usually be found here, at Vegas.com.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Luxor: Ranking as one of my favorite non-gambling things to do in Vegas, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is a museum dedicated to the ill-fated luxury liner. Upon entering, guests are assigned a passenger’s boarding pass and morbidly learn their fate at the end of the visit.
Boasting 250+ recovered artifacts, this educational activity should be atop every history buff’s itinerary.
A small discount can often be had when booking Titanic tickets in advance on Vegas.com.
Discovering King Tut’s Tomb: An attraction dedicated to Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s tomb, this new museum attraction at Luxor allows guests to explore the final resting place of King Tutankhamun.
Inside, you’ll be able to navigate a passageway to the burial chamber, peer into the antechamber, and leverage virtual reality to further explore the scene.
Additionally, you’ll learn more about mummification and why it was used in ancient Egypt.
Bodies… The Exhibition at Luxor: There are few better ways to learn about the inner workings of the human body than from actual specimens, of which Bodies at Luxor has many off. With 13 full-body specimens and 250+ organs/partial specimens, you’re sure to learn a thing or two about how your body works.
Real Bodies at Horseshoe: A similar attraction to Bodies… The Exhibition at Luxor, Real Bodies leverages 200 partial and 20 full-body specimens to educate guests on the inner workings of the human body.
Explore the Fine Art at Aria: Scattered about the property at Aria is a fine art collection that includes works from artists including Jenny Holzer, Doze Green, James Turrell, and more. Among my favorite items in the collection is a sculpture in front of the hotel comprised of hundreds of canoes, kayaks, and other boats. Tough to miss it.
Download this pamphlet provided by Aria before visiting. It’ll tell you where art can be found and provides background about the pieces.
Immersive Van Gogh at Crystals: On the topic of art, Crystals, a high-end shopping mall in front of Aria, is home to a Van Gogh exhibit that surrounds you with the iconic artist’s works of art. See the brushstrokes that created coveted works like “Sunflowers” and “Starry Night” on large 360-degree projector screens.
While nearly every Las Vegas attraction claims to be “immersive” this one actually lives up to that billing.
Also be sure to price out your Van Gogh tickets on Vegas.com, which can be cheaper.
Art Collection at Cosmopolitan: Like Aria, Cosmopolitan has placed notable works of art around their property that can be explored for free. Artists on display currently include Nicola Lopez, Sylvia Hommert, and Marilyn Minter among others.
I’m particularly drawn to Cosmo’s digital art, which is most prominently featured in their hotel lobby (pictured below).
Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art: Although not a freebie like other art displays in Vegas, Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art costs only $20 and features a rotating selection of exhibits, influenced by cultures from around the world.
Princess Diana: A Tribute Exhibition: Those of you that closely follow the royal family will enjoy this tribute to Princess Diana found in Crystals that boasts 700+ artifacts from her life.
Flamingo Habitat at Flamingo: Tucked behind Flamingo is a wildlife habitat that’s home to a flock of Chilean flamingos and other types of fowl and fish. Along the trail are educational placards, which give you a better understanding of the animals within the habitat.
Erotic Heritage Museum: Located near the Strip behind the Fashion Show Mall, the Erotic Heritage Museum’s exhibits educate guests on the history of sex and how it has been depicted in art historically by cultures around the world.
Downtown Las Vegas Museum Attractions
Mob Museum: Located steps away from Fremont Street, the Mob Museum dives into the history of organized crime and the law enforcement agencies tasked with stopping it.
Notably, the museum is located in the former post office/courthouse where the Kefauver Committee hearings were held.
I was blown away by *how* The Mob Museum presented information. There was a new surprise around every corner.
After touring the exhibits in the museum, stop by The Underground speakeasy for a craft cocktail! Look for a wooden barrel outside the building and the door below for entry.
The Old Mormon Fort: Located just a mile from Fremont Street, the Old Mormon Fort State Historic Park tells the story of the first settlement in Las Vegas.
While members of the Mormon Church built the fort in the mid-1800s, the fort has had several unique owners and uses throughout time. That story is expertly told via an indoor museum and re-constructed fort outside that guests are free to explore.
Best yet, admission costs only $3!
Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum: Stocked with a collection of haunted items, macabre artifacts, and plenty of “oddities”, the Haunted Museum provides an education on all things creepy.
Inside, you’ll learn more than you ever wanted to know about notorious serial killers, tragic events, and the history of legendary haunted items.
Neon Museum: Easily qualifying as my personal favorite educational thing to do in Vegas, the Neon Museum is a MUST for anyone remotely interested in the history of Sin City.
Found in the boneyard are over 200 historic signs from casinos like Stardust, Binion’s Horseshoe, Sahara, Stardust, Fitzgeralds, Lady Luck, and so much more.
While general admission tickets cost $20, I recommend spending an extra $8 for a guided tour. Even Vegas “know it alls” will gain a wealth of knowledge they didn’t previously possess.
Antique Collection at Main Street Station: Also found just off Fremont Street, Main Street Station has a collection of unique antiques on display including a portion of the Berlin wall, bronze doors & facade from the Royal Bank of Kuwait, a bronze wild boar statue, and more.
A brochure of all the items on display can be snagged at Main Street Station’s front desk.
The Movie Prop Experience: Located within Neonopolis on Fremont Street, The Movie Prop Experience is home to props and costumes from shows and movies that span genres and decades.
I recently visited and was impressed with both the quality of the artifacts and the educational placards that accompany most items.
Las Vegas Natural History Museum: While I wouldn’t recommend walking, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum is a short Uber/Lyft from Fremont Street and provides an education on early mammals, ancient Egypt, marine life, and dinosaurs.
I recently stopped by, and if I’m being honest, was a bit underwhelmed.
Gold & Silver Pawn Shop: Located between the Strip & Fremont Street, the pawn shop made famous by the hit series “Pawn Stars” offers plenty of opportunities to learn. On display are the notable historic, neat, or exotic items you’ve seen haggled for on the hit show. Best yet, it’s completely free to stop in, explore, ask questions, and get a small education.
Off-Strip Museums in Las Vegas
The Punk Rock Museum: One of the newest things to do in Las Vegas, The Punk Rock Museum is filled to the brim with artifacts that defined the punk genre.
In addition to the hundreds, if not thousands of artifacts, The Punk Rock Museum also has a Jam Room that is stocked with guitars, basses, and amps used by bands like NOFX, Pennywise, Rise Against, Sick of it All, and more that anyone can walk in and play.
Clark County Museum: Located about 30 minutes from the Strip by car, the Clark County Museum costs a mere $2 per person and does an expert job educating guests about the history of southern Nevada.
Easily my favorite portion of the experience, Heritage Street is a collection of historic homes that are set up to appear as they did during their prime.
In each house is a plethora of information about the former occupants, the structure itself, and what was going on in Nevada during its heyday.
The National Atomic Testing Museum: Located a short 10-minute drive from resorts on the Strip, the National Atomic Testing Museum educates guests on the Nevada Test Site, the history of nuclear technology in the United States, its employment (for military and civilian purposes), and where we stand today among other topics.
While a few of the more “technical” displays and placards went over my head, I found the museum to be equal parts educational and entertaining.
Springs Preserve: Located a short drive from both the Strip and Downtown, Springs Preserve offers visitors a diverse set of attractions for one price.
Of interest to you, however, are the numerous museums on site that include the Origen Museum, Nevada State Museum, WaterWorks, and Boomtown 1905.
While WaterWorks educates visitors on water resources in southern Nevada, the others focus on the area’s history from indigenous times through today, touching on early settlement, mining, and Las Vegas’ transformation into a gaming mecca.
Best yet, all the museums at Springs Preserve are within walking distance of each other.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden: Located about 20 minutes from the Strip, Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory offers free tours of their production facility, chocolate tastings, and chocolate shop.
The education continues outside in Ethel M’s Cactus Garden, which is home to over 300 plant species, many of which offer informational placards.
Hopefully, I was able to help you find one or two educational attractions in Las Vegas that align with your interests!
Whether you’re traveling as a family, or are just a nerd (slowly raises hand) that enjoys learning, there is sure to be a museum in Vegas that works for your itinerary.
Related: 95+ FREE Things To Do in Las Vegas.
I’m a former software salesman turned Vegas aficionado. While the craps table is my preferred habitat, I pull myself away to explore new attractions, shows, restaurants, and outdoor activities around Las Vegas with the intent of sharing my experiences.
Ultimately, I just want to help folks plan a better trip and save a few bucks in the process.