As homeschoolers, we’ve always tried to pack as much educational value into our vacations as possible. So when we recently traveled through Vegas, we naturally tried to find area attractions that would teach us something new. These 4 must-see Las Vegas museums really made that objective super-easy.
Here’s our family’s impressions of each one:
4 Must-See Museums in Las Vegas, Nevada
The Mob Museum gave us a greater appreciation for law enforcement. We learned about the difficulties the FBI and police have historically faced in the fight against organized crime. A fight that raged throughout the 20th century and beyond.
Mafia influence and corruption was pervasive. They infiltrated everything! We already knew they were big on bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution. We had no idea their power also extended into legitimate businesses like transportation, hospitality, and entertainment.
The museum stationed friendly docents at frequent intervals throughout the museum who readily answered all our questions in great detail.
The Mob Museum is comprised of three full floors of exhibits. One of the most informative was a multi-media presentation held in the actual courtroom where mobsters were tried in the 1950s.
Exhibits highlighted the FBI’s efforts to track down mob bosses and bring an end to their reign of terror.
The FBI brought many mafia members to justice. But they weren’t able to stamp out the problem completely. The pin-striped suits, fedoras, and Tommy guns may be behind us, but organized crime is still alive and active today.
Yet, it’s hard to fight against something you didn’t know existed. The must-see Mob Museum of Las Vegas does an excellent job of educating the public. It details the history of organized crime in America. And it also shows what’s currently being done to curtail it.
I confess: We’ve never watched the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation television show. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying this award-winning interactive exhibit about crime lab forensic science.
The museum houses three separate crime scenes. These exhibits guide visitors through the steps necessary to crack their case and solve the crime. Our family was tasked with investigating the scene of a car crash.
I suspect that’s because we had young children with us. We can’t vouch for the other two cases, because we didn’t work on those. But the one we were assigned had minimal blood and gore.
We learned how important it is to take good notes and collect appropriate samples at the crime scene. We also learned what to do with the information collected. Lab facilities provided a place to examine specimen under the microscope. TO crossmatch fingerprints and DNA. To test for blood alcohol content. We were even able to determine exactly what kind of shoes left the muddy prints we’d observed at the scene.
Despite the unexpected twist at the end, we were eventually able to solve the case. Afterwards, the museum issued us diplomas as “Accredited Crime Scene Investigators.”
The little old lady who processed our tickets at the admissions desk had an interesting connection to this must-see museum. She was the widow of a man who for years worked at Nevada’s nuclear testing facility. He late husband had even been on the board of advisors who helped make the National Atomic Testing Museum a reality.
Room after room of interactive exhibits provide a fascinating history of nuclear science. Especially as that science relates to American wars and the development of the atomic bomb. The museum is full of artifacts from bygone eras. It uses lots of film clips and audio recordings to bring its story to life.
Our favorite part was the detailed timeline that runs through several rooms of the museum, tracking major events year-by-year in US political history and pop culture alongside developments in nuclear science. It took us much longer to get through this museum than we’d anticipated, primarily because we wanted to read every word of that timeline and watch all the related video clips.
Several of our older kids saw the Real Bodies exhibit when it came to Dallas many years ago. For the rest of us, Real Bodies at Bally’s was our first exposure.
I still have mixed feelings about it. The idea that everything in this exhibit used to belong to a real, living and breathing person is a little macabre. Yet the anatomical science on display here is a fascinating testimony to the human body’s incredible design (and, in our mind, Designer).
For a family with as many medical ties as we have — two doctors, two dentists, an ICU nurse, and several more preparing now for similar professions — it was easy enough to quell the repulsion and appreciate the educational opportunity. Real Bodies gives visitors a peek at some of the same things medical and dental students get to see when they dissect human cadavers, but without any of the mess or smell.
They also highlight a lot of interesting facts and statistics. For instance, did you know that…
- …there are around 60 trillion cells in the human body?
- …100 million of your cells die and are replaced every minute?
- …the volume of air you breathe each day can fill approximately seven hot air balloons?
- …your circulatory system is comprised of nearly 100,000 miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins?
- …the human brain contains 100 billion neurons and over 45 miles of nerve networks?
Neither did I. At least, not before going through Real Bodies at Bally’s.
Plan to stop in Vegas on your next family vacation.
It’s been 19 years since our last trip through Vegas. We didn’t find it very family friendly back then. But we were pleasantly surprised at how much cleaner and tamer things seemed this time around.
Granted, we steered clear of the casinos. Except for the few we passed through to get to various shows, restaurants, and a couple of the aforementioned exhibits. But there are lots of wonderfully family-friendly things to do in and around Vegas now. I’ll be reviewing a few more of them next week. We had such fun, we won’t hesitate to pass this way again.
Please note: Our family received free or discounted admission to all the above attractions. We accomplished this either by participating in several US Family Guide blogger promotions (in exchange for this honest review). We also purchased several reduced price admissions using Groupon Deals, like these:
- Real Bodies at Bally’s – Save up to 36% on tickets
- National Atomic Testing Museum – Save up to 58% on tickets
- CSI: The Experience – Save up to 52% on tickets