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Bonnie & Clyde vehicle shot up

Off the Beaten Path: 11 Unique Museums You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

Las Vegas is in a serious sports boom with the addition of the Vegas born Golden Knights NHL team, acquisition of the Raiders in the NFL, and (at the time of this writing) a potential acquisition of the A’s MLB franchise. Vegas is diversifying its entertainment options from shows and gaming to include more sports. But, did you know that more people visit art museums, science centers, historic houses or sites, zoos, or aquariums than attend professional sporting events? In fact, 76% percent of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities such as visiting museums. 

 

So if you’re in that 76%, and looking to get your learn on, we’ve got the list for you! A trip to Las Vegas can be educational if you choose to venture off the beaten path of the Strip. In addition to our tried and true conventional museums like the Discovery Science Museum and Las Vegas Natural History Museum, the Las Vegas Territory has its fair share of interesting and eclectic museums.

 

We are going to focus beyond the neon for some unique points of interest for those craving some unique history lessons.

Las Vegas

Shelby Heritage Center

Car enthusiasts will love this one! Located just behind the very south end of the strip at Sunset Road and I-15 is the Shelby Heritage Center. Carroll Shelby, an automotive designer and race car driver is credited with helping Ford build the first high performance mustang among many other vehicles. At the Shelby Heritage Center you can explore the story of Carroll Shelby and the company he created and get a first-hand look at more than 30 Shelby vehicles.

Punk Rock Museum

Just off the opposite end of the Strip in the Arts District is Las Vegas’ newest addition to the  museums list – the Punk Rock Museum. It is dubbed the “world’s most comprehensive attraction dedicated to the history, culture and absurdity of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s bastard stepchild. It contains artifacts and memorabilia from across the world’s punk scene (including instruments and handwritten lyrics) as well as a bar, tattoo parlor, wedding/wake chapel, punk merch shop, performance space and more. The venue even boasts guided tours led by punk rock icons. Check their website for full schedule.  This is a must see, especially if you’re coming into town for the Punk Rock Bowling & Music Festival.

Shelby - Off the Beaten Path Exploring Unique Museums You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of - 1080x1350
Punk Rock - Off the Beaten Path Exploring Unique Museums You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of - 1080x1350

Moapa Valley

Moapa Valley is an unincorporated town in Clark County consisting of smaller scenic communities including Overton, Logandale, Glendale, and Moapa. Situated 63.5 miles from the Strip, Moapa Valley is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise filled with more than 200 miles of recreational trails with scenic views for off-road enthusiasts, equestrians, mountain bikers, and hikers. There is also a Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge for animal lovers. But if you need a place to beat the heat and get your learn on, there are two great opportunities for you.

Lost City Museum

The Lost City Museum documents the lives of Nevada’s first permanent residents – the Pueblans – who lived in the area from about 200 AD to 1200 AD. It was originally known as Boulder Dam Park Museum, and ran by the National Park Service who turned it over to the State of Nevada in the mid 50’s. This was also when it got its more romanticized name “The Lost City” from early popular press reports about archaeological finds in the area. 

 

Built in 1935 by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the museum exhibits artifacts recovered from local prehistoric archaeological sites, most of which were flooded when the Colorado River was dammed to form Lake Mead. 

 

The museum is one of seven state museums, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Highlights include exhibition galleries, a small screening room, a research library, museum store, and fascinating outdoor exhibits including a Native American pit house and reconstructed pueblos.

OLSHACS Museum

The Old Logandale School Historical and Cultural Society maintains a museum located on Moapa Valley Boulevard, the main drag of Moapa Valley. The mission is “to restore and preserve the historic treasures of Moapa Valley, and to establish and maintain a historical library.” A visit here will find you immersed in historical records including local and family histories, census records, railroad records, photos and maps, cemetery surveys, CCC records and photos, old newspapers, and yearbooks. There are also exhibits that showcase life of early settlers of Moapa Valley including early prehistoric Native Americans and the early pioneer settlers.  This is the kind of place you have to book in advance, so be sure to make your reservations on their website.

Pueblo replica homes at the Lost City Museum
Outside entry pic of the brick school house museum.

Mesquite

Just 30 miles northeast of Moapa Valley, and 85.5 miles from the Strip is the town of Mesquite filled with championship golf courses, plenty of hiking and TV trails, a fine arts center, casinos, restaurants, and museums!

Donkey Museum

The latest, and perhaps most unique, museum to open in Mesquite is the Donkey History Museum. Celebrating its grand opening in November 2022, The Donkey History Museum chronicles the donkey’s many contributions around the world and features several collections all donated by enthusiasts of the animal including: History of the Donkey, Pop Culture, Americana, Miner’s, Mule, and International. There is also a “War Room” showcasing the donkey’s significant impact on wars throughout the centuries.

Virgin Valley Heritage Museum

For those who like to immerse themselves in learning the history and culture of an area they are visiting – the Virgin Valley Heritage Museum is for you! This local museum focuses on preserving, protecting, and deepening the understanding of the history of the Virgin Valley, specifically Mesquite, Bunkerville, and Southern Nevada. Rich with artifacts, art, and photos, the museum offers a great opportunity to learn about the pioneer way of life of the early settlers of the Virgin Valley. Want to be in the know before you go? Much of their collection is also viewable on their website.

A man is fixing a harness to a lifesize donkey that will be on display.
Two rows of art on top of a bookshelf of reference books inside the Virgen Valley Heritage Museum

Boulder City

Venture out 30 mins and just over 28 miles from the Strip to quaint Boulder City. Founded in 1931 to house the workers and families of the Hoover Dam construction site, the city has gone through large efforts to keep the overall look and feel of its small town roots. A walk down Nevada Way, the city’s equivalent to main street, will show you several small stores, restaurants, antique shops, and more. But it’s off the main drag where you’ll find the city’s most unique museums.

Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum

Cinephiles, horrorphiles, and makeup/special effects aficionados will get a kick out of visiting Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum. Devlin has spent more than two decades working as a professional special makeup effects artist for more than 100 horror movies. He even appeared as a contestant on season one of the SyFy reality series “Face Off.” Now with his Monster Museum, he shares his personal art collection with the public. Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum aims to preserve the art and history of special makeup effects. The gallery includes everything from screen used props and creature suits to custom pieces representing monsters throughout movie history. Whether you’re looking at original memorabilia, or Devlin’s recreation of classic monsters, you’re sure ghoul time!

Nevada State Railroad Museum

All aboard! The Nevada State Railroad Museum is more than just a museum – it’s a full blown attraction great for the whole family. Sure there are several exhibits that detail the important role railroads played in the history of Nevada, such as their use to transport goods to Boulder City for construction of the Hoover Dam and operation of the Nevada Test Site. But the real excitement lies in the opportunity to ride the trains. They have an operating model railroad car to view as well as a live steam railroad providing free rides except during the summer (due to excessive heat. Additionally, for a small fee, on weekends you can go on a 40 minute excursion on a historic diesel-electric locomotive riding in a 20th century rail car along the original Boulder City Branch Line. 

 

Specially-themed train rides are available seasonally throughout the year including a monthly Storytime Trains where they read children’s stories and have arts and crafts available, as well as holiday themed train rides for Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. Check out their website for the full event schedule! And coming in 2026, this outdoor museum received funding for a new visitors center to highlight hands-on exhibits, a classroom for visiting students, and weekend educational programs. 

A hearst from the back with Tom Devlin' Monster Museum painted on the back door.
A yellow Union Pacific train engine in the depot with a Boulder City sign on clear blue sky day.

Laughlin

98.5 miles southeast of the Strip is the resort town of Laughlin, Nevada. While it’s most known for its casino resorts, its proximity to the Colorado River provides a plethora of opportunities for outdoor adventure. From water recreation such as jet skiing, river boat tours, kayaking, and fishing to hiking trails, scenic walkways, and the Laughlin Labyrinths there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Don Laughlin’s Classic Car Museum

Don Laughlin, the casino magnate for whom the city is named after, is an avid fan of classic cars. So much so that he’s acquired dozens of them, which he displays alongside loans from other collectors, throughout two exhibit areas spanning 30,000 square feet of his Riverside Resort & Casino. The first is a smaller collection of desert racing machines located on the first floor near the valet and main entrance. The second, and larger of the two collections, is the Classic Auto Exhibition Hall located on the 3rd floor of the south tower. This is where you will find the most valuable automobiles, and unlike many other car museums – some of them are available to purchase for qualified buyers. The collection spans across automobiles, motorcycles and trucks from every era, and features a display sign describing the history and importance of that vehicle. Plus, the showroom is enclosed by floor to ceiling glass windows that also provide a great view of the Colorado River. If you’re out and about enjoying the scenery of Laughlin, Nevada, this is one cool place to stop and take in a new sight!

Primm

Travel 38 miles south down the I-15 South and you’ll come across the town of Primm, best known for outlet shopping, and being a pit stop for travelers coming to and from Las Vegas and California. Also worthy of a pitstop is one unique and educational attraction.

Bonnie & Clyde Exhibition

While it’s not a full-on museum, Primm Valley Casino Resort & Casino is the current home to Bonnie & Clyde’s Death Car, and Clyde’s Death Shirt. Located next to the tournament area on the south end of the casino floor is the infamous duo’s stolen Ford V-8 which they used to carry out a crime spree of robberies and murders in 1934. Law enforcement eventually tracked them down and peppered the vehicle (and Bonnie & Clyde) with more than 100 bullets. The authentic car, complete with bullet holes, is on display 24 hours a day for free alongside dummies of the duo and Clyde’s death shirt, perforated with holes and bloodstains. For those unfamiliar with the story of Bonnie & Clyde, there is also signage which tells the history of their crime spree and final moments.

Goodsprings

33 miles southeast of the Strip is Goodsprings Ghost Town that is as rich in history as it once was in precious metals during the mining boom of the early 1900’s.

Goodsprings Walking Tour

For those who like to combine a little outdoor recreation with their education, the ghost town of Goodsprings offers a walking tour that is not to be missed! Compliments of the Goodsprings Historical Society, take a stroll through history using a map available on their website. Each stop has a corresponding marker you can click on to read more about the landmark. The Pioneer Saloon is a good place to start/stop the tour as it loops around the entire city. The Saloon itself is steeped in history as it’s the oldest bar in Southern Nevada and the site where Clark Gable sat and awaited for news on Carole Lombard after her plane crashed in the nearby Potosi Mountains. The bar is considered one of the last of its kind featuring its original stamped tin paneling from the Sears Roebuck Company, the original bar, complete with cigarette burns where Gable would fall asleep waiting for the news on Carole, and bullet holes in the original bar from a card game gone wrong. The saloon also features a room with memorabilia dedicated to Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s life, career, and ultimately tragic story. And for gamers, a display area depicting swag from Fallout: New Vegas.

Pioneer Saloon front of building shot with a pitch black sky.
Fallout New Las Vegas - Off the Beaten Path Exploring Unique Museums You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of - 1080x1350

There’s plenty more to enjoy in southern Nevada. Ready to plan your trip? We’ve got plenty of resources for you!

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