Weird Nevada: Oddball Attractions In and Around Las Vegas

Discover why, here in the Silver State, our quirks are our perks…

Let’s face it: Nevada’s always been a little…different. But as a state whose memories include Wild West mining towns, top-secret government facilities, mob-run casinos, and renegade art festivals, how could it not? The thing is, we love that for us. Which is why legacies of our unusual history can be found at oddball attractions all over this funk-tastic state. 

So if you’re the kind of traveler who believes no trip is complete without someone saying, “Well, THAT was a little weird!” a couple times a day…you’re our kind of person. And we’ve got your next eccentric adventure covered with this lineup of favorite #WeirdNevada wonders in and around Las Vegas, as well as some extra tips on what else to see and do nearby. 

Seven Magic Mountains

20 mi / 20 min south of the Strip

Find it on the Free-Range Art Highway road trip

Rising from the wide-open desert just 20 miles south of the Strip are seven 11-story-tall rock towers, whose fluorescently painted boulders gleam in conspicuous contrast to their natural desertscape backdrop. These polychromatic petro-pillars have become something of a cult classic photo-op stop, and rightfully so. The temporary art installation, produced in 2016 by the Nevada Museum of Art, is the work of Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, who went to extravagant measures to source and shape enormous native Nevada boulders before busting out the heavy machinery to stack them just oh-so-perfectly. It’s free to visit 24 hours a day, so you can show up and rock out any time you want.

Bizarro Bonus: Twenty minutes south, Whiskey Pete’s Hotel & Casino is the final resting place of the bullet-ridden Bonnie and Clyde “Death Car.” Meanwhile, ten minutes west of I-15, Goodsprings Ghost Town’s self-guided walking tour through haunted history winds up at the storied Pioneer Saloon, where Clark Gable’s cigarette burns and spooky tales are reason enough to raise a glass. (To honor your day, we recommend something on the rocks).

Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum

Downtown Las Vegas

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

In the heart of Vintage Vegas, just a mile off Fremont Street, lies one of Las Vegas’ oldest haunts—literally. In 2017, the eccentric Zak Bagans of Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures converted a 1938-built mansion—reputedly afflicted with spirits, thanks to on-site deaths and rumors of bizarre basement rituals—into a paranormal paradise. The museum houses 30 rooms packed with seriously spooky artifacts—from Sharon Tate’s wedding dress to an entire room full of bedeviled puppets—as well as a collection of what are rumored to be the most cursed objects on Earth. This tour isn’t for the faint of heart; hence the requirement that you sign a medical waiver upon entry.

Bizarro Bonus: Be sure to eat, shop, and art-hop around the Las Vegas Arts District, AKA 18b, as you wander among Graffiti Art Gallery Alley, funky Antique Alley, art studios, and more. Then explore vintage-meets-hip Fremont Street, whose #WeirdNevada bona fides include the world’s largest hunk of gold and a fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture that debuted at Burning Man.

National Atomic Testing Museum

Las Vegas

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

When the threat of nuclear weapons loomed during the 1950s, a whopping 928 atomic tests were performed in Nevada. Interestingly, this sparked an allure and launched a bizarre, new kind of tourism—watching blasts while clinking glasses—something that only could have happened in Nevada. Today, Las Vegas carries on that fire at the National Atomic Testing Museum—a Smithsonian Institute affiliate—which investigates the science, history, and pop culture of one of our nation’s more controversial periods. Among its detailed, interactive displays, don’t miss rare oddities like an authentic (and huge) nuclear reactor, a backpack nuke, and other “personal” atomic weapons—plus dozens of artifacts from actual nuclear tests.

Bizarro Bonus: Monthly tours depart from the museum to the Nevada National Security Site, including to Survival Town, a cute little village—complete with mannequin versions of picture-perfect 1950s families—constructed to test the bombs’ impact on an actual “neighborhood.” Tours involve high security and higher demand, but are well worth forfeiting your phone for a few hours—and booking well in advance.

The Neon Boneyard

Downtown Las Vegas

Find it on the Free-Range Art Highway road trip

This is another museum that could only exist in Las Vegas. What began as a storage site for defunct neon signs has grown into the full-fledged Neon Museum, complete with a visitor center located in the salvaged and refurbished mushroom cloud-shaped La Concha Motel lobby. More than 800 rescued historic neon sign pieces from 200+ Las Vegas properties sprawl across the nearly two-acre Boneyard. You’ll recognize some, even if you’ve never seen them in person: Caesars Palace, the Moulin Rouge Hotel, the Golden Nugget…the list goes on. Hop on a guided tour any day of the week—or better yet, night, when clever lighting gives you a sense of the glowing glory of a historic chapter in this city’s buzzing lifespan.

Bizarro Bonus: For a very different view of Vintage Vegas, hoof it a half-mile to The Mob Museum, which showcases both sides of the notorious battle between organized crime and law enforcement, here in Las Vegas and around the U.S. Then head to the basement and make a toast to “justice” in the on-site speakeasy.

Kiss by Monster Mini Golf

Las Vegas (Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino)

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

Get ready to rock ‘n’ roll all night and putt-putt ev-e-ry day at the only entirely KISS-themed mini golf course on Earth. Tucked inside the Rio, come be a “Strutter” with a putter among 13,000 square feet of space filled with museum-quality KISS concert memorabilia, a non-stop KISS soundtrack, trivia challenges, vintage KISS pinball machines, and more. Each hole unfolds around KISS-themed features (Gene Simmons’ oversized tongue even rolls out of an interactive obstacle), all illuminated by blacklight and buzzing neon. What’s more: if you and that special weirdo of yours feel like “Calling Dr. Love” and saying “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” to each other for good, the “Love It Loud” Rock ‘n’ Roll Wedding Chapel has your back.

Bizarro Bonus: If the “p-word” above caught your attention, then launch yourself across the Strip to the Pinball Hall of Fame, an interactive “museum” (just north of a certain famous welcome sign) “with pinball and nothing but pinball for 25,000 square feet.” We’re talking more than 400 machines, from old-school 1950s tables to just-released mega-titles, ultra-rare and experimental machines to classic favorites, all restored and playable. Jackpot!

Alabam the Toilet Paper Man

Historic Downtown Boulder City

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

Head up the hill if you wanna “roll” with one of our absolute favorite statues ever: Alabam, the Toilet Paper Hero of Hoover Dam. In the 1930s, many of the historic project’s 7,000 construction jobs were strenuous, thankless, and unthinkably dangerous—like dangling from a rope, hundreds of feet above the Colorado River, to plant and ignite dynamite. But Alabam’s role was no less important: keeping the commodes clean, tidy, and fully stocked with fresh toilet paper. Today, Alabam stands proudly on a corner in Historic Downtown Boulder City, festooned with fresh T.P. like an artillery belt, waiting to ply you with some good, clean selfies.

Bizarro Bonus: Dig deeper into Hoover Dam’s fascinating history at the Boulder City – Hoover Dam Museum, which investigates the stories of the men and women who braved it all to build this architectural wonder—and Boulder City itself. The free, interactive museum is located inside the 1933-built Boulder Dam Hotel, which still boasts all the ornate grandeur that so impressed the era’s celebrities and government mucky-mucks.

Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum

Boulder City

Find it on the Neon to Nature road trip

Slink, lumber, or lurch into this one-of-a-kind institution to ogle an unparalleled collection of screen-used props, creature suits, and classic monster movie memorabilia, curated by a passionate pro. A special makeup effects artists by trade, Tom Devlin has taken his monster-making career from ghoul-ifying faces on The X-Files to creating the creepy puppets in Puppet Master and, finally, here to share it with other horror flick aficionados, or simply those curious about how things really go behind the scenes. During your visit, you can also get your hands (and face) on Devlin’s line of Halloween masks—along with tons of other awesome monster merch.

Bizarro Bonus: Wanna really treat yourself to some serious self-(s)care? Then spring for the R.I.P. experience. Perfect for special occasions—weddings included!—the Monster Museum will pick you up in Las Vegas in a custom hearse, take you to the Monster Museum where Tom Devlin will be lying in wait to give you a private, personal tour. 

Coffinwood

Pahrump

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

If you’re into coffin-shaped furniture, jewelry, purses, ping-pong tables, or really anything else—including actual coffins—this quaint little mom-and-pop coffin shop just nails it. Even if you’re not, make an appointment to tour the owners’ coffin-themed home and workshop, peruse their hearse collection, or even exchange vows in their wedding chapel—all of which make for some truly undying memories. What started as a mission to create affordable coffins in response to an industry that exploits grieving people has evolved into a specialty custom order business, with big clients like the late Jeff Hannemen of Slayer. Basically, if you can dream it, Bryan Schoening can build it (as long as it’s coffin-shaped, of course).

Bizarro Bonus: While cruising around Pahrump, be sure to stop for a sweet treat at Seemore’s Ice Cream, the self-proclaimed “World’s Tallest Ice Cream Stand.” (We haven’t verified the claim, but the soft-serve steeple is enough to make us love the joint, regardless.) Then swing up to Crystal, if you feel like a cold one while matching wits with the tough-talking former-madam owner of Miss Kathy’s Short Branch Saloon.

Longstreet Inn & The Big Bovine of the Desert

Amargosa Valley

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

Perched in the foothills of the Funeral Mountains on the outskirts of Death Valley National Park, this state-straddling casino-resort feels like a bizarre dream anytime, but especially while road tripping the Death Valley Rally. From the wooden biker greeting you at the front door to the live performers asking the audience to work their fog machine mid-show to the resident cat who trots nightly to his own reserved table—yep, all real. And then, out front, there it is: Big Bovine—an enormous, two-story cow offering a warm, #WeirdNevada welcome (or farewell) on behalf of the Silver State. And trust us: for the sake of your future stories, ask a local about the actual 3,000-pound cow that inspired this moooving memorial. 

Bizarro Bonus: The show must go on? Cruise ten minutes south across the border to Amargosa Opera House, where local legend Marta Becket certainly thought so. After breaking down nearby—and settling here—the late proprietress of this far-flung auditorium performed opera for more than 40 years to whoever turned up in minuscule Death Valley Junction—as well as to the permanent guests she painted on its walls.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Amargosa Opera House is more often than not closed due to COVID-19-related staffing complications. Be sure to call ahead prior to your visit.

Devils Hole at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

Amargosa Valley

Find it on the Death Valley Rally road trip

To the world’s rarest fish, it’s home. To some (including infamous wacko Charles Manson), it’s a portal to somewhere…else. The thing is, both are technically true. This small, watery opening (about 8 by 60 feet) formed 60,000 years ago, becoming isolated from other surface water about 12,000 years ago—cutting off the Devils Hole desert pupfish forever. They can’t descend deep enough to navigate subterranean waterways…but guess what: neither can we. Although scientists have no idea how deep it goes, we assume it’s pretty deep, because the 15,000-year-old “fossil water” here has occasionally been observed to “slosh” like inland tsunamis with two-meter-high waves—due to earthquakes as far as Mexico and even China.

Bizarro Bonus: 25 miles north on US-95 (route of both the extreme Death Valley Rally and the wack-tastic Free-Range Art Highway), more #WeirdNevada wonderment awaits in the form of the “World’s Largest Firecracker” (outside the Alamo Fireworks Megastore) and the Area 51 Alien Center—part spaced-out truck stop curio shop and café, and part…well, the kind of only-in-Nevada establishment we can’t exactly recommend you do much more than take an exterior photo of…

Worth the Trip

These Weird Nevada wonders are a little more “far-out” from the Entertainment Capital of the World. Next time you are road tripping through the rurals, make sure you add these to the itinerary. Get our tips on how to get weird in Nevada’s small towns, ghost towns, and beyond here.

International Car Forest of the Last Church

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The Clown Motel

Exactly what it sounds like, this clown-themed roadside Uncommon Overnighter boasts what’s got to be the largest private collection of clown figurines and memorabilia under the sun (and moon), as well as a few resident ghostly miners rumored to have moved in from the Old Tonopah Cemetery next door. Check Tonopah’s calendar to get on a guided tour of both, or at least take yourself on a self-guided one of the graveyard.

The Clown Motel

International Car Forest of the Last Church

This free, unconventional automotive art installation features 40 cars, vans, and trucks planted into the earth, sticking straight up, straddling crevices, or balancing on top of one another—each one transformed into a creative, colorful vehicular canvas by invited guest artists. Back in town, it’s all about the details (thousands of them) on Rocket Bob’s Art Cars, which you’ll find permanently parked on Goldfield’s main drag.

International Camel & Ostrich Races

Goldwell Open Air Museum

Just outside famous Rhyolite Ghost Town—the most photographed boomtown remnants in the West—wander among a ghostly, life-sized “Last Supper,” a 24-foot-tall miner (and his trusty penguin), a towering cinder block lady, a psychedelic mosaic “couch,” and more at one of Earth’s most unique galleries, created by Belgian artists in the 1980s. Don’t miss Tom Kelly’s Bottle House, just up the road in “downtown” Rhyolite.

Goldwell Open Air Museum

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