I mentioned in the planning post that we like to try to get away from the Strip for at least half a day. On prior trips, we took a drive out to Hoover Dam, stopping in Boulder City for lunch, and my husband and some friends spent a couple of hours shooting things at The Gun Store. We took the lazy route this trip, and didn't go far, but still found a couple of places where we had an awesome time away from the slots and tables.
The Neon Museum is still officially under construction, but until it opens (sometime in June 2012, according to our tour guide), you can do a guided tour of the Boneyard. I booked the tour online several months in advance, and while we were waiting for the tour to begin, they turned away several people who hadn't booked in advance and were hoping to just walk-on for a tour. Since the boneyard is full of broken glass and rusty metal, you have to sign a waiver before the tour starts and agree to stay with the guide at all times. There were approximately 15 people in our tour group, and the tour lasts for about an hour. The guide was very knowledgeable and told lots of great stories about the old Vegas hotels and casinos. She walked us through the boneyard and gave a history of neon sign making and Vegas advertising while putting it all into historical perspective. The tour was definitely worth the $15 per person, especially if you are interested in Las Vegas history.
We decided to go to the Pinball Hall of Fame on a whim. We had just eaten lunch at In-n-Out and decided that we didn't want to drive out to Red Rock Canyon. I had read about the Pinball Hall of Fame and we had seen it on some television show, so we decided to check it out. It is located in a really dark warehouse type building, and we were a little apprehensive about going inside when we saw it, but I am so glad we did. We had a great time here! We played classic pinball and 80s video games for about an hour, and then saw The Claw. My husband cannot walk away from one of these machines if we see something interesting in there, so he spent $7 dollars trying to win a stuffed iguana with a koala head. He finally got it, and several others in the process, and we had a good laugh about it. There is no admission to the Hall of Fame, and we got change for a $5 when we went in, so for $12 we had a solid hour of entertainment. Much less expensive than gambling anywhere on the Strip!
There were a few other off-Strip options on our list, in addition to Red Rock Canyon, that we didn't make it to on this trip. I am still very interested in the Atomic Testing Museum, and the Mob Museum finally opened on the day we left Las Vegas, so that will definitely be at the top of the list for next trip.