The Strip isn’t the only spot in Las Vegas where you’ll find one-of-a-kind attractions. From checking out retro sneakers at ShoeZeum (pictured above) and zip-lining along the Fremont Street Experience to exploring the history of the mob and walking through a “boneyard” of old hotel signs, you’re in for a lot of surprises. Take a break from the Strip and come see all the hidden treasures Downtown has to offer. Here are a handful of must-see stops that’ll make your Vegas vacation even more awesome.
Whether you’re a fan of Nike or simply appreciate quirky collections, ShoeZeum in Neonopolis at Fremont Street Experience will blow your mind. ShoeZeum is every Nike collector’s envy. But even if you’re not a sneaker head, you’ll appreciate the 23 different exhibits inside the 7,500-square-foot museum. Jordan Geller’s vast shoe collection consists of 2,500 pairs of Nikes. He holds the Guinness Book of Records for the world’s largest shoe collection.
Here you’ll find everything from retro Nikes from the early ’70s, an autographed pair worn by Michael Jordan (valued at $5,000), more than 500 different pairs of Air Jordans from the past two decades (in every color!), Air Force Ones, Huaraches, vintage Nike Dunks, Nike Air Max — and the list goes on and on.
Make sure your camera’s ready: You’ll see rare pairs like Nikes inspired by the Cosby sweater decade and a whole school-inspired line designed like crayons, Scantron sheets and even the black and white composition notebooks. Out of all the shoes in the attraction, these were my personal favorites. The “Nikebook” pair is really too cool for school.
Walking through all the exhibits also brought back a lot of memories. When I saw his pair of silver Air Max 97s, it reminded me of my sophomore year in high school when I first moved to Vegas. Kids and comic book fans will get a kick out of the Batman-inspired Nikes, as well as the Bugs Bunny, Shrek and Simpson kicks.
As groups build up, Geller gives tours and shares his personal stories and history behind the exhibits. Be prepared to get “Nike-fied.”
Bootleg Canyon Flightlinez
This had to be one of my favorite attractions in the city. There are just so many beautiful things to see! Flightlinez at Fremont Street Experience gives you the thrill of soaring high above the ground while admiring the spectacular sights of downtown Las Vegas. As you coast down the 800-foot-long cable, the wind twirls you around in your harness, giving you a 360-degree-view of your surroundings. When my husband and I embarked on the Flightlinez, I couldn’t stop giggling. How can something be so thrilling, yet relaxing at the same time? We recommend going at night. This way, you’ll experience the lights from the Viva Vision canopy right above you.
The Mob Museum
Designed by the same team who brought you the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, downtown’s Mob Museum provides rich history about the mob. A trip to this museum is like walking through the pages of a history book all about the mob. Learn about mob history not only in Las Vegas, but the rest of the world. You can even read history about the Yakuza gang in Japan.
One of the key exhibits is the actual courtroom used in the Kefauver hearings, the first mob-related event to be televised. The museum is located inside the former federal courthouse where the 1950-51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held. The Kefauver Committee investigation contributed to the national debate on organized crime that developed after World War II. Another object on display is the original barber chair where mobster Albert Anastasia (who was brutally shot and killed while getting a haircut and shave) once sat.
Neon Museum and Boneyard
They say one man’s trash is another one’s treasure. While the buildings may be long gone, the Neon Museum and Boneyard preserves the historic signs that once lit up the city. Reopening Oct. 27 after the construction of its visitors center, you’ll have an entertaining time walking by all the different signs in the three-acre Neon Boneyard. Tours tend to sell out, so plan ahead a week or two in advance. Tours last about an hour.
If you are in the Fremont Street Experience area, keep your eye out for signs such as the Aladdin Lamp, Dot’s Flowers Sign and The Hacienda Horse and Rider, to name a few.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop fans of the History Channel’s “Pawn Stars” are in luck: Gold and Silver Pawn Shop owners Rick Harrison (The Spotter) , his dad (The Old Man), his son (Big Hoss) and longtime friend Austin Russell (Chumlee) run this famous establishment. Thousands of visitors flock here every day and even if you’re not into collectibles, the shop makes for a unique tourist attraction. On busy days, you’ll actually see a line of people waiting just to get a sneak peek at the inside.
If you’re familiar with the show, then you already know some of the items here come with a hefty price tag. Items include a 2001 New England Patriots Super Bowl ring (worth a whopping $100,000), a $10,000 Jim Morrison painting and even a French “death” clock made in 1930. A creepy (but true) fact, these clock makers usually died at a young age from the overuse of mercury to make the clocks. There are also firearms, unique jewelry and even fine artwork by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí and Steve Kaufman.
The 24-hour pawn shop opened back in 1989 but has gained massive popularity since “Pawn Stars” debuted in July 2009. It is the highest-rated show on the History Channel, attracting more than 5 million viewers.
Located at 1112 S. Commerce St., see how old becomes new again at Rick’s Restoration. Rick Dale and his crew take rusty, beat-up items and restore them to their original look. But we aren’t talking about little trinkets or jewelry boxes. Rick’s Restoration fixes everything from gas pumps from the 1940s to bikes from the 1950s. The team has to be creative in order to restore each item. Dale occasionally appears on “Pawn Stars” restoring Rick Harrison’s antiques at Gold and Silver Pawn Shop.
The shop does the following restorations: Bumper cars, candy machines, jukeboxes, lamps, gumball machines, Coca-Cola chests, roulette wheels, photo booths, phone booths, water fountains, soda fountains and much more. The shop is open from Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. You can also watch a live webcast every Friday at 5:30 p.m. here. Restored items are for sale, but if you’re looking to snag something smaller, logo T-shirts and souvenirs are also available.