Sure, everyone's going to have their favorites when they visit a museum, but we thought we'd add a few pieces worth checking out. Have fun and wow your friends back home with some Vegas history.
Known as Nevada's state fossil, the ichthyosaur replica stands tall. This reptile existed 225 million years ago and once swam the seas of Central Nevada.
While most of us didn't know the legendary Howard Hughes in person, you'll feel like you did after seeing things from his Las Vegas home on display, like mini-boxes of Grape Nuts cereal, for example.
Located in one of the center displays, see a $25,000 poker chip from the old Dunes hotel (imploded in 1994).
Stand next to a 1911 Desert Love Buggy, considered one of the most popular cars to cruise Fremont Street. Used mainly for promotional purposes, it made its first appearance in a parade in 1939, with its last one in 1994.
Get an up-close view of a brilliant and elaborate showgirl costume wall display, featuring colorful threads and headpieces through the ages.
Read about in-depth history of Vegas mobsters and Vegas' first racially integrated hotel, the Moulin Rouge.
See film clips on things like The Rat Pack and Nevada wildlife.
If you're thinking of taking the kids out for the day at the Springs Preserve, want to brush up on your Silver State history or if you're simply a fan of old-school Vegas, then a trip to the Nevada State Museum is the spot to see and do all of the above.
"We're here to collect Nevada's heritage and preserve it," said David Millman, director of the Nevada State Museum. "Every cultural institution in Vegas struggles [since] it's a relatively new city. But we preserved it and we have something pretty great."
The Nevada State Museum relocated from Lorenzi Park and opened in the Springs Preserve in October 2011. The two-level, 70,000-square-foot building is now closer to the Strip (about 15 minutes) and is twice the size of its old location.
The first floor stores some of the museum's permanent collections, as well as a public eating area. The second floor features a 13,000-square-foot exhibit gallery, a research library, a gift shop, lecture rooms and a banquet hall, complete with a spacious outdoor balcony overlooking the Springs Preserve and the Strip.
The museum is divided into two sections -- its permanent fixtures and a rotating exhibit, which changes every few months.
The permanent exhibit first takes you through Nevada's geology, fossil and desert wildlife, as well as mining and railroad history. One of the standouts is the skeletal replica of Nevada's state fossil, the ichthyosaur. This reptile swam in the seas of Central Nevada 225 million years ago and measured 48 feet long. Nearby, you can view real fossil bones and take a closer peek at other fossil findings with a magnifying glass -- it's science class all over again.
Speaking of school, for those who loved learning about the Oregon Trail, the museum also offers an interactive travel game by testing your surviving skills in Old Nevada.
On the other side of the wall of the permanent exhibit, you'll learn about the state's history, but in more modern times. This includes things like an interactive Nevada nuclear test site section, World War II history, the "real" truth about Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo hotel, a Las Vegas timeline from 1905 to today, and much more. The museum even showcases items from Howard Hughes' home like Grape Nuts cereal boxes, a brown sugar package and other household staples.
You'll also see one of the most brilliant displays of showgirl costumes through the ages. This showcase takes up an entire wall, bedazzled in pink glitter. Encased behind oval cut-out glass windows, it's rare visitors get to see such elaborate, colorful costumes up close. There are informative descriptions of each piece.
On the other half of the exhibit space, the "changing" gallery rotates every three to four months and includes a variety of Nevada art work. Currently, the museum houses Cameron Grant's stunning digital photography of both the nature and city side of Las Vegas.
If you're a real history buff, the museum includes a research library (open Monday to Saturday, 1 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.). You'll find Northern and Southern Nevada periodicals from 1905 to present day. The research library also includes files of all Nevada births, marriages and deaths from the early 1900s.
After you're finished, there's a gift shop with all sorts of fun trinkets, art, jewelry, stuffed animals and more.
"Las Vegas changes so rapidly, it's nice to recognize some of our past," said Millman. "There has to be something there besides the Strip. We're part of a growing culture in Las Vegas."
-- Review by Jeannie Borbe