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Vegas: Detours

Where to ogle vintage neon, nascent galleries, and sharp architecture before the sun goes down

Fun House
Explore local galleries at downtown’s Emergency Arts (512 E. Fremont St.), an arts collective dropped inside a fetching midcentury box that also shelters the Burlesque Hall of Fame and the Beat Coffeehouse & Records. Afterward rehydrate with artists next door at Insert Coin(s), a classic video game arcade (Centipede! Asteroids! Track & Field?) lovingly restored in a cocktail lounge.

Sign Language
The town’s artistic signature—banged out in glowing longhand—flickers at the Neon Boneyard (770 Las Vegas Blvd. North), a collection of rescued hotel and casino signs with enough wattage to power Casino’s opening credits.

Art of Graft
Tony the Ant and Lefty Rosenthal may be exhibits A and B in the new Mob Museum (300 E. Stewart Ave.), but there’s something for everyone, from interior designers (a bloodstained wall via the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre) to hairstylists (the barber’s chair where Albert Anastasia was clipped).

Shoot to Thrill
An Omerta-free gaming history chomps your quarters at the Pinball Hall of Fame (1610 E. Tropicana Ave.), which houses 250 machines that relate their own sad stories on placards, like this one describing the 1948 game Lady Robin Hood: “Runaway hit forgotten on the heels of ‘Humpty Dumpty.’”

Curb Appeal
Beyond the casinos is an array of notable architecture. Start with a visit to the Guardian Angel Cathedral (302 Cathedral Way)—a Mid-C A-frame sketched by the renowned Paul R. Williams. Take a postmodern leer at the Veer Towers (3722 and 3726 Las Vegas Blvd. South) before grokking Frank Gehry’s mind-bending Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (888 W. Bonneville Ave.). Nearby the latter-day deco symphony hall at the Smith Center (361 Symphony Park Ave.) hosts folks from Burt Bacharach to Bela Fleck to Ira Glass.

Hidden LA