Off the Strip
It may seem strange that watching atomic bomb explosions used to be a spectator sport in Las Vegas, with mushroom clouds visible from within city limits. However, much like the Hoover Dam, the Nevada Test Site for nuclear weapons developed an industry that helped build modern Las Vegas, a message that’s clear with a visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum. Between 1951 and 1992, nearly 1,000 atomic bombs were detonated in the Nevada desert (but don't worry -- most of the fallout drifted to the folks in Utah). In addition to historical nuggets about the Manhattan Project, World War II, and the Cold War, you'll learn about the presence of nuclear weapons in popular culture, especially in Vegas where the Atomic Age promoted tourism. Highlights include a piece of the underground tunnel from the test site and an interactive movie theater that simulates what it would be like to watch a nuclear bomb test in person from a few miles away, complete with an ominous countdown, bright lights, wind, and shockwave rumbles.