Museums are great for learning about history and admiring art, but let’s face it: Half the reason you go to a museum is for the photo opportunities. You don’t want your friends and Instagram followers to think you’re just in Sin City to do the typically Vegas-y things. You want them to think you’re smart and cultured. And if you’re really being honest, you think a photo of you and your friends standing in a replica of The Hangover film set would be hilarious and make for the perfect Vegas souvenir.
Or maybe that’s not the case at all. Maybe you really love museums and a cute photo is only an added benefit. Whatever your reasons for spending your Vegas vacation getting your learning on, here are five museums that make for funny and quirky photo shoot locations.
The Mob Museum
If the first thing you think when you see the outside of the Mob Museum is that it looks like a 1930s courthouse, well, you’d be right. The Mob Museum is located in downtown Las Vegas in a remodeled courthouse; the first courthouse in the city and the same building that hosted the trials of some of the most infamous members of the mafia. It’s a stately building and the perfect location for a group photo.
But the real fun is inside the museum, where you can get your mug shot taken, pose for a photo in an electric chair (#spooky) and can take turns modeling gangster hats in the museum’s gift shop. After you’ve had your fill of mafia history, you can go down to the museum’s basement speakeasy. The speakeasy features a hidden bar-within- a-bar as well as vintage art and prohibition-era cocktails. Make sure to pose for a photo with one of the bar’s mobster-looking bodyguards before you leave.
Trick Art Museum
While other museums may encourage you to put your phones away, the Trick Art Museum was designed with phone cameras in mind. In fact, the entire point of the museum is to trek from exhibit to exhibit and pose for fun photos in the 3D art. They even have museum employees stationed nearby to provide tips for the best camera angles or to take the photos for you.
The Trick Art Museum features over 60 interactive 3D artworks that work as optical illusions. While in reality you may just be standing in front of a painting, your photo will make it look like you’re battling a fire breathing dragon, walking up a flight of stairs or falling off the top of a building. We’re talking Instagram content for days.
Madame Tussauds Las Vegas
What’s a more Vegas selfie than a photo with lifelike wax figures from the Hangover films? At Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, they’ll even do you one better. At the museum’s rooftop bar, the Hangover Bar, you’ll get to take a photo in a replica of the Hangover film set, which includes a model of the penthouse suite and the wedding chapel. There’s even a wax tiger.
While the museum showcases wax figures of all the celebrities you’d expect from a Madame Tussauds—Lady Gaga, Will Smith, George Clooney, just to name a few—it also displays several celebrities unique to Las Vegas, including illusionist Criss Angel, the Blue Man Group, former Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, and, of course, Elvis Presley.
Like every good Las Vegas museum, the Pioneer Saloon also doubles as a bar. In fact, if you’d like to get technical about it, it’s probably 80% percent bar and 20% museum (the museum is a room off to the side of the bar that illustrates the saloon’s history). The saloon was built in 1913, making it one of the oldest watering holes in Nevada—and it shows. The saloon looks like it was transported from an old western, which is what makes it a fun place to photograph.
You’ll want to take a photo in front of the bullet holes in the wall near the entrance—the bar was the location of an actual shootout—and a photo in front of the bar stool where Clark Gable spent many a day grieving the loss of his missing wife; a victim of a plane crash on nearby Mt. Potosi.
The Pioneer Saloon is located in Goodsprings, which is 20-minute drive outside of Las Vegas, so you’ll need to rent a car (or a horse) to get there. Or you can simply go on the Goodsprings Ghost Tour, which will take you not only to the saloon, but also on a ghost-hunting tour of the town of Goodsprings. The small and dusty town was featured on the TV show Ghost Adventures.
So technically Area 51 isn’t in Las Vegas—it’s near the town of Rachel, Nevada—but we’ve included it in this list because it’s such a fun place to visit for anyone with even the most remote interest in extra-terrestrials.
BestofVegas.com offers tickets to the Area51 VIP Tour, which takes ET-enthusiasts on a drive to look at unusual Indian petroglyphs at a dry lake bed and then on to the Extraterrestrial High and the Little A’le’Inn. The tour ends with a visit to the perimeter of Area 51 where you’ll see armed guards (Men in Black, maybe?).
The photo opportunities are numerous, as the Little A’le’Inn features several alien-themed displays, including a flying saucer and a plaque commemorating the filming of the movie Independence Day (Rachel was one of the movie’s filming locations). You’ll also want to get photo in front of the Extraterrestrial Highway sign—It’s a classic.