Las Vegas became famous for its casinos that boasted glitz and glamor with big, brilliant buzzing neon signs. Sadly, these days many have switched to LED, and while some signs have had a second life at the Neon Museum, there is still plenty of neon to be seen in the wild. From the massive kicking cowgirl known fondly as Vegas Vickie, to the tiny motor courts of early Las Vegas, here is a glimpse at some of the amazing neon we saw while in Vegas.
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South.
Designed by Betty Willis and installed in 1959, the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign has become an icon. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, it now has its very own parking lot, making it an easy and must-visit stop at the start of the Strip.
Vegas Vickie – Circa Resort & Casino, 8 Fremont Street.
While not part of the golden age of Las Vegas, as she was installed in 1980, Vegas Vickie is still an icon of the gambling desert town, even marrying Vegas Vic, the towering neon cowboy, in 1994. In 2017 she was taken down as Fremont Street made way for the new Circa Resort & Casino, but she was restored and installed inside, complete with her very own cocktail lounge and she even has a beer!
Fremont Street Experience.
Hacienda sign, intersection of S. Las Vegas Boulevard and E. Fremont Street.
El Cortez Hotel & Casino, 600 E. Fremont Street. Operational.
The El Cortez was built in 1941 and they claim it was the first “major resort” in Las Vegas. The neon seen today was installed in 1952, and due to its unchanging facade, in 2013 it became the first hotel casino to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The casino is also home to the last coin slots in Vegas. This was a contender for us to stay at, but ultimately we selected the Golden Gate, perhaps on another trip we will stay here. I’m glad we didn’t stay this time, because it is currently undergoing some renovations.
Ambassador Motel sign, 900 E. Fremont Street.
Atomic Liquor, 917 E. Fremont Street. Operational.
In 1945 Virginia’s Cafe opened on this site, and it became a hot spot for locals to watch the atomic bomb tests that were being done in the nearby desert. Taking inspiration from the tests, it became Atomic Liquor in 1952.