As if Las Vegas didn’t offer enough bang for your buck. Now, just ten minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, the Atomic Testing Museum is ground zero for a stark, eerie and unmissable history lesson.
Why here, in Sin City? Nevada played a primary role in nuclear bomb development and testing from 1951 to 1992, when the government halted testing. Inside this one-of-a-kind museum, Spot Cool Stuff forgot that the lurid, outrageous oddities of Vegas were so nearby.
Here’s how the museum works: Visitors receive badges and name tags at the beginning of the tour, and then released to view artifacts from the Nevada Test Site (gas masks, survival kits), as well as ongoing newsreels of actual bomb tests, nuclear test-site workers, and historic players such as Adolf Hitler and Harry Truman. Two test bombs named Little Boy and Fat Man are among the most unsettling displays. Think you’re hot? Go ahead and test your own level of radioactivity.
For those seeking a more explosive experience, the Ground Zero Theater replicates the event of experiencing a test-site detonation. Be warned: this is one powerful replica. In this most popular feature of the museum, visitors take seats on cold benches, hold their breath as the doors close, and listen as a frighteningly detached voice begins a countdown. Visitors view test-site workers going about their business on-screen. Then, the powerful image of a mushroom cloud appears, as noise, steam and terrible shaking occur. Sure, it’s just pretend, but very few visitors leave the Ground Zero Theater on sturdy legs—and that’s the point.
Be one of more than 2,500 American visitors monthly, or one of many more from around the globe. And pick up an atomic bomb tie for Dad in the gift shop, while you’re at it. This is one tie he definitely won’t have. And the kids will appreciate the Atomic Fireball Candies—wildly popular, of course, in the unironic 1950s.