I get it. It’s impossible to see all the things you want to in every city you visit. We’re not all 23-year-old backpacking Aussies with a year to explore the world at a leisurely pace. Sometimes you’re just in town on a layover, or you’ve got some time to kill before you do that stupid thing your boss made you travel across the country for. In those situations you think, “What’s the one rad thing I can do with the little time I have in this amazing place?” Luckily I’ve got just the answer for you.
RUSSELL INDUSTRIAL CENTER
At 2.2 million square-feet, the Russell Industrial Center is a mecca for artists and small businesses from all over the Midwest. Originally opened as a factory in 1925, the seven-building campus was converted to studio and loft space for artists in 2003. You can find pretty much any kind of creative person imaginable there from woodworkers to people who sell imaginary real estate (shout out to Loveland!). They also do events all year long, so if you’re lucky you’ll be in town for one of their open house art shows.
Love makes people do weird things, but heartbreak… man, that makes people do really crazy shit. Ed Leedskalnin was jilted the day before his wedding, so he left his home in Latvia and ended up in Miami. From 1923 to 1951 he singlehandedly carved more than 1,100 tons of coral rock into a castle devoted to a woman that left him before their wedding. And the weirdest part is that no one ever saw him actually do any of the carving. If you like strange and mysterious roadside attractions, the Coral Castle is the place for you.
MUSEUM OF JURASSIC TECHNOLOGY
While it bills itself as “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic,” a better description would be: A place full of really rad weird shit. What kind of weird shit? Some of the exhibitions include: micro-miniature sculptures, carved from a human hair and placed within the eye of a needle; an oil portrait gallery where all the paintings are of dogs who participated in the Soviet Space Program; and a room dedicated to strange letters mailed to Mount Wilson Observatory between 1915 and 1935. I promise you will walk out of there with no knowledge of what the hell Jurassic Technology is.
Las Vegas has come a long way from the days when Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. were kings of the desert. Now advertised as the place where you go to commit adultery with a random stranger you meet in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, it used to be considered a classy place where you went to lose your life savings on roulette. As Las Vegas has changed so has its signage, luckily the people at the Neon Museum appreciate the old school Americana charm of the neon sign, so they’ve dedicated themselves to preserving them. The collection has nearly 150 signs that span from the 1930’s to today.
What more could you want than a museum full of stuff you actually get to play with? The Musée Mécanique is one of the world’s largest collections of coin-operated “games.” I put games in quotes just because entertainment has changed a lot over the years. The collection goes as far back as Victorian-era machines where you look through a viewer to see moving pictures, and goes right up to modern day race-car arcade games. This place is just awesome! Make sure you find Laughing Sal, the huge creepy doll that just laughs very loudly when you insert coins. Laughing Sal might give you nightmares.
MUSEUM OF SEX
This is exactly what it sounds like. Dedicated to sex-positivity and openness about the old horizontal mambo, The Museum of Sex is absolutely brilliant. Last time I was there, there were exhibits about strange fetishes, exorbitantly priced lifelike sex dolls, and the first porn movies (they came out at the same time as the first non-porn movies). Don’t forget to check out the museum store for some, you know, souvenirs.
For more Stuart, check out his Inspire the Night episode on Red Bull TV!