Museum Month: The Neon Museum In Las Vegas, Nevada

When the plug is pulled at casinos, chapels, restaurants and other businesses, Sin City’s iconic art form – the neon sign – used to get sent to the scrapyard. That was until The Neon Museum, a 501c3 non-profit, began collecting and preserving these timeworn signs, ensuring the treasures won’t be forgotten.

Since 1996, volunteers have devoted their time to preserving the legacy of the disregarded signs of Las Vegas, keeping them in a dusty, three-acre lot dubbed the “Neon Boneyard.” Wander around and find dead casino marquees, unlit wedding chapel signs and bygone used car billboards scattered about like noodles in alphabet soup.

%Gallery-154843%Not only is the Neon Boneyard full of cool visuals, it also illuminates a side of Las Vegas history that many people wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to see. For now, travelers must make an appointment in advance in order to visit the Neon Boneyard. However, there are plans to open a bona fide visitor’s center in what was once the lobby of the La Concha Motel, a 1960’s curvilinear structure that almost fell victim to a bulldozer in 2003 until preservationists swept in and relocated the lobby to the Boneyard.

The team has worked to assemble an outdoor “gallery” of restored signs along the east end of Fremont Street, where visitors can check out nine once forgotten signs that have been restored to blinking glory. That gallery, which includes a lamp-shaped sign originally installed in 1966 at the Aladdin Hotel, is available free to the public 24 hours per day.

Find hotel deals with new booking site Guestmob

The Internet has brought us many ways to research and book hotels at prices much lower than the hotels’ published rate. Aggregate sites like Kayak and Orbitz give you the best available rate (BAR) without pre-payment on a specific hotel, while “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire allow you to bid for a room below BAR but the actual property remains hidden until after you book and the purchase is non-refundable. Now a new booking site offers you hotel deals well below BAR while ensuring consumers flexibility and a standard of quality.

Guestmob differs from other hotel booking sites by combining high-tech algorithmic pricing and expertly curated properties hand-picked for their high user ratings. The site works by grouping hotels into collections of four to eight properties in a given category and neighborhood. You enter your travel dates and can immediately see a room rate of up to 50% below BAR for each hotel collection. The Thursday before you check in, the exact hotel is revealed but you are guaranteed one of the specific hotels in the collection. Best of all, unlike other opaque booking sites, you can cancel your reservation up to three days before check-in.Previously, some savvy travelers have tried to “game the system” with sites like Bidding for Travel, a forum that tries to guess winning bids and participating hotels on opaque sites by sharing successful bookings. Guestmob removes the need for this research by specifying hotels in each collection and immediately offering a deeply discounted price. While room upgrades, frequent guest points and other requests are still at the discretion of the hotel upon check-in, it’s still a great option for travelers with flexibility.

A Guestmob search for a hotel in Chicago on a weekend in mid-May yielded a price of $164 for a 3.5 star hotel on Magnificent Mile (such as a Courtyard or Embassy Suites), or $203 to bump up to a 4 star in the same area such as a W or Westin Hotel. The same properties ranged from $221 to $279 on other sites. Most Guestmob hotels are part of well-known chains such as Marriott or Starwood, or smaller chains like Kimpton and JDV.

Guestmob soft-launched last year in San Francisco and has now expanded to include New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, Boston, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Portland and Phoenix. The site is well connected to social media so you can get help, learn news or give feedback on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also chat with them right on the site if you have questions.

Photo of the Day: Optical illusion in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Case in point: today’s Photo of the Day taken by Flickr user Gustavo at the City Center entertainment complex. In the photo, monochrome lines and angles look more like a work of minimalist modern art than what they really are: balconies at a hotel.

Do you have your own optical illusion photographs? Upload your favorite shots to the Gadling Group Pool and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.

Flavor Flav’s House of Flavor opens today in Las Vegas

Yeah, boy! The iconic rapper and “Flavor of Love” reality star Flavor Flav will open his fried chicken restaurant in Las Vegas today, in case you needed another reason to visit Sin City. The take out restaurant features recipes and secret spice rub mixtures developed by Flavor Flav himself over the years. Yes, that’s right. Flav has a cooking degree.

The menu includes fried chicken, fried shrimp and Flavor Flav’s signature red velvet waffle. We’re told to also expect celebrity sightings.

Not sure who Flav is? Apparently you’re not into quality TV (his “Flavor of Love 2” finale was the highest rated VH1 telecast ever). Most recently, he appeared with Elton John in the Pepsi Super Bowl commercial.

Flav wants to make sure everyone understands that this is not the same restaurant that failed in Iowa a few years back. Well, it is, but this one is going to be different, he told Business Week.

Let’s hope so – if you make it to Vegas and check out the chicken, be sure to let us know.

[Flickr image via Back9Network]

Watch Las Vegas grow over 40 years

Las Vegas wasn’t always as sprawling as it is today. Modern Las Vegas extends far beyond the Strip. It wasn’t all that long ago, however, that Sin City was just a tiny speck on the map. As more Americans – and international travelers, for that matter – discovered Las Vegas and began turning it into a premiere vacation destination, development projects boomed and investments in this urban oasis exploded. Thanks to this time-lapse of NASA satellite images, we can try to wrap our minds around just how far Las Vegas has come since 1972, and how it has grown exponentially over the decades.

What do the next 40 years have in store for Las Vegas? Hopefully an end to that “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” slogan.