Without its neon signs, Las Vegas would be virtually unrecognizable. From the electric blue martini glass (complete with neon green olive) above Fremont Street to the multicolored hot-air balloon of the Paris Las Vegas Hotel on the Strip, these phosphorescent signs add more than a dash of color to the city night.
Discovered by British scientists in 1898, the element neon gets its name from the Greek word for new, neos. In 1910, French engineer Georges Claude patented a lamp that uses an electrified tube of the element and introduced neon gas signs to companies in the United States.
Neon signs quickly became a popular form of outdoor advertising by the mid 20th century, adding colorful pops of light to cinema marquees like the Bagdad Theater & Pub in Portland, OR and transforming cities like Hong Kong after sunset.
In Vegas, neon signs are such a part of the city’s identity that there’s an entire museum dedicated to the preservation of its most iconic signs. Visitors to the Neon Museum can see signs collected from motels, businesses, and casinos that date back to the 1930s.
To show off some of the coolest neon signage around the world, we looked through Travel + Leisure’s archives and dug through submissions from our online community members. We’ve selected our favorite images to create a round-the-world tour of the most dazzling examples of neon, from Paris’s Moulin Rouge to a neon cowboy boot on Nashville’s Music Row.
See for yourself by checking out these photographs of neon around the world.