Corporatization of Roadside America

Where did Roadside America go?

Stuckey's from the South to the West, you could always see a Stuckey's

Stuckey's from the South to the West, you could always see a Stuckey's


Not that long ago, when you got in the car for a road trip, you knew that, even if you weren't happy about the trip, there would be interesting sights along the way.

Here in the west, we had a wide array of roadside architecture to appreciate. Everything from the mid-century modern that was Stuckey's to unique eye catchers like the twin arrows in the ground next to the Twin Arrows Trading Post:

Twin Arrows Trading Post, old route 66

Twin Arrows Trading Post, old route 66

From diners to gas stations, Roadside America had style. Neon signage, unique buildings, something to delight the eyes as the miles rolled by. Each place looked different and inviting- Harvey Houses, Texaco, small motels, diners and souvenir shops dotted the countryside.

Over the last ten years, more and more of Roadside America is being replaced with Corporate America. Now, it seems, every place looks like the last one you just passed a few miles ago. The same gas stations, the same McDonalds, Carl's Jr, Jack in the Box. 

You also get to feast your eyes on Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, Office Depot, Home Depot, Loewe's and in any number of other company chains. 

Gone is the unique architecture and character. It's been replaced by beige, faux-Tuscan box stores that sell the same stuff from city to city.

Now, each town and city increasingly looks just the last one and they all look like where you live. There is nothing unique about any of this and why get out and explore if it is all so familiar that you see it in your everyday life?

It's not inviting, it's not for the curious. Today's Corporate America Roadside seems to exist not to challenge us but to comfort us. Oh look, Barstow is looking more and more like Palmdale, Lancaster, and every other mid-size community adjacent to a freeway.

The diners that offered specialties or home-cooked meals are quickly disappearing from our roadsides replaced by either corporate fast food-aramas or chain restaurants like Applebees, TGIF or Marie Callenders where home cooked, specialty meals aren't on the menu despite what the advertising tries to tell you. 

The small motels have been replaced by Comfort Inn, Marriott, La Quinta or a half dozen other chains.

And all the signage now looks alike. With sign ordinances in many communities to keep out the so-called "sign blight", the popular tombstone signage is next to impossible to see until you have passed it.

When I travel, I don't want each place to look like where I live. One reason I am traveling is to see something different, experience new and fun things. I am not comforted by the idea that all of America has to look alike so that we can all sleep better at night. 

I miss Roadside America and the comfort that came with exploring new places that looked nothing like where I lived, even if I was only an hour or two away from my home.

Summit Inn at the Cajon Pass on I-15 used to have a moving neon sign, a busy gas station and great cafe.

Summit Inn at the Cajon Pass on I-15 used to have a moving neon sign, a busy gas station and great cafe.

Thunderbird Restaurant Home of the Ho-made pies   

Thunderbird Restaurant Home of the Ho-made pies


This is a place I would definitely stop at

This is a place I would definitely stop at

And this place looks way more inviting than a Motel 6, Comfort Inn, etc.   

And this place looks way more inviting than a Motel 6, Comfort Inn, etc.


Las Vegas Neighborhood Holiday Lights Displays

It took a bit longer than we expected but we have put together our annual list of neighborhood  Holiday Light Displays and Events around the Las Vegas Valley. If you know of a house or Event that should be included be sure to hit the comments section and let us know!


house with display.jpg


Take a tour of holiday lights and decorations around the Las Vegas Valley. The area is divided into quadrants by using Sahara Avenue to divide north from south and Interstate 15 to divide east from west.


Twisted Vegas at 1941 Houston Drive


Address: 3164 Mclennan Ave., North Las Vegas, 89081
Resident: Kellee Enneman
Description: 5 - 11 p.m. Perfectly straight house lights and multiple yard decorations. Decorations are accompanied by music.

Address: 1343 Villa Park Court, Las Vegas, 89110

Resident: Chris Colasuono

Description: 4 - 10:30 p.m. Sun-Thurs; 4 - 11 p.m. Fri-Sat. 10,000 lights that are synchromized to music. Music can be heard on station 106.1 FM. Currently 14 various song/light shows are programmed.


Address: 8117 Chestnut Hollow Ave., Las Vegas, 89131
Resident: Frank Endellicate
Description: Entire house decorated from top to bottom. Various lawn ornaments, blow ups, reindeer and santas! Lights galore!

Address: 6759 Rowena Circle, Las Vegas, 89131
Resident: Missi K. Winter
Description: Anytime after 5:30 pm. Themed as the Peanuts visiting the North Pole!

Address: 6601 Brandywine Way, Las Vegas
Submitted by Bonnie Sandusky

Description: 7 - 10 a.m. Wednesday-Saturday; Monday-Tuesday, all day. My parents' home, always decorated every space you can imagine ... from the roof to the whole front yard! My Dad does this himself everyt year. He is 80 years old! Climbs up that roof, etc. Then goes to my sister's house & helps her! Every year! Needs to be recognized.

Address: 6313 Bristol Way, Las Vegas, 89107
Submitted by Bonnie Sandusky

Description: My sister's house says: Happy Birthday Jesus. Everyone seems to forget what Christmas really means & her display says it all ... a must see! 

New addition submitted by one of our readers:

NorthWest area, Residential home has an animated musical Christmas Lights display and a video of Santa in a window. A joke telling elf is hosting the Broadcast on 101.1 Fm  

3646 Carol Lark Court Las Vegas 89129.



A new addition submitted by one of our readers:

Address: 4255 El Cid Way Las Vegas NV 89121

Description: Huge two story house all decorated, TONS OF LIGHTS, garage has a viewing of a HUGE mini Christmas village built up on Styrofoam which includes three full trains running throughout the mini village, house will NOT disappoint! Truly a masterpiece!!!



Address: 2757 Grande Valley, Las Vegas, 89135

Resident: Rupert Chamberlain
Description: 5-10 p.m. My favorite TV show of all time is "Star Trek." The recent "Star Trek" movie was OK, but I much prefer the original cast. As a tribute to the show I have decorated my front yard to represent some of my favorite episodes with a holiday twist. Kirk and Spock in hand-to-hand combat armed with candy canes and dressed as elves, red, white and green animatronic tribbles and much much more. A true Trekkies holiday delight! Come one and all and join for a Romulan ale as we boldly go where no man has gone before!

Address: 10878 Milbank Ave, Las Vegas, 89135
Resident: Jerrold E. Creed
Description: 4 to 10 p.m. daily. Tune your car radio to 103.9 FM. Thousands of LED lights set to music. THX opening, Carol of the Bells, Linus and Lucy, Jingle Bells, TSO Wizards of Winter. Picture on this web page is this house. Featuring 16 mini trees out front. Merry Christmas. 

Address: 346 Maddalena, Las Vegas, 89183
Resident: Ryan S. Knepp
Description: 6 - 8 p.m. My 14-year-old stepson Ryan Knepp loves Christmas decorations. With every dime he gets he buys blow-up decorations to place in the yard. Over the last month he has spent countless hours setting up his display.

He has about 40 blow ups plus countless lights and other displays. Last year he had blow ups stolen. He now attaches each one to plywood and puts a cable around all of them to prevent them from being stolen. He is very meticulous and makes sure every wire and string is just right. This 14-year-old does this all by himself and with his own money. Truly an inspiring story about Christmas and youth.

Address: 3308 Surfline Dr., Las Vegas 89117
Resident: Walt Patalina
Description: 5-11 p.m.


Address: 3018 Scenic Valley Way, Henderson 89052
Resident: Robert Thomas
Description: 4:30 - 11:30 p.m. Lots of lights, inflatable airplane on roof, nativity scene, snow globe and lighted animals, angels and more. Live Santa appearing on Sundays.

New addition: 1700 block of Quiver Point Avenue



A new addition:

3016 Judson Avenue




The Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hosting a nightly light show with 400 animated lights along the 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) racetrack. 


Town Square Park

And while real snow is a possibility at this writing (and gets less if the weather warms up), Town Square Park hosts a show of artificial snowflakes falling at 7 p.m. nightly until Dec. 23, with a second show at 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

Neon Museum:

Starting Nov. 30, visitors who take the nighttime tour of the Museum’s Boneyard also will view a special, holiday-inspired palette of lights. Also on the Neon Museum’s holiday schedule is an ornament-making activity from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 14. Following that session, from 5 to 6 p.m., hot chocolate will be served and singers from Las Vegas Academy will perform in the Neon Boneyard’s outdoor events area. The event is free and open to the public.

Nighttime tours of the Neon Boneyard are $25 for general admission and $22 for seniors, students, active military and veterans, and Nevada residents with valid IDs.

 Sam’s Town

Mystic Falls at Sam's Town casino and hotel is once again decorated for the holidays. The winter wonderland features holiday trees, festive lighting, snowfall, animatronics, laser lights and water features. There is also a 15-minute laser light show hourly during the holiday season from 5 to 10 p.m. Santa Claus will appear from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and noon to 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. More info

Jingle Bell Block

Dec. 5-24
Downtown Grand Las Vegas and Downtown 3rd have created a winter wonderland named Jingle Bell Block on 3rd Street between Stewart and Ogden avenues. There is a Christmas tree lot, holiday beverages and festive food available for purchase, a free bounce house for kids, and handcrafted gifts for sale from the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market. Santa Claus will also be available for visits. The Christmas tree lot will be open 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. Sundays. Santa's Village will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays and noon to 10 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Open through Dec. 24. Admission and valet parking is free.

Sunset Park

1st annual Sunset Wonderland Holiday Festival
Dec. 6-22
4 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday
10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends
Sunset Wonderland will have activities every Friday, Saturday and Sunday including holiday music, children's games/activities, contests, horse rides, holiday carolers, live music and dance performances by local Las Vegas dance troupes and, of course, we can’t forget about photo opportunities with Santa. Additional craft and food vendor will be on site in our Wonderland Marketplace on the weekends as well. Ice-skating, Ferris Wheel, Tree purchases & the Holiday Wonderland of Tree Display will be available Monday thru Thursday from 4PM-10PM and weekends from 10AM - 9PM.The event is for all ages.
Price: Free to Sunset Wonderland, Ice Skating $8 per hour including skate rental
More info: Call (702) 455-8200

Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest

Opportunity Village


November 27, 2013-January 6, 2014

Call or Check Site for Hours or to Purchase Tickets

Spring's Preserve 

Spring's Preserve boasts the Holiday Spectacular, a winter wonderland bathed in lights and snow flurries, surrounded by madrigal singers and carolers, and offering pony rides and pictures with Santa Claus

Ethel M. Chocolate Factory Cactus Garden Light Display

This long time local favorite proves that even here in the desert the spirit of Christmas abounds. Hundreds of cacti and other desert plants are adorned with nearly half a million LED. Open (and free) to the public from 5 PM - 10 PM nightly until January 1st this Henderson must see includes holiday performances and visits from Santa. Perfect for kids and grandparents and anyone in between, few Las Vegas traditions can compete. See the schedule of events.


Crystals at City Center's Holiday Winter Wonderland

To say Free and Crystal's in one sentence will make any Las Vegas resident chuckle. The shopping center known for such outrageously high end shops like Cartier, Gucci and Prada has earned a reputation as the king of upper echelon shopping. If you're arms are laden with bags from these shops you're a high roller.

It may come as a surprise then to see one of the best FREE holiday displays anywhere in Las Vegas. Hundreds of seasonal plants decorate the multi levels of this amazing shopping mall, including the rare and never before seen in the US white LED Christmas trees, draped in crystal as well as numerous massive traditional trees sent in from Oregon. Take the kids or the wife or the in laws to this soon to be perennial holiday favorite. Just try and keep your money in your wallet.



Mid-Century Modern Weekend is HERE





It's HERE!!!  Be sure to get your tickets, it sounds like a wonderful way to connect with Las Vegas' post-war history and its architecture!!!!!


We are thrilled that the ADAS (Architectural and Decorative Arts Society) has carried on the Mid Century Modern celebration that we started a few years ago.

If you love the Mid-Century Modern lifestyle, history, architecture, own a mid-mod home or want to take a tour of mid-mod homes in Las Vegas, this is the event for you.

 Tickets to the Las Vegas Mid-Century Modern Weekend are on sale now.   



ADAS Mid-Century Modern Weekend

Wednesday, October 19 – Sunday, October 23, 2011

ADAS (Architecture and Decorative Arts Society) celebrates all
things mid-century modern with an extraordinary five day event.
A pass for all five days is a very reasonable $100; $90 for ADAS
members. Included is the kick off mixer, general admission to
the Atomic Testing Museum, mid-century vendors; mid-century
architectural seminar; mid-century dinner; fashion show; silent
auction; three mid-century discussion panels; Morelli House
reception; four-hour mid-century neighborhood bus tour. Visit
ADAS website at to purchase your tickets. Space
is limited on most events.


Wednesday, October 19

ADAS kicks off the mid-modern experience by hosting a mixer at the
Atomic Testing Museum, 5:30 – 7:30. Guests will have a lot to entertain
themselves for the evening. A ticket for admission to the museum will
be included in the price of the mixer.

Guests can take the tour that
evening, or can return at a later date.

The Museum store will also bem open for shopping. There will be food and wine in the main reception
area, along with vendors previewing products that were popular in the '50s and '60s.

Event price: $30.00


Thursday, October 20

Again at the Atomic Testing Museum, ADAS is hosting a seminar primarily for homeowners on the evolution and care of these historic buildings. Speakers with hands on experience in this genre of distinctive houses will share their knowledge. Food and wine will be provided.

Vendors who specialize in mid-modern architecture will also be on hand.

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Event Price: $30.00


Friday, October 21

A mid-century dinner will be held at Holsum Lofts, catered by Lola’s
Restaurant. In addition to enjoying foods of the time period, diners will
enjoy mid-century fashions in a multi-generational fashion show. There
will also be a silent auction to tease the senses. Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Event Price: $50.00


Saturday, October 22

The El Cortez Hotel will be the venue for this free event co-sponsored
by the City of Las Vegas. There will be food and drink, followed
by three expert panels. After the panel presentation there will be a
reception at the Morelli House.

1:00 pm “Mid-Century Life Style Evolution” Local author and
architect, Robert Fielden (Creating Place: Remaking America Green )
leads a discussion with author and architectural historian, Peter Moruzzi
and others on the profound impact of midcentury design and architecture
on American life in the middle of the 20th century.

2:00 pm “Family Feud: Havana vs. Las Vegas in the 1950s” Peter Moruzzi, presents an illustrated presentation from his book, Havana Before Castro-When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground.

Before Castro’s revolution, Havana and Las Vegas were rivals for the title of the “Monte Carlo of the Americas.” Cuba’s exotic tropical setting, wild reputation, close proximity, and supportive government inspired the mob to invest heavily in fabulous hotel-casinos such as the Capri, Riviera, and Nacional. Yet, many of these same investors were also among Vegas’ biggest boosters - Moe Dalitz, Sam Tucker, and front man Wilbur Clark. In 1958, the Nevada Gaming Control Board forced them to choose, Havana or Las Vegas, but not both.

3:00 pm “Dolls, Dons, and Dictators,” Architectural historian, Peter Moruzzi (Havana Before Castro – When Cuba Was a Tropical Playground); author Wendy Mazaros (Vegas Rag Doll); Myer Lansky II; and local author and historian Michael Green engage in a spirited and expanded discussion about the parallel worlds of Las Vegas and Cuba, drawing from their insights and some of their own personal real life


4:00 pm - 6 pm “Cha, Cha, Cha” Cuban inspired reception with music,
drink and refreshment at the Morelli House, 861 E. Bridger.



Sunday, October 23

Mid-Mod Bus Tour

Hosted by well known realtor and mid-century modern real estate expert
Jack LeVine, guests will take a four-hour tour on an open double-decker
bus through iconic mid-century Las Vegas neighborhoods.

In addition to touring neighborhoods, the bus will make several stops to peek inside
select properties. Bus will depart and return to parking lot at Boulevard
Mall. Time: 12 noon – 4 pm.

Event Price: $30.00

Should be a lot of fun as well as informative.  So if you love mid-century modern, get your tickets NOW!!!

A Blast from the Past


The famous Sunset Strip.  For over 60 years a billboard has stood at the curve that marks the beginning of the famed Sunset Strip.

It was here in the 1950s that Sahara Hotel executive Stan Irwin decided to put an ad up for all of Los Angeles to see and enjoy.

A model of young showgirl atop a silver dollar (better for playing the slots) with the ad for the hotel under the silver dollar (and with that soothing blue background that just screamed water and fun), the marquee board could be changed out when new acts took the stage.

At this particular moment in time, funny woman, Martha Raye was playing the Congo Room and Louis Prima, Keely Smith and Sam Butera were rotating in the Casbah Room with Billy Ward's Domino's.

They don't make billboards like this anymore.

Fun trivia fact, they say that Jay Ward- the creator of Rocky and Bullwinkle- spoofed this particular billboard when he opened his studio on the famed Sunset Strip.  He had a statue erected of Bullwinkle  Moose holding Rocket "Rocky" Squirrel in the palm of his hand, in a poise like the showgirl.