The map started out as an "unofficial" project for level designer Adam Hoggatt, who had a working design in two days. It quickly became a favorite among the developers at Treyarch.
In a Treyarch interview, David Vonderhaar said that the map was inspired by the scene in the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in which Jones, pursued by Soviet soldiers, comes across a nuclear testing site with a replica of a typical 50s suburb and survives the nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator.
Temple of Doom, a cut map for the game, was a reference to another Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Treyarch stated that this map was originally named Empty Nukes and Bunting during development before changing it to Nuketown for the retail release. 
Nuketown and Nuketown 2025 are both set in the Nevada desert, 281 miles away from Area 51.
Chronologically, the map is set anywhere from 1951, the year of the first nuclear test in Nevada, to 1963, when the United States signed a treaty preventing above-ground nuclear weapons testing.
Each house has a small flower garden, a garage, and a large backyard with a shed.
The houses have a chimney on the exterior. However, inside, there is no fireplace to be found
The houses have a bedroom, living room, and kitchen, but strangely, no bathroom.
The green house has a fallout shelter in its backyard.
On the bookshelves in both houses, there is a book written by Edward Richtofen, referencing Zombies. In the place where a volume may be set, it reads; DG2 and DG3, referring to the Wunderwaffe DG-2 and its Pack-a-Punched variant.
The mailboxes in front of the houses are labeled "Woods" and "Mason."
In both garages, there are tin cans that say “Scientific Beef”.
On the wall of the garage in the yellow house, an American flag with a peace sign can be seen. This is also seen in the campaign level "S.O.G.".
There is a hidden empty room in the yellow house visible from the outside only. The interior can only be seen in spectator mode.
In the yellow house, there is a lamp that has no light bulb in it but is still on.
If the player throws a tomahawk or grenade in the chimney of the yellow house, it will get sucked in.
In the yellow house, jumping on the top bunk of the bed and walking towards the window will recolor the players weapon as if it were nighttime. (For example, Hanoi) Crouching will terminate this effect temporarily.
It is possible to jump on top of the Nuketown sign from the green house window, except in the Wii version.
Stepping stones link the front of the garage of the green house to the backyard.
The mannequins appear in different locations every game.
The mannequins can be attacked, but only their heads and arms can be knocked off.
When a mannequin's head is shot off with the Crossbow, the head falls off, but the arrow remains "stuck" where the head used to be. This also applies for the Semtex and Ballistic Knife, however, tomahawks ricochet off harmlessly.
David Vonderhaar of Treyarch stated that shooting the heads off all mannequins within 15 seconds unlocks "a special surprise". This surprise is the song "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones, which plays from the loudspeakers outside the map.
There are two mannequins hidden inside the school bus, which can be seen via Theater Mode.
The female mannequin seen at the end where the nuke goes off is located in the yellow house. She can be seen via spectate or by standing in the yard of the yellow house on the far right.