For those of you who are little rusty on your history, Downtown Las Vegas is where it truly all began… the original designated gambling district and town site pre-Strip. When Steve Wynn opened The Mirage in 1989, Downtown’s popularity with tourists and locals waned as more and more mega-casinos were built. Downtown became marginalized and even belittled as a seedy center for cheap buffets and penny slots. If it wasn’t for it being the central business district and a few keen eyes that realized Downtown’s potential for growth, it’s a wonder how it wasn’t blown up (as Vegas tends to do) to extend the Strip’s reach even further.
In 2012 (“The Year of Downtown”), the City of Las Vegas saw to it that Downtown was fully revitalized as a cultural and entertainment hub. Hundreds of millions of dollars were poured into dozens of new attractions and improvements to transform “old Vegas” into a historical center that displayed trend-setting architecture, diverse cultural attractions, and economic progress.
Let us go over some of must-see locations to explore.
1) Fremont Street
Bourbon St. is to New Orleans as Fremont St. is to Las Vegas. Home to the original vintage casinos of Las Vegas and the largest canopied LED and sound display in the world. Walking down Fremont is the first step to getting to a feel for historical Vegas.
2) The Arts District
Here is where you’ll find hipster-friendly neighborhood bars like the Artifice and Velveteen Rabbit and countless galleries and boutique shops. If you are into vintage clothing this is the place to shop. If you haven’t been to the monthly block party known as First Friday be sure to clear your schedule for you’re for a night full of art, food trucks, and beer.
If you have to choose only one or two museums to go to definitely stop in to the Neon Museum as well as the Mob Museum to get a dose of Vegas history.
4) Fremont East
To the east of The Fremont Experience you will find a newly developed district that contains hereto unseen mix of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Be sure to check out Insert Coin(s) where you can enjoy VIP-style bottle service and play rounds of Mario Kart and Tekken. Also Commonwealth is a great bar with rooftop seating and a hidden speakeasy in the back called “The Laundry Room”.
5) Downtown Container Park
Tourists often venture out to Fremont from their five-star hotels for a quick walk-through and think that is all downtown has to offer. One of the most recent additions to the area is Downtown Container Park. The space is a quirky shopping center built from used shipping containers that features galleries, trendy eats, and a courtyard playground.
There are a few locales off of Fremont that are easily overlooked but non-the-less should be on your list of downtown hotspots. Be sure to check out Gold Spike, which is just a couple blocks away from Fremont on Ogden Ave. It’s like a fusion of bar and rec-center. If you’re in the mood for a gentlemen's club checkout Palomino Club, one of the only clubs that features a full alcohol bar and totally nude dancers as well as a male revue.