While Las Vegas Boulevard is the heart of Las Vegas, Downtown Las Vegas (DTLV) is the soul. From small beginnings such as Fremont Street having the first ever working stoplight in 1931 to now being the central hub for entertainment, culture, and party life. DTLV has so much to explore in Las Vegas that it is easy to lose sight of what is what. Below is an overview guide of some key places you should explore on your next visit to DTLV.
The true cornerstone of art and culture in Las Vegas can be found in the Fergusons Downtown area. Remodeled from the 1960s hotel known as Fergusons Downtown, old hotel rooms now host shops where local Vegas business owners and artists can sell their products. Shops like LV Plant Collective where you can buy a new plant for your home, Mike’s Recovery which sells different aromatherapy products, and Sun in Pisces a crystal shop are all locally owned Las Vegas businesses that have made their home within Fergusons.
Located between 10th and 11th streets on Fremont, you will be able to distinguish Fergusons when you see the giant “Big Rig Jig” sculpture done by a young Brooklyn-based artist, Mike Ross.
There are a ton of incredible local restaurants and coffee shops located within Fergusons such as Mothership Coffee Roasters which is open all week, and Las Vegas Test Kitchen, a restaurant where different Las Vegas chefs test out new recipes.
Plus, Fergusons also hosts a wide variety of unique events, from poetry workshops to stand-up comedy shows, and even a children’s yoga class. Main and popular events at Fergusons include Pour in the Alley, different alcohol-tasting events that allow guests to drink and learn more about alcohol from knowledge about different flavors to proper glassware pairings. Co-Ferment, a wine tasting festival is the latest upcoming Pour in the Alley event happening on October 23rd.
If you want to experience what Vegas has to offer outside the strip, then Fergusons is for sure a place you’ll have to experience more than once for its full effect.
Just a mile from Downtown Las Vegas is an even more vivid and eccentric side of the town, also known as the Arts District. The historic area spans about 18 blocks and is thrumming with color and art around every corner. From local breweries to antique shops and alleyways covered in art by local artists, there is something for everyone to explore.
Since 1998, the Arts District was created to let local artistry thrive, and still to this day all kinds of artistry can be found around every corner of the Arts District. Bar hopping is one of the most popular things to do, with creative bars such as Millennium Fandom Bar where you can geek out on pop culture to Velveteen Rabbit, a sleek and cool vibe to sip your drink or get your portrait taken in their vintage photo booth.
If drinking isn’t your thing, check out all the retro and vintage shops that have a diverse selection of things to buy. Vintage clothes, vintage Las Vegas memorabilia, and even retired showgirl outfits can be found if you search hard enough. There are also art galleries to explore such as Art Factory which has a dozen different studios to peruse.
In addition to art galleries, there are shops for different hobbyists like Gaia Flowers home to fresh flowers and bouquets, Nightmare Toys a horror-centric toy shop, and Rockin Bettie’s a store dedicated to pin-up-inspired fashion.
Restaurant-wise, Makers and Finders is a vibrant restaurant, coffee shop, and bar combination near the Arts District that is widely popular. With Latin-inspired food and a variety of specialty coffee, Makers and Finders has unique options that aren’t your run-of-the-mill bar food. Or if you’re in the mood for something greasier, check out Good Pie on Main Street. A bar slash pizzeria that serves Brooklyn-style pizza that will leave your mouth watering.
The main event to experience in the Arts District is First Friday, where artists, musicians, and food vendors gather on the first Friday of every month to have a street fair. The Arts District is definitely a place to visit to step away from the crowds on the strip. If you're looking to find a creative and unique spot, then why not see what the 18 blocks have to explore?
Vegas has a large community that focuses on sustainability, one of the major examples of this is just a little way down from Fremont Street. Container Park is a project that was intended to revitalize Downtown Las Vegas, its entertainment complex is made up of entirely repurposed shipping containers. Everything from shops to playgrounds is made up of used shipping containers.
In addition to 40 different businesses, Container Park has a number of live events and activities for guests to enjoy. Plus, there is a lot of unique artistry that helps the park stand out. The giant praying mantis sculpture is known to have pyrotechnics that goes off from time to time and is there to greet you as you walk through the rustic feel of Container Park. Near the mantis, you can also spot the dome, a mini theater with a 4k-screen that plays old concert videos or educational documentaries, and even get to experience playing a first-person shooter game called Earth Defender.
Container Park is very family-friendly, but beware that after 9 pm it becomes an adults-only play area, this allows the adults to let their inner child run free.
Not to mention, Container Park is the home and heart of Life is Beautiful, the 3-day festival is in the perfect place as everyone in downtown celebrates life and art. There is no doubt that the praying mantis has become a symbol of home to the attendees of Life is Beautiful, which is held every year in the fall.
Antiques on display at Main Street Station Hotel and Casino
If you’re looking to stay somewhere in Downtown Las Vegas, then check out Main Street Hotel and Casino. The hotel first opened in DTLV back in 1978 as a Holiday Inn, now the Victorian themed hotel is home to a lot of rich history as well as other Vegas classics such as slot machines and breweries.
One of the unique spots within Main Street Station has to be their antique shop which is home to some rich pieces of history. Within the men’s bathroom at their antique mall, they have a real piece of the historic Berlin Wall, which if ladies are interested in seeing, they can be escorted into the men’s bathroom for a real look.
After touring a look at history, why not enjoy a nice meal at their all-you-can-eat buffet? Or try your hand at their slots, Main Street Station has a lot to offer its guests. The “jewel” of Downtown Las Vegas is the perfect taste of Vegas away from the Boulevard.
Fremont Street Experience
The most iconic area to visit in Downtown Las Vegas has to be the Fremont Street Experience, the outdoor experience transports you into a totally different world as you walk underneath the giant LED screen that projects different local Vegas artist music. Other historic Vegas sights can be seen such as the Cowboy Vic who was the first “Welcome to Vegas sign” along with his girlfriend Vegas Vickie who can be seen in the brand new Circa hotel and casino.
If you’re tired of casinos and want something different, Fremont hosts a bunch of free live shows. They have three different mainstages that are sure to liven up the night with classic rock bands or even DJs hitting the stage.
Are you looking for an exciting dining experience? Why not try eating at the Heart Attack Grill? The menu has larger-than-life burgers that are high in cholesterol, and are meant to give you a heart attack. The waitresses don nurse uniforms and even spank you if you don’t finish all your food. Guests who are 350 lbs or over can eat for free if they weigh themselves on the scale outside. This gimmicky restaurant is famous for its strange atmosphere of encouraging its guests to have heart attacks and has become a staple of things to do while visiting Fremont.
Downtown Fremont Street Hotels
There are a ton of hotels on the Boulevard such as SLS Las Vegas, the Wynn, Treasure Island, and so much more. But if you just don’t have the heart to leave Downtown Las Vegas, then why not have a stay in the brand-new Circa hotel and Casino? Whether you’re checking in as a guest or just stopping by for a visit, Circa is the ultimate place to explore. Home to the world’s largest sportsbook, three levels of casino to explore, and a giant stadium-like screen to enjoy entertainment at the rooftop pool. The other catch to Circa is it is a 21 and up-only hotel and casino, making it a comfortable spot for adults to unwind.
If you’re just stopping by, you can stop by the outdoor Circa bar located along Fremont Street and grab a drink while you walk around. The Circa bar offers 24 different frozen cocktail flavors to cool you off on a hot Vegas day. Plus their bartenders also serve as dancers and give performances on the bar top.
Circa is located in the heart of Fremont Street, so you’re right next to all the excitement and leading entertainment of Downtown Las Vegas and won’t have to worry about traveling far to get to other popular Downtown attractions.
Across the street neighbor to Circa is The D Hotel and Casino, another Fremont street hotel and casino with a variety of different slots, tabletop gaming, bars, and restaurants. One of the more sophisticated Fremont dining experiences can be found at Andiamo Italian Steakhouse within The D. Try their award-winning sauce and handmade pasta to get an authentic taste of Italian cuisine.
Gambling is one of the most popular things inside The D, mainly because they have a variety of gambling options as well as being home to the world’s largest keno board. Additionally, there are a lot of vintage slot machines inside which adds to the feel of experiencing vintage Vegas.
If you’re in the mood to drink, stop by the long bar where the bartenders do different flips and fancy tricks while concocting their cocktails. Or go to their outdoor bar to drink and watch the weird and unusual sights Fremont has to offer.
Vegas’ history isn’t so innocent, a city being infamous for gambling and having mob ties of course we have to tip our hat to the history that helped build this city. Within the old federal courthouse in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas is now a museum with 19 different exhibits dedicated to showcasing the history of different mobs and how they have relations with the founding of Las Vegas. There are also different ticketed experiences such as the Crime Lab where you explore the different kinds of work forensic scientists do to uncover crime, Distillery Tour and Tasting exploring different types of alcohol and how it was made during the prohibition era, and the Firearm Training Simulator that lets you experience the split-second decisions made by law enforcement officers.
They also have a speakeasy bar within the museum with creative drinks themed around the prohibition era. The Mob Museum hosts different events on an occasion as well, like live music events, whiskey sampling events, and even speakers within forensics or law enforcement will come in and give talks or lectures.
If you’re interested in forensics science or maybe you’re a big fan of the God Father, either way, the Mob Museum is a must-see for its educational and historical significance.
Downtown Las Vegas is rich in a melting pot of old Vegas and new Vegas, with different expressions of culture and art it is good to step away from the boulevard and experience the diverse experiences of Downtown Las Vegas.
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