THE REVIVAL OF FREEMONT ST AND DOWNTOWN VEGAS
Ah, Sin City. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve visited (3 but who’s counting) there is still something new to awaken the senses. However, as more and more travelers now desire unique experiences, the usual razzle dazzle of The Strip, just isn’t cutting it.
For Vegas first timers, The Strip is still a must see but it can become overwhelming as each hotel blends into the next. Downtown Vegas now provides the perfect alternative with just as much excitement, half the crowds and plenty of budget friendly options.
Over the past few years, the Freemont St area has undergone a serious transformation with a balance of modern architecture, artistic design and restoration of vintage Vegas gems. All the big hotels have kept their exteriors and casino floors retro however, most have renovated their hotel rooms.
In 2001 the planning and creation of Freemont St East saw the introduction of Vegas’s newest attraction, the hipsters. Filled with quirky new restaurants, dive bars and art, the East Side has proved to draw a new, much younger crowd to Vegas. There appears a strong need to give new life to the old with vintage neon signage still present.
Re-purposing the old to create the new seems to be a trend in Downtown Vegas. The container park is a great example of progressive thinking. The park is made up entirely of old shipping containers, each having been gutted, painted and turned into a mix of shops, restaurants and bars. In the middle is a playground made from recycled material and a (faux) grassed area, perfect for families.
To get all the information make sure you take a Downtown walking tour. There are plenty of iconic stops along the way such as the gold and silver shop seen in Pawn Stars, the chapel from The Hangover and Rick’s Restoration. The tour involves a lot of walking so it might not be suitable for young children or elderly. Anyone relatively fit should be fine.
If you’re interested in the art history of Vegas, then you must check out the Neon Graveyard, where old neon signs are put to rest. Visitors can only visit as part of a tour, where they wander the yard and learn a great range of information about the neon signs. You’ll be amazed to hear the stories of some of Vegas’s oldest casinos and hotels. There are some great photo opportunities at the Neon Graveyard.
In order to draw in more tourists, Freemont Street invested in a state of the art LED screen made up of 12.5 million LED lamps. Played every hour after dark, the screen lights up with a picture and lights show. To accompany the show, there are 3 stages, all hosting great music and entertainment. It’s a great alternative to casino hopping and perfect for families.
If you’re in need of an adrenalin filled rush then you will want to check out Slotzilla, the zip line that runs down Freemont St. There are two height levels, depending on how brave you’re feeling. One of the coolest features of this attraction is that you can choose to do it lying down to recreate the feeling of flying. For an extra awesome experience, try to time it for when the Freemont Experience is happening. You’ll fly down in a sea of colours and sounds with hundreds of people watching you.
After all that adventuring, you’ll need to refuel and possibly rehydrate. Every good Vegas plan should include some of their famous Happy hours. Usually from 3-6 or 9-11 pm, you can get great food and beverage deals to start the evening.
If you like dive bars you’ll need to check out Evil Pie, a pizza shop come bar filled with some badass Evil Kennevil memorabilia. If you’re happy with cheese pizza then grab their $5 Happy Hour special which includes a slice of cheese pizza and a PBR. If you’re happy just drinking they do $2 PBR’s as well as some other great brews.
For some classy bites, wander down to Container Park and head to Perch, a cute rooftop bar, complete with a patio for people watching. Their Happy Hour is well worth it, $2 off signature cocktails, $5 house wines (Pinot Grigio was delicious) and plenty of food options. The Perch has thrown some gourmet options on their menu such as a mouth watering shrimp cerviche.
For some sports screens and Mexican fare, head to Cadillac Bar, nestled away in the Golden Nugget. They had tacos, quesadillas, chips, salsa and cheap Margaritas. If you like your drinks strong opt for the hand shaken on ice variety. Sit at the bar to sink drinks and watch whatever game is on the screens.
For a not easily seen surprise, check out The Parlour Bar, found within the El Cortez hotel. Parlour is a beautifully decorated and modern bar compared to the rest of El Cortez’s dated decor. Their happy hour drinks are cheap and offer a good selection of well spirits, beer, wine as well as a few food items. Bar patrons may also nibble on freshly made popcorn-what else do you need?
So there you have it, Freemont Street is well and truly revived. We challenge you to get Downtown and explore a different side of Vegas.
What's your favourite Downtown place to spend time at?