1 – Downtown Las Vegas is where it all began in 1905.
It is Fremont Street that connected with the train station where many travellers between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City stopped to blow off some steam.
It is where entertainment sprang up at every corner, first however, without any casinos. Gambling was only was introduced in 1931.
But Vegas got greedy and the authorities demanded such high tax for the casinos that they located further south on Las Vegas Boulevard, just across what is today Sahara Avenue and so outside the city limits of Las Vegas in a place now known as Paradise. This is where today’s Las Vegas stands, The Strip, with all the massive glittering and glamorous casino buildings that we all know and love.
Downtown has not been forgotten over the past decades, but very much been neglected by visitors. There are many people that visit Las Vegas and never actually go Downtown, which means they haven’t been to the actual Las Vegas.
In recent years a lot of effort has been put into giving Downtown a fresh breath of air and we want to list 6 reasons for you to make sure to visit Downtown Las Vegas on your next trip to Sin City.
2 – History – THIS is the actual Vegas
If you are a Las Vegas fan to like gambling history, it is a must to see where the world’s capital of entertainment sprang to life.
Many of the old original vintage Neon signs have been preserved either in The Neon Museum or sporadically across the streets of Downtown.
There are other museums that tell you about the history of Sin City, all lead by the Mob Museum, informing about the shady past of building this gambling empire.
3 – Fremont Street
While The Strip developed with many big new casinos outside the city limits of Las Vegas, the casinos Downtown didn’t change much. More and more this area of Las Vegas became seedy and also dangerous. In 1995 the Fremont Street Experience was opened in an attempt to lure tourists back Downtown for a massive LED canapé show, lighting up the street between the casinos and ultimately also making it safer this way.
The canapé also helped shield off the blistering desert sun and so made it even easier to walk in between the available gambling, drinking and dining options. While walking from one to the other casino on The Strip is often an exhausting endeavour, switching locations on Fremont Street is a walk in the park… or rather a walk in the glitter gulch.
Fremont Street also offers free concerts of sometimes big name bands. You can zoom down the zip line along Fremont out of a massive slot machine, aptly dubbed Slotzilla and of course there is a huge selection of street performers, often more on the freaky side than impressing with skills.
4 – Fremont East
While only 10 years back you had to be very careful leaving the cover of the Fremont Street Experience, crossing the road and walking east, this area is today way safer and an absolute must to explore on your next Vegas trip.
Many quirky bars, restaurants and venues popped up here and fairly affordable housing has been added. You might find a good AirBnB option right in the middle of it all, which is unthinkable on The Strip.
The Fremont East Entertainment District (FEED) is combining vintage love with modern outlooks. One of the most famous spots to check out is the Container Park with a huge metal praying mantis greeting visitors at night with a fire show. Here you can shop, dine and party in an outside shopping center.
5 -Great choice of restaurants
The beauty of Downtown Las Vegas really is that everything is walkable and you have an amazing selection of restaurants densely packed in a small area. Whatever cuisine you fancy, you will find it on Fremont Street and Fremont East.
Often when spending time in casinos a lot and playing long poker sessions, the food you put in your body isn’t the healthiest. In Downtown you can quickly and easily take a break with nutritious affordable meals just a short distance away.
Here are some special mentions:
6 -Better Value Gambling
Downtown tends to be better for gambling than The Strip when it comes to value, specifically for blackjack and video poker. More casinos Downtown still deal 3-2 blackjack and many other table games for lower minimum bets than on the Strip. Many say the slots are looser, too. Specifically known for this is the El Cortez Casino. Founded in 1941, it is the oldest continuously operating casino in Las Vegas.
What was once the Sundance Hotel and the Fitzgeralds Hotel & Casino is nowadays “The D Las Vegas”, apparently named after D for Downtown, D for the first letter of the founder’s name Derek Stevens or D for Detroit, Derek’s hometown. Derek Stevens is being named “Wizard of Vegas” by some. He has been not just building The D, but also refurbished the Golden Gate casino and other properties. Everything he touches shows an understanding of what the future has to bring while valuing the past.
The D is one of the modern casinos offering great value for gamblers in any aspect of their visit to a gambling destination. Except poker unfortunately.
For poker players there is really only the Golden Nugget left. Binion’s does offer poker, but the few tables are tucked away in the corner and you have to be lucky to find a running game.
7 -The Circa (soon)
The Circa Casino is only going to be finished in December 2020, but it will be a sight to behold. Responsible for this massive development is also none other than Derek Stevens. It is the first new casino to be built in Downtown Las Vegas in 40 years.
Stevens already promises it to offer the best pool in the world, the biggest sportsbook in the U.S. (and probably the world), the best selection of restaurants Downtown and designated areas for rideshare services, which no casino, not even on The Strip, is doing right at the moment.
There are many more reasons to check out Downtown and stroll through the streets exploring new bars, cafes and restaurants or interesting relics displayed in the dark corners of some casinos.
But we need to issue a word of warning to always be on your guard. The police has worked hard over the past few years to tidy up Downtown, but there are still many crazies and dangerous people lurking in the corners or sometimes in bright daylight in the middle of the street.
Use common sense in any gambling city when it comes to your personal safety.