With the Strip expansion in the 1990s, downtown Las Vegas began to suffer. The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) was built in an effort to draw tourists downtown. While greatly slowing the decline, it did not stop the decline in tourism and revenue. Downtown is still the choice for people that come to gamble and not to show off. It's where the games are smaller, meaner, dirtier, cheaper and the odds of you getting a tooth busted by a jerk are greater.
I like downtown because it feels more like what Las Vegas should feel like: everything is within walking distance; the air is more putrid; there is a sense of danger; you can bet that gangsters still hang around somewhere; drunks stagger about; guys get slashed with bottles just off the main thoroughfare; and some of the city's less fortunate will hit you up for a buck but the best here is that they have my Favorite Casino in Reno, the FITZGERALD's (now closed).
Unless you've been living under a rock or haven't been paying attention, Las Vegas is divided into two sections, The Strip (Mostly along Las Vegas Boulevard) and Downtown (Mostly along Fremont Street).
The Fremont Experience is a covered 2-block section of Fremont that is completely pedestrian walkway now. The roof is reportedly the world's largest LCD screen where a video show is broadcast for about 15 minutes on the quarter hour, every evening from 6- midnight. Most of the videos are rock or country themed. They are pretty dazzling and exciting.
There is a zip line that runs about half-way under this canopy. Rides are $20 each during the day, $25 at night, with a $5 discount for re-rides. An all-day pass is $50. You hang about 30-60 feet above the pedestrian plaza, the trip lasts about 15 seconds.
There are various kiosks on the plaza that sell everything from artwork to cigars.
Varous shops front the plaza, such as ABC. There are also several souvenier shops along the plaza. There is a Walgreen's off the west end of the plaza, and the Plaza Hotel off the east end.
Casinos that front the plaza are; The Fitz, Fremont, Four Queens, Binion's, Golden Nugget, Golden Gate, and a few smaller one's. There are a couple of gentlemen's clubs, too.
If you come to Vegas to gamble and eat, this is the place to hang out because you walk around to everything.
If you want to go out on the Strip there is an express bus that has a stop alongside Binion's and across from the Fremont and Four Queens that will take you there for $3 each way, $5 for a two hour pass, or $7 for a day pass or $20 for a three-day pass. There is an automated bus ticket kiosk at the bus stop that takes cash or credit/debit cards.
Join the Plaza Slot Club, and you can get your picture on a genuine Plaza key chain! It's available after about an hour, so hit the Plaza first, check out the rest of Fremont street, then head back to pick up your nifty souvenir!
Edited in 2010: As of right now, the Plaza is closed for renovations. We'll have to see if it reopens down the line, or goes the way of the Lady Luck. Hope it reopens - I really enjoy time downtown.
At risk of sounding like a big nerd I love Victorian décor, leaded glass windows and eclectic antiques that can be found every here. What I didn’t know when I visited was that you can pick up a descriptive pamphlet (at the front desk) and take a self guided tour.
There are chandeliers from a Parisian Opera House, wonderful statues and apparently a piece of the Berlin Wall in the men’s washroom in the casino. This I can not confirm personally.
The casino was fairly quiet both times I was here and definitely an “older” crowd!
**Take the elevator (back by the Brewery I think) up to the second floor to check out the amazing wooden billiards tables!**
I love to head to The Golden Gate for their $.99 shrimp cocktail, which they have been serving since 1959. By 1991 they served a whopping total of 25 million!
You could really splurge and have the $1.99 shrimp and faux crab combo or the $2.99 Big Shrimp!
The Golden Gate has been around since 1906 and claims to be the smallest hotel on Fremont. I always enjoy the 'old school' atmosphere and in the evenings there is usually someone playing the grand piano featured prominently between the casino and the cafe.
the golden nugget was built in 1946 and is one of the oldest casinos in las vegas. located on fremont street it is my opinion the nicest casino in downtown. in the lobby is a 27.2 kilogram gold nugget on display which is the largest in the world. an interesting place to visit when in downtown las vegas.
the four queens is a historic casino on fremont street downtown. the four queens attracts a more "blue collar" clientelle than the more up scale casinos on the strip. lots of nickel slots and low limit table games. an interesting place to visit to see old las vegas.
the el cortez is located on fremont street in downtown las vegas. this historic casino is one of the oldest in las vegas. in the 1940's the el cortez was part owned by the gangsters meyer lansky and bugsy siegal. this historic casino is an interesting place to visit for look at las vegas' past.
The Downtown "Freemont Experience" is one of the greatest things to see in Las Vegas. The city has built this covered street experience for us tourists. It is a computerized light & sound show that runs on the hour and is FREE! It has 4-6 different themes, which range from classical music, to western, to the airforce, and childrens themes. It is a 15 minute show that should not be missed!
Downtown has more of the feel of old Reno than Las Vegas. Downtown is centered around Fremont Street. The clubs are smaller and you can easily walk from one to the other. However, renovations are occurring there also. Prices and gambling stakes tend to be lower than on the strip. A few blocks of Fremont Street are closed to traffic and covered by a canopy. Periodic light shows occur under the canopy.
Take a trip to Downtown Las Vegas. Here, you'll find the original hotels and casinos of Las Vegas, and to me, it's even more vibrant than on The new Strip. There's the Golden Nugget, where you can find a huge golden nugget inside (hence the name), and I think this may be the world's largest nugget of gold. There's also Binion's Horseshoe, where the original World Series of Poker tournaments were held. Also, check out the Fremont Street Experience, a dazzling light show on the ceiling of the covered pedestrianised walkway of Fremont Street, which happens every hour on the hour from dusk.
After you have seen all the wonderful, fantastic hotels on the "strip", go to Downtown, Las Vegas. Here you can find a $3 minimum craps table to play on. The gamblers are friendly and are all pretty much in a good mood. The ambience is not too desireable but if you know that before getting there, it's not all so bad.
We wasted $30 in cab fare lastnight to see this brief and unworthy "show". Save yourself some time and money and don't bother. Stay in the main Strip area and avoid downtown Las Vegas. Drunks and panhandlers are on the prowl and it just plain stinks there. The Christmas light show was very brief, lasting about 2 minutes or so. We left shortly afterward. What utter waste.
If you are curious and want to see the show, but don't want to actually be there, check out a video of the show: http://www.vegasrex.com/shows/fremont-street-experience/ and watch it from the comforts of your home. I wish I did.
The little less known Chinatown is a place of discovery. A place for good food for a good price. Think about it, you paid a lot of money for those buffets and restaurants on " the strip". If you are like me who has a family to feed, it adds up to big money!
It also offers some sanity and serenity to your 'the strip' feeling/experience. It is more glamourous than most Chinatown that I have seen. Worth the visit.
Las Vegas is best known for it's nightlife - the lights, grand hotels, events, parties. But one thing I did when I went there in OCtober 2003 was to explore downtown in the daytime. You can do souvenir shopping, or even play casino and have beer in any of the dimmed venues (for the night ambience).
It was a pleasant morning, you have a different experience of the people in the daylight. We were also lucky to be there while the bagpipe competition was on. The music filled the place...