The downtown attractions in Las Vegas offer something for a wide range of ages and interests. Also of interest in relation to the downtown district are its nicknames. The area is often referred to as Glitter Gulch, as its narrower streets have an effect that makes the neon lights seem brighter. You may also hear someone refer to the downtown district as Old Las Vegas, as downtown was the original townsite and the first area in the city to develop hotels and casinos. Together, the attractions in downtown Las Vegas blend old with new, and the relative affordability of downtown when compared to the more expensive Strip area is a bonus for the budget-minded Vegas visitor.
Fremont Street Experience
Downtown Las Vegas is centered around Fremont Street. More specifically the portion of Fremont Street that runs between Main and 9th streets. Among the attractions that are found along this stretch of road is the Fremont Street Experience. An open-air mall and entertainment center, the Fremont Street Experience occupies the westernmost five blocks of Fremont Street, not to mention portions of some of the adjacent streets. Covering a significant length of its main strip is a barrel vault canopy that is 90 feet high at its peak. At night, this canopy transforms into Viva Vision – a high-tech laser and light show that is quite spectacular. You can zip line under the Viva Vision canopy, by the way.
Fremont East District
Set adjacent to the Fremont Street Experience is the Fremont East Entertainment District. In this district, you will find a good mix of restaurants, bars and clubs. In other words, it’s a good place to stroll through when looking to get a dose of some downtown nightlife. While making your way around the Fremont East Entertainment District, you might notice its appealing landscaping, its pedestrian-friendly aspects and its retro-looking neon signs. These pleasant features were results of a 2007 improvement project.
The Golden Nugget
Downtown Las Vegas - Golden Nugget
A historic landmark and downtown Las Vegas icon, the Golden Nugget was the first structure in town that was actually designed from top to bottom to be a casino. Opened in 1946, it is still going strong today. In fact, this is the largest casino in the downtown area. The Golden Nugget is also a hotel, offering more than 2,000 deluxe rooms and suites. You can find the Golden Nugget at 129 Fremont Street, which puts it right on the Fremont Street Experience.
One of the most popular downtown attractions, the Mob Museum puts the focus on organized crime in the U.S. and its longtime battle with law enforcement. Among the things that are on display here are the blood-stained wall from the infamous Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago and a courtroom that once played host to some of the Kefauver Committee hearings in 1950 and 1951. These national hearings helped expose the inner workings of organized crime. The Mob Museum occupies the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse building at 300 E. Stewart Avenue. This building dates back to 1933 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Neon Museum Motel
The Neon Museum has come a long way since it opened in 1996 with the installment of its first restored sign in downtown Las Vegas. Now, it counts an inviting visitor center, a collection yard that is known as the Neon Boneyard, and a park among its various features. The main aim of the museum is to save and showcase classic neon signs and artwork from Las Vegas’ past. Treating yourself to a tour is an interesting way to get in touch with the Vegas of old. You can find the Neon Museum headquarters at 770 Las Vegas Boulevard North.
Farmers markets operate throughout the year in and around Las Vegas and can be great places to visit when you want to switch things up a bit. The downtown district plays host to one of these markets. More namely, it hosts the weekly Downtown3rd Farmers Market. Farm fresh produce from Nevada and other regional states like California and Utah tends to take center stage at the Downtown3rd Farmers Market, but there are also other things to enjoy, including chef’s demonstrations, healthy lifestyle classes, art shows, and children’s activities. This is Las Vegas’ largest indoor and outdoor farmers market, and you can find it right next to the Mob Museum. The market operates on Fridays from 9 AM to 2 PM. Parking is free.
Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Part of a 61-acre downtown development that is known as Symphony Park, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2012 and is the first true cultural epicenter in Las Vegas. Never before did the city have such a world-class performing arts center, and you might be interested to know that this was the first performing arts center in the country to be Gold LEED certified. The Las Vegas Philharmonic and Nevada Ballet Theatre call the Smith Center home. The center also plays host to international music performers and dance companies. The address for the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is 361 Symphony Park Avenue.
Discovery Children’s Museum
Formerly known as the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum and originally situated at 833 Las Vegas Blvd. N, the Discovery Children’s Museum dropped the “Lied” from its name and relocated to 360 Promenade Place. That puts it next to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. As its name implies, this downtown institution caters to kids and can be an ideal addition to the agenda for families. The interactive nature of the exhibits at the Discovery Children’s Museum keeps kids engaged, and if you’re looking for a good place for a birthday party or something the like, the museum hosts all kinds of social gatherings.