A trip to Vegas might not be on your bucket list — huge indoor malls, cabaret, and stage shows bordering on the ridiculous — it’s not for everyone. But a visit to Sin City doesn’t have to be that way. Beyond the strip lies a lesser-seen part of the city, where locals mingle with curious visitors among murals, galleries, and venues that blare out alternative music all night long. Throw in a few dive bars, museums, stuff for kids, and a bunch of old-school casinos, and you’ve got enough stuff to fill a holiday without hitting the strip. Welcome to Fremont Street, the heart of Downtown Las Vegas.
Once upon a time, Fremont Street was known as Glitter Gulch due to the number of old-school neon signs, including the iconic ‘Vegas Vic’. Visitors can soak up a different kind of vibe from the atmosphere you find on the strip, but as with most places in Vegas, cards, slots and roulette are never far away. The street is home to several famous and historic casinos, including Binon’s Horseshoe, Golden Nugget, and the Pioneer Club. It’s classic casinos like these that have inspired the online casino boom, allowing fans of card games, roulette, and slot machines to enjoy them on their computers and via mobile apps. Online casinos treat their customers with offers, such as daily free spins with bonus rounds on selections of slots, with themes varied enough to match Vegas herself.
On the Street
Fremont Street is instantly recognisable to fans of film and music — many movies have been shot in and around the neighbourhood, such as Elvis vehicle Viva Las Vegas, classic Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, and Very Bad Things. U2’s 1987 video for I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For was also shot among locals and tourists on the street. The Fremont Street Experience is also worth checking out — a pedestrian mall that stretches for several blocks. It is famous for its massive LED canopy, known as the Viva Vision, which covers the street and showcases spectacular light shows and visual displays. Countless street performers of various quality vie for tourists’ attention, from jaw-dropping feats of acrobatics to dubiously dressed superheroes charging for photos.
Downtown Vegas Art
Given the sheen most of the city has, it may come as a surprise that the Las Vegas art scene is much grittier than its counterparts in LA and New York. In the shadows of Fremont Street the Arts Factory and Art Square play host to numerous studios, producing paintings, sculptures, conceptual work and video. Visitors can meet with artists and collectives, and check out their spaces where they showcase and sell their work. Art festival First Friday holds monthly events, featuring music and street food to complement the open studios. Music fans can find nightly concerts at Fremont Street Experience, as well as Fremont Country Club — it’s also worth checking some of the dive bars in the area to see if any bands are playing.
Fremont Street shows that there is plenty of life away from the Vegas Strip, with interesting places to eat, drink, and gamble. It’s a side of Sin City hiding in plain sight and offers an alternate flavor for more curious visitors.