As you are making your plans for ALA in Las Vegas, be sure to save some time to see more than just the Convention Center and the Strip. Just minutes north of the Las Vegas Strip lies the downtown area of Sin City. Its laid back atmosphere and hip young crowd are drawing more visitors away from the Strip. The last few years have seen a long-awaited revitalization effort taking place in the downtown area of Las Vegas. [Photo courtesy of www.sunset.com]
Thanks to the efforts of many investors and entrepreneurs, downtown is cleaning up its old image and bringing more culture, food, and fun to Sin City. The area hosts a series of events throughout the year, like the Vegas Valley Book Festival each fall, First Friday events each month, Vegas StrEATS Food Truck Festival, and most recently the Life Is Beautiful music festival that featured local artists The Killers.
Art + Museums
Thanks to innovative entrepreneurs like Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos.com, the downtown area is creating a whole new culture in Las Vegas. There are now more options for locals and tourists alike who are interested in supporting the local art scene, visiting museums and discovering what Vegas has to offer beyond the Strip. Visitors to downtown can check out a variety of local artists’ work in the Arts District, tour museums in the Cultural Corridor, or take in a concert at the Smith Center of the Performing Arts at Symphony Park.
Tony Hsieh has invested $350 million of his own funds into the Downtown Project, a group that is helping to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. The newly opened Container Park on Fremont and 7th is just one of the many projects funded by the Downtown Project group. Container Park opened in November 2013 and features shops, restaurants and bars, a stage area to hear live music, and a playground to entertain the kids.
Looking for museums to visit while you’re in town? Two important museums to see during your visit are the Mob Museum and the Neon Museum. Opened in February 2012, the Mob Museum is located in the old court house building, and presents â€œa bold and authentic view of organized crime’s impact on Las Vegas historyâ€ (themobmuseum.org). The Neon Museum, located in the Cultural Corridor, opened to the public for tours in October 2012 and houses neon signs from old Vegas casinos and businesses.
There are so many great places to eat in Las Vegas, and the downtown area offers its fair share of good eats. If you’re craving some breakfast and want to taste â€œthe best pancakes in Americaâ€ then head over to Du-Par’s Restaurant and Bakery, located in the Golden Gate Casino.’ Another favorite local breakfast spot is Eat. Eat offers yummy breakfast selections like their huevos motulenos or their truffled egg sandwich.
In the downtown area around lunch time, Lola’s Louisiana kitchen serves up authentic New Orleans favorites like po’ boys and gumbo. The restaurant became a popular spot after being featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so you may want to call ahead because seating is limited. Triple George Grill on 3rd Street offers lunch specials under $10 and is also a great dinner spot. There are several new pizza joints around Fremont, including PizzaRock on 3rd Street.
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience for dinner, try Andiamo Steakhouse at the The D Las Vegas. Andiamo is one of the newest steakhouses downtown and offers diners traditional steaks as well as Italian dishes like osso bucco and pasta dishes. Just a few doors down from Andiamo is another steakhouse that is not to be missed. The classic Vegas favorite Hugo’s Cellar, located inside the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, serves up delicious steak and seafood dishes, along with specialty entrees like beef Wellington and duckling anise flambÃ©.
The downtown bar scene attracts many locals and visitors looking to escape the high prices of the bars in the Strip casinos. Downtown offers the ideal opportunity to bar hop with friends and meet new people along the way. There are a dozen bars within close walking distance of each other. Join a local pub crawl or create your own by visiting the top 10 bars in downtown Las Vegas. If you’re feeling adventurous after a night on the town, you can ride the zip line down Fremont Street, Karaoke at Dino’s, or end the night at the oldest bar in Vegas at Atomic Liquors (est. 1952).
Top Ten Downtown Bars
- The Griffin – http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-griffin-las-vegas
- Insert Coins – http://www.insertcoinslv.com/
- The Downtown Cocktail Room – http://thedowntownlv.com/
- Don’t Tell Mama – http://www.yelp.com/biz/dont-tell-mama-las-vegas
- The Beauty Bar – http://thebeautybar.com/las_vegas/
- Velveteen Rabbit’ – http://www.yelp.com/biz/velveteen-rabbit-las-vegas
- Atomic Liquors – http://www.atomiclasvegas.com/
- Commonwealth – http://commonwealthlv.com/
- Frankie’s Tiki Room (a few blocks away) – http://www.frankiestikiroom.com/
- Dino’s Lounge – http://www.yelp.com/biz/dinos-lounge-las-vegas
Andiamo Steakhouse – http://www.thed.com/dining/andiamo-steakhouse/
Downtown Container Park – http://downtowncontainerpark.com/
Downtown Project http://downtownproject.com/
Eat – http://eatdtlv.com/
First Fridays – http://www.firstfridaylasvegas.com/
Fremont Street Experience’ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ http://www.Vegasexperience.com/
Lola’s Louisiana Kitchen – http://lolaslasvegas.com/
Symphony Park – http://www.symphonypark.com/
The Mob Museum – http://themobmuseum.org/
The Neon Museum – http://www.neonmuseum.org/
Triple George – http://www.triplegeorgegrill.com/
Vegas StrEATS Festival – http://vegasstreats.com/
– Submitted by’ Stefanie Bailey, YALSA Local Arrangements