Downtown Las Vegas thrived as the city’s gambling district until the 1980s when new resorts and casinos pulled the crowds away from the area toward the Strip, the city’s main thoroughfare today. After a period of neglect, Downtown has seen revitalization over the past few years, transforming it into a Las Vegas cultural and entertainment hub in its own right.
Downtown’s famed Fremont Street is still home to historic casinos such as the Golden Nugget and El Cortez, as well as the Fremont Street Experience, a multisensory light and sound show using more than two million lights and the world’s largest audio-video system. Downtown’s Arts District is home to several art galleries, studios, and stores, and there are also museums scattered around the neighborhood, including the Natural History Museum, Mob Museum, and Neon Museum.
Downtown Las Vegas is best explored on foot, the better to soak up the sights and sounds of the historic district. Guided walking tours introduce visitors to the history and culture of the area, as well as its quirky side. Food tours include tasting stops at a handful of notable restaurants in addition to neighborhood exploration. Alternatively, pick up a bicycle from the bike share in front of Container Park and explore independently.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fans of mid-century modern-style architecture flock to downtown Las Vegas to soak up the “classic Vegas” era feeling.
- Fremont Street’s light shows take place on the hour every hour from early evening through early morning.
- Casinos in downtown Las Vegas are open 24/7.
How to Get There
Downtown Las Vegas is located just north of the Las Vegas Strip, bordered by I-15 on the west, Washington Avenue on the north, Maryland Parkway on the east, and Sahara Avenue on the south. Cars can reach it via Interstate 15 and Route 95. The Deuce bus service runs from Mandalay Bay on the Strip to Fremont Street, stopping at resorts along the way.
When to Get There
Fremont Street comes alive with light shows and live entertainment every night of the week, but especially so on Friday and Saturday. There’s plenty to see and do during the day (galleries, museums, and stores) but nighttime, when the neon lights are lit, is the busiest.
The Neon Museum
Las Vegas is well-known for its neon signage, but in the 1990s, LED and LCD screens began replacing neon. In response, local preservationists saved neon signs in what was called the Neon Boneyard. Now, these symbols of the city’s heydey are honored at the Neon Museum, with more than 150 signs. Just north of downtown, the museum’s visitor’s center is in the renovated La Concha Motel lobby, a famed seashell-shaped, mid-century modern building.