The vast majority of my friends visiting Las Vegas stay on the Vegas Strip. Much like me, they love the more upscale experience that the huge casinos offer. That said, they often want to spend some time in downtown Las Vegas. This part of Sin City offers a different experience than the Vegas Strip and it’s a fun way to change up a trip.
The transformation from the Stratosphere to The Strat is finally complete. The multi-year overhaul of the casino and resort started in 2018. Much of the work to the property was visible throughout the year. The culmination of the renovation was marked by a star-studded celebration in mid-January 2020.
The D Las Vegas opened on Fremont Street in 2012. It took less than a decade for the casino-hotel to become a favorite for revelers in downtown Las Vegas. The good gaming rules, clean and modern hotel rooms at affordable prices, and party atmosphere draw all kinds of visitors to the property.
In conjunction with the Downtown Grand’s five-year anniversary, the company recently announced an expansion. The hotel-casino will be adding a new hotel tower. The expansion will increase the footprint of its hospitality space by over 250,000 square feet. Construction on the new tower should be open by mid-2020.
It’s been more than three years since Derek and Greg Stevens purchased the Las Vegas Club casino in downtown Las Vegas. In that time, the owners of The D and Golden Gate casino have made some more deals. They have taken their time to reveal plans for the new casino that will be built on the land once occupied by multiple casinos, a strip club and more.
Downtown Las Vegas continues to evolve. The reimagination of downtown Las Vegas isn’t new. The Arts District and Fremont East areas have already changed how many people look at downtown Las Vegas. The massive music, entertainment, and arts festival Life Is Beautiful is bringing people to the area that might have never even considered visiting “old Vegas.”
Downtown Las Vegas can sometimes seem like an exotic destination away from the Vegas Strip. Truth be told, it’s only about a 15-minute car ride north into historic old Vegas. There is a mall of casinos, museums, coffee shops, art galleries and even an outdoor mall for the family. Downtown Las Vegas isn’t the Vegas Strip but it’s definitely Las Vegas.
The Nevada Gaming Commission has approved the ownership transfer of SLS Las Vegas to The Meruelo Group. The casino-hotel built on the bones of the Saraha was previously owned by Stockbridge Capital Group. The Meruelo Group adds the 1,616-room, three-tower resort-casino, including the W Las Vegas to its casino holdings which include the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, NV.
This summer the free concert series at the Fremont Street Experience returns once again. The mall of casinos has free entertainment all year ‘round but the summer series takes the entertainment to another level. The summer concert series brings nationally touring bands that you’d typically pay to see. Instead, you can see the bands for free during a beautiful Vegas night.
Getting around Las Vegas is fairly simple. It isn’t too difficult to navigate the Vegas Strip or downtown Las Vegas. It’s easy to figure out the non-touristy areas of Las Vegas once you learn the highway system and local streets.
Las Vegas has become the place to be in America for New Year’s Eve. Times Square might have tradition of dropping the ball at midnight but that’s so 1900′s. Las Vegas has more extravagant entertainment and parties than you’ll find in New York City. The fireworks at midnight on the Vegas Strip have become iconic over the years. The days surrounding the change of years are probably the busiest in Las Vegas.
Football season is here! Temperatures for the opening weekend of college football in Las Vegas have dipped below 110. Seriously, though, high temperatures in Las Vegas should be below 100 soon. The sportsbook might be the best place to enjoy football in Las Vegas, but it isn’t the only place.
There’s a new football party where you can enjoy the games outside but shielded from the sun. Beginning Sunday, September 10, the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center will be showing NFL games. The space will be known as the “Downtown Watch Zone” and will be the largest Downtown Las Vegas football viewing party.
The large casinos on the Vegas Strip are always upgrading and renovating. Downtown Las Vegas is growing in popularity and that’s showing. Last year the Plaza renovated their rooftop pool deck. The property continues to renovate and upgrade the experience for their customers.
Two other casinos in downtown Las Vegas recently reveals plans to upgrade and expand. The Golden Gate will reveal its new expanded casino in late August. Downtown Grand is just beginning the planning stages of a hotel expansion.
Finding good and unique food in Las Vegas on the cheap can be a challenge. While they might offer great food, some of the restaurants on the Vegas Strip can be pricey. Finding a delicious and interesting meal for under $15 is nearly impossible. Sure you can grab a quick bite a food court or get a sandwich for under $10, but you can do that anywhere.
There’s always something new around the corner in Las Vegas. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum was founded in 2002 and moved to Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas in 2008. I’d like to think I know everything, everywhere in Las Vegas but I had no idea about this gallery.
Neonopolis is located at 450 Fremont Street and next to the Slotzilla zip line and across the street from the Fremont Street Experience. This three level complex is now home to Denny’s (and the Denny’s Wedding Chapel), Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum, Fremont Arcade, Banger Brewing, Nerd Bar and much more.
If you’re a tourist you might not be aware that downtown Las Vegas is actually synonymous with art. The Arts District in Las Vegas is located in-between Fremont Street and the Stratosphere. There are plenty of art galleries and stores on the Vegas Strip. However, the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum is the only art gallery located in the touristy area of downtown Las Vegas.
The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum features over 20,000 square feet of exhibit area. The space includes the main gallery, a special exhibitions gallery, and a small works gallery. The non-profit gallery provides exhibit space for local, regional and International artists to display their current work. You can actually donate money to show your own art.
Beginning Thursday, June 1 Cirque du Soleil will have its annual art exhibition at the Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum. The Collective is a collection of artworks created by the company’s performers, technicians, and staff in Las Vegas. This is the 12th year of the art exhibition. Serving as a creative outlet for employees, the exhibit will be on display for a limited time, June 1 – 30 from Wednesdays through Saturdays from 12 – 5 p.m.
“Residents will have the opportunity to ‘get to know their neighbors’ as we reveal another side of our employees through their artwork,” said Lou D’Angeli, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations for Cirque du Soleil. “In hosting The Collective each year, we are able to shine the spotlight on their unique talents, creating an even greater connection between us and the community.”
This art show isn’t just for locals. Tourist will enjoy The Collective display that includes Cirque du Soleil-owned art pieces, props, and costumes from various productions along the Vegas Strip. Among the items featured will be a Jester-patterned aluminum chainmail shirt by Michael Rawlins of “O”, a 3/4 scale animatronics robot by Preston Altree of Michael Jackson ONE and memorabilia from the Cirque du Soleil shows on The Strip. The full list will be announced at a later date.
The full list of items will be announced at a later date. You can visit mglv.org for more information. The Metropolitan Gallery Art Museum entry fee for this show is only $5.
Art isn’t the only thing on display at Neonopolis. Banger Brewing offers free tours of their brewing facilities daily. These tours are limited to 8 people so reserving a space in advance is recommended. Thankfully, you can make reservations online at bangerbrewing.com.
You’re never more than a few minutes from a drink when you’re in Las Vegas. The time to find a drink can be reduced in downtown Las Vegas where just about everything is closer than the Vegas Strip. There’s a drink for everyone whether you’re grabbing a yard of red slushy booze or sitting down for a craft cocktail that has so many ingredients that takes five minutes to create.
There was a day when drinking in Old Vegas was limited to well drinks and draft beer. That’s not the case any longer in downtown Las Vegas. Not only are there some great standalone bars but the casino bars have gotten better. Here’s a look at some of the best places to grab a drink in downtown Las Vegas.
You can find a mixed drink at any casino bar. However, not every bar can craft a delicious cocktail where every ingredient is carefully measured and poured. You’ll have to leave the casino in downtown Las Vegas to find some of the best cocktails in town.
- Commonwealth – Watch the bartender carefully make a cocktail, sneak away to the semi-private Laundry Room or just grab a beer and head outside to the second-floor deck,
- Downtown Cocktail Room – Dark and viby lounge with a unique cocktail menu. The drinks are delicious and different than you’ll find in the casinos. Good luck finding the door on your first visit.
You can find mass distributed beer everywhere in downtown Las Vegas. Heck, you can get a football filled with Coors Light. While a football of beer is fun, there’s something to be said for a delicious craft beer.
- Banger Brewing – Fremont Street’s first craft brewery makes their beer on site. Sit and relax with a flight of beer or grab a strong beer on to go. They offer free tours if you’re curious about beer making.
- Pizza Rock – Fantastic craft beer selection at great prices. Visit during Happy Hour for discounts on already low prices. The food is a great addition but you really can’t beat these prices in downtown Las Vegas for craft beer.
Just about everything in downtown Las Vegas is less expensive than the Vegas Strip. Drinks are no different. Here are a couple of options for extremely inexpensive drinks. You won’t find the fanciest drinks in town but you’ll find some good low priced options to get the day rolling.
- El Cortez – They have cheap beer and drinks every day with even more special Happy Hour deals. You’ll even find top shelf drinks $5 (as of this writing a Patron margarita is $5).
- Fremont – This casino is located right by the 3rd Street stage at the Fremont Street Experience. This is the stage where many of the free concerts are held. Run into the casino for $3 Corona, Bud Light or Heineken in between songs.
Casino bars in downtown Las Vegas are great because they’re still serving up complimentary cocktails while you gamble. I’m partial to one casino because they offer two very different great casino bar experiences.
- The D – Longbar – Energy, excitement, loud music, flair bartenders, new TV’s and a good beer selection highlight this bar on the main casino floor. This is a great bar to get the party started or to watch the games in downtown Las Vegas.
- The D – Vue Bar – Great video poker, mellow vibe, and heavy pours are the highlights of this bar on the second floor of the casino. The video poker pay tables are better at Vue Bar than most in downtown Las Vegas casino bars – including Longbar. This is one of the best places to play video poker while drinking.
Grab n Go
Casinos are great but there’s so much more to the Fremont Street Experience. Walking the mall of the casinos, watching bands and the Viva Vision light shows can be nicely complimented with a drink. Grab a beer, frozen drink, or mixed drink in a souvenir cup and enjoy VEGAS BABY!
- The D – D Bar takes the Longbar outside with a good selection of beer, frozen drinks, souvenir containers, and dancers across the bar. The location next to the Third Street stage is great for concerts but you may end up hanging closer to the bar to make sure the dancers are safe.
- Golden Gate – Very similar to D Bar but next to the First Street stage. This is a great place to start your trip down the mall of casinos.
Las Vegas was made for drinking outdoors. The weather is beautiful most of the year so why not enjoy it? Between bars, casinos, restaurants, and malls there are more places to drink outside in downtown Las Vegas than ever.
- 4 Queens – The patio bar is right on Fremont Street. Watch a show on the 3rd Street stage or enjoy some of the best people watching in Las Vegas. Drinks are cheap and there are tacos nearby.
- Gold Spike – The backyard at Gold Spike is chock full of games from giant cornhole to massive beer pong. If it gets chilly at night, but snuggle up near one of the fire pits. The outdoor part of this bar is one of the unique adult playgrounds in Las Vegas.
This year the Life Is Beautiful festival takes place Friday, September 22 through Sunday, September 24 in downtown Las Vegas. Gorillaz, Muse, Lorde, Chance the Rapper, and Blink 182 will headline the music portion of the three-day festival. There are plenty more popular artists performing at the festival this year. Here’s the lineup announcement.
Since being introduced Life Is Beautiful has become a part of the evolving culture in downtown Las Vegas. Over the years musicians like Kendrick Lamar, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, and the Foo Fighters have graced the main stages of the festival. Hundreds of more bands have performed at Life Is Beautiful over the years. You can see a list of performers here.
While music may be the calling card of the Life Is Beautiful festival there is so much more. The Life Is Beautiful festival is more than just another concert. This is a music, arts, culinary, and learning festival is spread out all over the Fremont East section of downtown Las Vegas. In addition to bands you’ll see, hear, and taste food, science, art, comedy, and more.
Life Is Beautiful will have an interactive art experience once again. The festival will bring back the popular Art Motel installation. It will be reimagined by Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf. The festival will bring back the popular “Crime on Canvas” art exhibit. Festival guests can view and purchase original artwork and rare prints by local, national, and international artists. The gallery will display work by Matt Skiba, Mark Ryden, Shag, Tara McPherson, Shepard Fairey, Brandon Boyd, and more.
The education portion of Life Is Beautiful will be highlighted by another appearance from Bill Nye (the science guy). Thousands saw Bill Nye’s 2015 appearance where when he talked about the changing world and being a speck in the universe. You can watch the 30-minute talk below.
The comedy showcase will return to the festival with performances by comedians that you may be familiar with if you watch Comedy Central. Matthew Broussard, Mike Lawrence, and Jo Firestone headline the lineup this year.
Food, Drink, And More
There will also be a culinary and cocktails section at Life Is Beautiful where you can enjoy food and beverages created by famous chefs and mixologists. Even more entertainment and art and entertainment will be announced leading up to the festival.
Downtown Las Vegas
The festival isn’t the only thing that makes Life Is Beautiful a unique experience. Life Is Beautiful isn’t contained to one giant space like other festivals. Everything is spread out throughout the urban areas of downtown Las Vegas. You’ll have to navigate a huge map and many street blocks to find everything. You should wear comfortable shoes for walking. The location is part of the fun for many people that have attended in the past.
You can find more information on tickets and performers at lifeisbeautiful.com.
This is normally the time
CEO and developer Derek Stevens
When I visited Bellagio for
We say this pretty often,
Hopefully, everyone who gambles when