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.
It’s fun to break up a trip to Las Vegas with different experiences for part of the day. You can stay in the fancy casino-resorts on the Vegas Strip but have a little low brow fun around the Fremont Street Experience.
One of my favorite Vegas memories was playing blackjack at Bellagio in the morning and piling a group of people into a limo and heading downtown for some low rolling fun. Here are some ways to add some time in downtown to your Vegas vacation.
Chill Morning In Downtown Las Vegas
I love the morning in downtown Las Vegas. In contrast to the partying after the sun goes down, the mornings in downtown Las Vegas are peaceful. The Fremont Street Experience isn’t nearly as crowded and it’s not loud at all. It’s perfect for social distancing – the opposite of the nighttime experience.
Downtown Las Vegas is more than just casinos. This part of town is also a neighborhood. The growth of the Fremont East section in between the El Cortez and Fremont Street Experience offers a few good places to grab a bite and cup of joe to start the day.
The combination in the morning is fantastic, especially during the summer. Grab a donut and coffee at Donut Bar for a low key breakfast on the go. This is a good option if you want to get some fresh air and explore downtown Vegas.
If you’re looking for a full breakfast walk a little more east to Eat. The breakfast and lunch restaurant has some of the best pancakes you’ll find in downtown Las Vegas. Unlike casino eateries, this feels like a neighborhood restaurant.
Since you’re in the area, you might as well stop at El Cortez for a little history and gambling. This is the first casino I ever visited downtown and it holds a special place in my heart. This a reminder of what Las Vegas was while still being able to play today’s casino games.
Prevening In Downtown Las Vegas
My favorite time of the day is often around 4 pm – 6 pm. This time of day sets the tone for the night. I often recommend starting an evening in downtown Las Vegas with a couple of beers and a delicious snack (meatballs and/or a personal pizza) at Pizza Rock Happy Hour. The discounted items are an inexpensive way to get the party started.
After Pizza Rock, I like heading across the street to gamble at Downtown Grand. The casino usually isn’t too busy this early in the evening so getting a seat at a table or finding the best slot machine isn’t difficult. The staff here is great and it’s a fun time to relax and enjoy a buzzed time in a casino.
This is fun for the pre-evening, but after a couple of hours at the tables, it’s decision time. Do you want to take the party to another level downtown or do you want to head back to the Vegas Strip?
I’d like to keep the party going downtown…
Continuing The Downtown Party At Night
Happy Hour at Pizza Rock ends at 6 pm which means a few hours gambling at Downtown Grand will take you to 8 or 9 pm. It’s time to explore the fun of the Fremont Street Experience. Grab a drink, enjoy free entertainment, and just take a walk to explore the scene. There’s definitely a vibe at night in downtown Las Vegas.
I’m not a wanderer when places are busy so I head right to the 3rd Street Stage at the Fremont Street Experience after Downtown Grand. This is one block away and it’s in between The D, Four Queens, and Fremont casinos.
The D is my preferred casino of the three. I’ll play 3:2 blackjack or 10x odds craps on the first floor if I’m in the mood for loud music and a more raucous environment. I’ll go to the Vue Bar on the second-floor of the casino if I’m looking for a more mellow experience with video poker and another drink.
Gambling at one of these three casinos also keeps me close enough to Pizza Rock should I want to grab another snack and/or a beer during the late happy hour.
These are just a few options for spending some time in downtown Las Vegas. This part of Las Vegas is often worth at least a few hours to explore of you have it. This is a different Las Vegas experience than the Vegas Strip and it’s only about 15 minutes away.
Marc Meltzer covers Las Vegas, gaming and men’s lifestyle for various outlets. Check out his blog at Edge Vegas.