Downtown Las Vegas is my favourite part of Las Vegas

Alright people get ready for A SHITSTORM of Las Vegas and road-trip posts from the past few weeks because I’m still coming down off a high from my glorious three weeks travelling around Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.

If you’re stalking me religiously you’ll know I’m currently obsessed with all things Vegas. I had no idea how much I’d love it. It’s a bit of an issue because I’m back to choking on cat hair and living like a pauper after spending a week in silk linens while downing $15 cocktails.


But ACTUALLY I loved downtown Vegas way more than The Strip. And a lot of people seem to think that the downtown core is super sketch and smells like pee all the time. And SURE some dude got shot the very same night I partied with my two girlfriends on a rooftop patio, but other than that, it wasn’t sketchy in the slightest.

I ended up in downtown Vegas because I found a really cheap hotel room at the Downtown Grand. Then they offered me a few extra nights stay so I took it.

Downtown Grand Hotel

At first I was really annoyed that I hadn’t bothered checking to make sure the hotel was on The Strip, but after a quick visit with my Trek America crew, I realized I wanted to be there ever so badly. Here’s why.


Fremont Street is where the original Strip used to be and it’s like one big happy pedestrian party. At any time of day walking through here means you’ll be bumping elbows with contortionists, unbelievably talented saxophone players, and elderly men dressed in thong bikinis.

The light show is the main draw. The ceiling section over Fremont Street is 1500 feet long, 90 feet wide, and suspended 90 feet above the walkway. It consists of 1.25 MILLION LED LAMPS. The actual show takes place every hour on the hour once it gets dark. The first time I saw it, my Trek America leaders insisted we lay on our backs on the floor. It was so weird and fantastic. The second time I did it, people took photos of us and asked what drugs we were on.

laying on our backs on fremont street


AND there’s a freaking ZIP LINE you can take across the entire length of it. YES.

There are also several stages scattered around the street offering free concerts. Vertical Horizon and Tonic played while I was there. Please tell me you know who they are.

There’s so much quirkiness here it’s hard to contain yourself

If The Strip is an adult playground then downtown is like a hipster heaven. One of my absolute favourite nights EVER was spent playing classic video games (SUPER NINTENDO!!!) at Insert Coins. It’s like an adult arcade, with booze. There was a dance floor. By the time we left at something like 4 AM, we had a posse of eccentric new friends.

There’s not much in the way of night clubs, but that’s actually how I like it anyway. Instead you’ll find everything from biker bars (think Coyote Ugly) and small brewpubs (go to Banger’s for a flight of local beers).

Booze in Vegas

My other favourites include Beauty Bar, inside a former beauty salon with all its equipment still in tact. There’s a DJ and a dance floor outside, and sometimes there are actually beauty contests. The gals and I showed up early and were asked to pay cover, but we said, “Nah!” and they said, “GO IN ANYWAY!” So we did. Sometimes having a vagina pays off. The other: Goldspike, where you can go and get drunk and play board games and giant games of corn hole. Yes yes yes yes yes.

Walk a little further down Fremont Street past the light show you’ll come to Container Park, made up of shipping containers. There are all kinds of fun stuff going on inside including food and beer. Just outside the park is a giant preying mantis that spews fire every 15 minutes to the beat of various pop songs like Who Let the Dogs Out. BECAUSE VEGAS.

It’s where the locals hang out

There’s been a LOT of time and money invested in making downtown Vegas a place where the locals wanna hang out. Because – and this only makes sense – locals tend to avoid The Strip like the plague. I met up with JoAnna Haugen one night at Park on Fremont for an anniversary party. I knew I’d love it instantly when I saw the eccentric décor, including wallpaper featuring weird cartoon people wearing meat dresses. In the courtyard there was a giant portrait of two horses banging.

Bar in Vegas

AND they served all their drinks in copper cups.

Moscow Mule

You can really tell the value of a place by whether or not they serve drinks in copper cups.

If you go, don’t forget to look behind the wall in the courtyard. DO IT.

Anyway, yeah, you’ll find locals here because there are so many different types of venues and restaurants. And non-stop entertainment. Diana Edelman took me to Vegnation, an awesome vegetarian place. Dani Blanchette took me to MTO Café. Then there are all the punk-ish type cafes and coffee shops, and oh my god I love Vegas.

Vegnation, Vegas

It’s a whole lot cheaper and the quality is still awesome

My room at Downtown Grand was pretty awesome. I loved this hotel for its art-adorned walls, colourful rooms, and naturally for the pool cabana…where Trish and I spent a full day drinking buckets of beer and having the absolute time of our lives. I can’t wrap my head around how exceptional the service is in Vegas. I’ve never met friendlier staff in my life.

The difference: it’s easier to find bargain prices ($50 rooms versus four times that on The Strip). Beers at the pool bar cost $6…which seems like a lot, but is nothing compared to what I paid elsewhere. Cocktails were only $8 instead of $15. Same goes for food, and although I absolutely LOVED THE HELL out of the ridiculously unreal dining experiences I had on The Strip, in my real life of being poor, the restaurants downtown are much more my scene.


Downtown the Grand Pool

You’ll find everything you need downtown, including casinos and strip clubs (if that’s your kind of thing). That goes for ladies too…the Chippendales are out in full force. One took my hand and told me he loved me and I couldn’t wash that hand for five whole days.

My suggestion: if you’re spending a few days in Vegas, opt for a night or two downtown. Or three, actually. Three didn’t even feel like enough to me but I’m supposedly nuts for spending seven nights in Vegas to begin with.

  • June 05 2015

    I liked Vegas, but didn’t really love it. Apparently I should have spent more time in downtown Vegas though, because everything in this post sounds so funt! A place where you can play drunken board games? Yes please!

    • June 12 2015

      Right?! SO GOOD. Go where the locals go. Always foolproof.

  • June 06 2015
    Sasha @ The Curious Zephyr

    Vegas, at least The Strip, is one of my least favorite places on Earth …. but video games, board games, and corn hole! Yes! Also, VERTICAL HORIZON AND TONIC FOR FREE? That’s awesome!!

    • June 12 2015

      Hahaha I’m amazed by how much I loved all of Vegas, but yeah, downtown is definitely where it’s at!

  • June 07 2015

    Freemont was my favorite part of Vegas too. First trip to Vegas a few years ago my friends and I spent two minutes on Freemont and left cause “it was sketchy” (my friends words, not mine). Second time I went with another friend and insisted on going to Freemont and loved it. There was funky neon art, concerts (no Vertical Horizon or Tonic, but there were these two guys rocking Smooth Criminal and Baracuda on the electric bass), and a pretty awesome vibe. If I ever go back to Vegas I’d stay downtown instead of on The Strip for sure.

    • June 12 2015

      Yesss! Haha we met some people and were talking about downtown, and they were like “that place is so dirty and sketchy!” I think it’s a common misconception.

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