Travel Guide: The Hidden Charm of Downtown Las Vegas
by Ari Takata-Vasquez
Ahh Downtown Las Vegas, somehow exactly what I expected and nothing like I thought. Downtown Las Vegas as some of the same "what happens in Vegas" attitude, but it seems to have more grit and creativity. What struck me most about Downtown Las Vegas is the quantity and quality of their street art. Within a few blocks of their mainstreet, Fremont St., I saw so many amazing pieces and even a bizzaro, surrealist "Empty Club" installation complete with a rotating disco ball.
Where to Stay
I would recommend staying at either the El Cortez Hotel or the Donwntown Las Vegas. Both are centrally located and right on the strip. If you looking for more quirky charm I'd recommend the El Cortez, complete with Spanish style architecture.
What to do
Downtown Las Vegas has a handful of speakeasys full on in prohibition era style drinks and ambiance. The Laundry Room is probably the most fun and stays true to the prohibition era theme-- don't you ask for a Vodka and Red Bull. At the Laundry Room, a hidden bar inside Commonwealth, you can get 100% custom cocktails tailored to your palette; just tell the bartender the flavors you like and like a magician they'll make you a perfectly balanced drink complete with a little theater. I asked for deep heavy smokey flavors, woodsy notes, and rich coffee flavors and my drink involved lighting a piece of firewood on fire, an essential oil laced glass and lots of shaking. But all this attention detail doesn't come with a catch. The Laundry Room is t i n y so getting in can be tricky. To get on the RSVP list you'll need to text a super secret number and ask for a reservation-- they almost absolutely will be booked but if you great creative and write a poem or sing a song you just might be lucky enough to get in.
If you're looking for live music and some fun, head over to the Container Park. Like it's name might suggest, it's an entire park built with shipping containers. It has some small indie shops, a candy shop, and a central square complete with a bar and live music-- not a bad way to spend a Friday night.
Fremont Street Mall
The most "touristy" part of Downtown Las Vegas is the Fremont Street mall, but if you head over on a Saturday morning you'll run into theit open air market filled with food from street vendors complete with everything from Pupusas to Hawaii food, and of course fried twinkies. If you're feeling like a daredevil you can take the zip line that flies over the mall surrounded by the lights of the dome.
Obviously, Las Vegas is a desert so the air is pretty dry, but I hadn't anticipated JUST how dry it would make my skin. Luckily, I had my Everything Balm with me. It saved my skin from getting cracked and dry. Plus, it makes for an easy highlighter if you're traveling light.