Not so very long ago, people who ventured off of Las Vegas’ famed Strip and headed downtown stuck to the covered Fremont Street Experience. Going anywhere else was dismal and gray—especially in comparison to the bright lights and high energy found elsewhere in the city. In the last five years, however, the downtown Las Vegas stereotype has been shattered. Today, this formerly questionable part of the city has turned into a destination brimming with hip new restaurants with outdoor seating, innovative retail spaces run by local entrepreneurs and memorable places to grab a drink.
This open-air gathering space is made up of several shipping containers that have been repurposed into boutique shops run by local retailers selling art, jewelry and more, as well as intimate eateries and cocktail lounges. There is plentiful outdoor seating and a unique playground also made from recycled materials. Check out live entertainment, fitness classes and family movies at the Container Park stage. Tenants frequently change, so the experience always stays fresh.
Downtown Las Vegas’ first celebrity chef restaurant is also the final legacy of its founder, the late Kerry Simon. With family-style tables and a menu packed with shared plates like gyro tacos and crispy chicken skins, it’s not uncommon to spend hours lingering over a meal and cocktail (like the #SimonSays Sangria made with cherry puree and seasonal fruit). Ask for a seat on the upper balcony if the weather is pleasant.
Who says the days of independent bookstores are long gone? Part book- and gift-seller and part writers’ workshop, people love this quirky boutique for the selection of classic and contemporary literature, the intimate design and layout, and its resident rabbit, who lives in a cage tucked in one of the alcoves in the store.
Though located mere feet from the Fremont Street Experience, this mellow restaurant feels miles away. Some patrons opt to sit street-side for the wacky people-watching, but the majority head to the back patio, which is decorated with an eclectic collection of artwork and cozy seating. Highlights from the restaurant’s menu include mac-and-cheese balls, fries smothered with toppings and the Dirty Girl Scout (a 21+ version of a hot chocolate) if there’s a crisp bite in the air. A trip to Park on Fremont wouldn’t be complete without playing on the secret see-saw: if you can’t find it, ask a local.
Co-working and collaboration are all the rage in downtown Las Vegas now that it’s become a hotspot for tech startups. And after work, you can find many of these creatives hanging out at Gold Spike. Free and open to the public, this indoor/outdoor community area has ample, comfy seating, larger-than-life games like shuffleboard and cornhole, a casual dining area and a bar. It’s worth sticking around in the evening for trivia competitions and live DJ sets.