Tourists in Las Vegas have two basic choices: Go to the Las Vegas Strip or go downtown. Longtime Dine Drink Travel readers know that I am a Bellagio fan and spend my time on the Strip. Downtown is less glitzy, although the Fremont Street Experience is an attempt to change that. Fremont Street features the Golden Nugget, Binions, and other standards of Old Vegas. Curious, my friends and I decided to check it out. The atmosphere is profoundly different. It is also a lot of fun.
The first thing I notice on every trip to Fremont Street are the bars. Of course there are bars on the Strip. However, you cannot go more than a few feet down Fremont without someone offering you a drink. Most of these bars are the sort of places I tried to sneak in to in college: Booze in giant containers with weird shapes. You can walk down the strip and into any hotel with your purchase.
Drinking, of course, makes you hungry. Happily, Fremont Street excels for cheap eats while drinking. Indeed, Fremont Street is much better at this than is the Strip. For example, a White Castle burger joint recently opened. Even better, we found El Buen Pastor. This is a street taco place which reminded us a lot of our time in Mexico City. I definitely recommend you check it out. It is pretty typical of the offerings in that area.
In addition to good food and cheap drinks, Freemont Street offers quite a few random activities. For those who didn’t have my experience in Honduras, you might try the Slotzilla zip line. There are also any number of street performers happy to take tips. I found an oxygen bar at one point, and there are any number of other, um, opportunities. Again, this is a very different vibe from the Strip.
Before any trip to Las Vegas, decide what you want. If you want high end restaurants and the nicest places to stay, then the Strip is the place for you. It turns out that is normally what I want on a trip to Vegas, so that is where I stay. However, if you want a fun atmosphere at a much lower cost then you should look downtown. Fremont Street is a lot of fun, and it presents a very different side of an amazing city.