Best Things to Do in Downtown Las Vegas
When you think of Vegas, you’ll immediately think of the Strip. But that’s not the only fun place to visit.
Las Vegas also has an impressive downtown area filled with historic artwork, fun activities, free events, excellent food, and much more.
In fact, Downtown Vegas even houses the very first casinos and hotels in Las Vegas. It’s also where the concept of Las Vegas originated. So even though the Stip steals a lot of the spotlight, this isn’t an area to miss. And if you were thinking of skipping this one, don’t. You’d be missing out.
That said, here’s our complete list of the best things to do in Downtown Las Vegas.
Note: this list isn’t ordered in a particular way.
Fremont Street Experience
Believe it or not, the Fremont Street Experience, which is technically an outdoor shopping mall, is a top attraction in DTLV. So much so, it’s without question something every visitor shouldn’t miss.
Thankfully, finding it is easy, considering it covers five blocks and houses an impressive collection of neon signs and a massive LED canopy.
The Fremont Street Experience is where you’ll find many famous restaurants, including Heart Attack Grill, Hugo’s Grill, or Nacho Daddy. You’ll also find historic Casinos like Golden Gate, California, and El Cortez. So get ready to experience outstanding gambling, nightlife, street performances, free concerts, and more.
Viva Vision Light Shows
The Viva Vision canopy suspended 90 ft above the Fremont Experience is the largest video screen globally. And in 2019, it underwent its second revamp, now topping $32M in world-class renovations. Today, it’s without question a must-see attraction and a very unique light show in Las Vegas.
Experience a 6-minute choreographed performance with music ranging from rock to pop, including performances from top acts like The Chainsmokers, Imagine Dragons, Tiesto, and The Killers. You’ll also hear the music in concert-quality stereo sound. And see high-resolution imagery created by a state-of-the-art 16.4 million pixel display spanning 1,375 ft long and 90 ft wide. The result is a truly mesmerizing visual and auditory experience that’s nothing short of breathtaking.
The best spot to watch the performance is by the entrance of the Fremont Street Experience by White Castle. And each show starts at 6 PM, running hourly from the start of the hour until 1 AM. However, the lights are always on and programmed 24/7, which provides some nice ambiance while you walk around the Fremont Street Experience.
The SlotZilla Zip line
Price: $39 to $59, depending on activity
The Slotzilla zipline is another top attraction in DTLV and a must-do activity if you’re looking for adrenaline. It’s also a great means to see the area from a unique bird’s eye point of view.
SlotZilla is a 12-story high zipline with a towering slot machine design. And it lets you fly gracefully over the pedestrians below, most of which lack the courage. You’ll also see an aerial view of the iconic Fremont Street Experience and Viva Vision light show along the way.
You have two options: the Zip-Zillow, which is 77 ft high and travels halfway down the Fremont Street Experience in a seated position. Or you can be bold with the Super-Hero Zoom, which is 114 ft tall and takes you down the entire canopy in a superhero-style pose at 30+ mph. Either way, both options support four riders. The take-off times start at 12:00 pm or 4:00 and go until 1:00 or 2:00 am, depending on the day.
Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (DLVEC)
Price: Varies by event
The Downtown Las Vegas Events Center (DLVEC) is home to an enormous open-air event space comfortably accommodating 11,000 guests. You’ll find this venue right behind The Fremont Street Experience, on East Carson Ave.
This space is home to major day festivals, including Life is Beautiful and Reggae Rise Up. But it’s also a fan viewing area for top events like the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft, and the UFC Fan Experience. And these viewing fan events are free! So you can watch most big games with an enormous crowd on a gigantic screen. Either way, though, if you’re looking for a large-scale party, this is the place to research.
The Neon Museum
Price: $20 or $45, depending on activity
One thing DTLV isn’t short of is neon signs. But, the Neon Museum lets you revisit the full history of this unique Las Vegas artwork.
Originally founded in 1996, the Neon Museum is an outdoor exhibition hall where you can tour vintage neon signs. And this organization has made it its sole purpose to arrange, manage, and preserve iconic Las Vegas signs dating back to the early 1900s. And today, it has an incredible collection of retired signs numbering in the hundreds.
Tours are between one to two hours long and could be self-guided or guided. The museum is open from 4:00 p.m. – to 12:00 a.m. But going after sunset is best, so you can get the best experience and see the signs come alive. Either way, it’s a must-see if you appreciate this form of unique artwork or you visit one of DTLV’s most popular photo locations. Or you want to learn more about the exciting history and culture of Downtown Las Vegas.
The Mob Museum
Price: $30-50, depending on activity
There are always two sides to a story. But then there’s The Mob Museum. It’s a world-class destination visited by millions to see artifacts and interactive exhibits to discover the secrets of the organized crime underworld. And it’s quite an eye-opening one, so you can see firsthand how the Mob impacted American culture.
Get an authentic insider’s look into how the mobs ruled Las Vegas. Explore multi-sensory exhibits and see memorabilia from the biggest gangsters dating back to prohibition. We’re talking names like Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, and John Gotti, And step into the very courtroom where mob members were tried for their crimes. There’s also a speakeasy, The Underground, and a distillery in the basement to enjoy cocktails from the Roaring ’20s. Together this museum is a must-see and puts you center stage in action.
Golden Nugget – The Tank & HideOut Pool Complex
Price: Free or paid reservation for a cabana
There are a lot of outdoor pools in Las Vegas, but few are as memorable as The Tank. The Tank is the Golden Nugget’s $30M pool, and it’s nothing short of absolutely stunning. It’s also quite an incredible engineering feat, considering it’s a marine display.
The Tank features 200,000 gallons, creating a shark aquarium that you can see and swim around in a 360º view. But, you can also get close up by riding the pool’s 3-story water slide chute, a fun addition that adds some nice icing to the cake. There’s also a rooftop pool and lounge area upstairs called the HideOut Complex. And it offers a fantastic view of DTLV. So if you’re looking to experience one of the most exciting pools this summer, this is a must.
Vegas Vic is a Downtown Las Vegas icon and a treasure.
This 40 ft tall neon sign of a cheerful cowboy is located in the center of the Fremont Street Experience. See his happy face gazing down at you, and know you’re looking at a unique piece of Vegas history.
You’ll find few shopping malls in the U.S. as unique as Container Park.
This outdoor open-air shopping mall is constructed from recycled shipping containers. Inside you’ll find many boutique retail outlets selling clothing, jewelry, award-winning meals, and Vegas souvenirs.
But, most notably, there’s a giant metal praying mantis at the entrance that stands 40 ft tall and 30 ft wide. And she throws fire flames from her antennae that can reach six stories high.
She also comes with a bagging 4,000-watt surround sound system, where a team coordinates the flames to eclectic music. And it’s quite an impressive show and one you can easily see or hear several blocks away.
Not to mention, Container Park also has a kid’s playground featuring the Treehouse, a 33 ft tall slide. While adults can enjoy free concerts, movies, and other free entertainment on The Lawn. Together, it’s a must for the entire family and a fun place all-around to visit.
If you’re into art, well, look no further.
Downtown Las Vegas is filled with hundreds of murals, and a local group re-works them seasonally. Most of them are commissioned for specific events, like Life is Beautiful. But many aren’t. So stumble around DTLV, and you’ll find several major alleys filled with glorious artwork, including 6th Street, E Ogden, and N 7th Street, and snap away!
Prices: $38-49, depending on activity
If you ever wanted to throw axes with friends or unleash your inner Viking, now’s your chance.
Axehole Vegas lets you throw axes and spears, throwing cards, shovels, tomahawks, ninja stars, and more. And they’re a one and only kind in Las Vegas. Axehole also recently opened the Smash Room, so you can relieve built-up stress by smashing a few things to pieces, safely, of course.
Yet it’s something both the adults and kids older than 7 can enjoy! So it’s a great family activity if your kids are curious about it. And, in fact, over 200,000 other guests have done so to date.
Symphony Park is a must-see if you’re looking for an exciting photo spot. Here you can find Tim Bavington’s Pipe Dream, a colorful pipe sculpture located by the Smith Center for The Performing Arts.
The Pipe Dream is the visual representation of a 1942 song by Aaron Copland. The lights there display and measure the time or the 40 bars of the song. And the sculpture itself represents each note in Copeland’s composition, where the colors show the individual key. It’s a very unique sculpture, but one that’s perfect for the colorful nature of DTLV. And it makes for a great photo spot.
The Laundry Room
Price: Varies, reservation required
The Laundry Room, a speakeasy downstairs the Commonwealth, is nothing short of luxury.
This is an intimate, hard to get into a cocktail bar that served many historical figures over its years. The barkeep here is meticulous, to say the least, and creates internationally-acclaimed drinks. It’s a small bar, though, seating only 22 guests. So it’s reservation only for most. Please double-check beforehand to ensure there’s space.
Gold Spike’s Backyard Playground
Price: Free during day, paid at night
Gold Spike, a co-working space by day, turns into a 21+ party venue at night. And the indoors transform into the Living Room, a nightlife venue where DJs create a lively house party. Not to mention there’s a 24/7 bar with draft beers and specialty cocktails too.
But, it’s the games that make this place exciting. We’re talking darts, billiards, giant cornhole, skee ball, beer pong, giant connect 4, foosball, and more. They even host the Down & Derby roller skating event twice a month. So day or night, Gold Spike is a fun hangout spot to lounge by the firepit to listen to live music or to party.
Atomic Liquors stands tall as the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas.
Initially named by Nevada’s history as an atomic testing site, Atomic Liquors was revamped and brought to its 1952 glory. Today, it has an enormous wrap-around bar and an iconic neon sign to compliment it.
Inside, it offers a wealth of history from the greats like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbra Streisand, and more. So if you enjoy a craft beer, specialty cocktails, or want to dine in a 50’s kitchen, this is a must-visit.