Street View Of Fremont East District Sign In Las Vegas

Guide to Visiting Downtown Las Vegas

The city of Las Vegas was founded in 1905, but it wasn't the Las Vegas Strip as many would think. In fact, what's known today as "Downtown Las Vegas" was the first region to grow into a bustling tourist attraction before spreading down Las Vegas Boulevard, aka "The Strip".

Today, Downtown Las Vegas still offers an exciting and high-demand tourist experience with some truly unique restaurants, museums, art installations, and, of course, casinos worth taking the time to visit.

Whether you'll be visiting for a day, a weekend, or longer, this useful guide highlights some of the biggest must-see features of this historic area of town. Learn what to do in Downtown Las Vegas before you visit!

Aerial view of Downtown Las Vegas hotels and casinos

Fremont Street Experience In Downtown Las Vegas

Often, you'll hear locals refer to Downtown Las Vegas as "Fremont". This is because the most famous part of Downtown is located on Fremont Street, just as the Las Vegas Strip is located on Las Vegas Boulevard. This area of Downtown features the Fremont Street Experience - five blocks of street lined by casinos on both sides and covered with a canopy of 24 million LED lights. By day, this covering provides shade from the Vegas sun; by night, it transforms into a spectacular lightshow, showcasing enchanting visuals and music from iconic artists played through 550,000-watt sound speakers scattered throughout the streets.

The overhead lightshow isn't the only thing to see here, though. While you wait for the next showing (at the top of each hour), you can enjoy an assortment of local street performers, watch top-rated local bands perform on outdoor stages, or play some slot machines and table games at the historic Downtown Las Vegas casinos.

Just past the Fremont Street Experience, you'll find an array of pubs frequented by locals and tourists alike, each boasting their own unique activities like karaoke, video games, and dance floors.

An art installation in Downtown Las Vegas near Container Park

Downtown Las Vegas Arts District

The Las Vegas Arts District is a thriving area of Downtown Las Vegas offering an eclectic mix of antique stores, vintage shops, tattoo studios, and of course unique and ever-changing art installations and murals. You'll also find several one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars, and nightlife opportunities.

Downtown Las Vegas Map

You'll have to take a taxi or an Uber from the Las Vegas Strip to Downtown Las Vegas, but once you're here you can walk to every destination on your list. There are over a dozen casinos lining Fremont Street or within walking distance, a mix between historic mobster casinos like the Golden Nugget and brand-new constructions like the Circa Resort. Within a half-mile radius you'll find the Mob Museum and Container Park, and the Neon Museum just a mile away.

Top Things to Do In Downtown Las Vegas

Whether you're here to gamble, indulge in dining, find art, or simply want to explore, you'll find it here in Fremont. Here are a few of the top things to do in Downtown Las Vegas:

Visit A Classic Downtown Las Vegas Casino

The historic casinos you've read about in mobster books and seen in mafia documentaries are located here in Downtown Las Vegas. Today, these casinos still maintain their vintage aesthetic so you can feel transported back to the Wild West days of early Vegas.

Visit the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, where the original Roaring 20's vibe is still alive and well. Then, swing by Binion's Gambling Hall, the iconic gambling house founded in 1951 and the original home of the World Series of Poker. Just past the Fremont Street Experience, you'll find the El Cortez Hotel and Casino, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Downtown Las Vegas casinos are worth visiting as they feature table games with lower minimums, casual and upscale dining options, and often far cheaper drinks than on the Strip.

Neon sign display at the Neon Museum in Downtown Las Vegas

Tour the Neon Museum

Over the decades, many of the city's famous casinos have changed ownership and changed names. However, the iconic neon signs that previously adorned their rooftops are still preserved, and available for you to see at the Neon Museum, one of Downtown's most famous attractions. This non-profit facility is dedicated to maintaining and exhibiting these classic pieces of Las Vegas history during 45-minute guided tours of over 250 historical Vegas signs dating back to the 1930s. The museum also features interactive exhibits and a spectacular 360-degree audiovisual show.

For an even more mesmerizing experience, book Papillon's Neon Night Flight Spectacular package - you'll discover the neon signs proudly shining atop the casinos on the Strip and across Downtown on a Las Vegas helicopter tour. This package also includes entry into the Neon Museum.

An art installation outside of Container Park in Downtown Las Vegas

Tour Downtown Las Vegas Container Park

You'll recognize Downtown Container Park from a distance by the gigantic praying mantis sculpture at its entrance! Built from stacks of shipping containers, this open-air shopping center is filled with boutique retail shops, unique restaurants, a tattoo studio, live entertainment, and a playground meant for children during the day and adults at night.

Container Park is free to enter and offers a kid-friendly, family environment by day and casual nightlife in the evening. There is also often free parking during the day in the surrounding area.

Mob Museum exterior, organized crime museum in Downtown Vegas

Visit Vegas' Organized Crime Museum, the Mob Musem

Located in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas, the former courthouse that held trials for infamous mafiosos is now home to the Mob Museum. One of the most unique museums in all of America, the Mob Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the public understanding of the history of organized crime and its impact on American society.

The museum offers a provocative perspective at this era of history through hundreds of artifacts and immersive exhibits. There are also interactive experiences like a crime lab, a mock trial, firearms training simulator, and a distillery with tastings. The Mob Museum is one of the most exciting and educational opportunities you'll find on a Las Vegas vacation.

Ride the SlotZilla Zipline

Downtown Las Vegas offers the perfect activity for those looking for a bit of a thrill: SlotZilla Zipline! This 11-story high zipline races across the Fremont Street Experience and lands inside a giant slot machine! There are two options for those undertaking the zipline: fly halfway in a seated position or fly the entire distance in a superhero-style pose. Either way, you'll be whizzing 77 feet above the ground and just under the light show canopy!

A meal at an outdoor table from a Downtown Vegas restaurant

Where to Eat in Downtown Las Vegas

While the Strip offers a variety of upscale dining and familiar chain options, Downtown Las Vegas restaurants provide far more unique choices. You'll find everything from food trucks to cultural cuisines to hole-in-the-wall fine dining.

The endless variety can make it difficult to choose where to eat, especially if you're only visiting Downtown for a day. Our advice? Spend the whole day at Fremont! You can indulge in a rich brunch and mimosas at Park on Fremont - a unique bar and restaurant set in an ambient garden party theme, then swing by a food truck for a snack, and finally sit down to a candlelit dinner at Oscar's Steakhouse in the dome of the Plaza Hotel.

Tourists stand in front of the Heart Attack Grill in Downtown Vegas

Gorge Yourself at the Heart Attack Grill

In a city known for indulgence, this legendary American restaurant quite literally takes the cake. The Heart Attack Grill prides itself on incredibly large, over-the-top meals that push the calorie count to the limit. Indulge in mountainous burgers with the option to add up to 40 bacon slices, decadent desserts, and alcoholic beverages. Diners here are served in a hospital-themed environment by waitstaff dressed as nurses for a truly hilarious experience. The restaurant even advertises unlimited free food for guests weighing over 350 pounds - and they can prove it on a scale outside the restaurant in front of a cheering crowd.

Party At the Las Vegas Downtown Rocks Free Concert Series

The free concert series at Fremont Street takes place at a series of stages located underneath the Fremont Street Experience canopy. Top-tier cover bands and popular local artists perform full concerts for free - best of all, this area of Fremont allows guests to take their drinks from the casino and wander the streets, so you can get a true outdoor concert experience!

Find the Free Concert Series at Fremont Street Experience upcoming show schedule here.

A Papillon helicopter tour at the bottom of the Grand Canyon

Fly To the Grand Canyon

If you've explored Downtown Las Vegas from top to bottom, you can take your vacation to new heights with a helicopter tour from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon! Our Grand Celebration Tour departs from Las Vegas and actually lands at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Here you can toast champagne and capture selfies within the most magnificent natural landform in the United States.