With so much to see and do on the Strip is it really worth making the trek to Downtown? Is the Fremont Street Experience really worth the trip? Is it even Safe down in the seedy end of Vegas? In short YES. The Fremont Street Experience or Downton Las Vegas is an absolute hoot. It is in no way seedy or dangerous, in fact, it’s more a museum than anything else. A hark back to how Vegas used to be, only without the violence and dark side. So this Fremont street experience reviews post is aimed at convincing you to give the Fremont Experience a try and show you what to do in downtown Las Vegas.
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What is the Fremont Street experience / Downtown Las Vegas?
The Centre of Las Vegas for the last few decades has been the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. The Glitzy over the top monument for everything American and its Excess. But it hasn’t always been the case. The Original Las Vegas was centered around Downtown Las Vegas with Freemont Street being the original Strip.
When the bulk of the nightlife, hotels, and Casino’s relocated to the Strip, Downtown was left to decline. It became known as the more seedy area. Somewhere to avoid if you could help it.
In recent years the area has had a complete makeover and has been restored to its former glory. This is the Vegas that most people initially think of. The Modern Strip is now all about Huge modern Luxury hotels and Casinos with fine dining and High-End Shopping. Downtown is all neon lights, Smaller intimate casinos, Big cheap food, and a real retro Vibe.
The Area is centered on Fremont street under its illuminated Canopy. We think it’s best described as a Living Museum. The Busy Street is alive with street acts, beer sellers, gift shops, and Brightly lit casinos. It’s heavily policed now and it’s all very sanitized. But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels exactly like the Vegas you imagined…
We absolutely love the whole place and strongly suggest anyone visiting Vegas checks it out!
Top Things To do in Downtown Las Vegas
Along with the resurgent casino’s many new attractions have opened in recent years to complement the rise in popularity. Simply coming down and checking out the district is often enough but these attractions can make a day of it!
Mob Museum – $23-95
Las Vegas has a strong tradition of Mob connections. Many credited the City being built on Mob Money. We don’t know to what extent that is true but the Mob Museum Explores the history of the Mob in Las Vegas along with organized crime in general across the untied states Both historical and present day.
The Museum is both factual and interesting and maybe a little less light-hearted than the name suggests. The Mob museum conjures up an image of a light-hearted look at organized crime but the museum actually takes a pretty in-depth look into a world that is very unsavory. Along with the crime is a look at how law enforcement has and is tackling the scourge.
It’s a very interesting museum and quite different from most. It feels very fitting being housed in an ex-courthouse in Downtown Las Vegas.
There is also the Crime lab experience detailing how forensic evidence is used to combat organized crime, and crime in general, and the New Use of force Exhibition. A hands-on exhibit showing you the process and decision-making Law enforcement officers use to make Life or death decisions when dealing with Suspects.
Kids are allowed into the Museum but it’s not especially a good idea and they are excluded from some more grisly exhibits.
Neon Museum – Day tours $15- $19 Night tours $22-$26
Vegas changes regularly the City is never static, every trip there is something new as the City constantly evolves. Along the way, many Iconic sights and locations fall victim to progress and are consigned to the rubbish skip. The Neon Museum does its best to rescue and preserve these wonders.
The “Junk Yard” exhibition contains hundreds of neon icons from the yesteryear of Las Vegas that would otherwise be lost to memory. Tours are provided either during the day or at night when the signs are illuminated. Unfortunately, not all signs are fully restored and these are only lit by spotlights but it’s still a very dazzling display of Vegas’s recent past.
Light Shows – Free
The Huge enclosed ceiling of the Fremont Street experience is lit up every hour for a dazzling light and sound display. For around six minutes every hour, the whole place is brought alive with an incredible show. The Shows change regularly but are loud and feature Rock and Roll Music and American Imagery.
Street Concerts – Free (Closed due to Covid)
Most nights of the week the Fremont Experience puts on live acts on one of the 3 permanent stages that are positioned around the Street. These are usually pretty small-scale acts, often running covers but it’s great to hear live music while wandering around the experience.
SlotZilla Zip Line – $25 or the Zoom Line – £45
An odd place for a Zipline but this is Vegas. The Slot Zilla runs right down the Centre of Fremont Street over the heads of the packed tourists right under the Canopy of the Fremont street displays. It’s an expensive experience for the time spent in the air but an incredible one. The Baby Zipline is probably not worth the cash but the much higher, faster, and longer Zoom line is a pretty exhilarating ride!
Container Park – Free
Just before Freemont street is the Downtown container park. An oddball shopping center built entirely from refurbished shipping containers. Why? we are not sure but it’s a very interesting place to check out. Lots of quirky shops and some pretty decent food outlets plus a playground and a showcase of container homes.
Street Acts and Music – Free
There is always a large number of acts street performers roaming around these are a very varied bunch, from acrobats, comedians, magicians to people just wearing odd clothes. There are also two stages with nightly acts performing live. This all combines to make the Area an incredibly busy, loud, bustling place filled with bright lights, loud sounds, and a Vibrant atmosphere.
The loudness, Brightness, and oddity of the place are really what make it stand out as a replica of how Vegas used to be!
Downtown Las Vegas Casinos
Casinos in downtown don’t seem to have changed much over the decades which all adds to the charm. While you can find the latest video slots there are still banks of coin-operated machines, Table Games, and actual Casino cages to exchange chips. They are a far cry from the modern plush Super casinos on the Strip. In addition, you can find plenty of Tables with very low <$5 minimum bets and better rules. Making Downtown a great place to Pop your Gambling cherry, or just spend time doing some very inexpensive gambling. The Casinos just don’t seem to have succumbed to the greed of the big Strip places. Drinks will flow readily while you are Gambling. As far as Gaming Goes there is little to choose between the casinos so just wander around looking for fun Games.
The D Las Vegas – Freemont Street
Four Queens – Freemont Street
Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – Freemont Street
Golden Gate Casino Hotel – Freemont Street
Plaza Hotel and Casino – S Main Street at the end of Freemont Street
Binions Gambling Hall – Freemont Street
Fremont Hotel and Casino – Freemont Street
Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino – Ogden Avenue
California Hotel and Casino – S Main Street / Ogden Avenue
El Cortez Hotel and Casino – Freemont Street, Outside the Experience area
Downtown Las Vegas Restaurants
Food Downtown is very different from what you find on the Strip, apart from regular chain restaurants such as Dennys and Macdonalds, etc… Food downtown tends to focus on cheaper larger portions. There is a huge variety of restaurants and food places, ranging from quite pricey to super cheap. The hotdogs with chili fries we got in the D were so utterly Dirty (in a good way) we will never forget them!
A Steakhouse with a real old-school Vibe, you can easily imagine seeing Mob boss’s eating here after a hard day doing…err… Mob stuff! Certainly not the cheapest place around but it’s a quality Steakhouse with excellent prime steaks Seared over a scorching hot grill it is fantastic. ‘Casino’ (The ’95 Scorsese Epic) was actually filmed here so it couldn’t be more authentically “mobby” if it tried. Which it does.
Another Steakhouse, but this is a Steakhouse with a view! Looking out over the City. The View is not exactly the Stratosphere but it’s still a great place to enjoy a 40 Day Dry-aged lump of cow while admiring the Glitz of the downtown strip with the Lights of the Stip in the distance. They offer some BIG cuts here such as the 24oz Porterhouse and they are all charred up perfectly.
A very ‘Vegasy’ experience. Giant burgers served with a Medical theme by nurses who deliver Spankings for those who fail to finish their meal…As they say, Only in Vegas! Definitely, an experienced restaurant, where the menu includes 20,000 calorie Burgers, Fires cooked in Pure Lard, Butterfat shakes, and drinks served in Pill bottles and Syringes. Just remember to order sensibly if you want to avoid a spanking.
Obviously, this place isn’t for everyone but it’s great fun if this is your kind of thing.
Apparently, this place does Mexican food and it’s supposed to be very good. It also serves LOTS of tequila and that’s all we remember!
American Coney Island Las Vegas
Amazing Hotdogs and incredible Chili Fries. This place is great for REAL American delicacies. As American cuisine has evolved these sorts of places become overlooked and ever derided but this cheap unhealthy sort of food is utterly iconic and delicious!
Is Downtown Las Vegas Safe?
Las Vegas, like all big cities, has its Dark side. And like all big cities, the authorities want to keep Tourists and visitors from coming into contact with it. Downtown is now touted as a major tourist hotspot so they have done everything in their power to keep the unsavory element away from you. so is it safe…
It’s at least as safe as any other tourist area of Las Vegas. It is heavily policed and only licensed traders and street acts can operate here. Not far from Fremont street and you are getting into the less savory parts of the City. But in and around the Freemont Street Experience you couldn’t be safer. It’s the only place in Vegas where you can’t openly drink your own alcohol. Which helps keep things calmer. Drinkers fear not as you can still drink on the street. You just have to buy it from a licensed seller in an official cup. You will see plenty of people chugging huge plastic cups of beer!
Almost everyone in the area is either a tourist or a licensed trader/act so there is really very little opportunity for crime. Of course, like any very busy area, there is always the possibility of petty crime such as pickpocketing, and normal sensible precautions should be observed. But it’s as safe as any busy area in the country. We think that’s what we like about it. It feels so much like a throwback to the Good/Bad old days of Vegas but in a really “theme park” way. You know there are no Mobsters or murderers hiding in the shadows and you can let your hair down and enjoy the Fremont “show”!
The Duece Bus service goes straight to Downtown from any locations on the Strip. It’s cheap convenient and drops you off right where you need to be. It can be REALLY slow though at busy times. Over an hour on very busy weekend nights. The service runs 24hrs a day but less frequently in the early hours
The Strip and Downtown Express (SDX) bus runs from 9 am-midnight and has limited stops meaning the journey is quicker, it still takes the same route so in very heavy traffic it’s not much better. The Duece is a fun bus journey often with narrated stops from the Bus driver. We tend to ride the Duece out and get the SDX Back the $8, day pass is good for both.
Also worth mentioning is the option to stop off at the Stratosphere. We stop there on our way to Downtown for Two for One happy hour cocktails in the Sky Bar! 4-7 pm with free access to the Observation Deck.
You, of course, have the usual option of taxis and Uber if the thought of getting the bus freaks you out. Of course, you can drive too and there are plenty of paid parking lots at most casinos but with the amount of drink on offer, we tend not to be in a position to drive!
Should we Stay in Downtown Las Vegas?
There are a good number of Hotels Downtown and they are normally a bit cheaper than Strip Hotels. As they are competing with the Strip hotels they have to have a good offering or be very cheap to compete. As such, they can be a very tempting proposition to get a great deal. For us, however, the Real Vegas experience is found on the Strip. Yes, we LOVE Downtown. We think everyone should check it out, but for us, we prefer to Stay on the strip and visit Downtown.
Some people Love downtown hotels, and we can see why. They offer great value, and a completely different experience. It’s just not what we expect from a Vegas trip. We appreciate those opinions who disagree with this, but for the most part, we want to be on the strip.
For people who are new to Vegas, we also feel the Strip is the best place to stay. Staying Downtown is in the realm of people who are regulars in Vegas, they know what they want and Downtown is their thing. These people are unlikely to be reading this, so overall unless you KNOW you want to stay Downtown… you probably don’t.
Have Your Say
Have you been to Downtown Las Vegas? Did you enjoy it? What attractions did you try? Did you enjoy the food? Feel free to leave a comment on your experience we would love to hear from you. Or let us know if you have any questions about the area? We are happy to help. Feel free to Like us on Facebook for regular updates on Las Vegas and other USA City destinations.