David Abolafia

Going Beyond the Bright Lights of the Vegas Strip

David Abolafia

Las Vegas 2

Whenever Las Vegas is presented on film and television, the most common image is the Strip, a collection of glitzy hotels, casinos and other businesses, bathed in a rainbow of neon lights. It forms quite a picture, especially at night, but it isn’t the complete picture. There are many off-the-beaten path places to explore on a trip to “Sin City” – and these are the kind of adventures that, when they happen in Vegas, they don’t have to stay in Vegas.

  • Downtown Container Park – An open-air shopping center filled with boutique retail shops, unique restaurants and live entertainment for the whole family, located in the heart of Las Vegas. From upscale dining at The Perch to gourmet hot dogs at Cheffini’s, there’s something for everyone. Created from repurposed shipping containers and locally manufactured Xtreme Cubes, the stores at Downtown Container Park offer an intimate shopping experience. And it’s the perfect way to shop small and support local businesses, as most of the owners operate their boutiques. Kids will love the interactive playground featuring The Treehouse, and adults can relax while enjoying free concerts, movies and more on the main stage.
  • Zappos – The headquarters for the online shoe (and apparel) retailer are located in downtown Las Vegas, and loyal customers have the opportunity to take a tour. While there, visitors can get an insider’s perspective of the workspaces, see the culture in action and meet the employees who make Zappos – now part of the Amazon.com family – one of the best customer service experiences in the nation.
  • Fremont East – An entertainment district in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. This pedestrian-friendly community combines diverse street life, local businesses, eateries, sidewalk cafes, bars and cocktail lounges, lively entertainment, retail and residential living while preserving a historic gambling house. Of particular note are: Backstage Bar & Billiards, an upscale billiards lounge that’s part rock n’ roll library and homage to music subculture; Pork & Beans, a specialty restaurant offering its namesake dish along with other artisanal sausage and bean dishes; Don’t Tell Mama, a piano bar and cabaret that’s an entertainment landmark in New York City; JoJo’s Jerky, where you can gnaw on premium beef and turkey jerky, spice rubs and marinades made using all-natural ingredients; and Emergency Arts, a creative collective that brings working artists in various media together.
  • Fremont Street Experience – A five-block entertainment district in historic downtown Vegas. The centerpiece is Viva Vision, the world’s largest video screen, which features free light shows every night of the week. Another fascinating aspect of the Experience is SlotZilla, a 12-story, slot machine-inspired zip line attraction that offers two ways to fly: the lower “Zipline” and upper “Zoomline.” The latter provides even more thrills by sending flyers prone, superhero-style, for an unprecedented view as they soar 1,750 feet to a landing platform at the city’s most historic casino, the Golden Gate. (For a photo essay of the Experience, check out the video below.)
  • Atomic Liquors – The oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas. Founded in 1952, Atomic Liquors – named for a time when customers watched atomic blasts from the roof – boasts the first package liquor license and off-sales permit. The original design included a classically huge, wrap-around bar and a one-of-a-kind landmark neon sign that still shines today. Like much of old-time Vegas, Atomic has showbiz in its veins – The Rat Pack and the Smothers Brothers drank there after their nightly shows, and Barbra Streisand even had her own seat, which has been restored and is on display.
  • Gold Spike – An old-time casino that was gutted and repurposed by the Downtown Project. Where there were once slot machines, there are now games like a wall-size version of Connect Four, Operation and life-sized Jenga. People can play beer pong with giant cups before settling into a comfortable outdoor couch to listen to a live band. Locals love Gold Spike because it offers many distractions and great food, but visitors love it because there’s nothing else like it in the world.
  • The Neon Museum – A unique organization dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historical, arts and cultural enrichment. The Neon Museum campus includes the outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard, a visitors’ center housed inside the former La Concha Motel lobby and the Neon Boneyard North Gallery which houses additional rescued signs and is available for weddings, special events, photo shoots and educational programs. In addition, the Neon Museum collection chronicles changes and trends in sign design and technology through pieces ranging from the 1930s to the present day.

Stopping by a few of these spots can be a terrific way to craft a special time in Las Vegas, one that’s different from the typical experience – and therefore far more memorable, which is the point of the vacations. To learn more about traveling to Las Vegas or any of our other fantastic destinations, give us a call at (888) 269-0182, Mon – Fri 9am to 5pm.

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