Downtown Las Vegas Bucket List:
11 Best Things to Do Off The Strip
1. ✦ Get Your Photo With One Million Dollars
Do you know what it feels like to have your hands on one million dollars? Me neither. But, you can get a taste of the large sum of cold, hard cash by heading over to Binion’s Gambling Hall. Wrap your arms around their glass pyramid of the big bucks for a free souvenir photo (yes, I said free!). The dough is located right next to Club Binion’s, and it’s open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily.
2. ✧ Take a Zipline Ride on Slotzilla
You can fly almost the entire length of the legendary Fremont Street Experience on Slotzilla, an 11-story slot machine inspired zipline. It is rated one of the best things to do in Downtown Las Vegas! What would make it even more magical is planning your ride during the Viva Vision Light Show, which will have you gliding over Fremont Street and underneath the massive screen. You have the choice of flying in a seated position, or being a little more adventurous and going Superman style. Whichever you choose, you are in for a wild ride.
3. ✦ Tour the Neon Museum
Where do all the old neon signs from Las Vegas go? To The Neon Boneyard, of course. The Neon Museum preserves some of the city’s most iconic signs from old casinos, motels and other businesses. Neon signs are the epitome of Vegas, and some of the most iconic ones can be found by taking a walk through “The Boneyard.” Whether you experience the magic during the day or hit up the evening light show, you won’t be disappointed with the almost 3 acres of outdoor displays.
4. ✦ Delve into the Mob Museum
If you have ever wanted to know the intriguing history of the mafia and its impact on Las Vegas, don’t miss a visit to The Mob Museum. It puts you in the middle of the action through the thrilling stories of organized crime and one of the most comprehensive collections of mob memorabilia.
On a personal note—The Mob Museum is actually where I got the pet name for my husband, Peter. I affectionately call him Petey Chops, the name of a successful gambling racketeer who was known for missing payments to his capo (not a good thing in the mafia!). Though my husband in no way resembles a mobster (in appearance or attitude), it just stuck.
5. ✦ See the Viva Vision Light Show
It’s hard not to get caught up in the energy of Viva Vision Light Show. It is when the overhead canopy of the Fremont Street Experience really comes to life. On the hour at dusk, the top favorite hits play on the massive 1,500-foot-long and 90-foot-wide screen that’s suspended 90-feet above the ground. When the music starts and the lights begin to dance, it literally stops you in your tracks and Fremont Street shuts down: Casino lights turn off, concerts take a break and everyone on the street has their eyes glued above. FYI—this attraction ranks high as one of the best free things to do in all of Las Vegas!
6. ✦ Rub the Happy Buddha’s Belly
Before you hit the casinos, get some extra luck by rubbing the Happy Buddha’s belly at the California Hotel & Casino. He’s a jolly fellow that sits in the lobby and is known to spread some success to folks betting against the odds.
7. ✧ Play on the World’s Largest Keno Board
What is being called the World’s Largest Keno Board has been installed in Downtown Las Vegas, and you really can’t miss it! The large video screen sits outside of The D, along the walkway of the Fremont Street Experience. Just head inside to the casino’s Keno lounge to pick your numbers, then run outside, and cross your fingers as you watch live to see if you are a winner.
8. ✦ Eat at White Castle
I would never recommend eating at a fast food hamburger joint, unless it’s as iconic as White Castle, which is known as the original fast-food restaurant! Its small, square hamburgers (dubbed sliders) were declared the most influential burger of all time by Time Magazine. Oh yeah, and there was that 2004 movie Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, that made them even more famous.
9. ✧ Try Your Hand at Axe Throwing
How many opportunities do you get to throw an axe? If you are anything like me, then not many, so don’t pass up this one. The trainers at Axe Hole will have you expertly wielding a hatchet—you may even learn a few trick shots. But, you don’t even have to stop at throwing axes, you can also toss spears, shovels and ninja stars. It’s a bucket list bonus if you hit the bulls-eye!
10. ✦ Say Howdy to Vegas Vic
There’s A LOT of the World’s Largest things on Fremont Street (remember that Keno Board mentioned above?), and added to that list is a huge mechanical neon sign. Vegas Vic was erected on the Pioneer Club in 1951 and stands a whopping 40 feet tall. You gotta see him to believe him, so walk on by and give this cowboy a hearty “howdy.”
11. ✦ Eat in the Fremont East District
Many folks like to hangout at the Fremont Street Experience and never venture over to the Fremont East District. Don’t be one of them! This newer section has some great restaurants, bars and cafes. Have coffee and one of the pretty toasts at PublicUS, get a $4 glass of happy hour wine at Therapy (and some crispy Brussels sprouts—yum!), eat some of the famous 3-color curry at Le Thai or get the fried chicken skin from Carson Kitchen.
Essential Tips for Visiting Downtown Las Vegas
Getting to Downtown from The Strip: Beside the traffic and expensive parking fees around the Strip, it’s pretty easy to drive a rental car in other areas of Vegas. Having a car also makes it simple to get to Downtown. If you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of options. Both Lyft and Uber are available all over the city, plus most of the major attractions can be accessed with the Deuce/SDX bus. In addition, almost every casino offers taxi drop off/pick up. If you are in shape and/or want to burn off all those buffets you could walk the 2+ miles.
Where to Stay in Downtown Las Vegas: The bonus to staying in Downtown Vegas is that it is much cheaper than on The Strip. The Downtown Grand (moderate) is a great choice and just a half a block from the Fremont Street Experience in one direction and The Mob Museum in the other. For something a little more iconic and located in the middle of the Fremont Street Experience try the Four Queens Hotel or The D Las Vegas. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Best Downtown Las Vegas Tours: