The Other Side of Vegas

Shane Green shares his favorite things to do off the Strip.
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When you come to Las Vegas, it’s easy to be seduced by the draw of the Strip. However, if you take a deeper look, there are many fringe activities in Vegas that really make the city a wonderful place to live. Many visitors to the Entertainment Capital of the World miss the historic downtown area, but it offers some of the most exciting options for couples, singles, business travelers and families.

While there are countless attractions in Vegas worth mentioning, like Lake Mead, the Red Rock Canyon and nearby Hoover Dam, there’s plenty to see that’s often overlooked. On your next trip to this spectacular city, take a little time to explore the historic elements of Las Vegas, as well as some of the new, hip parts of the city that have been embraced by the city’s burgeoning tech crowd.

Photo by: Emily Wilson

Emily Wilson

For families, Downtown Container Park offers a clean and safe playground, a wide open grass area for lounging in the sun and convenient eateries and shops that are fun to peruse on a hot summer day. But then, when the clock strikes 9, the doors close to children and the playground becomes an adult haven for young professionals, entrepreneurs and Las Vegas’ business thought leaders. They offer excellent live music, which features some of the best local bands, and a perfect opportunity to network.
If you’re a businessperson, then you have undoubtedly heard about the great things going on at Zappos. Luckily, loyal customers have a chance to tour the retailer’s headquarters here in downtown Las Vegas. You can get an insiders’ perspective of the workspaces, see the culture in action and meet the employees who make Zappos one of the best customer service experiences in the nation. People are quick to reference Google or Apple for having excellent workspaces, but that’s only because they haven’t visited Zappos.

Photo by: brian jones

brian jones

Fremont East is the name of Fremont Street from Las Vegas Boulevard eastward, and it’s a part of town that’s rich in eclectic bars, music venues, restaurants and boutiques. It’s also the part of town where locals can go to escape from tourists, because as much as Las Vegas loves tourists, the locals enjoy having a place to call their own. Fremont East features venues like Beauty Bar, Insert Coins, Le Thai, Coterie, and Commonwealth’s little-known speakeasy, The Laundry Room. If you want to rub elbows with celebrities like Nicholas Cage, Nichole Kidman and others who know this is the hot spot, then Fremont East is a great choice.
Many visitors already know "The Fremont Experience" because it features multiple stages, free concerts from acts such as Everclear or Imagine Dragons and many of the best old casinos. The area is covered by a high metal ceiling, which illuminates with projections of lights and imagery. It also has a zipline that allows visitors to glide above the masses from one end of the street to the other -- if they dare. And if you want a photo taken with Batman, Medusa, or any other popular character, odds are there is an actor dressed up and waiting for you at The Fremont Experience.
A classic establishment that also happens to be the oldest bar in the city, Atomic Liquors is worth the trek off the Strip. You may recognize the chic, retro interior from movies like Casino (the scene where Joe Pesci stabbed a guy with a pen) and TV shows. You may also know that Atomic Liquors got its name from a time when Las Vegas residents were able to sip Sloe Gin Fizzes while watching nuclear mushroom clouds explode in the distance as Nevada conducted tests in the desert. Don’t worry though, this bar and city is safe today! If you go to Atomic Liquors, say hi to Rose, our favorite mixologist in Las Vegas.

Photo by: Brian Jones

Brian Jones

This old-time casino was gutted and repurposed by the Downtown Project, which is a revitalization effort in Las Vegas lead by Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO. Where there were once slot machines galore, there are now games like wall-sized Connect Four, Operation and life-sized Jenga. People can play beer pong with Dixie cups the size of trash cans before settling into a comfortable outdoor couch to listen to a live band. During the day, you might see tables of Zappos employees meeting over PBR and MacBooks, but at night, you’ll probably see 4 bachelorette parties celebrating in a single room. Locals love this bar because it offers many distractions and great food, but tourists love it because there’s nothing else like it in the world.
Vegas is known for blowing things up as they age and become irrelevant, but luckily some of the history has been preserved at The Boneyard. Some of the most interesting and memorable neon signs from yesteryear can be found in this museum, making for some of the city’s best photo ops. From Sahara’s famous camel to the iconic 4-leaf clover, signs you remember from childhood movies of Vegas are gathered here for families to tour.
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