I recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas with my husband. He was at a conference and we stayed at the Golden Nugget, a hotel and casino smack dab in downtown Las Vegas. I have been here with him before, and one of the things I enjoy most about these trips is hanging out on The Fremont Street Experience while he is busy with meetings. One of the most convenient things about staying at the Golden Nugget is that the Fremont Street Experience is directly out the back door of the hotel, making it quite convenient to experience the sights and sounds at any time of day, or night.
An Introduction to The Fremont Street Experience
If you haven’t been to Las Vegas before, you may not be aware of the Fremont Street Experience. Built approximately twenty years ago, it is a pedestrian mall that covers five blocks of an area of Fremont Street in the downtown Las Vegas area. This area is historically popular because many of the famous original Las Vegas Casinos are here. This is the part of Las Vegas where the famous Rat Pack of the fifties and sixties used to hang out. Fortunately it has been renovated and updated and is just as fun for today’s Vegas visitors as it was in the days of Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra.
You may be more familiar with the Las Vegas strip, which has hotels and casinos like Caesar’s Palace, Mandalay Bay, New York, New York, and Paris as its claim to fame, but downtown Las Vegas was where it was all happening when the first Las Vegas casinos opened their doors.
This five area block houses such Las Vegas stalwarts as Binion’s Casino, the Four Queens Resort and Casino, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, and the California Hotel and Casino. One of the more recent additions to casino hotels is The D, which boasts some pretty, young ladies dancing on the bar outside of the casino during evening hour.
If You Are Hungry
There are some fantastic restaurants along this strip which include the famous Tony Roma’s, The Heart Attack Grill that actually serves milkshakes made with buttermilk and many other high fat, high cholesterol items.
Inside the Golden Nugget is The Chart House with a huge and beautiful aquarium smack dab in the middle, and Vic and Anthony’s, a steak house that will set you back $37.00 to $48.00 for a delicious piece of steak with no accompaniments. You must order them separately if you want a salad or even a potato.
Of course if you want something a little easier on the pocketbook, there is also a Denny’s, Starbucks, Coney Island Dogs and an International Food Court.
During the day time, there are many activities to keep you busy.
Shopping In Vegas
You can browse in gift shops, ABC convenience/tourist shops, and a Native American store which sells actual authentic Native American jewelry and others crafts as well as the basic Las Vegas souvenirs. There’s a Walgreens right in the middle if you forgot some necessities. There are plenty of vendor carts on the sides of the walkway, which carry everything from leather purses to flowing blouses, scarves, and other accessories.
Street Artists & Entertainers
People can stop and watch artists at work, or catch a magic show or have their picture taken with some of the buskers dressed as a variety of characters. Last year one could have their picture taken with Minnie Mouse and Dora the Explorer, or the guy with just a cowboy hat, boots and a skimpy thong on. Yes, you did read that right, and he was back again this year, along with Bat Man and Cat Woman.
Each time you have your picture taken with someone, they expect a tip so a buck or two will do. At night, there are more characters that arrive, including girls dressed in traditional Las Vegas showgirl outfits which definitely don’t leave much to the imagination, and are very popular with tourists.
Editor’s Note: These street entertainers are not paid employees of the local businesses. Rather, most of them pay out of pocket to fly in from around the country to work the streets for nothing but tips, so yes…tips are very appreciated! 🙂
Pawn Stars: The Toy Shack
One of the most exciting discoveries I came across this year was that the expert toy consultant for the television show Pawn Stars now has his shop based in The Fremont Experience. It’s called The Toy Shack and is tucked in an alley behind the International Food Court but is a goldmine of vintage toys that amazed me. By the time I was done browsing the many toys there, I was kicking myself for all of my old toys and those of my children that went in the dump or were sold at yard sales.
I saw a Princess Diana and Prince Charles doll in full wedding regalia, each worth $500, and My Little Pony dolls going for $35 each, and Barbie dolls from the 1960s going for $35 to $50 each. It was a fun and enlightening experience visiting with old toys I haven’t seen in years and learning their current value.
Here’s a picture of the front of the store, with a sign on the left indicating its connection to Pawn Stars.
Zip Lining Over Vegas
When you are done eating and shopping, you may want to take a ride on the newest thrill at the Fremont Street Experience: The Slotzilla Zipline. You have two zip line choices if you are brave enough to give it a try. Both zip lines run from a slot machine designed tower.
Zoomline – $40
The higher line is called the Zoomline and is over ten stories high and glides directly over the Fremont Street Experience. Riders actually are in a prone position and can feel as though they are actually flying over all of the people below. It runs from one end of the mall to the other which is a distance of just over seventeen hundred feet. This ride costs $40.
The Zipline – $20
The lower zip line, called The Zipline on which riders are sitting up, costs only twenty dollars and is seventy seven feet high and only runs half the length of the mall. Either way, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly high over Vegas. The picture shows the slot machine tower and the zip lines leading out of it and going directly over the pedestrian area.
The Highlight of The Fremont Street Experience: Viva Vision
The highlight of the five block area of The Fremont Street Experience is the light show on the “Viva Vision” Screen which is ninety feet wide and fifteen hundred feet long, curving over and covering the top of most of the whole pedestrian mall. At night is when the Fremont Street Experience really comes alive, and although there is more musical entertainment and more people in costumes for visitors to pose with, the magic happens when you look up.
Every night, year round starting at dusk and running every hour until midnight, there is a fantastic light show that lasts six minutes and is accompanied by rock music from the likes of legendary rock bands that include The Who, Heart, The Doors and Bon Jovi. The lights are bright with different patterns of hearts or bull’s eyes appearing and disappearing on the screen, along with the faces of the bands playing the music. Each show is a little different in terms of the music that accompanies it, but the light show is fun and bright and gives you six minutes of amazement.
At right: my husband and I under the light show dome but in between shows. You can see how bright the lights are from the picture.
A Treat For All Your Senses
Once the show is over, you can feel free to browse the shops, play at the casinos, take a ride on the zip line, dance in the streets to the music on n of the three stages, or wrap your arm around a Vegas Show girl as you pose for a picture. If you take a trip to Las Vegas, make sure to spend an afternoon or evening at The Fremont Street Experience to get a taste of old Las Vegas and a treat for all of your senses.