Fremont Experience & Beyond

Nevada, Las Vegas Guide (A): Fremont Experience & Beyond

Tour the “best attractions” downtown Las Vegas has to offer. We start in Glitter Gulch at the Fremont Street Experience. We then explore Las Vegas Boulevard's diverse business community and Wedding Chapel Row. Mid-tour, we visit the new Art's District, the Gambler's General Store, and end at four of the city's newest and most impressive architectural statements. This guide complements the "Las Vegas Strip - South, Midtown, and North," guides.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Fremont Experience & Beyond
Guide Location: USA » Las Vegas
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.4 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Golden Gate Hotel and Casino   Fremont Street Experience   Glitter Gulch Hotels   East Fremont Street District   Las Vegas Blvd and Civic Center   Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel   The New Art District   Gambler's General Store   The Smith Center for Performing Arts   Lou Revo Center for Brain Health   World Market Center  
Author: Scott Weber
Author Bio: Scott is a longtime native of the Southwest and loves to write about his travels and adventures every chance he gets.
1
Golden Gate Hotel and Casino

1) Golden Gate Hotel and Casino

This corner is where Las Vegas got its start and has probably seen more changes in the city’s diverse history than any other spot in town. This 3-story brick and mortar structure at the corner of Main and Fremont was built in 1906, originally opened as the Hotel Nevada, and is the oldest hotel in Las Vegas. In the early days it was considered a “first-class” hotel because of the large 10-foot by 10-foot rooms, electric lighting, and ventilation. The rooms are still the same size and much of the original woodwork, coffered ceilings, and tile work is still not only visible, but in full operation. The Golden Gate was also the first business in town to have a telephone, and of course you asked the operator to be connected to number “1” when you wanted to book a room. Still miniature compared to the rest of Las Vegas’ ever-expanding mega-resorts, the Golden Gate has 106 rooms, a 10,000 square foot casino, an old style restaurant with the world’s best home cooked pies, and throughout the years they’ve been known for the best shrimp cocktail in town. Although the hotel only rates 2-3 stars in most of the travel guides, price, location, and charm make this a classic. And best of all, their parking lot is only 50 feet from the front desk. Bingo!
2
Fremont Street Experience

2) Fremont Street Experience

The Fremont Street Experience is 4 blocks long, has a multitude of vendors, artists, musicians, and street performers, and at night the 3 block-long, barrel-like canopy erupts into a concert of music and lights. The original canopy had 2.1 million incandescent lights, but with the newest overhaul, 12 million LED lights sync with 220 speakers, powered by one-half a million watts of amplification to bring an audio-visual experience like nothing else on earth. It is something you must see. Because mega resort hotels were sprouting up on the Strip and stealing all the business, the Fremont Street Experience was conceived in 1990 by a coalition of downtown hotel owners to bring tourists and hopefully their money back to the depressed downtown area. Construction began in late 1994. Fremont Street was permanently closed to traffic, the place was paved with concrete, and huge towers were constructed to support the canopy. On New Year’s Eve, 1995, the mall was alive and rocking. Today, the Fremont Street Experience attracts millions of visitors each year and should be on everyone’s list of places to see while in Las Vegas.
3
Glitter Gulch Hotels

3) Glitter Gulch Hotels

Glitter Gulch was the name given to describe this area in the early years and dates back to when Hoover Dam was being built. Although gambling and alcohol were illegal when construction began in 1931, it didn’t take a genius to see that the 22,000 men working on the dam would need a place to, let’s say, “recreate.” The ban on gambling was immediately lifted and hotels up and down Fremont Street scampered to cash in on the windfall coming their way. And when prohibition was lifted a year later, Las Vegas never looked back. "Vegas Vic," the neon cowboy smoking a cigarette, still embodies Las Vegas’ “Pioneer” spirit. Across the street is the Golden Goose Club and the “Girls of Glitter Gulch,” a topless club I’d like to say pays homage to the burlesque shows of old, but it’s really just a strip club. A few yards away is the most popular hotel on Fremont, the 2,345-room Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. The Golden Nugget was built in 1946 and is still an iconic Las Vegas landmark. Across from the Golden Nugget is Binion’s Hotel and Casino. Binion’s most recently came to notoriety for hosting the original World Series of Poker Championships, but early in the century, financial problems forced them to sell, and Harrah’s cashed in on the skyrocketing wave of poker interest. As you move down the street you’ll pass several relative newcomers to the scene, Sam Boyd’s Fremont, the Four Queens, and Fitzgerald’s Hotels and Casinos.
4
East Fremont Street District

4) East Fremont Street District

In another attempt to bolster the downtown economy and clean up some of the seedier neighborhoods, the city of Las Vegas set off to create an entertainment district in the heart of downtown called Fremont East. It’s taken a while for the changes to take place, but with plenty of incentives offered by the city, each year the district improves. Take a stroll down the street and you’ll be treated to many unique cafes, piano bars, tattoo parlors, as well as several gift shops. At the end of the block is the 364-room El Cortez Hotel. Built in 1941, this was the first major resort hotel built downtown and was a stepping stone for Bugsy Seigel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum, and Moe Sedway on their quest to gain control of Las Vegas’ gaming enterprises. The hotel hasn’t changed too much, so take a peek at some old Vegas charm.
5
Las Vegas Blvd and Civic Center

5) Las Vegas Blvd and Civic Center

Although the “Strip” is just one section of Las Vegas Boulevard, this section is where the workings of the city take place. And there’s no limit on what can and can’t happen here. As you walk down the street, there’s everything from soup to nuts. The historic Las Vegas Grammar School is the hub of what I’ll be describing so let’s start here. The school, also known as the Fifth Street School, was built in 1936; a year after Hoover Dam was completed. The classic Mission Architectural style has gone through an extensive $9 million renovation and the school is now used for State and City special art’s programs. The building you just passed is the Federal Courthouse and across the street is the Federal Building. The buildings behind the school, houses city hall and the city and state courthouses. You may remember that’s where O.J. Simpson was convicted of numerous felonies. And as you’ve probably noticed, there are countless pawnshops, adult novelty shops, tattoo parlors, wedding chapels, law offices, and high-rise office buildings.
Image by public domain under Creative Commons License.
6
Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

6) Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

If you’ve been waiting to say, “I do,” there is probably no better place to exchange your vows than at the Viva Las Vegas Wedding Chapel, although I’m sure each of the six or seven chapels you just passed might disagree. I’d have to rate this Chapel in the upper echelon of matrimonial behemoths. They are not only equipped with 3 wedding chapels with hundreds of theme options, you can get married in the gazebo, or take a helicopter to the grand canyon to tie the knot. And of course, what wedding isn’t complete without a visit from the “King,” himself. Choose from any number of themed weddings and while you’re at it, take advantage of all their services. They offer in-house: reception areas, tux and dress shops, photo services, flowers, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and they’ll even make arrangements for your honeymoon. And if your friends and in-laws can’t make it to the ceremony, they will even stream it live on the Internet. Imagine watching your mother marry for the fourth time while you luxuriate at some tropical beach while her vows are streamed to your iphone! Welcome to full-service matrimony. Now, as far as love, commitment, and trust, you’ll have to provide those yourself.
7
The New Art District

7) The New Art District

Beginning in the late 1990’s, Las Vegas, like every major city in the Southwest, grew in leaps and bounds and although new neighborhoods sprouted up all over the Las Vegas valley, any semblance of culture beyond what the mega-resorts were willing to offer up were pretty much non-existent. This area of downtown was chosen to reflect Las Vegas’ burgeoning cultural renaissance in everything from fine arts, performing arts, and cultural arts. The rate of transformation of these neighborhoods is snowballing so quickly, the downtown will likely be completely revitalized in the next 20 years. As you walk along Charleston Blvd. you’ll be treated to some of the best urban murals, sculpture, and gallery art. On the first Friday of every month, the downtown community hosts a huge open house which often brings upwards of ten thousand attendees to enjoy the best of what they have to offer.
8
Gambler's General Store

8) Gambler's General Store

Long an icon on Main Street, the Gambler’s General Store has anything and everything pertaining to the art of gambling, be they for amateur or professional use. Touted as the world’s largest gambling superstore you’ll find antique slot machines, dice, cards, poker chips, blackjack felt, craps felt, posters, books and the list goes on. In fact, I had no idea that there were so many items in existence relating to the pursuit of winning. If you have a passing fancy go on in, it’s a really fun place to shop. The only thing they don’t sell is luck. You’ll have to get that on your own.
9
The Smith Center for Performing Arts

9) The Smith Center for Performing Arts

Welcome to one of my favorite areas of Las Vegas. This is where we'll find some of the most innovative and brilliant architectural structures in the city. Building on the need to provide quality spaces for the performing arts, the Smith Center will house 3 theaters, 2 education and workshop facilities, and a real bell tower. The Carillon Tower is 16 stories high, will house a 4 octave carillon, and have 46 bronze bells that will chime throughout the day. Reynolds Hall, a 2050-seat state of the art theater that will host the best theater and performing acts touring the nation. Housed in Boman Pavillion, are two theaters and an instructional facility. The 200-seat Studio Theater will be use for rehearsals, small productions, and private events. The 300-seat Cabaret Theater will ideally be used for music recitals, jazz concerts, and other smaller-scale productions. And the 58,000 square foot Discovery Children’s Museum will continue with the education theme and offer fun a variety of displays. This center has been a long time coming and is expected to open in 2012.
10
Lou Revo Center for Brain Health

10) Lou Revo Center for Brain Health

This crazy looking building is the Lou Revo Center for Brain Health. I’m not sure if my brain is going to look like this after my treatment, or maybe it looks like this now; I’ll let you be the judge of that. But here we are. The world famous architect Frank Gehry designed this really playful structure and quite frankly, it’s just fun to look at. The center started in 2007 and was completed in 2010. On closer inspection, you’ll see that the molded stainless steel façade is really just a shell. But what a shell it is. The center has roughly 65,000 square feet of space and is dedicated to become a national resource for the most current research for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. Presently the center operates as an outpatient facility with 13 examination rooms. It also has an auditorium, and a “Museum of the Mind.” Whether you like the building or not, the center has had major support from the Las Vegas community and they’ve raised well over $20 million dollars in their first 3 years. For more information or if you’d like make a donation, go on in. I’m sure they’ll be glad to help you out.
11
World Market Center

11) World Market Center

This is one of my favorite buildings to look at in Las Vegas, maybe anywhere. There’s something about the colors and the way that big silver half-disk lays across the front of the building. In fact all the buildings at this intersection are especially attractive. This 5 million square foot development, designed by Jon Jerde, is the largest furniture wholesale showroom in the world. The plan is to build eight buildings, but so far only three have been completed. The first building, the one with the semi-disk was completed in 2005 and the first big furniture exposition was so overbooked, they had to build huge tent-like pavilions to fit the rest of the vendors. The second building, the dark cube with the grey wings opened in 2007. And building 3, the odd shaped building, was completed in 2006. Although there have been plans to open the center to the general public, as of 2010 nothing has changed.

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