Downtown Walking Tour, Las Vegas

Downtown Walking Tour (Self Guided), Las Vegas

The historic center of Las Vegas, located just north of the famous Strip, was first developed in the early 1900s. Having grown rapidly during the 1930s, when gambling was legalized in Nevada, "Old Vegas" is home to many of the city's earliest casinos and hotels, such as the Golden Nugget and the El Cortez. The latter, in particular, offers a somewhat nostalgic and romanticized view of the past, when Las Vegas was still a small and intimate destination for gamblers and adventurers.

Downtown Vegas is also a must-visit area for anyone interested in the city's history and culture. The local Mob Museum is a fascinating place; it tells the story of organized crime in America and its impact on the city, offering a glimpse into the world of the mobsters who once ruled the local underworld.

Another excellent heritage spot is the Neon Museum, showcasing a collection of vintage neon signs that used to adorn Las Vegas's most iconic venues and are now preserved for future generations to enjoy. It is to these neon signs that Fremont Street owes its nickname, "Glitter Gulch". For many years, the western end of Fremont was the part of town most often used by filmmakers to display the glitz and glamour of Vegas.

Having explored the city's past, you may wish to enjoy the lively entertainment at the vibrant and exciting Fremont Street Experience and SlotZilla Zipline. For a more relaxed and family-friendly experience, head to the Downtown Container Park. This unique shopping and entertainment complex features a variety of boutique shops and restaurants housed in recycled shipping containers.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, they say. This well-known phrase is often used to describe the wild and unpredictable nature of Las Vegas, which is also true of its downtown area. It also suggests that you can let loose and indulge in your wildest fantasies here without fear of judgment or consequences.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Downtown Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Downtown Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Las Vegas (See other walking tours in Las Vegas)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Author: alice
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Neon Museum
  • Mob Museum
  • Fremont Street Experience
  • SlotZilla Zipline
  • El Cortez Hotel and Casino
  • Downtown Container Park
Neon Museum

1) Neon Museum

Las Vegas is famously characterized by its abundant display of neon signs. To truly immerse yourself in the essence of Sin City, there's no better way than to bask in the glow of its neon lights, which once adorned the facades of casinos, shops, and businesses. While most of these signs have transitioned to LED or LCD bulbs, those yearning for a glimpse of the olden days can venture to the Neon Museum.

Within this captivating museum, you'll discover a treasure trove of neon signs dating back to the 1930s, when the neon craze first took hold. The vast collection resides in the expansive two-acre outdoor space known as the Young Electric Sign Company Boneyard. Here, these signs patiently await restoration before being reintroduced to various locations throughout the city. With over 150 signs eagerly awaiting a new lease on life, the museum is a testament to the preservation of Las Vegas' luminous heritage.

If you can't make it to the actual museum, fret not, for some of these magnificent signs have found a home in and around the Fremont Street Experience. Among them, you'll encounter the iconic Hacienda Horse and Rider that once graced the Hacienda Hotel in 1967, the enchanting Aladdin's Lamp from the Aladdin Hotel in 1966, the timeless 1961 sign from the Flame Restaurant, the illuminating Nevada Hotel sign that first lit up in 1950, and the vibrant Dot's Flowers sign from a florist shop dating back to 1949.

These signs are more than mere decorative ornaments; they serve as visual narrators of Las Vegas' evolving times and evolving tastes, weaving together a vibrant tapestry of the city's captivating history.

Why You Should Visit:
To explore a part of Las Vegas's history in a fun way.

Especially exciting if visited at night.
The Tim Burton exhibit is particularly worth checking out.
Mob Museum

2) Mob Museum (must see)

The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, popularly known as The Mob Museum, is a dedicated institution that showcases the artifacts, narratives, and historical significance of organized crime in the United States. It also highlights the efforts and strategies employed by law enforcement to combat such criminal activities. Originally opened on February 14th, 2012, the museum finds its home in the former Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse, a building constructed in 1933 and presently recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

In April 2018, The Mob Museum unveiled a captivating addition to its premises known as The Underground Exhibit. Located in the basement, this fully operational speakeasy and distillery pays homage to the era of Prohibition with its Art Deco design and an array of authentic artifacts from the 1920s. It commemorates the bootleggers, rumrunners, and moonshiners who ingeniously supplied Americans with alcohol during the thirteen years of federal "dry" season. Among the remarkable features of The Underground is a specially crafted still used to produce in-house 100 proof, 100% corn moonshine, renowned for its authenticity and safety. Initially exclusive to The Underground, the Mob Museum's moonshine became available for purchase in 2019 through select Lee's Discount Liquor stores in the Las Vegas Valley.

Undoubtedly, the basement of the Mob Museum serves as an ideal setting for a speakeasy. The Underground facility offers 30-minute tours to visitors each day, commencing at 5 pm. To gain access, patrons must ring a bell and provide a secret password. Once inside, they can indulge in classic cocktails and moonshine while reveling in the ambiance of live jazz.

Why You Should Visit:
To explore artifacts from law enforcement's epic battle against the bad guys, to sample a variety of in-house distilled spirits (moonshine, vodka and the Jamaica ginger infusion), plus to receive an in-depth explanation of the distillery equipment and distillation process (Prohibition-era bootlegging and rum running), and to learn more about Prohibition and its impact on distilled spirits.

Consider adding the firearms simulator option, for it helps to learn more about how a police officer must be prepared to make a life/death split-second decision.
Fremont Street Experience

3) Fremont Street Experience (must see)

Located in downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) is an enticing pedestrian mall and popular attraction. Stretching across the westernmost five blocks of Fremont Street, it encompasses the renowned "Glitter Gulch" area as well as sections of adjacent streets.

Fremont Street boasts an impressive array of firsts in Las Vegas' history. It proudly held the city's inaugural hotel, the Hotel Nevada (now Golden Gate), which opened its doors in 1906. The street also witnessed the introduction of Las Vegas' first telephone in 1907, followed by its first paved street in 1925. It was here that the Northern Club, situated at 15 E. Fremont Street, was granted Nevada's inaugural gaming license.

Additionally, Fremont Street has seen many pioneering milestones: first traffic light, first elevator (at Apache Hotel in 1932), and first high-rise building (Fremont Hotel in 1956). The Horseshoe casino introduced carpeted floors, revolutionizing the industry, while the Golden Nugget was the first purpose-built casino.

At the heart of the Fremont Street Experience lies its central attraction - a 90-foot (27-meter) high barrel vault canopy, spanning approximately 1,375 feet (419 meters) across four blocks. Before each show, all lights in the area, including buildings and casinos, are briefly turned off under the canopy. A street is temporarily closed for safety reasons.

The FSE also hosts vibrant concerts on three stages, typically offered to visitors free of charge. Its allure as a premier tourist destination in downtown Las Vegas has been solidified, and it also plays host to the thrilling SlotZilla zip line attraction. Furthermore, the city's annual New Year's Eve celebration takes place at this extraordinary venue, featuring a captivating display of fireworks on the grand display screen.

Why You Should Visit:
Fremont Street is the pedestrian street of downtown Las Vegas, still hosting some of the original casinos.
The SlotZilla Zip Line, where you will fly over the mall, is a not-to-miss experience.

Try to find the free slot machines.
Although it is lively day and night, it gets more fun after dark.
SlotZilla Zipline

4) SlotZilla Zipline

Housed is an 11-story building resembling a slot machine, SlotZilla zip line is surely hard to miss. This is by far one of the coolest experiences in Vegas as it sends riders flying high above the Fremont Street Experience, day or night, for an overhead view of the entertainment district.

There are, in fact, two lines in operation: the lower zip – flying riders on a seated harness from 77 feet in the air, about seven stories up, for 850 feet, about half the length of the Fremont Street Experience; and the upper, horizontal Superman flying position launched from 114 feet, or 11 stories, up and spanning 1,700 feet, the length of the Fremont Street Experience. The former ride lasts about 30 seconds, while the latter is about one minute to complete.

Decorated with an over-sized dice, a martini glass, a pink flamingo, coins, video reels, a giant arm, and two 35-foot-tall showgirls, the $12-million structure took 14 months to build. The showgirls' replicas on its sides mimic the two real persons, Jennifer and Porsha. These girls often accompanied former Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a colorful individual, at numerous functions.

SlotZilla opened in 2014. Five years into operation, by August 2019 it had offered adventures to more than two million riders. Later that year, Viva Vision, the world’s largest single video screen – serving as the canopy for the six blocks of the Fremont Street Experience – went through a $32 million renovation to accommodate 3D graphic technology.

Obviously, the best time to enjoy SlotZilla is after dusk since the Fremont Street Experience is busier then and the experience of the Viva Vision light shows is more dramatic.
El Cortez Hotel and Casino

5) El Cortez Hotel and Casino

El Cortez, a casino-hotel property in Las Vegas, has been in operation since November 7, 1941, making it one of the city's oldest establishments that is still active. Situated near the Fremont Street Experience and Las Vegas Boulevard, it was initially considered a bit far from downtown. However, its success was swift and substantial, leading infamous mobsters Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Gus Greenbaum, and Moe Sedway to acquire it in 1945 for $600,000. Siegel himself gained valuable experience in running a casino business at El Cortez.

Despite the passing decades, El Cortez continues to thrive. The building predominantly showcases Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, but it underwent a modernization of its facade in 1952. Following subsequent renovations and revitalization efforts, the establishment added a new tower and a neon sign—an iconic art form that had fallen out of favor until recently, when certain hotels and businesses rediscovered its charm.

Recognizing its historical significance, El Cortez was officially included on the National Register of Historic Places on February 22, 2013.
Downtown Container Park

6) Downtown Container Park

Downtown Container Park is an open-air shopping and entertainment venue that is built out of 43 repurposed shipping containers and 41 locally manufactured Xtreme cubes. This innovative, artsy center features a whimsical world of 38 one-of-a-kind boutique shops, unique restaurants and bars making for a great respite in the sun with a drink. It also includes a stage for presentations and live music shows for the whole family. Kids will love its interactive playground featuring The Treehouse, an interactive play area featuring a 33-foot-tall slide, NEOS play system, oversized foam building blocks and much more. In the meantime adults can relax enjoying free concerts, movies, and more on the main stage.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by a 35-foot-tall praying mantis sculpture that shoots flames from its antennae. Food-wise, there’s something for everyone here, from gourmet quick service dining at Downtown Terrace to award winning beef jerky at JoJo’s Jerky.

The place is ideal for groups, much as for a nightcap since the bars are open later than other businesses in the container park. The place is a 21+ facility after 9 pm daily. IDs are to be presented at the gate.

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