Downtown Vegas: Old School Sexy
Leah Walker February 21, 2013

There is no doubt that the Las Vegas strip is appealing in a French-speaking-Bradley-Cooper-sort-of-way. Its lights are beautiful, over-the-top, and beg to be ogled over. It’s easy to love the Strip’s grand architecture and mind-boggling creativity. Yep, Bradley Cooper the Strip is sexy.

But what about the oft-forgotten Downtown Las Vegas? It’s sexy too, in a gritty, dangerous-sort-of-way. If the strip is Bradley Cooper, then Downtown is Collin Farrell. It drinks to excess, smokes like a chimney, drops the F-bomb regularly, and has lots of random sex. Downtown is the place your mother warned you about. But is it really? After all, if Collin Farrell can go to rehab and straighten up his act, why can’t Downtown Las Vegas?

I must admit that I was seduced by Bradley Cooper the Strip and its fake New York skyline and explosive pirate show; its Eiffel Tower is the closest to Paris I’ve gotten. The giant pyramid and dancing fountains are marvels. And despite all the celebrity chefs’ restaurants and Cirque shows, I keep finding myself in the arms of Collin Farrell Downtown.

Freemont street experience


Original Vegas has mostly been white washed, but Downtown sticks to its roots. Downtown is a place for the everyman; there is no pretense here. It’s a place where street performers are treated like stars and velvet ropes are absent. Reservations aren’t needed for dinner and comps are relatively easy to come by. Cabs aren’t necessary to visit another casino and history is alive and well.

In 1906, the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino opened in Downtown, making it the oldest in Vegas. You can still find a room and a game there. Vegas Vic, Fremont Street’s giant neon cowboy, is the world’s largest mechanical neon sign. The Fremont Street Experience, a five-block entertainment complex, features the world’s largest video screen. It spans 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide, and is suspended 90 feet above a pedestrian walkway. Every hour on the hour from dusk till midnight, the screen’s 12.5 million LED lights and 550,000-watt sound system comes alive showing one-of-a-kind light and sound shows. And in a town where entertainment costs a bundle, Fremont Street regularly offers free concerts.

Freemont street lit up!


Maybe it’s the fact that Downtown works so hard for my adoration that makes me love it so. Perhaps it’s that the Golden Nugget comps my rooms, food, and even gives me gambling money. I’m not sure, but I do know that Downtown is imperfectly perfect. You’re not going to find this unique atmosphere on any online casino, riverboat casino, or the Strip, a fact that makes me happy.

Fremont Street Golden Nugget


I love the clouds of smoke that billow out of Binion’s and the worn felts at the Four Queens. I giggle when I see a waitress at Mermaid’s smoking a joint in the corner. I shake my head at the drunk, homeless person who runs through Fitzgerald’s screaming Bible verses. There is a distinct cast of characters that roam Fremont Street, and although the faces change, the vibe does not. And that vibe is what keeps me coming back, ready to throw down my hard-earned money at the blackjack table. Hints of vintage Vegas are found everywhere in downtown. This is how it should be, so Steve Wynn, Harrah’s, and MGM, keep your grubby effing hands off Collin Farrell Downtown. It’s perfect just the way it is.

Featured Photo: Taramisu


Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for four years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.


  1. Well, it’s not the strip, that’s for sure. I’m a gambler, so I don’t care for all the distractions on the strip. If you’re in to all the other things that Vegas offers, you probably don’t want to stay downtown. Next time you go, just spend an evening downtown to see what you think. It’s a trip. Thanks for reading.

  2. You captured downtown perfectly. Makes me want to jump on a plane, head west, throw down some money at Golden Nuggett, have an amazing breakfast at Binions, watch the light show everytime it comes on and watch some of the strangest sights one might ever see:~}

  3. I am waiting for Jet Blue’s $9 fare from Long Beach to Vegas, and then I am there! Last year was such fun! Already have an upgrade at The Wynne and tickets to one of their big shows…….. 😎 tick, tock…..

  4. They offered this fare, one day only to purchase, $9 each way from Long Beach to Vegas. Then you had a three week window for travel. Worked perfectly! Long Beach airport isn’t far at all from me. So that worked too. Only about 15 miles away.

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