Category Archives: Things to Do in Las Vegas

Lit eSports Arena Opens at Downtown’s Neonopolis

We should probably say it right up front: It might be called “eSports,” but it’s not sports. In sports, there’s activity involved.

ESports, on the other hand, is competitive gaming, featuring things like sitting, the polar opposite of sports. In this context, by the way, when we say “gaming,” we’re not talking about the casino kind (gambling), we’re talking about the millennial kind, involving videogames like Halo, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and others.

Now that we’ve provided some context, a new eSports arena has opened in downtown Las Vegas at the Neonopolis shopping complex. Let’s blast something to smitereens.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

Note: Millennials don’t use the term “smithereens.”

The eSports arena is called, wait for it, “thE Arena.” We are not kidding. In the news release for the arena (which we are fully committed to never calling “thE Arena” again), says, “The ‘E’ stands for eSports, the ‘A’ stands for ‘arena.'”

Which is adorable, you have to admit.

The 15,000-square-foot facility, in a part of Neonopolis formerly occupied by movie theaters, officially opened March 3, 2017. The arena hosted a three-day Halo tournament to launch the new venue.

The eSports arena consists of two spaces. One area is a 200-seat arena that looks a lot like a movie theater, but with a dozen screens of varying sizes rather than one large screen.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

It’s fun watching other people have fun, isn’t it? Just like porn, but with controllers.

The other area is the Main Hall, which can accommodate 900 people.

That area (pictured below) can hold up to 15 “player stations,” with each of those having space for 14 players.

eSports arena Neonopolis

The percentage of females taking part in eSports has skyrocketed in recent years. Specifically, to about 2%.

The facility boasts an Internet speed of a gigabit, whatever that might actually be.

Approximately three miles of CAT cables were required to make the venue tournament-ready. From what we can tell, “CAT” stands for “Category 5.” Some people capitalize “CAT” to make it sound more important. Let’s just say it’s an Ethernet thing, and that’s a lot of cable.

The eSports arena at Neonopolis is impressive and was bustling with activity during our visit. There’s already evidence eSports can draw big numbers of people to a venue. Thousands of people, for example, filled the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2016 for the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Finals.

eSports arena Las Vegas

Like we weren’t going to point out the fact we used “lit” in our headline ironically. Related: Get off our lawn.

Just about everyone in Las Vegas is hot to attract millennials, especially casinos, despite the fact millennials don’t seem all that into gambling.

For a long-struggling venue like Neonopolis, having large numbers of people in the building can presumably only help. A likely beneficiary of the new foot traffic, the Fremont Arcade, hasn’t seen any lift in business, but we did see a small group of gamers dining at Denny’s. From what we could tell, each ordered a glass of ice water, so there’s that.

Others brought their own water.

ESports millennials

Please join us in perpetuating a millennial stereotype, thanks.

We’re a big fan of new Las Vegas things, so we look forward to seeing the eSports arena flourish. Given the fact the Halo World Championship finals have a $1 million prize pool, we’re also excited to learn more about “containment protocol,” “orbital bombardments” and “Plasma Frag Rockets.”

Because while we may not personally get eSports, we are a huge fan of prize pools. In fact, if Megabucks isn’t careful, it might end up getting smithereened.

ESports Arena at Neonopolis

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Plaza Casino Gets Second Eye-Popping Mural

Downtown’s Plaza Hotel has yet another massive mural adorning its hotel tower, and this time the art veers toward the ominous.

We recently wrote about the Plaza’s first larger-than-life mural, Cultivate Harmony, by Shepard Fairey. The hotel’s second mural is by Dean Stockton, also known as D*Face.

Plaza mural Las Vegas

The new mural is reminiscent of the work of Roy Lichtenstein. We knew this liberal arts degree would come in handy someday.

The latest mural, “Behind Closed Doors,” has a bit of a story behind it. The image is apparently that of a woman who came to Las Vegas with her husband and her lover. She murdered her husband, leaving him in the desert. When she comes back to her room expecting to find her lover, she’s haunted by her dead husband instead. Read more.

While massive, “Behind Closed Doors” can be tricky to see from ground level. (It’s on the south side of the Plaza’s hotel tower.) One of the best views is from the hotel’s pool deck, complete with 16 pickleball courts, but we’ve got an even better one. We couldn’t resist. We love pop art.

The two Plaza murals join dozens of others throughout downtown Las Vegas, mainly thanks to the Life is Beautiful music festival.

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Park People at The Park Make for Irresistible Selfie Bait

The Park, a restaurant row between Monte Carlo and New York-New York on the Las Vegas Strip, has become a hub for public art.

Upping the selfie ante, The Park is currently playing host to Park People, a series of life-sized human figures fashioned entirely from Lego bricks.

Park People Las Vegas

“Lego” comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” or “play well.” A good fit for Las Vegas, actually.

The Park People series was created by Nathan Sawaya, and is said to “explore the conceptual and expressive potential of process driven forms of the human body.”

So, yeah, Lego people.

Here’s a little video we slapped together, mainly because video is the new reading. Or something.

httpvh://www.www.youtube.com/watch?v=_edlmJ_NG-0
More Lego people, please!

Park People Las Vegas

Dude, it’s Vegas. You might want to pick up some sunscreen.

Sawaya holds an intriguing distinction—he is said to own more Lego bricks than any other individual, with two million bricks in each of his two studios (one in L.A. and another in New York).

Park People Lego art

Yeah, he’s nude, but at least he’d modest.

During our recent visit, guests were cozying up to the  nine interactive figures, providing a memorable moment in Las Vegas for tourists and, as an added perk, great buzz for The Park.

Park People Lego art

Watch the hands.

According to the news release about Park People, the Lego figures are “situated curiously” on “elegant” wooden benches. There’s a reason “elegant” is in quotation marks. Mostly because they’re just benches.

Park People artwork

The plural of Lego is Lego.

Each Lego sculpture can take two to three weeks to build, and each Lego block must be glued into place.

Park People Lego

Pretty sure somebody’s going to be hearing from Blue Man Group’s lawyers.

The Park People exhibit ends Dec. 30, 2016, so if you’d like to see these Lego sculptures, you’d better step on it.

Because Lego. “Step on it.”

We’ll wait.

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15 New Things in Downtown Las Vegas Since Your Last Visit

We may spend a wee bit too much time in downtown Las Vegas, partially because we work there (at Fremont Street Experience), but also because we like our Vegas cheap, lucky and occasionally semi-nude.

There is some benefit to our chronic infatuation with downtown, however, as we’re uniquely qualified to share all that’s new in Glitter Gulch. Which we’re using generically to mean downtown, as the actual Glitter Gulch (the strip club) has closed. See? Things move fast downtown, so here’s what’s new since your last Vegas visit.

1. Turmeric Flavors of India

This new Indian restaurant is in an odd location, and completely worth finding. Turmeric Flavors of India sits across from the Downtown Container Park and serves up traditional flavors with a French presentation. A welcome addition to the downtown dining scene.

Turmeric Fremont Indian

Too pretty to eat? You’ll get past it.

2. Evel Pie

This throwback restaurant has a charming, relaxed vibe and delicious, cheap pizza. At Evel Pie on Fremont East, you can get a beer and slice for $5 at lunch, play classic arcade games and check out tons of Evel Knievel memorabilia. If you’re not sure where everything is on Fremont East, we’ve got this.

Evel Pie

There’s a happy hour, too, with $3 well drinks. Sold.

3. Freedom Beat at Downtown Grand

Out with Stewart + Ogden, in with Freedom Beat. It’s a music venue during the evenings, with a solid menu, including deep friend Twinkies, in case you’re craving them now that Mermaids has closed on Fremont Street.

Freedom Beat Downtown Grand

Freedom Beat’s menu was developed by Chef Scott Commings, season 12 winner of Gordon Ramsay’s reality TV hit, “Hell’s Kitchen.”

4. Wana Taco at Four Queens

Four Queens has rolled out a pop-up taco stand that suits the Fremont Street mojo (drunken revelry) to a tee. The tacos are quite satisfying, and the only downside is there are no beverages sold at Wana Taco. Thankfully, there’s an outdoor bar nearby. It’s Fremont Street, after all.

Wana Taco Four Queens

The tacos at Wana Taco are surprisingly good, about on par with the excellent Taqueria El Buen Pastor just across Fremont.

5. Redwood Steakhouse

This one isn’t entirely new, but it sure looks that way. Redwood Steakhouse at the California recently underwent a major renovation. New look, new menu and there’s an adjoining bar with a great happy hour.

Redwood at The Cal

Redwood Steakhouse features “handsomely detailed, carved-walnut pilasters.” We’re not taking the time to look up “pilasters,” so you’re on your own.

6. Holo Holo Bar

The Cal takes up three spots on this list of new downtown things, including the new Holo Holo bar. The Holo Holo bar takes the place of the hotel’s San Francisco Pub, as The Cal continues to hone in on its key customer base, visitors from Hawaii. Holo Holo means “Let’s go!” in Hawaiian slang. The drinks are cheap and the video poker is plentiful.

Holo Holo Bar at California

The Cal has spend millions renovating its rooms and casino, and we’re focused on a bar. Telling.

7. Cal’s Sports Book and Lounge

The California went all out for its new sports book and lounge. The venue is just off the main casino floor (replacing the tired second floor sports book), and has ample seating and hooch.

California sports book bar

We like it, despite the sports.

8. Fremont Arcade

This new diversion has breathed new life into Neonopolis, the much-maligned shopping center wherein Heart Attack Grill and Denny’s reside. Fremont Arcade has a number of rare and custom pinball machines, and it’s a great way to spend some time for a fraction of what it costs to gamble.

Fremont Arcade

Several of the limited edition pinball machines at Fremont Arcade cost $10,000 or more, so be gentle.

9. Neonopolis eSports Arena

We rolled our eyes when we heard an eSports Arena was opening at Neonopolis, but we stopped by during an event and it’s sort of a thing. Hundreds of people showed up to watch competitive video game playing. We’re still rolling our eyes, but that doesn’t make it any less a thing.

Neonopolis eSports Arena

Yes, there was even a girl.

10. Binion’s Charger Stations

Kudos to Binion’s, not exactly known for being particularly innovative, for installing phone charging jacks at every single chair at every one of its casino table games. You can’t have the phone on the table, but you can set it on your lap as you charge the device and play. There’s another, less pleasant thing at Binion’s, too, unfortunately. Binion’s (along with its sister casino, Four Queens) has converted pretty much all its blackjack games to 6-to-5. A true shocker given its hallowed history as a place that catered to gamblers.

Binion's charging station

Yes, at every seat. Bring your own cord, or they’re for sale in the gift shop.

11. Hennessey’s Pint Glass

For some time, Hennessey’s Pub has boasted what’s billed as the “World’s Largest Pint Glass.” When you visit again, however, that pint glass will look more like a mug. The pint is being rebranded to promote Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Progress has been slow, but it’s happening, and the structure will get a “handle” to complete the motif.

Hennessey's root beer

This isn’t the first time somebody’s taken a mug shot downtown.

12. Red

Red is a bit of a head-scratcher, but it’s new and it’s open! Red took over the space formerly occupied by Insert Coins, and it’s sort of a bar that aspires to be a nightclub, but without the pretense and $500 bottles of Gray Goose. Red had some trouble with its sign (it didn’t pass inspection), so most folks don’t even realize it’s there. If you stop in, feel free to dance like nobody’s watching, because from what we’ve seen, nobody is.

Red Fremont Street

The folks behind Red say a remodel is planned for 2017, and describe it as a “sports bar by day, nightclub by night.”

13. Coffee Stand at The D

We are not a coffee person, but apparently some people are really into it. The D recently opened a pop-up coffee stand that features Zingerman’s coffee, whatever that might actually be. The stand opens at 6:00 a.m. and is rolled away by noon each day. It’s located near the hotel’s registration desk, and here’s the full menu.

Coffee stand at The D

If you’re not a coffee person, the stand also serves iced drinks, expresso drinks, blended drinks and smoothies.

14. Big Rig Jig

This awesome art piece is a little like a human centipede but with trucks. Big Rig Jig is an eye-catching photo op, so if you’re feeling bold (it’s in a not-so-great area, but you’ll be fine during daylight hours), seek it out and behold a wonder of WTF. If you’re interested in more weird photo ops in Las Vegas, we’ve wrangled 25 of them.

Big Rig Jig

Big Rig Jig is located in the courtyard of the closed Fergusons Motel. Like that helps.

15. Eclipse Theaters

We’re not sure who was clamoring for a luxury movie theater downtown, but Eclipse Theaters has opened, anyway. Movies are $18 (stop clutching your chest, it’s embarrassing), but offers chef-catered meals, pre-assigned, reclining seats and hooch. If we’re paying $18 for a movie ticket, there had better be procedures in place to deal with idiots talking or using their phones, or we’ll be looking for a bail bondsman. Thankfully, the neighborhood is teeming with them.

Eclipse Theaters Las Vegas

We can’t wait to drink, eat and movie here, especially that first thing.

Oh, and here’s another something new in downtown Las Vegas. The Harley-Davidson retail store has closed. That’s not really the new part. The retail store has been emptied. Which still isn’t the new we’re talking about. What’s new is that by the next time you visit downtown, it is likely to have a new White Castle. No, really. The White Castle on Fremont Street is expected to open in early 2017.

Harley White Castle Fremont

The Harley-Davidson store has a sign that says, “Closed for renovations.” True, sorta.

That just about covers it. Las Vegas is always racking its brain to come up with newer and bigger and differenter. Which is possibly not a word, but Las Vegas doesn’t live by society’s rules.

If you stumble upon new things downtown, or on The Strip for that matter, we’d love to hear about them. Especially if they’re imbibable. Again, possibly not a word, but it certainly should be.

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Wheel of Misfortune is a Quirky Las Vegas Discovery

We’re always on the lookout for quirky attractions, offbeat photo ops and things to do in Las Vegas, and the Wheel of Misfortune certainly qualifies.

Back in 2012, a graffiti artist named Aware breached security at an abandoned mining site just outside Las Vegas. He and his crew painted a massive, Wheel of Fortune-style wheel.

Wheel of Misfortune

Come for the originality, stay for the misguided social commentary.

Most of the spaces in the wheel say $000, but others contain such upbeat messages as “Lose a Home,” “Lose a Job,” “Bank Owned” and “Lose All Hope.”

The artist reserved one space for himself. Here’s a closer look at this over-sized roadside curiosity.

The Wheel of Misfortune is holding up pretty well considering it’s been exposed to the elements for years.

The sheer magnitude of the work is impressive. The Wheel of Misfortune is about 250 feet wide.

Wheel of Misfortune

It took three days to paint the Wheel of Misfortune. Some people are really committed to the glass being half empty.

Here’s a look at the Wheel of Fortune being painted.

The Wheel of Misfortune was painted inside one of several abandoned “thickener” pits at the Three Kids Mine, operated from 1917 to 1961. The pits were used to “leach a processing pulp” in the production of manganese, whatever that might mean.

Wheel of Misfortune

Suggestions for the other six pits: Beach ball, clock, wagon wheel, Christmas ornament, pizza, casino chip.

The Wheel of Misfortune is on private property, and the site might be toxic, but that’s part of the fun of visiting to check it out.

The Wheel of Fortune is located just behind Laker Plaza and Lake Mead Boat Storage, just a few hundred feet past the entrance to Lake Las Vegas, off of Lake Mead Parkway.

If you’re up for an adventure, find Laker Plaza and the River Mountains Bicycle Shop, pictured below.

Wheel of Misfortune

The owners of the shop are no strangers to people seeking out the Wheel of Misfortune, so they charge $5 to park. Go, Capitalism.

As you exit the store, hang a right and go to the end of the paved parking lot. There, turn right toward the hills. There are no signs, so you’re on your own. Also, the path isn’t paved, but it’s an easy, two-minute stroll to the Wheel of Misfortune.

You can either take photos from a distance or climb the short wall and get into the pit for some selfie action.

Be sure to make some noise, as the pit has a sweet echo effect.

Wheel of Misfortune

Millennial for scale.

The Wheel of Misfortune may not be there forever, so if you’re curious, add it to your list of things to do in Las Vegas.

Of course, we would never encourage trespassing (probably) and don’t blame us if you get a brain tumor from traipsing across a field of manganese mining waste. Hey, some people take manganese as a supplement, so for all you know, you could come out of this with not only epic Instagram photos but also stronger bones and more regular menstrual cycles.

Your results may vary, tumorwise.

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Las Vegas NHL Team Named at Last: Vegas Golden Knights

After what feels like years of speculation, Vegas Golden Knights has been chosen as the name of Sin City’s NHL franchise.

Here’s the team’s new logo.

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas Golden Knights, you’ll be hearing from Magneto’s lawyers.

We don’t exactly know what to make of the Vegas Golden Knights name, other than the fact it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Las Vegas.

The team’s name is a nod to the alma mater of its owner, Bill Foley, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point. The school’s athletic teams are called the Army Black Knights.

The team’s management made up a bunch of clever reasons justifying both the name of the team and its logo. Something about “defenders of the realm” and “the elite warrior class” and “massaging the narrative.”

We tried massaging the narrative a few times, but found the cost of waxing our palms to be prohibitive.

The team has a secondary logo inspired by the star that sits atop the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign designed by the immortal Betty Willis.

Vegas Golden Knights

“We are proud of the team of high school graphic arts students who spent upwards of 20 minutes developing this secondary logo,” said team representatives.

The Vegas Golden Knights will be the first major professional sports team in Las Vegas, and the NHL’s first expansion team since 2000.

If the Golden Knights name sounds familiar, it could be you attended Clarkson College in Potsdam, New York. The school uses the Golden Knights name as well.

Vegas Golden Knights

Silver Knights and Desert Knights were also in the running for the NHL’s 31st franchise, but Vegas Golden Knights ended up storming the castle. Or something.

The Vegas Golden Knights will hit the ice, or whatever it is hockey teams do in addition to punching each other repeatedly in the face, at the 17,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in the 2017-18 season.

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