Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is a quirky alternative to the Las Vegas Strip, with good gambling, a grittier vibe and a diverse collection of restaurants, bars and casinos. Downtown Las Vegas isn’t for everyone, but many locals and tourists enjoy it for the value, authenticity and lively atmosphere.

Neon Museum Rolls Out Signs for Expanded Boneyard

The Las Vegas Neon Museum has begun taking vintage signs out of storage to display them in a new part of its Neon Boneyard.

The Neon Museum recently demolished an adjacent building, expanding its relatively small footprint. The additional space is just .27 acres, but that’s a lot when measured in classic Las Vegas signs.

One of the signs is a truck-sized monster from the demolished Stardust.

Neon Museum Stardust

We miss you even more than our own youth and virility, Stardust.

The Neon Museum’s expansion will also feature a sign from the Riviera.

Neon Museum Riviera sign

Riviera closed on May 4, 2015, to make way for a super sexy parking lot.

It’s also expected the new space will have signs from the Las Vegas Club, Spearmint Rhino, Longhorn Casino, Opera House Gambling Club.

While we’ve never heard of the Polynesian casino, its sign is apparently one of the signs already on-site.

Neon Museum

We are blog, not a historian.

With a little digging, we found out more about the Polynesian. The Polynesian was one of the many incarnations of what is now the Hooters resort. Prior to becoming the Polynesian, it was the Howard Johnson Hotel, Paradise, 20th Century, Treasury and the Pacifica. It later became the Hotel San Remo.

We can’t wait to see what the Neon Museum has in store. We got a little riled up when we saw random Googie stars lying around the site.

Neon Museum Googie stars

Googie architecture and design flourished from the 1940s to the 1960s, at which time hippies ruined everything.

Fans of the Neon Museum will be happy to hear they’ll be bringing some vintage neon to The Strip for the first time. The Neon Museum is partnering with Fashion Show Mall, and will install a sign from the Red Barn at the shopping complex in June.

The signs at Fashion Show Mall will be swapped out every few months.

Red Barn neon sign

At one time, the Red Barn sign was on display at Fremont Street Experience. It left after becoming annoyed by those idiots beating on plastic buckets.

While we’re on the subject, the Red Barn opened in the late 1950s as an antique store at 1317 Tropicana Avenue. In the early ’60s, it was converted it into a bar. The bar became a favorite spot for the gay community in Las Vegas. The Red Barn closed in 1988.

You can learn more about the Neon Museum at the official site, and the museum’s expanded space should be completed and ready for viewing later this year.

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14 Sips of New, Cool and WTF in Downtown Las Vegas

Things move fast in Las Vegas, so we’ve carelessly slapped together a list of 14 new things happening in downtown Las Vegas to keep you in the loop.

Why 14 things? Well, it was originally 20, but in Sin City, the house always takes its vig. Or something.

1. Golden Gate Expansion

The expansion of the Golden Gate into the former La Bayou space is moving at a brisk pace. Note: Every great list of Las Vegas things begins with a security breach.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate is doing a lot with a little. La Bayou was a mere 25 feet wide and 130 feet deep.

It’s expected the new structure will be completed in August 2017 and will feature 100 new slot machines. Here’s an inside look at the expansion construction.

2. Pop-Up BBQ

Across Fremont Street from the Golden Gate, a new BBQ truck has taken up residence in a spot where two shops used to be. Find it between the closed Mermaids and Glitter Gulch strip club.

The shops were purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens for $13.5 million and the space will eventually be part of a new resort, currently referred to as 18 Fremont.

BBQ truck

There are only about four things on the menu. That means less time waffling, more time carnivoring.

It seems the BBQ truck idea is catching on, and the pop-up restaurant will be in place as demolition of the closed Las Vegas Club begins in Q3. Derek Stevens talks about his new resort on our podcast, so have a listen.

downtown Las Vegas

Fun fact: If some of the accessories look familiar, it’s because they’re from the closed Mermaids casino, right next door.

3. Pizza Rock Menus

Just when we thought Pizza Rock couldn’t get any better, it busts out some awesome new menus. Real album covers with real albums inside double as menus. Glorious.

Pizza Rock

Millennial translation: “Albums” were made of vinyl and people used them to listen to music back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

4. Fear the Walking Dead: Survival Attraction

Demolition and construction have begun on a new attraction at Fremont Street Experience. The new walk-through attraction, inspired by “Fear the Walking Dead,” will be a mixture of escape room, maze and interactive motion ride. Here’s a look at the space.

Fear the Walking Dead Survival

Given the zombie theme, think how much money they’d save by just leaving it like this and adding zombies.

The “Fear the Walking Dead: Survival” attraction will be near the base of the SlotZilla zip line tower and is expected to open in July 2017.

downtown Las Vegas

We actually work at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. If you can’t security breach at your own place of employment, where can you security breach?

5. SlotZilla Video Screens

The SlotZilla zip line tower got an upgrade to its video screens. The largest screen is 23 feet wide. Three others simulate the reels of a (wait for it) slot machine.

SlotZilla

Yes, we rode it, and we are not a heights person. Thank you, comedy-hypnotist Marc Savard.

Here’s a look at all the dudes it took to install the largest screen.

SlotZilla zip line

You should probably consider something a little smaller for your man cave.

6. Hennessey’s Pint Glass

The seemingly endless process of rebranding the “World’s Largest Pint Glass” at Hennessey’s Tavern continues. The glass will eventually transform into a mug touting Not Your Grandfather’s Root Beer, including the addition of a massive handle.

Hennessey's pint glass

This is the back of the pint glass. The front side is 85 feet tall. That’s a lot of head.

7. Inspire Bar Windows

A small tweak to the exterior of the street-level bar at Inspire Theater has opened up the space and lets guests experience the sights and sounds and occasional fragrances of Fremont Street.

Inspire lounge

It’s actually “Inspire Bar, Lounge and Theatre.” Yes, with the fancy spelling of “theatre.”

The bar is quite welcoming, and yes, they have Captain Morgan spiced rum, the best thing since the advent of sex on giant Ferris wheels. Allegedly.

Inspire bar

Inspire is at the corner of Fremont Street, Las Vegas Blvd. and Hipster Avenue.

8. Progress at The Vault

At long last, there’s activity at a new bar on Fremont East, The Vault. Previously, the space was home to a clothing store called Coterie. Not sure where things are on Fremont East? We did walking tour.

The Vault Fremont East

The Vault is located between the Griffin and Beauty Bar, which you have also never heard of.

Outside, not a security breach. Inside, security breach.

The Vault Fremont Street

The Vault could be the hottest new spot for gymnasts in Las Vegas, unless we’ve completely misread the meaning of “vault.”

9. Changes at Emergency Arts and Eureka

A mural-covered construction wall has come down at the Emergency Arts Building across the street from El Cortez. There’s a lot of activity inside the building’s bottom floor where a new restaurant, Eureka, is expected to open soon. The space used to be the Beat Coffeehouse. There will be a quiz.

Eureka Las Vegas

Eureka sure is taking its sweet time.

10. Stoned N Baked Closes

A tasty pizza shop inside the Downtown Container Park has closed. The owner says he sold the business, including the equipment and recipes, to the Downtown Project, with promises the shop would open again in some form.

Stoned N Baked

Recreational marijuana will be available for sale in Las Vegas on July 1, 2017. Missed it by that much.

11. ChillSpot Closes, Puffles On the Way

Also at the Container Park, a frozen pop store called ChillSpot (owned by the same folks as Stoned N Baked) has also closed. A new “gelato and waffles” shop, Puffles, will take over the space.

Puffles

Puffles cones use egg waffles which originated in Hong Kong, a city whose king once climbed the Empire State Building.

12. The Dome

In other Downtown Container Park news, The Dome has opened. The dome-shaped theater seats 25 people and offers five different shows (mostly music-driven and family fare) and one interactive shooting game.

The Dome Las Vegas

In “Logan’s Run,” people rose into the air and blew up as part of a ritual called Carrousel. Location: Dome.

13. Petting Zoo

You knew we’d get to the WTF, eventually. This one’s flown under the radar, but it seems there’s a petting zoo coming the the Downtown Project’s Learning Center space.

Friends of the Wild

We spend way too much time poking our nose into places we shouldn’t.

Friends of the Wild will be a “a non-profit educational animal facility,” and appears to be in the fundraising phase. We’ll keep an eye on this one.

Friends of the Wild

Las Vegas Zoo closed. Roos-N-More closed. Let’s get it right this time, please.

14. Bonanza Gift Shop Signs

Bonanza Gift Shop is sort of downtown. Well, the “World’s Largest Gift Shop” has finally gotten around to repairing its signs damaged by high winds in March 2017. And we’re using the word “repairing” very liberally here.

Bonanza Gift Shop

Being the world’s largest gift shop means there’s plenty of space to store all the WTF.

There are always new things going on in downtown Las Vegas. If you spot something new or notable, drop us a line.

Full disclosure: This blog’s day job is in the marketing department at Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions, especially the most idiotic, are entirely our own.

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Commissary Restaurant at Downtown Grand Closes, Converts to eSports Lounge

The long-struggling Commissary After Dark restaurant at the Downtown Grand resort has closed.

The space is still being used, however. The restaurant’s tables and chairs have been removed, and now the space has been reconfigured as the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Commissary

Out with the underperforming restaurant, in with the millennials playing first person shooters.

The eSports lounge could once be found in the former high limit slot room in the casino at Downtown Grand.

Moving the eSports lounge across the street makes some sense given the fact eSports tends to draw a younger crowd, but only those 21 and older can be in a casino. The move to the former Commissary space means another, even younger, crop of video game competitors and enthusiasts can join in the fun.

The Downtown Underground eSports Lounge hosts events and tournaments Fridays and Saturdays, 4:00 p.m. to midnight.

Downtown Underground eSports

For better or worse, everybody in Vegas is jumping on the eSports bandwagon, but Downtown Grand was way ahead of the pack.

You can stay abreast of all things eSports at Downtown Grand on the official Facebook page of the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Downtown Grand had big plans for Commissary After Dark when it opened, including using the space as a nightlife venue. In recent months, the restaurant had been reduced to serving coffee and snacks for a few hours each morning.

There are tons of great dining options in the immediate vicinity of the closed Commissary, including Freedom Beat inside Downtown Grand, the reliably excellent Triple George Grill and the incomparable, must-try Pizza Rock.

Who knows if eSports is going to be a thing for Las Vegas casinos. If it is, though, now it has a new place to be it. A thing, that is. Please try and keep up.

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Neon Museum Completes Demolition for Expansion

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Las Vegas Neon Museum announced it would be expanding to an adjoining lot.

Here’s what the site looked like as demolition commenced.

Neon Museum

Fun fact: If you hold the Neon Museum’s visitor center up to your ear, you can hear the ocean.

The neighboring building, the dilapidated L.A. Street Market, has already been removed, making way for an additional .27-acres of neon signs. That might not sound like a lot of space, but it will allow the Neon Museum to display 30-40 signs which have been in storage.

Here’s what the expansion space looks like now.

Neon Museum

The Neon Museum displays about 200 signs. That’s a lot. (We’ll wait.)

The signs are expected to include those from the Las Vegas Club, Spearmint Rhino, Longhorn Casino, Sahara Saloon, Opera House Saloon and Riviera.

Neon Museum

The Neon Museum was founded in 1996. Which is odd, since we didn’t even realize it was losted.

The Neon Museum expansion is happening due to a $425,000 grant from the City of Las Vegas.

Also planned for the new space is an open-air exhibit and events space.

Useless neon trivia: Neon was discovered after krypton and before xenon, and it’s the fifth most abundant element in the universe.

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The Nerd Nightclub Opens at Downtown’s Neonopolis

A new nightlife offering has opened at downtown’s Neonopolis, The Nerd.

The Nerd nightclub takes up residence in the former Drink & Drag space and offers bowling, pool and frosty beverages. No drag queens, but you’ll survive.

The Nerd nightclub

Fun fact: The stigma of being a nerd vanished about 15 minutes after Bill Gates made his first billion.

The Grand Opening of The Nerd was attended by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other tenants of Neonopolis, a shopping center that has struggled in the past, but which seems to be building momentum with new businesses like Fremont Arcade and an eSports arena.

The Nerd nightclub

You can keep your cornhole. We’ll opt for pool every time.

The Nerd is on the second floor of Neonopolis, and features a 12-lane bowling alley, four pool tables, a dance floor and DJ booth.

The Nerd nightclub

We hear The Nerd’s dance floor features go-go dancers on the weekend. Guess we have some further research to do.

So far, The Nerd feels a bit hastily put together. There’s no permanent signage to speak of, and while there’s a full bar, there’s no signature cocktail menu. During our visit on opening day, however, there was one specialty cocktail being served, the Carolyn Cosmopolitan (named after the mayor, of course), and it was delicious.

The Nerd nightclub

A certified panty-dropper cocktail. All due respect, Mayor Goodman.

If you’d like to make the Carolyn Cosmo at home: Grey Goose Le Citron vodka (2 oz.), Pama pomegranate liqueur (1 oz.), Cointreau orange-flavored liqueur (1 oz.), fresh lime and a splash of cranberry.

There’s no food currently being served at The Nerd, but that is likely to change in the future. (Related: We’ve heard a food truck may take up residence in the courtyard of Neonopolis, which would certainly help to satisfy our drunchies.)

In fact, The Nerd’s owner, Jonathan Borchetta, seems to have lots of plans in the works for the place. Some of the most ambitious are off-the-record for the time being, but stay tuned. Borchetta is also owner of the VooDoo Zipline at Rio Las Vegas.

The Nerd

Jonathan Borchetta receives a Proclamation from Mayor Goodman. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

Borchetta understands The Nerd is in a challenging location, but thinks the quirky theme and libations will win the day.

He’s also enticing customers with the promise of free bowling and pool. We’re sold.

The Nerd nightclub

Bowling continues to be one of the best ways to humiliate yourself in front of your friends.

Speaking of the nerdy theme, The Nerd has ample movie and TV memorabilia on display, will sell comic book and pop culture costumes for those into cosplay, and anyone wearing a costume will get half-price drinks.

The Nerd

We’re thinking “Breaking Bad.” There was a placard, but this blog is more of a drinker than a placard reader.

There are also classic video games throughout the venue, and those, too, are free to play.

The Nerd nightclub

Even if you’re wasted, you’ll be able to tell you’re at The Nerd.

We fell in love with the Drink & Drag space during its short run at Neonopolis and were sorry to see the establishment close. The Nerd has a lot of potential, and we look forward to seeing what’s next.

If The Nerd can tap into the gamer and Comic-Con crowds, while wooing the cool kids who frequent Gold Spike and Fremont East, it truly will be the revenge of the, well, you know.

The Nerd Nightclub at Neonopolis

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Neon Museum Receives Big-Ass Grant, Begins Demolition for Expansion

One of the best attractions in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum, has received a $425,000 grant for a major expansion.

With some additional cash in its coffers from the city of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum has acquired an adjoining .27-acre parcel, and demolition of the existing structure is under way.

Neon Museum expansion

Adios, gross building next to the Neon Museum’s awesome visitor center that also happens to have been the lobby of the historic La Concha Motel.

Demolition crews should make quick work of the building, the former L.A. Street Market, just south of the Neon Museum.

Here’s a better look at the whole shebang, a term we’re fairly sure hasn’t been used since 1961.

This is the first major expansion of the Neon Museum since it opened in 2012.

The expansion will allow the Neon Museum to display an additional 30-40 signs, currently in storage. The improvements will also include an open-air exhibit and events space. The Neon Museum expansion will be designed by SH Architecture.

Neon Museum expansion

Hey, architectural rendering dude, don’t leave a lovely lady on a bench all by her lonesome. Not cool.

The expansion will feature a covered patio canopied by a solar-paneled shade structure. Why one would need to power a shade structure, we have no idea. Then again we are a blog, not an architectural firm.

And let’s just say some of the signs in storage a fairly epic.

We captured this photo in an off-site storage area and it shows a huge section of one of the coolest Las Vegas casinos, ever, the Stardust. Yes, yes, there’s already a Stardust sign on display at the Neon Museum, but you can never have too many Googie stars.

Neon Museum storage

We told the folks at the Neon Museum we wouldn’t give away the location of this storage area, so this is all you’re getting.

Signs expected to make the migration from storage to public viewing are from the Las Vegas Club, Spearmint Rhino, Longhorn Casino, Sahara Saloon, Opera House Saloon and Riviera.

The Neon Museum is a nonprofit endeavor with more than 500 signs on display. The organization is dedicated to collecting and preserving iconic Las Vegas signs. And they occasionally let one slide that’s not particularly iconic. We’re looking at you, Spearmint Rhino sign.

As a nonprofit, the Neon Museum is often strapped for funding, so kudos to the City of Las Vegas for seeing the value of this invaluable treasure trove of Las Vegas history. Learn more about this must-do Las Vegas attraction.

The Neon Museum is expected to unveil it’s new space later this year, but it’s well worth visiting in the meantime.

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