Las Vegas: Places to Explore

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Downtown

With neon lights, single-deck blackjack, and a host of new attractions that spotlight yesteryear, old Vegas is alive and well Downtown.

This neighborhood revolves around Fremont Street, a covered pedestrian walkway through the heart of the Downtown gambling district. Originally, this attraction was nothing more than a place to stroll; today, however, the canopy sparkles with millions of lights, and outfitters have set up everything from zip lines to band shells on street level down beneath. Use Fremont Street to access resorts such as the Golden Nugget (our fave in this neighborhood), Four Queens, the Plaza Hotel & Casino, and others. Just be prepared for sensory overload.

Old is new again all over Downtown. The Mob Museum, which opened in February 2012, pays homage to Las Vegas's mafia years; the Smith Center, a world-class performing arts center that opened in March 2012, was designed to invoke the same art deco style that inspired the Hoover Dam. Both facilities are worth exploring (especially if there's a good concert at the Smith). Then, of course, there's the Neon Museum, where visitors can behold the glow of original Las Vegas neon signs.

Old casinos Downtown seem to announce renovations just about once a month, and Zappos.com is planning a move into the building formerly occupied by the city government. A vibrant arts and mixology scene has developed here, too—the "First Friday" walkabout celebrates local art and artists on the first Friday of every month, and a burgeoning Arts District attracts fans of the avant-garde from all over the world.

No visit to Downtown Vegas would be complete without a pilgrimage to one of the neighborhood's most lasting legacies: Luv-It Frozen Custard. Flavors here change regularly, but cinnamon and almond chip are mainstays in the rotation. Try some in a homemade waffle cone with chocolate sauce on top.

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