The Fremont Street Experience is the name given to a section of Fremont Street located in downtown Las Vegas. These five blocks form an outdoor, shaded, pedestrian mall where visitors can enjoy a variety of entertainment options, including casinos, restaurants, and free shows. The Fremont Street Experience is in an area known for years as “Glitter Gulch” and is sometimes referred to as “Vintage Las Vegas.” It truly does have a vintage feel. A collection of restored casino and other business signs is turning Freemont Street into a Neon Museum Gallery and giving the area an iconic Vegas feel.

The casinos themselves are not generally as large as those on the more famous Strip, but they are classically decorated. Some of the casinos don’t just have a vintage feel, either; they actually are vintage. Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, for example, was built in 1906 and is considered Las Vegas’s most historic hotel and casino. Visitors who want to gamble can choose from over ten casinos either directly on the Fremont Street Experience or a couple of blocks north of it. In addition to gambling, of course, the casinos offer many other attractions.

Several of the casinos, including the Plaza and the Golden Nugget, offer shows. The Golden Nugget also has an extremely beautiful swimming pool adjacent to a 200,000 gallon shark tank. Guests can go down a water slide that actually goes through the shark tank in a transparent tube. People in need of a little luck should visit Fitzgeralds Casino and Hotel. This Irish-themed casino has a rare piece of the Blarney Stone from the Blarney Castle which was built in 1446 in Cork, Ireland. According to legend, people who kiss the Blarney Stone, part of the Blarney Castle, are blessed with the gift of gab (the ability to speak very well). Many visitors come to the site every year and hang upside-down in order to kiss the stone.

People who do not want to hang upside-down or kiss public exhibits will be happy to know that the legend changed a bit during its transfer to Las Vegas. People at Fitzgeralds simply rub the stone and expect good luck in return. The Fremont Street Experience also includes a variety of restaurants, many of which are located inside the various casinos. Visitors can opt for fine dining at Vic & Anthony’s (located in the Golden Nugget), fried twinkies at Mermaid’s Casino, or anything in between. Visitors can also quench their thirst at many frozen daiquiri bars, often featuring incredible prices, offering drinks for as little as 99 cents. Stores and kiosks provide varied shopping opportunities. The numerous kiosks offer souvenirs, jewelry, art, and even fortune telling.

Noteworthy among the larger stores is El Portal Indian Arts and Crafts, which sells everything from inexpensive trinkets to authentic headdresses and painted buffalo skulls. Be sure to check out the upstairs area, which has most of the upper end Native American items.

At night, visitors are treated to free hourly light and sound shows on Viva Vision, a huge canopy screen covering most of the Fremont Street Experience. Visitors can also enjoy live music and impressive stunts performed nightly at the various stages. The Fremont Street Experience downtown provides a lot of what people who visit Las Vegas come for, at typically less expensive prices than on the more extravagant Strip.

by Laurel Rustemeyer