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Downtown Las Vegas is now a place to stay, shop and play after a glitzy makeover

Trying to do the time warp in downtown Las Vegas is increasingly challenging. Many of the old, familiar and, yes, decaying landmarks are gone or barely recognizable after expensive face-lifts.

Here are a few recommendations about how to navigate the new downtown:

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The bed

A Queen Room in the Golden Gate.
A Queen Room in the Golden Gate. (Golden Gate Hotel)

The aged Lady Luck hotel and casino has morphed into the Downtown Grand.

Check out the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino opened in 1906 as the Hotel Nevada, with electric lights and steam-heat radiators among the conveniences. (Air conditioning came later.)  Now it's a midrange hotel.

For those seeking glitz on par with the Strip, consider the Golden Nugget, the first resort to get the Midas touch from casino mogul Steve Wynn.

The meal

Devil's eggs are just one of the many small plates available at Carson Kitchen, one of a number of new restaurants to open recently in downtown Las Vegas.
Devil's eggs are just one of the many small plates available at Carson Kitchen, one of a number of new restaurants to open recently in downtown Las Vegas. (Peter Haresty)

New (or newish) restaurants include Carson Kitchen, where the  small plates are ideal for sharing, but choosing may be difficult. Tasty options include bacon jam with baked brie and toasted baguette and  "devil's eggs" with caviar and crispy pancetta.

For breakfast, locals flock to an eatery called, well, Eat. Don't miss the cinnamon biscuits topped with fresh strawberry compote and the unique fried deviled eggs.

If you need a cocktail, head to Atomic Liquors. During the 1950s, people would grab a beer and head to the roof  of this bar to watch atomic bomb tests in the Nevada desert 65 miles away. Memorabilia includes two '60s-era Geiger counters wedged between bottles of Old Crow bourbon.

The find

A fire-blasting mantis at the entrance to Downtown Container Park helps light up the night.
A fire-blasting mantis at the entrance to Downtown Container Park helps light up the night. (Emily Wilson)

If shopping is your thing, head to the decidedly funky Downtown Container Park, an assortment of boutique shops and restaurants inside re-purposed shipping containers. The play area is crowned with a multistory tree house and, after dark, a massive metal mantis breathes balls of fire at the entrance.

Miles one way from downtown L.A.

About 270

The Downtown Grand, formerly the Lady Luck, opened in 2013.
The Downtown Grand, formerly the Lady Luck, opened in 2013. (Irene Lechowitzky)

Resources

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Downtown Grand, www.downtowngrand.com; Golden Gate Hotel & Casino,  www.goldengatecasino.com; Golden Nugget,  www.goldennugget.com/LasVegas; Carson Kitchen, www.carsonkitchen.com; Eat, www.eatdtlv.com; Atomic Liquors, www.atomicvegas.com; Downtown Container Park, www.downtowncontainerpark.com.

Have an incredible road trip story or a useful tip? Share your memories and suggestions with us in the comments.

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