Downtown Container Park, a collection of shops and restaurants with a playground at its center, occupies a square block in Las Vegas.(Emily Wilson )
A fire-blasting mantis at the entrance to Downtown Container Park helps light up the night.(Emily Wilson )
The Downtown Grand, formerly the Lady Luck, opened in 2013.(Irene Lechowitzky )
The Golden Gate, which began as the Hotel Nevada in 1906, sits at the top of Fremont Street, once the city’s main drag.(Golden Gate Hotel )
An undated photo showing the early days of the Hotel Nevada. Now operated as the Golden Gate, it boasts memorabilia from Sin City’s history.(Golden Gate Hotel )
A Queen Room in the Golden Gate.(Golden Gate Hotel)
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 )
BluMarble repurposes booze bottles as home decor items such as these vases.(BluMarble)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.