1131 S. Main St., Downtown
This off-the-beaten-path shop is home to tons of vintage homewares and a solid collection of mid-century antiques. It’s the kind of collection that feels like a labor of love, with furniture and art pieces that have been sourced from antique auctions to local garage sales.
707 Fremont St., Downtown
This open-air shopping center, built entirely from stacked shipping containers, was the first major step towards the revitalization of the downtown neighborhood. There’s a playground for kiddos in the center (careful with young ones—the slide is really long) and most of the stores are focused on local wares, like art and jewelry. The food options run the gamut from sit-down restaurants to frozen yogurt and hot dogs.
Luv-It Frozen Custard
505 E. Oakey Blvd., Downtown
With more than 30 years of experience and legions of loyal locals to back it up, this Vegas standby is known for churning out some of the best old-fashioned frozen custard in the state. The cash-only walk-up counter is in a somewhat out-of-the-way part of town and usually has a bit of a wait, but don’t let that deter you—the creamy sundaes (hot apple walnut is unreal), thick milkshakes, and floats are well worth the wait.
707 Carson St., Downtown
Eat is an unpretentious breakfast and lunch joint run by chef Natalie Young that has one of the best brunches in Las Vegas. While it feels super mom and pop, it's also quite hip, with an exposed ceiling and hodge podge of colorful chairs. The hard part? Choosing whether to order breakfast (eggs served all day) or lunch.
124 S. 6th St., Downtown
You'll find farm-to-table comfort food at this very un-average downtown restaurant opened by the late chef Kerry Simon. The menu revolved around share plates like wok-charred edamame; sandwiches like secret Sunday chicken with spicy aioli, and mains like black rice and oxtail risotto. The beverage menu is also enticing—from IPAs, reds and whites, to original cocktails best sipped on Carson Kitchen's outdoor patio.
523 Fremont St., Downtown
This downtown spot (you’ll know it by the marquee sign with an arrow) is a local go-to for good Thai food. It’s arguably the best option in town for pad thai, but the real must-order dish is the short rib fried rice. Chef/owner Dan Coughlin is a bit of a trailblazer; this is one of the first really good, updated restaurants the downtown neighborhood, which is in the early stages of revitalization.
Siegel’s 1941 at the El Cortez
600 E. Fremont St., Downtown
This new-ish spot in the El Cortez is part of the older, Downtown section of town and serves what’s probably the best matzoh ball soup in Vegas. The name pays tribute to Bugsy Siegel, the Jewish mobster who played a major role in the development of Vegas—1941 refers to the year the El Cortez opened. The restaurant is open 24-hours (a strange rarity, considering the late hours most people keep in this town), and the menu is nicely diverse—try the corned beef hash, the waffles, or the steak and eggs.
770 Las Vegas Boulevard N., Downtown
This outdoor museum has an amazing collection of neon, including the original Moulin Rouge sign, the Stardust sign, and the Golden Nugget, which dates back to the 1940s. Since the museum has neon dating from the 1930s through the present, it’s a fascinating way to learn about the history of the city. Visitors are required to take a guided tour, so it's helpful to book in advance (even if they’re sold out online, they usually hold a few tickets for walk-ins). And while it's tempting for obvious reasons to visit at night, the deserted, vintage feel makes the place just as interesting during the day.
1228 S. Casino Ctr., Downtown
The historic downtown is having a bit of a renaissance right now, in part because of committed investment from Zappos executives (the company is based in L.V.), who acquired First Fridays– a street festival that takes place on the first Friday of every month–from its original founders, Cindy Funkhouser, Naomi Arin, and Julie Brewer. The festival is focused on art and food, with local vendors of both kinds lining the streets in huge numbers. It’s a great way to get a feel for the local art scene, which is much more accessible than what you’ll find at the overly formal galleries on the strip.
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