A solo visitor from California, Kim, took our Downtown Walking Tour on a quiet Sunday. She was interested in art, especially street art, and she liked the fact that our tour looks at Las Vegas through a cultural lens.
The tour began on the steps of the Mob Museum that’s part of the Cultural Corridor, a museum district that also includes the Neon Museum, the Natural History Museum and Vegas Rancho, the historic ranch on which the city was founded (now the Old Mormon Fort State Park.) We stopped by the Downtown Grand Hotel and looked at some artworks of local artists commissioned by the hotel including a piece by Jerry Misko, inspired by neon signs. We trekked over to Fremont East, an entrepreneurial arts district, and checked out several murals in an alley created for the annual Life Is Beautiful Festival. At Container Park the famed Praying Mantis fire sculpture from Burning Man Festival was in slumber.
Heading over to the historic Fremont casino district, we passed the legendary El Cortez, the oldest operating casino in Las Vegas, and once owned by infamous mobster, Bugsy Seigel. At Casino Center & Fremont, the heart of Glitter Gulch, four famous casinos intersect for a perfect Las Vegas mid-century modern moment: 4 Queens, Golden Nugget, Binion’s, and Fremont Hotel.
Fact: there is more historic neon at this corner than any place else on the planet.
We paid our respects to Vegas Vic, the 50-foot-tall neon cowboy, the oldest sign Downtown – he turned 70 years old this year. We checked out the fabulous Victorian era Main Street Station Hotel, and it seemed to be a Wow! moment for Kim.
With cocktails in hand, we concluded the tour in the Golden Gate Hotel at Prohibition Bar, a place once frequented by the legendary Rat Pack, where we happily toasted the art and culture of Las Vegas.