“You’ve been to Las Vegas and you haven’t been to Fremont Street, you haven’t really been to Las Vegas, but only on the Las Vegas Strip.” I don’t remember where I read or heard that phrase, but I can’t say I disagree. Fremont Street, the beating heart of downtown Las Vegas, is the second most famous street in Las Vegas after the Strip, but not because of historical significance.
This road is as old as Las Vegas; it was founded in 1905 and was the first road in the city to be paved. The city’s first traffic light was installed right here in 1931, but its three lights weren’t the only ones to make history around here. In fact, Las Vegas was the first city in all of Nevada to have electricity, and Fremont Street benefited in a special way. Even today it is still called Glitter Gulch, in reference to the time when in 1937 it was “invaded” by lights thanks to the electricity generated by the nearby Hoover Dam. If you go there today, you will see that the nickname is still accurate!
Of course, the main attractions on Fremont Street are, as expected, casinos. They are not as gigantic and flashy as the ones on the Strip, but they have a longer history. In fact, the oldest casino in Las Vegas, the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, is right here. In this article, I want to give you some advice on the best things to do on Fremont Street, both the most commercial section (Fremont Street Experience) and the oldest (Fremont East).
- Main Street Station Hotel & Casino
- Things to do on Fremont Street
- Fremont East District and the Surrounding Area
- Walking Tour of Fremont Street
- How to Get to Fremont St and How to Get around
- Where to Stay near Fremont St
Main Street Station Hotel & Casino
Start your Fremont Street tour at the Main Street Station Hotel & Casino, which is not actually on Fremont Street. In fact, it is located at 200 N Main St, but as soon as you enter the hotel, you’ll feel like you’ve got the wrong address. In case you didn’t catch on by looking at the exterior, the whole hotel and gambling area is train-themed. The interior of the lobby and the gaming rooms have been built and embellished with details that will make you think you’re in a Victorian-style station. But that’s not the only reason to go to this hotel. If you’re not planning to gamble, you can take a look at the hotel’s curious collection of antiques, from the candlesticks of the Figaro Opera House in Paris to the bronze statue of a boar. Don’t forget to pop into the men’s room, where you’ll find… an authentic piece of the Berlin Wall.
Things to do on Fremont Street
Fremont Street Experience: that’s the name of the segment of Fremont Street between S Main Street to N 4 th St in Las Vegas. Here’s are the things to do at the Fremont Street Experience and suggestions for things to see:
After visiting Main Street Station, head to the intersection of Main Street and Fremont Street. Needless to say, when you get there you’ll immediately recognize it, especially if it’s nighttime. Near the beautiful, nostalgic sign of the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, a 1,476-ft-long gallery covered by a screen of over 12 million LED bulbs begins. This installation is called Viva Vision, and is one of the highlights of the Fremont Street Experience and the reason why it is still worthy of being called Glitter Gulch. On a daily basis, every hour from 6:00 pm to 1:00 am, there is a stratospheric 6-minute light show accompanied by songs by The Killers, Heart, Green Day, and others. You can also listen to the music being performed live, free of charge, at one of the three entertainment stages below the gallery.
Golden Gate Hotel & Casino
In addition to taking a nice picture of the entrance of the Fremont Street Experience, there’s not much else to see at the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, at least for those of you who have no interest in gambling. If, on the contrary, you do like gambling, then you can have the thrill of entering the first casino in Las Vegas and seeing the old slot machines. Moreover, its long history has seen it go through the dark times of Prohibition and the prohibition of gambling. From 1909 to 1933 the casino – when it was still called the Nevada Hotel – had to continue its activities clandestinely. The casino was later named Golden Gate in honor of investors in Oakland who helped bring the place back in vogue in 1955. Today, Golden Gate bartenders are highly regarded, so you should go have one of their cocktails as Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack did in the 1950s…without overdoing it, of course.
The Golden Gate’s sign is not the only vintage sign to pay homage to on Fremont Street. Just before the intersection with N 1th St, look up at the neon sign that has belonged to the Pioneer Club since 1951. It’s Cowboy Vic, the handsome winking cowboy, who until recently was “married” (for real! The ceremony was held in 1994) with Vegas Vickie, the seductive neon-cowgirl who since 1980 adorned the entrance of Glitter Gulch, the strip club across from the Pioneer Club. Unfortunately, Vegas Vickie was removed in 2017 when the club closed, but now she has found a new home at the Circa Resort. Cowboy Vic now runs a gift shop and there are several replicas of him in Nevada. You’ll also find him in Laughlin (Pioneer Hotel & Gambling Hall) and in Wendover Will.
Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino
The name of this casino has a fascinating backstory. In Wedderburn (Victoria), Australia, in 1980, Kevin Hillier found a 60 lb gold nugget with a metal detector. He called it the Hand of Faith. I’m no expert, but this might be the largest gold nugget in the world. Well, the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino bought the nugget for over a million dollars and kept it on display until 2014, the year it was lent to the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, under the condition that it would be brought back to Nevada after a few months. However, that promise was not kept and, as far as we know, the nugget remained in the Deep South, while in Las Vegas there is only a replica, just like in the hotels of the same name in Laughlin and Atlantic City. So why go and see or even stay overnight in the Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel & Casino? If the charming vintage setting is not enough to convince you, know that at the hotel there is a swimming pool with a slide that runs through a shark tank!
Binion’s Gambling Hall
Binion’s Gambling Hall is known for being the stage, from 1970 to 2004, of the World Series of Poker, one of the most famous poker tournaments in the world. The tournament games no longer take place here, but Binion’s remains home to many poker enthusiasts who find themselves playing in the hall. However, this is no longer the only reason why this place is famous. Did you know that here you can take a free photo in front of a $1 million cash pyramid? If you like the idea, you can go any day of the week between 9:00 am to 11:30 pm (you must be at least 21). Surely it’s not something you do every day!
Zip line Las Vegas: SlotZilla
Everyone in Vegas is a little crazy. I also gave you proof of that in the article about the crazy fun things to do in Las Vegas, but this activity is just as daring. Imagine flying off the world’s largest slot machine and whizzing through the air at over 65 ft in the air, right under the lights of the Fremont Street Experience. Well, you can actually do it! The SlotZilla Zip Line in Las Vegas allows you to “fly” along this stretch of road in two different positions: either suspended vertically at 79 ft (like a normal zipline) for 820 ft or horizontally at 115 ft (like Superman, for example), for 1,640 ft. The latter option, which is a bit more expensive, is called Zoomline.
If you are a fan of zip lines, you’ll be interested to know that there’s a second one in Las Vegas. The Fly LINQ will allow you to launch yourself into the air towards the highest Ferris wheel in the world. Click on this link to book your tickets for the Fly LINQ.
Heart Attack Grill
There are plenty of places to eat in Vegas, but this one… well, it’s quite unique! It’s hard to find the words to describe it, but I’ll try. Heart Attack Grill is a “fattening clinic” for skinny people that since 2005 has been carrying on an unlikely fight against anorexia. You won’t be a customer, but a patient, instead of waitresses, you’ll find nurses, instead of cooks you’ll find doctors, instead of a napkin around your neck, you’ll wear a gown, and instead of soup, you’ll eat a huge sandwich full of toppings (from 1 to 8 burgers, from 5 to 40 slices of bacon, while fries are fried in oil and lard!). And if you don’t finish your “healthy” meal to the last crumb, you’ll get spanked by the waitresses! Of course, this is fatty food at its max, but the concept of the place, the decor, and the atmosphere could alone be worth the price of dinner. Ah, if you weigh more than 350 lb, you eat for free. Maybe it means that you are “completely cured” and that you just have to set an example to others…
Fremont East District and the Surrounding Area
If the neon and hellish hustle and bustle of the Fremont Street Experience has tired you out, leave the zip line and Heart Attack Grill behind and walk through the Fremont East gate at the intersection of N Las Vegas Blvd. The Strip and Fremont Street Experience doesn’t reflect the old Vegas that first lit up the Mojave Desert. If you want to get an idea of what it was like, you have to come here. Instead of the light pollution of Viva Vision, you’ll see some vintage hotels and clubs with beautiful neon signs while discovering Oscar’s Martini Glass, Hacienda Horse and Rider, Ruby Slipper, and the Neon Showgirl. Among other things, you can also cross the Abbey Road crosswalk, like The Beatles.
More Attractions in Downtown Las Vegas
After 7th St, Fremont Street enters an area of downtown Las Vegas that has a little less to offer, but you will still find traces of the flashy style of Las Vegas. On 7th, you’ll find the huge fire-breathing mantis of Downtown Container Park, a shopping mall that also offers attractions for kids. We talked about the fire-breathing mantis, the beautiful Neon Museum, and other oddities around Fremont Street and other parts of downtown in our article about Nevada’s crazy attractions.
Walking Tour of Fremont Street
If the soul of Fremont Street intrigued you and you’d like to take a walk with a local guide to listen to the history of Old Vegas, I suggest you take a look at this 2-hour tour, during which you’ll see the attractions we mentioned in this article and much more!
How to Get to Fremont St and How to Get around
In our article about transportation in Las Vegas, we also gave some specific tips on how to get to Fremont Street (and downtown Las Vegas) by public transportation. You can read it by clicking on the link below:
Where to Stay near Fremont St
If this is your first time in Vegas, my advice is to check out one of the theme hotels on the Strip. But if you’ve already been to Sin City and would like to try a historic hotel on this side of Las Vegas, you could choose one of the hotels named in this article or get inspired by the list of hotels you can find at the link below.