What’s up with downtown: One rainy day on Fremont Street


Las Vegas Rocks Cafe at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to venture downtown on a rainy day.

True the Fremont Street Experience is covered by a Viva Vision canopy, and said canopy towers 90 feet above Fremont Street spanning the length of five football fields with more than 12 million LED lights.

Also true, the Viva Vision canopy is by no means rain proof. It’s actually more of an open grid than a canopy. I guess I just never really looked at it very closely, apart from watching the Viva Vision light show.

Note to self: Next time don’t leave the umbrella in the car.

Despite the rain, downtown was still somewhat busy mid-day and the crowds appeared to be having a good time. Tourists of all ages filled the casinos, yet there were still plenty of yard-long margaritas, deep-fried Twinkies and shrimp cocktails to go around.

Gone fishing

The newest building in downtown Las Vegas is the Golden Nugget’s opulent 25-story Rush Tower. The centerpiece of the tower is a 75,000-gallon tropical aquarium, which sits behind the registration desk, inside the new Chart House restaurant. The Tower is just around the corner from the hotel’s Tank pool area, which features a 200,000-square-foot shark tank.

The 1,000 exotic fish in the Chart House aquarium and the Tank sharks are off limits, but you can still “go fishing,” so to speak, across the street in the Vegas Club’s The Lobster Zone, an unsavory cross between a live lobster tank and an arcade game (also spotted at Micky Finnz). I’m not suggesting you spend $2 to try and catch one of these morose-looking lobsters, but if you do succeed in catching one, please do me a personal favor and set the poor little guy free.

IMG_1834Prefer to meet your crustaceans after they’ve already been cooked and placed on a plate? You’re also in luck. (None for me, I’m allergic).

Downtown is still home to the city’s original Shrimp Cocktail at the Golden Gate Hotel. Served with cocktail sauce and a wedge of lemon, the shrimp cocktail is only $1.99.

On Friday nights at Flame Steakhouse in El Cortez, you can eat stone crab claws for only $28 per pound.

If fish (dead or alive) just isn’t your thing, no worries. Maybe you would be more at home at the Beef Jerky Store, located in downtown Las Vegas just to the north of Fremont Street, between the Fremont and Fitzgerald’s casinos.

Or you could go eat tapas in a dome overlooking Fremont Street at the Plaza’s Firefly. Rest assured, no actual  fireflies will be harmed while cooking your meal.

Mermaids is home to deep-fried twinkies, deep-fried oreos and deep-fried arteries. It is also home to a bar with free samples of multi-flavored frozen alcoholic beverages, including mudslide, watermelon and ice tea flavors. If you like what you taste, you can buy a football-shaped cup filled with the stuff, or a yard-long plastic cup.

No smoking

El Cortez is in the process of converting its Vintage and Tower rooms to non-smoking. All the rooms should be smoke free by mid-April. The only smoking rooms that will remain are the Pavilion rooms.



It’s dead, Jim

With its empty storefronts, boarded up windows and lonely neon signage, Neonopolis looks like the Vegas version of a ghost (down)town.

Still, there are some signs of life.

While the parking garage beneath Neonopolis was eerily empty, my first indication that there was someone else out there was the Telemundo van I was parked next to. Telemundo has a television studio located in Neonopolis.

Also spotted, a Sinful Delights Sweet Shoppe and Las Vegas Rocks Cafe.

And if the rumors are true, Star Trek the Experience, formerly housed at the Las Vegas Hilton, will be opening at Neonopolis sometime this year.

My final reminder to anyone heading downtown. Parking isn’t free. So don’t forget to validate!


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