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Fremont Street, in downtown Las Vegas, is a whole different experience from visiting The Strip. I’ll review the major differences and at the end there is a video.
The strip is miles long. The casinos and shops are huge. I guess if you gamble, you are not going to walk very far, because the slot machines and tables are always right up front. But if you want to wander around the stores and restaurants at a casino, you are going to do a lot of walking. And if you want to walk through multiple casinos on a single trip, you’d better wear comfortable shoes. Each time Ryan and I go up there, we walk about five miles over 2-4 hours.
Conversely, downtown is a lot less walking. Fremont Street (the part where all the attractions are) is only a few blocks long. The casinos surrounding it are much smaller, so it is easier to walk through them. You can probably make your way through the downtown area in a few hours. The whole area is only a few square miles, with the main attractions within a few blocks.
Transportation and Parking
While there are some casinos along The Strip that are starting to charge for parking, you can still find many that are free. Additionally, there are some free shuttles and trams that travel between casinos. There are also bus passes that non-residents can buy; probably the best deal is $5 for 24 hours per person for all the buses in Las Vegas if you only need it for a day or two.
Once when we came here before, we stayed at a place that had a shuttle to one of the casinos. Then we used a bus pass to take us up and down the strip. Car services like Uber and Lyft and taxis are also available. Just keep in mind that traffic is heavy in that area, so it’s easy for the price to skyrocket because you’re sitting in traffic. Amazingly, there is also some bicycle parking. Personally, I find the traffic is too dangerous for riding my bike comfortably. Ryan has gone up to the Strip on a bike, but he takes a cross street straight up to the casino with parking and walks from there. And he has only gone during the daytime.
There are also (free) shuttles and buses that go to downtown. I’m much more comfortable riding my bike over there, even after dark. There is plenty of bike parking as well. Pretty much all the parking at casinos and on the street have fees attached to it. Also, there is less traffic, although certain times in the evening can get just as hectic. Lyft, Uber and taxis are also available to and from downtown.
The Strip of course has gambling and lots of large casinos with interesting architecture and sights to see. There are greasy spoon diners, markets and delis, casual eating, buffets and high-end restaurants. You can see shows but you have to pay for most of them. There are lots of shops, many of them within interesting indoor malls that may resemble a town in ancient Greece or Italy. Many of the casinos also have night clubs, spas, spacious pool areas. You can also find things like animal reserves, art galleries, volcanoes that emit real heat and fire, etc.
Fremont Street and downtown in general house smaller, older casinos. If you’re looking for more of an old-school vibe, Fremont is the place to go. These casinos aren’t the ones that get shut down, demolished and rebuilt. They’re the same ones that have been there for decades and may not have changed much. I wouldn’t call them run-down, but not necessarily modern either. The architecture and decor are definitely more cookie-cutter casino. They house fewer amenities, and you won’t find acres of indoor malls here. There are restaurants, but they are not of the caliber you may find on the strip (which also means they’re likely less expensive).
The Strip is usually very similar at night to the daytime, in my opinion. I would say the main thing is how crowded it gets. It is definitely much busier in the evening. We have come at all times of year and that is always the case. Of course lots of the shows and clubs are only open at night, but a few you can visit during the day (variety shows, and the daytime pool party at one of the casinos).
Fremont Street probably has more going on at night. There are more street performers. The live bands perform in the evening. I’m not even certain if the light show on the huge overhead screen runs during the day. Also, be warned: that screen is not helpful as a rain cover. This would be a disadvantage to visiting Fremont on the rare occasion that it rains in Las Vegas. The majority of activities are outside, and if it rains there really is no protection.
If you enjoy watching people, coming to Las Vegas is a great idea. The Strip has some interesting stuff. Some of the shows send people out on the street to draw a crowd, so you can see people in costume (or, um, body paint as a costume). There are some street performers, but they are mostly singers and a few dancers.
Fremont Street seems to have a lot more interesting characters (some of which I’ve captured in the video). There are people who go out in a costume every day and earn money taking pictures with tourists. There are also singers, musicians, dancers and other acts. Fremont has three stages, and most nights there is a free concert on every stage. There is also the laser light show, which is choreographed to music. Additionally, there are several bars that are open to the pathway area. The servers wear skimpy outfits and often dance on the bar top.
This year Nevada Day, which is a state holiday, occurred on the Friday before Halloween. Halloween was on a Monday, and we were told by locals that many people take that day off as well. “We Las Vegans take Halloween very seriously,” they said.
We visited The Strip on Halloween weekend. There were costume parties at some of the clubs, but that isn’t really our thing. Other than more people than usual wearing costumes, it was the same.
We chose Fremont Street for Halloween night. That place was packed. Live music in costume on every stage, plus DJs in costume on other stages. And lots and lots of people in costume. The expectation going to Fremont Street is that you will probably be filmed or be filming someone. Regular people stop and ask if they can have you pose for taking pictures, and some people just take the pics or video. If you’re not comfortable with that, then it’s best not to wear a costume.
I guess it depends on what you’re looking for. I think the overall vibe of The Strip aims for upscale, while Fremont Street is more raw and raunchy.
Personally, it depends on my mood and what I want to do. Our favorite restaurant is downtown, so it just makes sense to visit the Fremont Street Experience while we’re over there, since it’s just a few blocks away. It’s also closer to home and accessible by bike. But sometimes I just want to wander around indoors in the shopping malls. Not to buy anything, but be inside where it’s cool and/or not windy, depending on the weather.
Either way, I got some interesting footage, which you can see below.