My boyfriend and I get bored. Easily. We can’t spend more than an hour home on a weekend before we are itching to go adventuring. Wanderlust may be too small of a term, maybe “Wanderaddiction.” When we can’t leave for the weekend, we wander around Vegas. It’s not the end of the world to have one of the world’s biggest tourist spots as a backyard playground.
On Saturday we somehow we found ourselves at the Arts District, a little-known sweet spot close by to the marvelous Downtown Fremont St.The Las Vegas Arts District is a cultural hub for Vegas. Filled with antique shops, art galleries, eateries, bars, and a couple small theaters.
We went through a bunch of the antique shops on Saturday. You start walking down Main Street and you stumble upon one antique shop after the other. Retro Vegas is one of our favorites because we are obsessed with throwback. Cowtown Guitars is cool too. At a small, more grungy shop, The Boyfriend found 50 cent brown Hugo Boss dress shoes. So proud.
Fun fact: The Boyfriend calls me “Trailer” for a nickname. Yes, Trailer. It started out as a funny joke, but as time went on it’s become an endearment that I’m quite fond of. So of course we laughed when we saw this dressing room door.
There is also a ton of awesome street art in the Las Vegas Arts District. Always fun to take pictures by.
Like my two purses? I got the front one at Buffalo Exchange for 13 bucks. I’m in love with it.
We finished the day off at Makers & Finders, a cute little coffee shop that opened last year. We only had tea and coffee, but I’ve been wanting to try their “Latin Comfort Food.” It looks delicious and most of it is Gluten Free.
The Las Vegas Arts District is a great place for locals to spend a day or for tourists to check out when they want to get off the Strip. I love going down to the Arts District at night. The Velveteen Rabbit is a great bar down there.
I hate cold water. Loathe it. That sudden jolt, dear heaven above! I don’t know if I can completely convince you of the depths of this cold water hatred – you’ll just have to believe it’s an extreme hostility.
Last Monday, my boyfriend and I went with some friends to Lake Mead to go wakesurfing. And I truly didn’t want to get into that cold water. It’s not that I didn’t want to get wet or try wakesurfing, I just didn’t want to freeze. And let’s be real. I had never tried any form of balancing sport in my entire life – skiing, surfing, snowboarding – nothing. I heavily considered allowing my dislike for cold water and my fear of potential failure to get in the way of trying something new. Alas, I could not. Because:
2. Women should not be sideline sitters – watching life happen, but not experiencing it for themselves.
I jumped into that freezing water and I tried. And… I couldn’t get up on the board. I did get lots of water up my nose though! It was like a Lake Mead Netti Pot going on up in there! I needed more skill, more time, more practice, more strength… and this quick afternoon trip didn’t offer me enough time for any of that. But I was in that darn water, and my body had grown accustomed to it, and I knew I needed to surf those waves. I mean, I had already jumped into (the Arctic Ocean) COLD water, I had already failed a few times – I had given it the old Girl Scout try. And I wasn’t going to just give up.
So my boyfriend jumped into the water and together we got up on that board. And I did it! I surfed the waves! With him.
I don’t think the fact that we sometimes need to ask for help should ever stop us from not being proud of ourselves. We all need help with something. It’s ok to do things together; it’s ok to ask for help. It’s better to experience something new with help than to miss out on it entirely. It’s ok to let somebody you love and trust jump into the water with you and help you surf the waves. …especially when he’s cute… 😉
Despite the fact that I look ridiculous and scream that “I’m falling,” eventually we found our groove and went quite a while before dropping into the water. I was grateful for every second.
(I feel like I must confess… in case you were wondering… which you probably are… the water was in the low 70s. To me, that’s one step above hypothermia. To others, I’m a wimp.)
The Strip gets all the Vegas glory, the favorite child. It’s never surprising when I talk to non-locals about my sparkling hometown that they’re all about The Strip. All marketing draws tourists right on down to Las Vegas Blvd. to spend money on alcohol, partying, and slots. Even those who have visited before rarely realize there is an off-Strip gem too often hidden: Downtown Las Vegas on the famous Fremont Street.
But I’m always surprised when some locals are either unfamiliar with Downtown Las Vegas or just haven’t taken the time to visit. When someone asks me what I did last weekend and I reply “I went downtown,” too often they look at me with a blank stare. “We have a downtown?” Sigh. Locals are frequently trapped by the chain restaurant/store culture of Vegas. It only takes a short drive to get to the center of the city – (and free/cheap parking is possible!)
So tourists, locals of all ages, but ESPECIALLY my fellow Millennials – let me enlighten you. You’ll thank me, I promise.
The Strip is expensive. A tourist trap. The drinks are lightly poured and overpriced. The food can be delicious, but often way too expensive to indulge regularly. The club scene is pricey and overhyped. Everybody should visit The Strip once or twice. It’s an experience. See a Cirque show and watch the Bellagio fountains, go to a club if that’s your thing. But then move on to greener pastures and do as the locals do (Or as all the locals SHOULD be doing).
Fremont Street dates back to the early 1900s. There was a time when it was THE place to be in Vegas. Times changed; it got grimy for a second. Then the early 2000s, some brilliant people got together and decided to make Fremont Street East (east of Las Vegas Blvd.) the new face of Las Vegas. They have gotten in touch with the Millennial generation, increased their hipster vibe. With new restaurants, bars, and venues, Downtown Vegas on Fremont Street is cool again. And it’s where you should be!
These are my favorite spots to hit up at night (I’ll add some day-time suggestions if anybody is interested!). Tourists, visit Downtown Las Vegas. Locals, come on, ditch the neighborhood Chili’s and go where the culture is!
Park on Fremont is a really cool place to grab some food and drinks. I love starting the night off here. The outside seating is the best. The tables out front have amazing Fremont St. people watching, and the seating in the backyard is wacky and awesome. Eclectic plates line the walls, there are pillows and unique chairs, wild art.
Commonweath is a bar set in the style of pre-prohibition. The decor and the servers themselves place you in a time that isn’t your own. There’s also live music sometimes and an on point upstairs patio.
Don’t Tell Mama is a piano bar with singing bartenders. And it’s one of my favorite spots in all of Las Vegas. The piano players are fantastic and play a wide variety of songs. Sometimes the piano player sings, sometimes the talented bartenders hop on the stage and sing, sometimes it becomes karaoke and the customers sing. You will always have a good time. I’ve heard the best live performance of Josh Groban’s “The Prayer” while sitting in this little piano bar.
Both of these restaurants are fantastic and have really cool vibes. Le Thai has phenomenal thai food, but the wait can be long. Call ahead and they’ll text you when your table is ready. Very modern. La Comida has delicious food and more tequila options than you’ll know what to do with. On their website they brag that they have “more tequila than seats.” Just take a shot for me!
I love, love, love The Griffin. It’s dark, like you’re underground. There are lanterns and huge fireplaces. Very cozy vibe. We usually hit up The Griffin early in the night, because I like to match their chill environment with smaller crowds. But to each her own.
Atomic has been around since the 1950s. It’s a slice of old Vegas. An oldie, but a goodie. I like sitting outside on their outdoor barstools and watching Fremont Street. They serve my favorite hard cider of all time – Jack’s.
This is almost a bonus, because I couldn’t figure out if I should suggest this for the daytime or nighttime. So I’ll say both! Container Park is made out of shipping containers. The containers are now filled with little shops, restaurants, and even a gallery. In the center is a treehouse jungle gym for kiddos (at 9pm each night, when the park becomes 21+, the jungle gym is for the grownups. Yes.) They also have live music and a flaming praying mantis. So you should basically go now.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, it’s okay. But give it a try anyway. You can make a night of it and then hop across the street to all the glittering lights of Fremont Street’s famous Golden Nugget, Plaza, Binion’s etc. Also, you can probably take a picture with a half naked showgirl or man-baby. Welcome to Vegas.
It’s hard to remember that there is beauty to be found close by. With the free-spirited heart of a wanderer, I’m drawn to travelling here and there and everywhere. I get antsy when it’s been too long in between trips. This discontent is typically something I’m perfectly fine with. It spurs me on go on adventures. But sometimes I forget to take a peak at what’s in my own backyard. I forget that beauty and adventure are anywhere – even in Las Vegas.
I drive around this city daily and all the scenery blends in – I mean, all those wedding chapels and strip clubs start blending in with grocery stores and all your left with is: blah. It’s old news to me. But then there’s Red Rock Canyon. 30 minutes away from most spots in the entire Vegas valley. It’s gorgeous. The beauty of the desert abounds.
A Saturday morning of flat tires and other joyous events left me grumpy and under-enthusiastic. Somebody with a spontaneous nature decided it would be a better decision to leave my wounded car in the garage for a couple extra hours and go exploring instead. I was more than happy to agree to the idea!
One quick pit stop to pick up various travel supplies (Gluten Free cupcakes) and we were on our way to the beauty of Las Vegas. Mountains of varying colors including a vibrant red. Breathtaking skyscapes. And a plethora of opportunities to pull over and take beautiful pictures and very serious selfies:
A simple drive through the canyon gives you enough beauty and exploration to get through any rough day:
There are plenty of hiking trails and great spots to get out and move your muscles (which you can find HERE). But this Saturday called for an easy breezy drive.
Fun Fact: The professional pictures I have throughout the blog were taken at Calico Basin right before you get to Red Rock. It’s a must-stop. There is a nice easy walking path for a quick stroll.