When you mention Fremont Street, the downtown area of Las Vegas, to someone at one of the newer upscale casinos on the Strip, this is probably what they think of:
Security On Fremont Street is Tight
The truth is, Fremont Street is as safe as the Strip, just don’t wander off to the surrounding area, which gets dicey rather quickly. Helping to keep Fremont Street safe are a team of bicycle riding police officers, plus each casino has their own security team, fully armed. Unlike many of the security personnel you see at Strip casinos that look like they haven’t been to the gym in a few decades or are past their expiration date, the ones you see at Fremont Street casinos are buff and look more than capable to handle the occasional troublemaker.
Fremont Street is for Gamblers
While people visit the Las Vegas Strip to see Extravagant Shows, eat at Michelin Rated Restaurants and cavort at Swanky Night Clubs, people patronize Fremont Street Casinos for one reason, to gamble. You wouldn’t find a sign memorializing three plus hours long rolls at the Craps Table at a Strip casino: [ Click on Pictures for a Larger View ]
Fremont Street casinos have some of the most favorable gambling conditions in Las Vegas, from single deck Blackjack with favorable rules to Video poker with 100+% expected return. Additionally, comps are easier to earn Downtown than on the Strip. While most Strip casinos won’t even rate table players that bet less than $25, on Fremont Street a $25 bettor is practically a high-roller.
The World Series of Poker originated on Fremont Street at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, now called just Binions, by Jack Binion in 1970. The first winner Johnny Moss received a silver cup, and presumably bragging rights, as a prize. The prize has grown a bit since then, the 2009 winning prize was $8,546,435.
Fremont Street Nosh
Fremont Street is the home of the 99 cents Shrimp Cocktail at the Golden Gate Casino. (note you have to have a players slot card to get the 99cents price, otherwise the price is $1.99)
The shrimp cocktail is actually better than would guess a$.99 shrimp cocktail to be, and makes for a decent late night nosh. Of course there are other choices for a quick nosh on Fremont Street, like the fresh made burgers at the snack bar at Binions.
The Fitzgeralds has the ultimate Doughnut Shop, a Krispy Kreme Store, where they make the doughnuts onsite. At least they did until recently, with the economic downturn they switched to having the doughnuts delivered by truck. Hopefully, they’ll return to making them onsite, fresh warm Krispy Kremes.
If your idea of great nosh food is Beef Jerky, Fremont Street is the place for you, they have a whole store devoted to all possible variations of this delicacy. In addition to Beef Jerky the stores sells an unbelievable variety of dried fruit and flavored nuts. The store is located about twenty paces off Fremont Street towards the now closed Lady Luck casino.
There is a much smaller version of the Beef Jerky store in the California casino, on the second floor, right before the bridge that leads to main Street Station, and next to Lappert’s. Lappert’s is great little ice cream shop, direct from Hawaii. Lappert’s has good quality ice cream with some unique flavors, such as Green Tea and Hana Road, not Rocky Road.
Stop by the California Casino and Say, Aloha!
All Three Boyd properties, (The Fremont, Main Street Station and California) in downtown Las Vegas are favorite destinations for the folks from Hawaii, but of these three, the California is by far the most popular, hence “Aloha Video Poker” Across the pathway from Lappert’s Ice Cream store, there is restaurant specializing in Hawaiian dishes.
Across the Bridge to Main Street Station
A bridge on the second floor of the California connects to Main Street Station, the most themed of all the Downtown properties. While not part of the theme, the most unique part of the Main Street Station decor is the Section of the Berlin Wall, located in the Men’s washroom.
Main Street Station is filled with Artifacts and Antiques from around the world, all in the service of simulating a late nineteenth century train station.
Located by the South Entrance is “Goldie’s Window” a stained glass window from The home of Goldie Schiesser. An art dealer wanted to buy the window, which Goldie refused to sell. Finally the art dealer bought the entire house, in order to secure the window. I’m not sure if that says more about the value of the house or the window.
Located in the Rotunda near the bridge to the California Hotel is The Art Nouveau style chandelier from The Figaro Opera House, Paris, France.
Manny Makes the Omelets at Main Street Station
The Main Street Station buffet has won many awards, evidently the buffet as slipped in quality since its award winning days. That’s not to say the buffet is bad, just that the food is nothing special. Except perhaps for the omelets, made by Manny. Manny is famous for chatting-up the customers and putting on a little show as he prepares the omelets. What do you want in your omelet, eggs?
The room is beautiful and spacious, with high ceilings, and an Italian marble statue called Goddess Fortuna, which depicts Lady Luck, holding a set of dice in her uplifted hand and a deck of cards in the other. How Vegas is that?
The Golden Nugget: A Little Piece of the Strip
The most upscale casino on Fremont Street is the Golden Nugget. This is the casino where Steve Wynn started his casino career, and left behind his mother’s recipe for bread pudding, available daily at the buffet.
The Golden Nugget has its very own gold nugget, a 61 pound nugget, big enough to have its own name “Hand of Faith”. The nugget is the largest currently known in existence.
The real attraction at the Golden Nugget is not the gold nugget, but rather the recently renovated $30 million pool, known as The Tank, which is filled with a variety of sharks, and has a slide that travels directly through the Tank. The pool area is open late, and doubles as a lounge area at night.
Fremont Street Comes Alive at Night
Like the Strip, Fremont Street looks a little washed-out during daylight hours, but comes alive at night. The Canopy that covers Fremont Street only serves to increase desolate feeling during the daytime hours, the area looks like a down-on-its-luck Strip Mall.
Mermaids and $0.99 Deep Fried Twinkies may not make much sense during daylight hours, but deep into the night they become imbued with the frivolous fun that is part of the Fremont Experience.
When the neon lights are on the atmosphere of Fremont Street goes from drab to Glitter Gultch.
The Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience, refers to the canopy covered with LEDs that runs the length of Fremont Street. The Canopy was installed in late 1995 and had a $17 million renovation in 2004.
Fremont Street Experience by the Numbers:
- Canopy Screen Spans Five Blocks, 1,500 feet
- The Screen has 12.5 million LEDs and 180 Strobe Lights
- 220 Speakers producing 550,000 watts.
- Shows are every hour on the hour begin at dusk through midnight.
- Average show length 6 minutes
The light shows are fun, but not exciting enough to warrant a special trip downtown if you are staying on the Strip. Thirty or so years ago, the show would have seemed more unique. One disappointing aspect of the show, is that they mostly repeat the same visuals for each block, rather than utilizing the whole length of the canopy. The few shows that utilize the full length of the canopy, like the one of the space shuttle launch, which shows the shuttle traversing the whole canopy, offer a more dramatic visual.
The Vue Bar on the second floor of Fitzgerald’s has a balcony that overlooks the Fremont Street Experience, and offers unique view of the show.
Two stages are on opposite ends of Fremont Street where bands perform on weekends and holidays. with plenty of kiosks selling every conceivable tchotchke in between, making for a festive street fair atmosphere.
If “The Fremont Street Experience” is not reason enough to pull you from the Strip, there are many other reasons to visit Fremont Street, or perhaps stay overnight. The gambling conditions are much more favorable than on the Strip, plus low level players aren’t ignored when it comes to comps. The casinos are closely spaced, making it easy to move from one casino to the next. If you’re staying downtown, you won’t have a miles long walk to your room, should you forget something in the room.
While the dining option are much more limited than on the Strip, there are some decent choices. The Second Street Grill at The Fremont offers upscale American cuisine with an Asian influence, try the Mongolian Rack of Lamb. You could dine at one of the last bastions of an “Old School Vegas” gourmet restaurant at Hugos Cellar, at the Four Queens. There is even a Sushi restaurant, Red Sushi, at the Golden Nugget. While there are no big production shows a la Cirque du Soleil, the dinner show Marriage Can Be Murder gets good reviews.
So, take your own random walk around Fremont Street, and it might become your preferred Vegas destination.