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Downtown Vegas / El Cortez / VegasChatter Reviews / Hotel Reviews / Downtown / Cheap Vegas / Vintage Vegas / Fremont East / Survival Strategies / Fremont Street / → All Tags
Earlier this year, we suggested 10 things you should know about Downtown's El Cortez. While the loose slots and cheap table games in the casino are favorites among locals, El Cortez has also been welcoming out-of-towners to its hotel for more than 70 years. This writer recently took a ride up the elevator and explored a room in the hotel’s 1980 tower expansion.
As a frequent visitor to the El Cortez casino, I knew this wouldn't be a luxury resort. This place is old. So old that it has landed a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Even so, I've never had a bad time when visiting. When I need a break from the pretentiousness that can be overwhelming at Strip resorts, El Cortez is always there as a beacon of humility. After discovering that Tower rooms were on sale for just over $20 on weekdays, I jumped at the chance to spend a couple nights.
Construction / Inspire Theater / Downtown / Downtown Vegas / Fremont Street / Fremont East / Openings / → All Tags
"Let's take a look at it from another angle." Sounds like a philosophy that was ingrained in the membrane somewhere along our educational journey growing up. And, one that we'll put to use once again in looking at the current state of downtown's Inspire Theater. Just over two weeks ago, we traversed Fremont area construction zones to capture a nighttime snapshot of the future theater plus bar plus international newstand plus workspace plus rooftop deck. Phew, it was probably smart to stop naming it after "Theater."
The above photo shot from... err... above the under-construction Inspire Theater was sent in by a VegasChatter tipster. We aren't nighttime street level to daytime aerial comparison experts, but the exterior doesn't look all that different since our August visit. Another influential teacher taught us, however, that it's not the outside, but what's on the inside that counts. (Thanks, mom.) The same holds true, of course, for construction when it comes to determining whether the fall 2013 (read "before end of year") opening date will remain, or not.
Our trusty tipster's x-ray lens wasn't able to capture an interior shot, but he was able to share the site's floorplans. Honestly, when getting that mouth-watering first look, aren't we more interested in seeing what's to come than some framing materials and sheetrock, anyway?
Inspire Theater covers two floors of the building, with a third level (a.k.a., the roof) dedicated for an open-air lounge. The heralded international newsstand (see what we did there?) will be setup at the corner of Fremont and Las Vegas Boulevard -- a seemingly strategic location since we do seem to buy more newspapers and magazines from street corners than mid-block storefronts. Or, at least we did in 1989.
Drinking / Beer / Golden Gate / The D Hotel / Fremont Street / Downtown / Downtown Vegas / → All Tags
The first-ever Golden Gate Beefest is set for Saturday, September 14 and will offer "more than 60 craft beers from 50 breweries around the world." We wanted to know just what that meant, though, so we asked for a rundown of the brews and received one. Here's what will be on tap:
My Vegas / Shows / Entertainment / Four Queens / Fremont Street / Magic Shows / LIGHT / Absinthe Show / Lake Mead / Comedy Shows / Hangovers / Green Valley Ranch / Spas / Downtown Vegas / Boulder City / Penn and Teller / Hugo's Cellar / → All Tags
Mike Hammer: Comedy Magic is a little dynamo of a show. Currently ranked #24 out of 526 Vegas attractions by TripAdvisor readers, it regularly fills the Canyon Club Theater at the Four Queens. That's no small feat, considering the frequency that downtown shows come and go. Along with Golden Nugget's Gordie Brown, Mike Hammer: Comedy Magic has entrenched itself as a long-term fixture on Fremont Street.
Mike’s improvisational humor and sleight-of-hand are as sharp as his trademark vertical hairstyle. He's a frequent guest on talk shows, does MMA ring announcing, and has been a game show emcee (MC Hammer?). In a city filled with magic shows, this one manages to make the art of illusion cool, sexy and hilarious. He calls it “Getting Hammer’d.”
You never know what’s going to come out of Mike’s mouth (sometimes, it’s a string of razor blades), but we took a chance and asked him a few questions, anyway. And, we couldn’t resist the urge to throw in a “Magic Mike” reference. Considering his show's final illusion involves him being onstage in his boxers, he deserves to be in the running for next year's Hunkiest Headliners.
Active Vegas / Running / Marathon / Las Vegas Marathon / Shipping Container Park / Downtown / Fremont Street / → All Tags
When not running around Las Vegas to bring you the latest and greatest updates on our fine city, we've sometimes been known to run for the hell of it. A happy 5K downtown, a 10K to check out the airport, or a marathon down the Strip at night. Las Vegas is a unique city and with it offers a lot of only in Vegas opportunities for the active types.
Construction / Downtown / Downtown Vegas / Fremont / Fremont Street / Plaza / Golden Nugget / Golden Gate / Downtown Grand / Pizza Rock / Slotzilla / Nacho Daddy / Fremont East / Shipping Container Park / Inspire Theater / → All Tags
If you think you're completely up on everything happening in Downtown Vegas, you might want to reconsider. Heck, even we thought we were finally caught up again after a late-night stroll earlier this week only to receive new information and images today.
Tuesday evening found us wandering around downtown, and tossing back a few drinks at the Fremont. To keep hydrated, naturally! Our priority
aside from socializing, however, was to check on two new construction walls at the Golden Nugget first reported by Vital Vegas. But, we also wanted to follow-up on some on-going projects, too. And, along the way, we found more developments on top of that. Fremont, and its surrounding areas. An ever-changing experience.
First, several new things to report at the Plaza, including what's captured in the photo up top. New construction outside the hotel's food court, just off valet. Workers tell us it will be a beer garden, with faux grass and even concerts on the weekend. (How that will work with the Fremont Street stage just across the street is not yet known..) Inside, folks will be able to order up food and said beer. The construction wall for that can be seen in the panoramic below. Look for the garden to debut in late September.
Downtown / Downtown Vegas / California Hotel / VegasChatter Reviews / Hotel Reviews / Hotel Rooms / Fremont Street / → All Tags
Unlike many themed casinos and hotels, Sam Boyd’s California does not set out to mimic an exotic location. Instead, The Cal is all about making its customers feel right at home. It’s primary clientele? Gamblers visiting from Hawaii, one of the only two US states without any form of legalized gambling.
California founder Sam Boyd opened the downtown hotel in 1975. It was not the hit he was hoping for. The Cal's location, a block away from Fremont Street, put the property at a disadvantage and business suffered.
Boyd’s solution came from his past. In his twenties, Sam had spent five years living in Hawaii. Here, his experience with underground gambling led him to believe Hawaiians were some of the best gamblers in the world. Based on this impression, The Cal began catering almost exclusively to the Hawaiian market. Sam found that Hawaiians came primarily to gamble and weren't interested in the prime rib specials or extravagant shows that typically lured customers in casino doors. In response, The Cal introduced a plethora of restaurants and shops that offered Hawaiian staples like Saimin noodles. California’s package deals took things a step further, providing Hawaiian visitors round-trip airfare, rooms, and meals all at one low price. The strategy proved to be a success. Hawaiian gamblers stayed longer and gambled more than the average Las Vegas visitor. Walk through the casino today, nearly 40 years later, and you’ll notice the Hawaiian shirts right away. This writer did just that during a recent weekday stay at The Cal.
VegasChatter Questions / Fremont Street Experience / Downtown / Music / Downtown Vegas / Fremont Street / → All Tags
The latest query comes from Chip C. who wants to know how often the Fremont Street Experience mixes things up:
When will the Fremont Experience change the content of their lightshow? The KISS show has been up there for years! It would be nice if they would select other genres of music too.
Drinking / Downtown Vegas / Laws / Fremont Street / Downtown / Fremont Street Experience / The Strip / → All Tags
As Fremont Street expands so does confusion about drinking laws. Most of us are used to being able to drink whatever we want wherever we want because the bars and casinos were mostly confined to Fremont Street Experience which is free of traffic and open container laws.
The outlier used to be El Cortez, but there was never really much of a problem taking your sweet cold beer and walking under the canopy. That's not the case today with the expansion of Fremont East and the popularity of various events like First Friday which draw children under the legal drinking age.
Main Street Station / Downtown Vegas / Downtown / B Connected / Fremont Street / Off Strip / → All Tags
Main Street Station reigns supreme among Downtown Vegas. That is, according to users of online review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp. Guest reviews on both rank Main Street at, or near, the top for downtown hotels almost all time. So, what’s the secret? Lower prices? Better location? Superior amenities?
Pricing doesn’t seem to be the answer. A quick check of rates for some upcoming weekends in September revealed that Main Street’s prices were about average for the downtown area at about $95 per night. Newly remodeled The D would have been an additional $40 each night. At the other end of Fremont, El Cortez rooms were available for as little as $68 a night. All a bargain when compared to prices on The Strip which started around $150 a night for the same dates and would have required additional resort fees.
Drinking / Bars / Fremont Street / Downtown / Downtown Vegas / → All Tags
Still not enough bars on Fremont Street for you? Looks like you're getting three more.
Next week, city planning officials will consider a proposal to turn the old Fergusons Motel into a trio of taverns, each with outdoor seating. The establishments would be 2,000, 2,360 and 2,625 square feet in size, respectively. Retail shops and offices would also be located on-site.
Closings / Openings / Zip Lines / Fremont Street / Fremont Street Experience / Slotzilla / Flightlinez / → All Tags
Fremont Street doesn't have any zip, anymore.
A delayed Slotzilla still isn't ready yet and, on Sunday, Flightlinez called an official end to its downtown operations meaning no more zip rides under the Fremont Street Experience (FSE) canopy for now.