When you think of Sin City, you may immediately imagine the Strip, but there are plenty of things to do in downtown Las Vegas, too. The first Vegas casinos and hotels opened in this area, making it the most prominent area at that time. Over the years, the Strip stole the spotlight, but still, downtown Las Vegas is something you don’t want to miss. In fact, many of the activities you’ll find in our list of the 25 best things to do in Las Vegas take place in this historic district.
The great thing about the attractions in downtown Las Vegas is that there is something for everyone. You can stay close to the Strip and enjoy some exciting activities, or you can veer off the beaten path and have some quiet time in nature. Moreover, downtown LV has cheaper accommodations than the Strip, as we mention in our article about where to stay in Las Vegas.
This guide will show you the best places to visit in downtown Las Vegas so you can get the full Sin City experience, not just time at the tourist traps.
1. Fremont Street, a free place to go in downtown Las Vegas
Fremont Street was where the most luxurious Vegas hotels and casinos first appeared. After the Strip became the focus of attention, the city created the Fremont Street Experience to restore tourism to this historic district.
Needless to say, it was a huge success and now the Fremont Street Experience is one of the coolest things to do in downtown Las Vegas. I recommend going there at night to see the free Viva Vision light show or a concert. In fact, a visit to Fremont Street is a fun, cheap thing to do in downtown Las Vegas, and we mention it in our guide to free things to do in Las Vegas.
Some of the attractions here cost a fee, such as the SlotZilla zipline, but if you get the Go Las Vegas All-Inclusive Pass, you can save money. Besides, Fremont Street is one of those things you can do in downtown Las Vegas with family, so it’s worth spending a bit of money.
While the entertainment here is amazing, you can learn more about the history of Fremont Street on this walking tour. Check out how the district has changed over the decades, and see some famous sights, like the Vegas Vic neon sign from the 1950s.
2. Neon Museum, one of the best museums in downtown Las Vegas
Speaking of neon signs, a visit to the Neon Museum is a fun thing to do in downtown Las Vegas. Here, you can marvel at the colorful neon signs while learning about Sin City’s past.
The museum originated from the relics left over by the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO). Founded in 1920, YESCO rented out signage, so when clients were done with an ad, they would return it to YESCO. Over the years, the company amassed quite the collection of neon signs, so in 1996, the Neon Museum was created.
Today, the museum holds a beautiful collection and hosts special exhibits throughout the year. It’s also a kid-friendly attraction, so it’s a good family thing to do in downtown Las Vegas. While it’s open during the day, I think visiting the museum is a cool thing to do in Las Vegas at night.
When you go, be sure to check out the public art and the neon “boneyard”, where you can see signage from decades ago.
3. downtown Container Park
If you’re looking for things to do in Las Vegas for kids, I recommend visiting Downtown Container Park. This outdoor shopping mall and entertainment venue is made of over 40 shipping containers. The project was meant to bring tourism and business back to the downtown district, and it worked!
Downtown Container Park is one of the best places to visit in downtown Las Vegas because there is something for everyone. Kids will love the treehouse playground, and adults can enjoy the free concerts and shows. One of the park’s highlights is the huge praying mantis sculpture at the entrance, which spouts fire from its antennas.
While the park is a fun family thing to do in downtown Las Vegas, kids aren’t permitted after 9 pm, so be sure to visit during the day if you’re with children.
4. Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a beautiful place to visit near downtown Las Vegas
Less than five miles from the city center, you’ll find the Springs Preserve, one of the most beautiful places to visit in downtown Las Vegas. It encompasses 180 acres and includes a botanical garden, museum, theater, and other natural spaces. It’s located by the spring that supplies the city’s water, hence the name.
If you’re not sure what to do in downtown Las Vegas during the day, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Springs Preserve. You’ll learn about sustainability while enjoying a lovely wetland habitat. Plus, tickets are just a few dollars, so it’s a cheap thing to do in downtown Las Vegas. If you get the Go Las Vegas All-Inclusive Pass, you can get into the Preserve for free.
Whether you want to spend an hour here or half a day, it’s a cool thing to do in downtown Las Vegas that’s away from the crowds and noise.
5. Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, a famous place to go in downtown Las Vegas
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is, without a doubt, one of the top downtown Las Vegas attractions. The store rose to popularity thanks to the Pawn Stars TV series, and it’s one of the best places to visit in downtown Las Vegas.
Here, you can peruse the aisles and find all kinds of hidden treasures, such as jewelry, knick-knacks, antiques, coins, and much more. Occasionally, one or two of the guys from the TV show will make an appearance, and it’s quite the spectacle. Of course, this depends on their filming schedule, so I wouldn’t count on seeing them when you visit.
Keep in mind that lots of people think that checking out this pawn shop is a cool thing to do in downtown Las Vegas, so the lines can get long. Even so, a trip to this famous store is a free thing to do in Las Vegas during the day. If you’re a fan of the show and you want to get acquainted with the shop, I recommend this half-day VIP tour, which includes a meet-and-greet with the cast, if they’re available.
6. Mob Museum, another unique museum in downtown Las Vegas
The Mob Museum is a unique place to visit in downtown Las Vegas, and it’s one of the most peculiar museums in the city. Inside, you can explore the history of organized crime in the U.S. Learn about the origins of the mafia, important figures in law enforcement, and how officials deal with crime today.
Even if you don’t know much about this topic, it’s something fun to do in downtown Las Vegas, and I’m sure you’ll learn a thing or two! For example, you’ll find information about Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, John Gotti, and other criminal figures, as well as top mafia-fighting agents like Joe Pistone.
7. Children’s Discovery Museum, the best thing to do in downtown Las Vegas with kids
It may not seem like it, but there are lots of kid-friendly attractions in downtown Las Vegas. One of the best places is the Children’s Discovery Museum, which uses science, technology, and art to educate young people.
There is a huge play structure in the center of the museum, so it’s also a great place for kids to exert some energy. The museum has three floors full of interactive exhibits and activities, many of which will entertain adults as well, so it’s a nice family thing to do in downtown Las Vegas.
8. Golden Nugget, the best casino in downtown Las Vegas
The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino is one of the oldest casinos in the city, so it’s a must-see in downtown Las Vegas.
Completed in 1946, the resort is a mainstay in Sin City and has maintained its Four Diamond rating since 1977. The hotel is known for displaying the Hand of Faith, the world’s largest golden nugget. Plus, it’s located right by the Fremont Street Experience, another awesome downtown Las Vegas attraction.
Another thing that makes this a popular place to visit in downtown Las Vegas is the $30 million pool. It has three levels, a swim-up bar, grottos, jacuzzi tubs, and an enclosed slide that goes through a live shark tank. And of course, you can gamble to your heart’s content at the Golden Nugget casino.
9. Shop at North Premium Outlets, something to do in downtown Las Vegas
Sin City is famous for its nightlife, but if you’re wondering what to do in downtown Las Vegas during the day, consider a shopping trip. The North Premium Outlets is one of the top shopping malls in the city, with over 125 luxury retailers as well as restaurants to keep you energized.
Browse high-end designer brands like Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, and Versace, then enjoy a tasty meal before heading back into the city center. Or, if you really want to shop ’til you drop, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets South is nearby.
10. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort, a little-known place to visit in downtown Las Vegas
Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort is a little-known place to visit in downtown Las Vegas even though it’s close to Fremont Street. The state park contains the first structure built by European settlers, which existed decades before Las Vegas was established.
Today, parts of the original structure still exist alongside replicas and other artifacts. The adobe fort is particularly significant for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as it was built by some of the first Mormons in the country. That said, anyone can appreciate the natural area and historical merit of this place.
There is a small entrance fee, which includes admission to the entire park. Stroll through the gardens, see the historic wagons, and stop by the visitor’s center to learn more about life back in the 1850s. If you have some free time during the day, this is a great downtown Las Vegas attraction to check out.
11. See the Natural History Museum, another family thing to do in downtown Las Vegas
The Natural History Museum is another interesting museum outside the city center. The museum’s exhibits will appeal to people of all ages, so it’s a good family thing to do in downtown Las Vegas.
Here, you can learn about the dinosaurs and prehistoric life forms, the evolution of the animal kingdom, and modern-day species. There are also exhibits on geology and ancient Egypt, including a recreation of King Tut’s tomb
If you’re not sure what to do in downtown Las Vegas during the day or when it rains, a few hours at the museum is time well spent.
12. Burlesque Hall of Fame, something you can’t miss in downtown Las Vegas
If you want something to do in downtown Las Vegas at night, check out the Burlesque Hall of Fame, which is dedicated to one of the city’s most celebrated art forms.
When burlesque came to the United States, it naturally found a home in Sin City, and the culture still exists today. At the Burlesque Hall of Fame, you can learn about the art and history of burlesque through costumes, sets, photographs, accessories, and more. You can even take a burlesque course, which could be an interesting thing to do in downtown Las Vegas with friends.
13. Zak Bagans The Haunted Museum, a quirky thing to do in downtown Las Vegas
If you’re a fan of horror, then a visit to Zak Bagans The Haunted Museum is a downtown Las Vegas attraction you’ll love. Inside, you’ll get an eerie experience full of haunted artifacts and jump scares.
The museum has over 30 rooms and, once inside, there’s no turning back. If you dare, walk through each exhibit, and check out some of the spookiest stuff in Vegas, like Dr. Kevorkian’s “VW Death Bus” and the “Dybbuk Box,” said to be the most haunted item on earth.
Only people over 16 can enter, but if you love scary stories and paranormal activity, this is one of the coolest things to do in downtown Las Vegas.
14. Heart Attack Grill, the most unique restaurant in downtown Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for excess, and nothing seems to reflect that like the Heart Attack Grill. While it’s not a restaurant I’d eat in, it’s one of the most curious downtown Las Vegas attractions.
Inside the restaurant, the waitresses use nurse uniforms, and diners are given sick gowns to wear. The menu features some of the unhealthiest food you can find, including the nearly 10,000-calorie quad burger.
As the name suggests, the food here will clog your arteries, and a few patrons have died from cardiac arrest after eating here. So, if this sounds like something you’d do in downtown Las Vegas, please be careful!
15. Take a picture worth a million bucks at Binion’s Gambling Hall
Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel is another long-standing downtown Las Vegas attraction, and it’s where you can take a picture with a million dollars.
The display has been around since the 1950s, although it has gone through some changes over the years. Today, the $1 million bundle is made of 2,700 $100 bills, 34,400 $20 bills, and 42,000 $1 bills. Taking a photo with the fat stack of money is a popular thing to do in downtown Las Vegas and a funny way of tricking your friends into thinking you won big!
You can visit Binion’s and see the $1 million pyramid for free, so it’s one of the best places to visit in downtown Las Vegas. Afterward, stick around for dinner and drinks or a table game.
With that, you now know the best things to do in downtown Las Vegas. Also, check out our map of Las Vegas, which can help you plan your itinerary. Use it to find all the downtown Las Vegas attractions you want to see and keep the map handy during your trip.
That’s all from me, but if you have any questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help. Safe travels!