The Las Vegas Strip is the lifeblood of the city’s tourism industry. It’s also the first stop for many visitors. Experiencing all the great entertainment and activities on the Strip would take weeks and generally can’t be accomplished in one trip. It’s easy to spend an entire Vegas vacation on the Strip and still wish you had more time to explore the area.
However, many people don’t realize that there’s a lot to see outside of the Strip. In fact, some of the most memorable experiences are found off-Strip. Though I am usually out leading guests around natural wonders on our Grand Canyon tours, I have recently been exploring some cultural offerings. I share some of my favorites below.
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It’s not easy to put into words the AREA15 experience; imagine a shopping mall where you can buy experiences rather than things. Once inside, you will discover a wide range of fantastic, seemingly other-worldly activities.
The centerpiece experience in AREA15 is Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart. This vast art installation will make you feel as though you’ve been whisked away to another world. Here you can travel beyond an unusual supermarket into uncharted territory, look for hidden portals, play and explore among bizarre sceneries, and take in the fantastic art. Don’t be put off by the moderately high price of admission. The fees are reasonable given the size of the space and the time required to see it all. The experience is truly one-of-a-kind and more than worth the cost.
Pro tips for an unforgettable experience:
- Bring only your keys, phone, and mask since they ask you to empty your pockets before entering.
- Remember to ask an employee for a boop card (yes, that’s what it’s called). Having a boop card allows you to hear the narrator’s explanation of the exhibit. While the exhibit would still be enjoyable without it, the narration takes it to the next level.
- If you come here with your partner or family (which you should), you’ll get more than one boop card and can do both story routes.
- Make sure you have at least 2 hours to soak in all the experiences Area15 has to offer.
And that’s only one of Area15’s adventures. There’s also the Van Gogh Immersive Experience, where you can see the work of Vincent Van Gogh come to life with a guided painting experience. Wink World features a corridor of art pieces and six infinity mirror chambers. There are also Museum Fiasco and Oddwood Bar, which has a 25-foot Maple Tree. These are just a few of Area15’s most popular activities. Area15 is the place to go if you want to have a fun and unique experience during your Las Vegas visit.
When the sun sets, Las Vegas comes alive and sparkles brightly with a dazzling display of neon lights vying for your attention. The iconic Las Vegas neon lights are both a statement of vitality and a cry for attention. The lights have such a strong association with the city that an entire museum is dedicated to the two. As soon as you walk inside the Neon Museum, you will be greeted by thousands of colorful LEDs. The Neon Museum, located in the north of the Mob Museum on Las Vegas Boulevard, pays homage to the classic Las Vegas light display. The museum allows visitors to seemingly travel back in time to be immersed in the ’40s and ’50s when neon lights were at their peak. The Neon Museum offers several education and enrichment programs, tours, and private events.
Fremont Street Experience
If live music and street performers are more your speed, Fremont Street is a must-see. For decades, the world-famous Las Vegas Strip has served as the city’s focal point. However, this has not always been the case. In fact, Downtown Las Vegas was the heart of the old Las Vegas, with Freemont Street serving as the first Strip. You can be sure that the experience will be worthwhile.
During your visit, the first thing you will notice is the Viva Vision light show. This is the world’s largest digital display (excellent during the day and spectacular at night). The display is a 1,375 feet long, 90 feet wide canopy suspended 90 feet in the air above Fremont Street. You will be delighted by outstanding entertainers, have wonderful beverages, and eat quality cuisine. You are also welcome to join in the crowd’s singing and dancing. It’s a fun block party vibe every night of the week. Furthermore, food and beverages will be far less expensive than on the Las Vegas strip, even at restaurants.
Unfortunately, after conducting comprehensive research and interviewing visitors, we have discovered that there has recently been a lack of control in this area. Tourists have noted that they don’t always feel safe in this part of the city. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you read the most recent reviews of the location to learn about its present state.
As the name suggests, Container Park is primarily built from shipping containers. Specifically, 43 shipping containers and 41 cubes. The park is a shopping and entertainment complex situated in downtown Las Vegas.
There are various shops, restaurants, and entertainment options here, but none of the prominent retailers you would typically find at a mall. While visiting Container Park, you may also go to The Dome. This mini theater uses the ceiling as its screen. It shows short videos that are usually accompanied by music and lights. In the meantime, Tree House and Play Zone feature a 33-foot-tall slide that any kid will love, and most adults, too.
Many visitors come here to shop at novel stores in the open air. However, Container Park’s most fascinating feature is the enormous fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture.
The Mob Museum is located on Stewart Avenue and Third Street in the center of downtown Las Vegas. It is an interactive site that chronicles the history of well-known criminals and organized crimes. Here you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the influence of organized crime throughout America and the world.
The museum has significant historical importance. As an actual former courtroom, it has housed many of the world’s most prominent and defining cases. The museum underwent extensive renovations to preserve the historic courtroom, allowing visitors to walk the same corridors as federal investigators and famous mobsters of the past.
Since the exhibits are generally not kid-friendly, you may not want to take them to the museum. Whether you’re interested in history or want to admire the past, this museum will undoubtedly pique your interest.
Interestingly, you can purchase a variety of experiences here, including “force training” and “crime lab,” as well as a full access pass. However, the multilingual audio tours are the best add-on, as they will undoubtedly aid non-native speakers in fully appreciating this historical landmark.
If you don’t have much time, proceed to the third level to examine the actual artifacts before sitting in the courthouse where the trials were held. However, due to the high cost of the visit, rushing through is not advised.
When we think about Springs Preserve, the first thing that comes to mind is a vast botanical garden. Springs Preserve has so much more to offer. First and foremost, because of its size and the activities that may be held there, it is ideal for family gatherings. Not only do they offer summer camps for children, but also science classes and overnight family excursions. As a result, it’s an excellent environment to take your kids and enable them to develop their minds while also learning about nature and have fun.
In addition, you can learn about the valley’s rich past through nature displays, botanical gardens, trails, hiking, and viewing live animals. Many people hold their weddings here because of the gorgeous scenery. The location is stunning, and you don’t have to be a rustic type to appreciate the view. Just make sure to bring a camera to capture the special moments.
First Friday Las Vegas
First Friday Las Vegas is a monthly festival hosted in the Art Square in downtown Las Vegas. Its mission, as stated on the website, is to provide platforms and support for artists. But there’s more to it. The streets are blocked off, and the neighborhood is packed with food vendors, artisans, galleries, and live music. This is far from your typical neighborhood festival. Here you will discover a diverse range of art, food, drinks, music, and, most importantly, a good time.
You can bring your entire family to First Friday. There are activities for all ages, and many people will enjoy the festive atmosphere. Please note: if you prefer a more peaceful and tranquil environment to enjoy art, it may be challenging to do so in such a vibrant atmosphere. So yes, there are two sorts of people who come here; those who enjoy the party atmosphere and those who come to admire the art.
- Use an Uber or any Taxi service. You’ll save a lot of time and effort looking for a parking spot. You also won’t have to drive after enjoying some adult beverages.
- If you do drive, you’ll soon learn that parking spots are pretty difficult to come by. Although the Arts Factory has parking, it fills up early. The same can be said about street parking. We would suggest arriving early to secure a spot.
- Put on a pair of sneakers or a pair of walking shoes. You’ll undoubtedly walk a lot, especially if you want to see everything and not miss out.
- Be prepared to wait in a long line for the public restroom. Visitors are not permitted to use private toilets in the galleries.
- Keep an eye on your family, especially children. In the thick of the crowd and the hustle, you could lose sight of your family in the blink of an eye.
- Cash is king. Some food stalls don’t accept credit cards. Many food vendors do not sell water, which is sold in the tents.
- If you arrive early, go to the Arts Factory first. It becomes very crowded around 8 pm.
Life is Beautiful Festival
Life is Beautiful Music & Arts Festival (LIB) is held in downtown Las Vegas. It showcases a wide range of music genres, from mainstream pop to hip hop, rock, and electronic. LIB carefully chooses the music acts to ensure that they are all high-quality artists. This results in a fantastic lineup of great musicians. To truly appreciate the music, I’d recommend checking out all the musicians that will be performing this year.
Aside from music, the event features murals and interactive art on the grounds and a diverse standup comedy lineup and motivational speakers. In addition, it offers a broad selection of local and regional restaurants and bars with world-class chefs and bartenders, as well as food trucks and street food experiences.
The stages, like the food, are dispersed across the districts. This means that there will be a lot of walking. Some stages, particularly the tented area or enclosed spaces, are quite hot inside and relatively small and narrow. Keep in mind that seating will be limited. Some sites may not have any grass for you to sit on. The Fremont stage is terrific, and the downtown stage, which is accessible to the public, is ideal for large groups. The electronic stage is fairly narrow, and once you’re out of the tented area, the volume is lower than what you’d expect.
Don’t get too engrossed in the music that you miss out on the other aspects of the festival. LIB is also an art festival. The talent of the local artists is eye-opening and worth checking out. The price range is relatively accessible; you can buy pieces for as little as $50 and as much as $4,000. Thankfully, there is air conditioning, so it is a great location to cool off while savoring the art.
All of the advice we gave above for First Friday Las Vegas applies here as well since it’s also a festival with a lot of walking. Make sure you take notes to get the most out of the event. Finally, you can leave at 2 am and still find places to drink, dine, and party.