By Mark Owens

This weekend I take my annual trip to Las Vegas for 72 hours of gambling, cheap food, booze and what will inevitably include a call to my wife to beg for more money.

When it comes to Vegas, I’m an old soul. I’m a fan of blue-collar, old-school Downtown Vegas, specifically the Fremont Street Experience (home of the nightly overhead light show). It’s been noted my admiration for Sin City, but I’m not flying across the country for expensive restaurants, overpriced clubs and pool parties where my dad bod is frowned upon (I can do all that in Atlanta).

I go to Vegas to do everything I can’t at home: gamble, sleep at odd hours, eat cheap food and day drink.

If you only visit Vegas once, or your trip is centered around a party or a show, then The Strip is perfect. The Vegas lights at night and the Bellagio fountains are something that everyone must see. However for me, Downtown is perfect, and here are a few pros and cons to explain why:

Pros and Cons of Staying and Playing in Downtown Vegas:

Pro: Cheaper. Everything is cheaper. The food, drinks, hotels; everything is significantly less painful on your budget.
Con: Cheaper, Not Cleaner. You may get a hotel room for $45, but you get what you pay for. I’ve stayed in some awful hotels with obvious shower stains and carpet spots. There are a few 5-star resorts Downtown, but again, if you’re paying $20 for a room, you get what you pay for.

Pro: Location. On The Strip, it takes at least 10 minutes to walk from one casino to another. Downtown, you can have a bad run at the tables and be in another location with a fresh drink and new game in less than five minutes.
Con: They Focus on Gaming, not Entertainment Downtown. The shows on The Strip are better and you have a variety to chose from. I’m not saying Downtown doesn’t have its share of talent and entertaining shows. But if you are looking for A-List bands or comedians, The Strip has better options.

Pro: Pools are cheap or Free. The pool scene is not hyped Downtown, but if you want to cool off there are plenty of options. Some pools require you to be a guest, some may charge $10 – $20, and some are free for everybody. Bonus: You don’t need six-pack abs or plastic surgery to get in, come one come all!
Con: Pools are not a Focus. The Downtown pool scene is evolving; with Golden Nugget, Downtown Grand and Plaza all spending more money on their pools, but that’s about it. Everything else is a glorified hotel pool.

Pro: The People. Downtown is full of blue-collar, Middle America, hard-working folks looking to get away and spend their hard-earned money. Yes, there are plenty of beautiful people, but you also wont find Millennials looking for a safe space after losing their bank roll.
Con: The People. It’s cheap booze and pedestrian friendly. This brings in some real sketchy folks. You need to be on your A-Game when walking around the Fremont Street Experience. The chances something happens to you are slim, but I’ve seen plenty of drunken fights and had to talk down a few overly aggressive pan handlers. Just be safe and don’t be sloppy drunk alone.

I do plan on placing some bets on the Dawgs to take the SEC East, the Braves to make a Wildcard run and the Falcons are currently at 18-1 odds to return to the Super Bowl in 2018. That’s an easy bet.

Follow me on Twitter @Marko6262 for pics and updates from Vegas, Baby!

Comments (2)
  1. REALLY like staying “downtown” guessing it’s going on 20 years since stayed on the strip. Don’t feel like I have to dress like a movie star. Lots to do, easy to get around and FUN.

  2. I’ve been to Vegas 20 times over the last 13 years and the bulk of those trips, I have stayed on Fremont Street and the change over the last 6-7 years has been interesting to watch. I’ve stayed at Binion’s twice, the Golden Gate three times (But not since they added the suites several years ago (which are a pretty decent bargain at times.), the Golden Nugget twice, the Four Queens twice, the Plaza once and The D (which is my “home” casino along with the Golden Gate) twice. The resort that will be going up on the former site of the Las Vegas Club is likely to be up there with the Golden Nugget in terms of quality (Derek and Greg Stevens originally planned on retaining most of the former Las Vegas Club’s structures, but have since decided to tear the entire block down and start from scratch. It’s a good idea since their renovations at the Golden Gate and The D forced them to make concessions to the way the rooms are laid out. It will be the first clean sheet resort since the Sundance [now known as The D] opened in 1980.).

    Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, if you walk into The D, you’re very likely to see Derek Stevens holding court at the end of Longbar. He’s probably the most accessible casino owner in Vegas (If Steve Wynn were to be at one of the casino bars at Wynn or Encore, he’d have a security detail rivaling the President surrounding him.) and I’ve been having diner at Andiamo (The steakhouse/Italian restaurant at The D.) and he’s come into the restaurant and gone table to table shaking people’s hands and thanking them for dining there and spending time at the hotel. The D also has the best cheap way to gamble, Sigma Derby….

Leave a Reply