I grew up visiting Las Vegas WAY more than I ever wanted to. Being from Southern California, it was always a practical pit stop on our way to other destinations. Admittedly, it’s a welcome sight after miles of thirsty desert, and for a child it’s a fantastical Disneyland of sorts. But you get into walking the strip and realize, “hey wait a minute, there’s something odd about this city of neon lights and magic shows” (alas, it may have something to do with the hundreds of naked girl fliers being passed out by men flicking them in their hands). After an unfortunate experience with my family involving not reserving a hotel for the night and ending up at a trucker motel in North Vegas and finding a surprise in the bathroom (hint: it’s not what a 10 year old should be seeing and no, it was not a dead body), I swore off Sin City.
However, since moving to Utah it has since become the closest destination with some sort of entertainment component and I LOVE staying in hotels so we’ve been discovering the city more and more and you know what? There is WAY more than meets the eye. I recently met illustrator Abbie Paulhus who introduced me to the lesser-known and totally rad side of Las Vegas and today she’s sharing her favorite spots along with this beautifully illustrated map.
I’m so excited to get to share about this because I’m so passionate about people seeing that there’s more to Vegas than just the strip and “sin city”. Here are my favorite spots in the arts district of Downtown Las Vegas:
Las Vegas City Guide
Best Eats in Las Vegas:
Public Us: Lunch spot of choice. My favorite drink is the London Fog.
Cornish Pasty: Traditional cornish meat pies. My favorite is the Shepard’s pie.
Donut Bar: America’s favorite doughnut, probably. The “Homer” is very Instagram worthy, but their creme brulee doughnut has an actual creme brulee crust on top!
Vegenation: Best Vegan restaurant in Vegas. Great lighting and green wall for photos!
Carson Kitchen: Quaint eatery and my favorite date night spot. They specialize in small dishes to share, and have a beautiful roof patio.
Evel Pie: Evel Knievel themed pizza place. Try the rattlesnake pizza with actual rattlesnake.
Atomic Liquors: Vegas’ oldest freestanding bar. Kitchen opens at 4pm.
Park: The all-time cutest back patio. See if you can find the seesaw hidden back there! Happy Hour from 4-7 during the week with half-off appetizers.
Laundry Room: Speakeasy located somewhere in the Commonwealth. Good luck finding it and getting a reservation!
Commonwealth: Cocktail bar with pre-prohibition era style.
Golden Tiki: This is actually in Chinatown, but it’s Vegas’ best Tiki bar! Food served only on weekends, but check out the Dole Whip if you’re not into alcohol.
Vesta Coffee Roasters: Vegas’ bougiest coffee shop. Beautiful minimal style and amazing coffee, what’s not to love? Just be cool when you’re in there. Really cool.
Makers and Finders: I can’t come here without getting a lavender latte. Their specialty is latin comfort food and they serve breakfast food through dinner.
Eat: Great breakfast and lunch. They just expanded to a 2nd location in Summerlin as well.
Lola’s: Louisiana Kitchen. Come during crawfish season!
Best Shops in Las Vegas:
Sister House Collective: A highly curated shop with ethical goods from local Las Vegas artists and from artists around the world. You can also find a lot of local events and workshops on different art forms and living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Writer’s Block: Cutest book store you ever did see. They also have writers groups and workshops for adults and kids.
11th Street Records: Record shop with a recording studio in the back. Local musician hang out spot.
Fergusons: A renovated motel turned art studios and restaurants, opening early 2018. In the meantime they host a bi-weekly local artist’s market. Find market times on their Instagram: @fergusonsdowntown
Container Park: An ever-changing landscape of independently owned shops inside stacked containers. Open air shopping center. There’s a giant treehouse in the center of it that adults can go in too!
Jaeci: Jewelry and clothing boutique.
ReBar: Antiques by day, bar by night.
Tatyana Boutique: Rockabilly style boutique
Gaia Flowers: Flower shop
Awesome Things To Do in Las Vegas:
Visit Zappos: Voted one of the top 100 places to work. Zappos has been instrumental in helping boost the downtown Las Vegas scene. Check out Zappos unique work culture in a 90 minute tour:
Neon Museum: One of my favorite places to visit with a lot of the vintage neon signs from past hotels. Plus, you can get married in there if you want.
Mob Museum: Learn about the mob and Vegas history and stuff.
Fremont Street Zipline: Zipline down all of Fremont Street. Not my thing, but maybe it’s yours.
Bunkhouse Saloon: Lots of local shows and indie bands.
Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear your selections!