Postcards: "Off The Beaten Strip" in Vegas

Richard White, April 1, 2014

Most visitors to Vegas spend all their time on The Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard South from Sahara Avenue to Harmon Avenue) or on Fremont Street from Main Street to 5th Street in downtown. However, there is much more (and much more interesting) to Vegas than the glitz and glitter of these two streets.

As seasoned urban explorers, we love to look beyond the obvious. Recently, we spent three days in Vegas almost exclusively pursuing off the beaten strip gems and hanging with the locals. 

We even booked a room at the LVH (aka Las Vegas Hotel and Casino), which is located just off The Strip. It turns out the LVH is full Vegas history including being the first place that Elvis performed in Vegas, as well as being the largest hotel in the world when it was built 50 years ago.  It was a great jumping off point for exploring Vegas' Arts District, Antique Alley, Container Park and thrift stores.

We find that one of the best ways to get off the beaten path and hang with the locals is to head to the thrift stores as they are often in interesting places and full of colourful characters. Like, for example, the Vegas Goodwill where we (and everyone else) were greeted with a loud and enthusiastic  "Welcome to Goodwill," not your robotic "Welcome to Walmart" or the half-hearted "can I help you?" While in Vegas, we often had other thrifters giving us tips on other stores and places to check out (e.g. Container Park). 

Here are a few postcards of the real Vegas you will never find in the tacky tourist shops. We hope you enjoy them.  

This surrealist artwork was found on a warehouse wall in Vegas' Arts District.

This graffiti mural was found in an area with numerous street artworks that reminded us of Freak Alley in Boise, Idaho.

One night we wandered Freemont Street past Container Park and found this oversize fire hydrant. It was the gateway to the neighbourhood dog park.  We love fun things like this; too often urban spaces are too minimal, too subtle and just plain too serious. 

Along Main Street South there is a bohemian district with quirky art galleries, antique stores and tattoo parlours.  We found this guy in the back room of an art gallery. 

Container Park has dozens of repurposed containers (rail cars) which have been constructed to create a Learning Village on half a block and a urban playground with shops, pubs, restaurants, concert and playground areas on the other half. It is located on Freemont Street at 7th Avenue.  It is a funky place for people of all ages. This is a single container that is like a sky bridge or +15 (Calgarians will know what that is) that links two separate container buildings. 

Retro Vegas (aka Vegas' other pink flamingo) is one of the best vintage stores we have visited in the past few years. 

Not sure this is the finest thrift store in Nevada, but what the h%#@, Vegas is all about bragging rights.

Found this old cross neon light in the Arts District, to me this was more interesting than all of the huge glitzy neon lights on The Strip or Freemont Street. 

Adults enjoying the playground in Container Park at night.

Children enjoying the playground at Container Park during the day. 

JJC Clocks & Antiques on south Main Street is like a mini-museum.  

These repurposed chairs with their colourful duct tape seats were found outside a recycle DIY store in the Arts District. 

Found these ladies just outside the LVH (Las Vegas Hotel and Casino) at 10 am.  Asked if they were heading to work and they said "No, just finished!"