Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez
Las Vegas and I have a solid understanding: We’re good with seeing each other only once every few years. From the squashed streets, gambling that I never knew how much I loved and “inventive” ways to spend my time and money, I thought I reached max Vegas capacity in my late 20s. However, after a recent visit to Downtown Las Vegas, my interest in Sin City has since blossomed into a full blown love affair.
My last trip to Vegas was more than three or four years ago and I was craving the desert heat since moving to San Francisco. I knew that I wanted a weekend in Vegas with excitement, bright lights, music and a young crowd so Downtown won me over. The Oasis at Gold Spike , Downtown’s newest boutique hotel, graciously invited me to check out their digs.
The newly remodeled rooms, modern decor, vinyls, beach cruiser rentals, turntables and swanky pool attract young travelers and locals. We spent a couple nights in a “Premier Crash Pad” and were greeted with a comfy room, fun artwork and views of the pool below.
The massive bar, outdoor music venue, oversized outdoor games (Jenga, cornhole, beer pong, anyone?!) and super fun, nightly crowd at the Backyard at Goldspike next door helps to create an even livelier experience during your stay. Keep in mind that Goldspike can get pretty rowdy on the weekends, like most Vegas spots. So, if you’re seeking a calm solace to rest after gambling and sinning, you may have some trouble getting a solid eight hours.
Walking distance from Fremont and the dining, entertainment and bars near the Container Park, aka a grownup’s theme park for eating, shopping and entertainment, the Oasis at Gold Spike is really all you need to know. Regardless if you’re in town for a bachelor party or a huge gathering with friends, the Oasis has some great, lively accommodations.
If you do feel the urge for some off-the-strip entertainment and you’re not afraid of releasing all control, you must check out the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Ride in the passenger seat of a 600HP NASCAR race car as a professional driving instructor (read: handsome young buck) takes you up to speeds of 165 MPH.
You’re suited up in a fire suit and helmet. You’re strapped in, introduced to your driver, and you just kind of hold on. We whipped around the track three times, which felt like only about 90 seconds. Cameras are equipped within and outside the car so I highly recommend you purchase your video after your ride along. You can watch my Richard Petty Driving Experience here.
Even if you’re not a huge race car fan, I guarantee you’ll love the experience. I mean, where else can you jump into a stranger’s stock car and drive faster than you ever imagined? If you really want to feel the speed, there are packages where you can actually drive the car yourself for any number of laps. This is the place to check out for the ultimate vehicular boner, promise. (PS: The racetrack is about 20 minutes or so away from the Strip so call the office ahead to arrange for a complimentary pick-up.)
Once your need-for-speed adrenaline rush finally simmers down, head back over to Fremont Street for a meal. We had brunch arranged at Park on Fremont, a casual, hyper whimsical eatery with an outdoor patio perfect for people watching and boozing.
Park on Fremont has a pretty impressive bottled beer list to get your day going. Or, indulge in a cocktail or bloody mary to throw your day in overdrive. Start your meal with some Pillow Talk, a blend of pear vodka, strawberries, cucumber, lemon, orange, mint and club soda, or some Twig & Berries, a gin and elderflower mule with muddled raspberries.
All of the menu items make for great ways to soak up the booze from the night before. Go for the Chilaquiles and Chicken and Waffle Sandwich like we did, or the Fried Pickles or any one of their burgers.
Even if you’re not visiting Park on Fremont for a meal, make sure you drop by and hang out inside at the bar. The huge collection of original Josh Keyes artwork and other paintings and installations are amazingly beautiful. Kudos to the interior designer who created an awesome display of modern art with a dreamy twist.
Downtown Las Vegas is where you want to go if you’re young, hip and appreciate art and design. If you want to enjoy Vegas without the touristy masses, you’ll definitely want to check out the area. The craziness of the Strip is just a 20 minute taxi ride away so you can definitely find your Sin City balance.
As always, thank you to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for arranging a pretty unforgettable Downtown Vegas experience. Until next time!