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A hipster guide to Las Vegas

Published January 22nd, 2015

If mainstream Vegas is all a bit glam and phoney for your tastes, get off the beaten track and you’ll discover a more authentic side to Sin City. Our hipster guide to Las Vegas will take you far from the infamous concrete jungle of casinos and amusement parks to the best hangouts in town.

 

 

Get off The Strip!

Once a no-go zone for tourists, visitors are venturing further afield and liking what they find. Cruise down to Fremont East District in the heart of Downtown stretching from Las Vegas Boulevard to Eight Street to laugh the night away at comedy clubs, listen to live music, discover art galleries and enjoy a more cultured side of Vegas.

 

 

Arty farty Vegas

The local arts scene bursts to life at the Emergency Arts Building, a former hospital on Fremont Street that’s been converted to an open creative collective of artists, writers, filmmakers, galleries and shops. Hang out for hours wandering round the exhibits, soaking up the scene and enjoying coffee or lunch at the café afterwards. Maze-like The Arts Factory on East Charleston Boulevard is another huge arts centre in a converted warehouse, featuring visiting artists, galleries, a yoga studio, and a popular café and wine bar. If theatre is your thing, you’ll be blown away by the professional fringe plays at The Onyx Theatre, a cosy venue located (in true Vegas style) in a shopping centre behind a fetish store on East Sahara Avenue.

 

Double Down Saloon, Las Vegas
Photo: Double Down Saloon

 

The alternative entertainment scene

Start with an absinthe at the Artisan Hotel! Art Deco meets Gothic at this popular non-gaming venue at West Sahara Avenue that locals haunt where you can party all night surrounded by kitsch black artwork-covered ceilings, chandeliers, dripping candles and plush boutique décor that will make you feel a million miles from The Strip. Next, head to Vegas’ favourite dive bar, the cheap and cheerful Double Down Saloon on Paradise Road. Here you can sample the signature Bacon Martini in loud, chaotic, and refreshingly anarchic surroundings open 24 hours a day, with no cover charge.

 

Mob Museum, Las Vegas
Photo: Mob Museum

 

Don’t-miss sights

Organised crime has long left its mark on this part of the world so, fittingly, the Mob Museum on Stewart Avenue pays homage to their endeavours over three floors of fascinating exhibits. You even get to listen to original wiretap recordings. Next head to the uber-cool Neon Museum (North Las Vegas Boulevard) where you’ll discover glitzy vintage Vegas in a graveyard of neon signs. Encapsulating the city’s cultural heritage, discover huge restored signs from some of the legendary greats of Vegas like the Stardust and the Desert Inn. Another top spot to visit is the spooky Nevada Test Site, 65 kilometres outside town, where you can see pictures and footage of mushrooms clouds over the desert from thermonuclear explosions that were commonplace here in the 1950s. You’ll need to book ahead for a tour if you’re keen.

 

Neon Boneyard at the Neon Museum, Las Vegas
Photo: Neon Museum

 

Shopping: vinyl and polyester heaven

Music geeks will rejoice at the sight of the huge collections of contemporary and retro vinyl music at Zia Records on West Sahara Avenue. Happily browse for hours and you’re bound to discover some old favourites and new gems for your collection. Finally, no self-respecting hipster can turn down a good vintage clothing find, and you’ll definitely find that at The Attic Vintage Clothing Co. on South Main Street in Downtown Vegas. Vegas’ most famous secondhand clothing store is reputedly the largest vintage clothing store in the world, so shop ‘til you drop for rocking ‘60s polyester playsuits and vintage prom dresses galore.

 

 

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Amy Dalgleish

Wanderlust pommie, currently living the dream in sunny Byron Bay.