Most people who visit Las Vegas never see more than The Strip. They come to try their luck at craps, relax by the pool with bottle service or catch a show. Or, in my case, attend a full-day conference with barely time for a quick dinner and a snooze. But, should you come to Vegas and are feeling a little overwhelmed by the manufactured look of perfection, catch a transit bus to Fremont Street for some rich history and cheap entertainment.
For a few dollars ($6 for 2 hours, $8 for 24 hours, and $20 for 3 days), I hopped aboard a San Francisco-style double-decker bus called The Deuce that runs up and down the Vegas strip and stops at virtually every hotel and casino. Taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the street. The Deuce is painfully slow so instead take a single level express bus called the SDX (I learned that on my return trip). Both buses are air-conditioned, clean and make final stops on Fremont Street before turning around.
Prepare your pockets with a dozen $1 bills for the eclectic entertainment you’re about to experience. “Busking” as it’s called for performers who sing, dance and play publicly is perfectly legal on Fremont Street. It’s not required but returning the favor with a tip is appreciated. Be respectful – never take a photo-op without tossing a few dollars first.
For the next 5 blocks, a plentiful number of street performers, semi-strippers, puppeteers, magicians and musicians are bound to catch your fancy. If you’re not careful though, Glitter Gulch might be more than what you bargained for. The acts perform on a pedestrian mall protected from the elements by an overhead canopy that acts like a light show at night — the world’s largest and most spectacular. Some of the exhibitionists are too weird, others think just showing a little flesh is enough for a tip, but most are skilled talents waiting to be discovered.
If you are able to time your visit to Fremont Street with a few hours at the “Life is Beautiful” Music Festival, even better! It was wrapping up its third day at Container Park when I visited. There were four separate stages for dozens of chart-topping bands including Alt-J, Broken Bells, Arctic Monkeys and the Foo Fighters along with art displays and interactive exhibits. Did I have a ticket? Regrettably, not this time but definitely the next!