I'm a die-hard fan of all things classic Las Vegas, but I've got to admit those hotel rooms at Binion's were just not up to snuff the last time I stayed there. Stiff competition, including from the glittering Golden Nugget and its brand-new Rush Tower across the street, was just too much. Even the basic rooms at Main Street Station are better value than Binion's. Still, it's hard not to get nostalgic about the downfall of a Fremont Street legend like Binion's, which has already changed owners more times in the 21st century than it did in the 20th.
Thankfully, there are still plenty of places downtown, on or off Fremont Street, to get that vintage Vegas vibe:
- Play Texas hold 'em in the swankly redesigned "Hall of Fame" poker room at Binion's.
- Check out the outdoor exhibits of the Neon Museum, stretching from the eerily half-empty Neonopolis to the 3rd Street cul-de-sac, just north of Fremont St.
- Grab a shrimp cocktail (still just 99 cents for players club members) from the 1906 Golden Gate Casino and Hotel.
- Catch a performance of The Rat Pack is Back! at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, then check out the glass-dome restaurant Firefly for its cockpit-views of the Fremont Street Experience.
- Cruise Main Street south during daylight hours for cool retro shops, like Main Street Antiques (awesome casino memorabilia), Rainbow Feather Dyeing Co (authentic showgirl boas!) or The Attic (outrageous vintage clothing and furniture).
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Photo: Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas (Michael Connolly, Jr.)