Exploring Las Vegas’ Retro Side
It’s always interesting to see how a city changes decade after decade. Vegas’ heydays of the Rat Pack fifties through the neon seventies are historic. Today, parts of Downtown Las Vegas remain (mostly) intact, and have become an attraction worthy of a visit.
Fremont Street is still the most popular “vintage” Vegas attraction. The old Strip is home to the Golden Nugget, the Pioneer Club, and Vegas Vic–the popular giant cowboy sign that’s synonymous with the old city (remember that Austin Powers scene?). It can be a bit oddball at night, but if you’re a fan of neon, you should stop by and snap a few pics here. Bonus points if you stick around for a drink at Velveteen Rabbit, Corduroy, Oak and Ivy, or Atomic Liquor.
Having boomed in the fifties and sixties, Vegas also has some killer antique shopping destinations. Many of them are filled to the brim with great finds. Antique Alley is a short distance from the Strip madness, and a one-stop destination for all things mod, mid-century, high-end, and low-end. A unique find from the Alley makes for a perfect Vegas holiday souvenir.
Designed to invoke 1940’s New York City skyline, this spot is part of a group of themed hotels that still stand today. These ambitious thematic properties may seem kitschy, but this was all the rage with tourists several decades ago. Today, they have a fully renovated park that features wonderful new outdoor spaces, a full casino, a roller coaster, a pool, and a spa. Here’s your chance to get that perfect picture with the Statue of Liberty that you never really nailed. Bonus: their entertainment options are great–ranging from Cher, Cirque du Soleil, and events at the T-Mobile arena.
Built to give guests a taste of Roman grandeur, the Caesar’s Palace is a true landmark on the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel’s big trademarks are their Garden of the Gods Oasis, studded with multiple pools named after Roman gods, as well as their sprawling stone and gold common areas. The entire grounds ooze opulent Vegas at its best–which is why they’re known for having star-studded guest lists. For some nightclubbing escapades, reserve a spot at Omnia, or grab drinks at Cleopatra’s Barge.
Taking themes to the extreme, Paris Las Vegas was completed in the late nineties with a slew of the French capital’s landmarks: a half-scale Eiffel Tower, replicas of the Arc de Triomphe, La Fontaine des Mers, and nods to the Paris Opera House and Louvre. While there aren’t as many live shows, this location–now owned by Caesar’s Entertainment–gives guests a slice of old-school Vegas with dueling pianos and stand-up comedy. Their Soleil Pool, set amidst French garden-inspired landscape, is right beneath the Eiffel Tower, making for pretty stellar rooftop views.
Few hotels make the cut as iconic Strip properties–and there’s nothing quite like the MGM Grand. Opened in 1993, it was a Wizard of Oz themed project–the building was lit up in Emerald City-green, boasted Oz attractions, and sold film memorabilia inside. Eventually, renovations were enacted to transform the hotel into an Art Deco hotel that harkens back to classic Hollywood films. The Wizard of Oz attractions were scrapped, and a huge casino was built. Refurbishment took place again in 2011, and today the MGM is, well, grand. This is the largest hotel in the U.S., with over 5,000 rooms. What to do here? David Copperfield, Cirque Du Soleil, CSI The Experience, and so much more.
Where else would you get to stay inside a large glass pyramid, complete with sphynx? One of Las Vegas’ most ridiculously grandiose hotel properties, yet one of our favorites is the Luxor Hotel & Casino. It combines opulence, largesse, and all the oddball entertainment and gaming you can imagine. It may not be shiny and new, but their amenties are just fine for a short trip. Pro tip: you’ll also have access to The Park, MGM’s latest outdoor hangout spot with plenty food, drinks, and entertainment options. Get involved!
Few things make a kitschy trip to Vegas worth it, but we think an on-property Margaritaville and the chance to see Olivia Newton-John are pretty solid selling points. Now a Caesar’s Hotel, Flamingo Las Vegas is officially the oldest standing hotel on the Strip–but has been remodeled extensively. Fun fact: mobster Bugsy Siegel first imagined this establishment. Some say that the Presidential Suite had a secret escape ladder in case he had to leave in a hurry, but we weren’t there, so we won’t pinky promise on that. The casino was one of the five robbed in the original Ocean’s Eleven, and was immortalized in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This spot is one hundred percent classic, old-school Vegas at its finest.