Everyone has heard of the Las Vegas Strip, but how often do you explore downtown Las Vegas? Better yet, did you know that Las Vegas has an Arts District? While it may be challenging to see Las Vegas culture from inside a casino-resort on the Strip, it doesn’t mean that culture doesn’t exist. The 18b Las Vegas Arts District is the city’s home to eclectic galleries, boutiques, bars, eateries and other venues. [Image above is attributed to: http://www.18b.org/]
18b straddles West Charleston and is home to vibrant streetscapes, colorful buildings, and public art and murals. 18b’s short and walkable blocks are filled with charming character and a cultural identity that tends to fly under the radar. Do something different the next time you travel to Las Vegas. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and head to 18b, The Las Vegas Arts District for places to dine, drink, and explore!
When To Go
The best days to visit the Las Vegas Arts District are Thursday through Sunday, however, you can experience all of 18b’s eclectic charm every day. If you’re planning a trip and want to see the main highlights of the Las Vegas Arts District, take these days into consideration when scheduling:
–First Friday: On the first Friday of every month, the neighborhood hosts a massive block party with live music and entertainment, local art on display, and the best food trucks Vegas has to offer. Free shuttles run between Fremont & 6th (near the El Cortez and Downtown Container Park) and the Arts District (shuttle stop is at Main St. and Colorado).
-Preview Thursday: If you’re an art collector, don’t miss Preview Thursday. On the night before First Friday, art galleries are open until 10pm and collectors can check out new art galleries so they don’t have to fight the First Friday crowds.
-Time your visit around happy hour or meal time so you can experience 18b’s thriving culinary scene.
-It’s important to keep in mind that many galleries are closed on Sundays and Mondays, so be sure to check the hours of operation of a particular gallery you’re interested in visiting in advance.
The Art Galleries of 18b
The 18b Arts District boasts everchanging street art and over two dozen art studios and galleries. Many of these are located in the flourishing commercial arts center, which consists of three remodeled buildings and a beautiful outdoor art garden. The Arts Factory is a building comprised of several art galleries and studios. Across the street is Art Square, a fully-renovated warehouse building that many creative businesses call home. Arts Square also contains a beauty salon, restaurants, a wedding chapel, and the Cockroach Theatre.
The Shops of 18b
More than 20 independent antique and vintage stores make up Antique Alley, with the majority located in the Arts District. Catering to mid-century modern enthusiasts, lovers of vintage clothes, and collectors of antiques of all kinds, popular shops include Patina Décor, Buffalo Exchange and Retro Vegas.
–Glam Factory Vintage is a boutique that features everything from kitschy collectables and antiques to a large collection of vintage clothing from the 1940’s-1970’s. New inventory, daily!
–Cowtown Guitars is Las Vegas’ only exclusive used, vintage & boutique shop. Established in 1990, Cowtown Guitars has hundreds of guitars, basses, and amps.
–Gaia Flowers Gifts Art offers stunning assortments of organic flowers, cactus gardens, local artwork and handcrafted novelties.
The Restaurants and Bars of 18b
After visiting the galleries and shopping, stop and refuel at one of 18b’s many artsy cafes, restaurants or bars. There’s no shortage of great options within the Las Vegas Arts District. Indulge your senses (taste, in particular) with one of these unique venues.
–Lola’s is a cozy Louisiana kitchen with cajun cooking. Grab some gumbo, crawdads or étouffée.
–Mingo Kitchen and Lounge has creative dishes and delectable Sunday brunches.
–Artifice is a popular lounge that showcases local music talent and features boutique wines and cocktails. The rooms are decorated with art and photography by local and international artists.
–The Velveteen Rabbit has local music, art, performances, and an outstanding assortment of draft and bottled beers and handcrafted cocktails.
–Millennium Fandom Bar is where cosplay meets the bar scene and the result is an amazing collection of nerdtastic events. Grab a drink before the next major screening of hit movies and TV shows like Game of Thrones, Star Wars, or The Avengers. Or, stop by for Nerdathon & Geekathon Trivia every Wednesday night!
This bohemian neighborhood may not appeal to everyone, but if you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys getting off the beaten path (and free parking!) or if you’re tired of the Strip and want to try something new, give 18b a chance and explore the art and culture that “real” Las Vegas has to offer.