I've spent many, many reams of digital ink typing up my praises to Downtown Las Vegas as the neighborhood continues to grow from an empty lot filled mugging-zone where one would not dare spend time after dark away from the single large street of cheesy low stakes gambling parlors into the vibrant and interesting area filled with unique and cool local businesses its quickly becoming. Places like The Downtown Cocktail Room and The Griffin and events like First Fridays have thrived and encouraged the openings of distinct watering holes like Insert Coins, The Lady Silva, Bar+Bistro, Artifice, Commonwealth, and resurrected classic Atomic Liquors, as well as hipster brunch spot Eat, quirky museums that illuminate the history of the Mob and Atomic Testing in Las Vegas, the soon to open (and surprisingly cool sounding) Shipping Container Park, coffee/vinyl/zine merchants The Beat Coffeehouse, world class cultural showcase The Smith Center... you get the idea. Basically, I'm trying to say that Downtown is pretty cool.
Downtown's evolution continues to roll on (to mix metaphors), as list of new businesses and projects are set to debut on or near Fremont Street in the next year or so. Below is a list of just a few #DTV coming attractions I'm most excited about.
The Velveteen Rabbit
Local sisters Pam and Christina Dylag are set to open their dream bar in Downtown as soon as construction finishes, and these crushable alt-chicks have a vision. Named after their favorite children's story, set to serve craft brews and cocktails, and promising to feature an imaginative and whimsical design inspired by its imaginative name (and teased on the bar's Facebook page), the place will most likely become an essential hipster mecca, frequented by Vegan-riding bicycle riders and haunted by food trucks just outside its doors, once it opens officially in 2013.
The Life is Beautiful Festival
No, it's not a weekend devoted to the Oscar-winning Robert Benigni concentration camp set tragi-comedy, but rather a music food and wine festival that promises to bring "arena sized acts" to Downtown in an event that's being organized by a powerful coalition, including the people behind San Francisco's popular answer to Coachella, Outside Lands, the marketing group behind First Fridays, and the guy who served as The Cosmopolitan's music director. Despite the terrible name and even though they have promised "arena-sized" artists, Life is Beautiful has the lot of potential to bring back a full-on music festival that's a little less corporate-driven than iHeart Radio to Las Vegas and features acts a little more interesting and outside-the-box than Lady Gaga or Usher (and which will hopefully be organized in a way that will lead to less diva-like onstage tantrums from mega-selling pop-stars who petulantly insist they're not Justin Bieber).
The irreverent and dude-friendly barbershop, which gained some notoriety by promoting their bad reviews with a "people hate us on Yelp" flag that became so popular that they turned it into book form. Now the cutting-edge hair-cutters are moving to the Shipping Container Park in Las Vegas, in a converted train caboose. Obviously, this place could not be cooler, so get on the crazy train and score yourself a great new cut before you hit the bars on your next Vegas adventure.