If you’re looking to take a walk through Las Vegas’s seedy past, what better way than to spend a weekend right in the heart of it? I was invited in for a staycation at El Cortez Hotel & Casino to get a look at the history of the hotel and the area and see what Fremont Street East has to offer. Join me for a historic Las Vegas staycation.
A Staycation With History in Las Vegas
El Cortez Hotel & Casino is no stranger to major renovations, and this year, parts of the property are undergoing a facelift (the hotel is over 80 years old, after all). If you’re looking for something a bit more modern, opt for one of the main tower rooms, which have been fully remodeled and redone for a blend of classic and modern vibes.
If you’re feeling truly nostalgic, opt for one of the Original 47 rooms. These rooms are a direct throwback to the days when members of the mob owned the property and reflect the Havana, Cuba look that was all the rage at the time (the mob was also building their casino empire in Cuba during those years in the 1940s). These rooms are accessible via a short staircase that’s just off the casino floor and immediately transports you back to that time period. I stayed in an Original 47 room and loved the vintage vibes of the room, the hallway, and the entire wing of the hotel.
Dinner and History
Grab a bite at Siegel’s 1941—the hotel’s onsite 24-hour restaurant that caters to guests any time of the day. Here, you’ll find some of the mainstay favorites of Downtown Las Vegas, like shrimp cocktail and prime rib (the special is only $16.95). There’s also an extensive overnight menu, plenty of breakfast options, a cocktail list, and a number of decadent desserts. After your meal, take a walk around the hotel and venture down the Las Vegas History Hallway for a look at the property’s past and how it helped shape the Las Vegas we know and love today. The restaurant has a variety of specials and during the colder months, you’ll find one particular item that’s sure to please your palate—stone crab! The special is available on weekends for $55—compared to the prices on the Strip, it’s a steal!
If you’re looking for a drink, there are plenty of fantastic options in and around El Cortez. Onsite, you have The Parlour Bar, Ike’s, and Eureka! just around the corner. If you’re looking for another bite, Eureka! recently debuted new menu items, including a Chipotle Burger, Mandarin Chicken Salad, and a Braised Short Rib in the evening, along with an All-World Breakfast Burrito available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You’ll also find a variety of comfort food favorites like the Mac N’ Cheese Balls and Truffle Cheese Fries along with a wide range of burgers from familiar to fancy.
The next day, grab breakfast at Siegel’s 1941 before making your way out to East Fremont. If you’re looking for more great history, download a copy of the free Public Art map and guide from The Neon Museum. It’s a fun way to learn about the cool art signage that’s located throughout Fremont Street. The tour is self-guided, and you can explore 24 hours a day—try to catch the signs during the day and again at night—they look completely different when lit!
If you’re looking for some retail therapy, swing by Fergusons Downtown and the Downtown Container Park. Both plazas feature some highly unique art—you can’t miss them—and plenty of local eateries, small business boutiques, and artisanal vendors. They’re great places to find some unique Vegas souvenirs that you won’t be able to get anywhere else!
Before you head home, grab brunch at one of the many fantastic restaurants in the DTLV area. Peyote has one of the cutest outdoor patios and is located at the entrance to Fergusons Downtown. La Mona Rosa offers a fantastic menu of fun flavors. Park on Fremont is one of Fremont Street’s most beloved restaurants (by locals and tourists) and has some of the most unique decor you’ll find in Las Vegas.