01/07/2016 12:58 EST | Updated 01/07/2017 05:12 EST

There's More To Downtown Las Vegas These Days

Eddie Lluisma via Getty Images

Written by Karen Kwan for

You're either a Las Vegas type or not -- that is, until now. With all of the lights, the non-stop party scene, the gambling, over-the-top restaurants and shows, Vegas is a flashy adult playground that resonates with certain personalities. But with more and more developing in downtown Las Vegas, there's now a more low-key way to enjoy this city that will appeal to Sin City naysayers and have you leaving Las Vegas loving it.


Check into the Downtown Grand. Since you're a good 20-minute drive away from the congested Vegas strip, you may even forget what city you're in. Located in the relatively quiet downtown area (also known as old Las Vegas), the Downtown Grand has spacious modern suites; The Commissary (an airy casual spot where you can grab complimentary coffee in the mornings); budget-friendly breakfasts and lunches; and drinks and snacks until 10 p.m. Our favourite hideaway here? The chic rooftop pool where you can enjoy some sunshine while kicking back on a chaise lounge far away from the din of the slot machines.


The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series always puts on a good race, with music at every mile and performances from top notch headliners such as Macklemore and Hedley -- as you might expect, the race in Vegas takes it up another notch. Taking place at night under the bright lights of the Strip with plenty of runners dressed as Elvis, superheroes and just plain kooky costumes -- there's even a run-thru wedding ceremony -- the race has a feel-good party energy. Any runner who races knows you need to take in all of the good vibes that you can when you're pounding that pavement. If "serenity now" is more your modus operandi when it comes to fitness, practice yoga beside the soothing view of the dolphin sanctuary at the Mirage or, for an outdoor adventure, head to Red Rock Canyon to hike and take in the beauty of mother nature. Not up for hiking? Sign up for with Pink Jeep Tours that'll bring you in their signature rose-hued jeeps to several scenic stops in the canyon, including Calico Hills and Sandstone Quarry, ending at one spot where you'll get to view pictographs from the land's ancestors.


Fulfill your need for retail therapy at the Downtown Container Park, where independent business owners have the opportunity to open a brick-and-mortar (or, to be more accurate, shipping container) location with short leases and/or just the limited square footage they need to test the market. You can feel good about shopping local; as for what you'll find here, think quirky toys, gourmet chocolates and artsy jewelry your girlfriend will love, along with chilled-out dining spots where you can kick back with a beer on a patio. Should you seek sneakers or sporty apparel, you're better off heading to the The LINQ, where you'll find cool shops such as 12 a.m. Run and Pier 30 for your outfit-of-the-day needs..


Sweet, savoury, or sinful, you can find what you need walking in downtown Las Vegas. You can get the trendy noodle du jour, ramen, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Downtown Grand at Itsy Bitsy. The satisfying warm and salty bowl of noodles and broth may be just the comfort food you want to soothe any homesick feelings, but you get to slurp them down in a casual modern space, and (even better) enjoy something on the rocks from their choice of Japanese and American whiskeys. If you're in more of a gastropub mood, step over to Park on Fremont where the design of the interior and back patio manages to successfully straddle the line between eclectic and quaint, and the kitchen serves up loads of tasty fried foods such as mac 'n' cheese balls and fried pickles. Then, balance all of the savoury with a hit of sweetness over at O Face Doughnuts (we have four words for you: Nutella and banana poptart). Finally, after a diet of excess, you may be feeling such as we were and wanting something cleaner to eat; head straight to Grass Roots Juice Bar where their ample smoothie bowls will make you quickly feel like you've virtually given your digestive system a good for you scrub down.


When you think of the views of Vegas, it's often the spectacle of the lights on the Strip that come to mind, but much of downtown Las Vegas is like a free, open-air gallery of fantastical murals, which are often either permanent or still-on-display works from the annual Life is Beautiful Festival. And while you may not be so keen on all of the lights of the Strip, visiting the Neon Museum offers a completely different perspective of classic retro signs piled into an outdoor space known appropriately at the Neon Boneyard. With a thorough tour from one of the museum's knowledgeable guides, you'll feel like you could be sitting next to the movers and shakers at the blackjack tables in Old Vegas's heyday.

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