How to Do Old-School Las Vegas

by  Anne Roderique-Jones | Updated on Nov 20, 2019
Aerial view of the Las Vegas strip
Aerial view of the Las Vegas strip / f11photo/iStock

These days, everything in Las Vegas seems shiny and new. For every building that’s knocked down, a luxury property rises from its ashes. Luckily, there’s still some old-school charm left in Sin City, where a few institutions still stand and traces of the Rat Pack linger. Head to Downtown Vegas, where a handful of these colorful characters have stood the test of time -- dotting the slower-moving streets with classic hotels, coin-operated games, and back-in-the-day dining. Here, our guide to old-school Las Vegas.

Where to Eat

You can find shrimp cocktail on nearly every menu in Las Vegas, but no place is more iconic as Du-Pars Restaurant and Bakery.The 24-hour coffee shop has been dishing out the low-priced "best tail in town" since 1959. Our waiter told us that he sells so many of these dishes that he "makes 'em in his sleep."  If you're craving Italian food, head to Casa Di Amore, which is beloved by locals for its wily atmosphere. Go for the old-school lounge show where you’ll hear everything from show tunes to Al Green. 

Where to Drink

The 24-hour Peppermill Fireside Lounge has been doing neon kitsch since 1972. The bright pink, purple, and blue colors, faux trees, and circular water fire pit are a staple for tourists and locals alike. Go for happy hour to sip martinis and snag a seat in the same spot that Sharon Stone and Robert De Niro did when they filmed Casino.

Where to Play

Book it to the second floor of the D Hotel, which is devoted entirely to vintage slot machines. The owner of the casino purchased a large amount of machines from the now-shuttered Riviera Hotel in 2015, paying homage to the classics. Don't miss the quarter Sigma Derby races: the only coin-operated game offered in Vegas.

For non-gamers, a spin around the world-class The Mob Museum will take you back to the city's sordid past when hotels were run by the mob. Located inside the former federal courthouse, the museum features 16,000 square feet of exhibition space that spans three floors. It's also one of the last remaining historical buildings in Las Vegas.

Where to Sleep

Rest your head at the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. This ultra-historic hotel has been standing since 1906, claiming status as the city’s oldest casino in town. While the bones have been kept intact. Plus, the property is a steal: Score rooms as low as $15 per night, excluding resort fees and taxes. 

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