Las Vegas Surprises
I have been to Las Vegas more than any other city, strangely enough. This is due to it being the centre for tech conferences and also a jump off point for desert road trips – a personal favourite. So when the chance came up for another trip, I couldn’t say no to the possibility of bright, warm sunshine and some people watching. But since I have walked the strip many times, I wanted to see another side of Vegas. What I found was a burgeoning arts community (The Arts District) and a mall made out of shipping containers.
The Arts District or 18B was a bit of a disappointment but I could totally see its potential. The district is made up of intersecting streets in a pie shape neighbourhood north west of the strip. Typical of a desert town, it sprawls with wide streets and low rise stores. It was an industrial area, like most new art communities, so there are still some of the original warehouses and garages. But there are some fabulous vintage stores and art studios. There also seemed to be some new modern buildings with pedestrian oriented sitting areas – still under construction. Unfortunately, I timed my visit completely wrong. The first Friday evening of every month is the time to visit as that is when the street party happens and the studios are open to customers. I can’t wait to visit in a few years to see how it has developed.
The Container Park was fabulous. Developed by the Downtown Project, an initiative of the CEO of Zappos, the Park is a outdoor mall consisting of independent restaurants and stores, a play area for kids and adults and venue for concerts and events on the weekends. It was like a community oasis that supports local artists and entrepreneurs the middle of crazy Vegas strip activity. It’s quirky, fun, and beautiful. We had yummy grilled cheese and a local beer at Bin702, bought cactus jerky from Jojo’s Jerky, and a t-shirt from Layop (a fashion line with a message of “live a your own pace”). The mall is a relatively new establishment (built in 2013) and it is constantly changing as new businesses come and go, rather like a community art fair. I truly hope it continues to do well and thrive.