A couple weeks ago, my gentleman friend and I took a one-night staycation at The Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino on E. Fremont St. in Downtown Las Vegas. I personally had doubts about this plan.
Yes, I had read the good news about downtown casinos posting a whopping 462 percent gaming increase for the year that ended in July 2021 vs. July 2020, but that was a recovery from months of little gambling due to Covid, yes? I still thought a Sunday afternoon on E. Fremont St. midst all the bad news about Ukraine might be rather quiet.
I was wrong. The Golden Nugget was so crowded we took a walk because the line was so long at registration. Also the part of E. Fremont known as the “Fremont Street Experience” was very much alive — noisy and crowded with adults, children, dogs and all sorts of characters. We were too early for the evening overhead Viva Vision music light shows (6 p.m to 2 a.m), but overhead was colorful nonetheless. We loved our walk.
The temperature was in the 70s, but our first surprise as we had entered the Golden Nugget from the parking garage was that the $30 million hotel pool was busy with swimmers and sunbathers. Personally I would wait for much higher temperatures for pool action, but then I’m not desperate to show myself in a bikini.
A young security guard checked hotel keys if folks wanted to use the pool area. Of course the Golden Nugget’s pool is more interesting than most, given the 200,000-gallon shark aquarium in the pool area that can be seen from many angles.
The fun of a walk down E. Fremont is the closeness of the casinos and the mass of street “artists” — using the word loosely. We must have run into three different groups of show girls in their costumes and feathers willing to pose for photos. The Chippendale booth was busy with muscle-bound young men making contact with visitors and inviting them in for a picture and a muscle feel or two.
We also saw that two of the street’s stages featured full-scale entertainment, one a rock concert, the other a country stage. The third stage featured recorded music and a lady dancer in a big skirt showing off her dancing skills.
One of the biggest crowds on the street was around a young magician who ended his set graciously with an almost full tip jar. Overhead, folks were riding the “World’s Ultimate Zipline”, Slotzilla, at a cost of $39 or $59 depending on the ride.
We didn’t see “the old man in the thong” which I remembered from trips past, but we did see a large older lady who said she was a “retired broke-ass ripper and tips would be appreciated.” She was topless but holding up a large cardboard sign covering the goods. Every so often, she took down the sign for folks to see her very sagging babylons — not the nicest sight, but I gather available for a photo. At my age, I did have a thought that maybe even I could be an entertainer on E. Fremont holding a similar sign, but I’m not quite prepared to go that far for a story….yet.
I was surprised to see so many folks with strollers or young children with them. Obviously E. Fremont is entertaining for local Las Vegans along with tourists. Photo opportunities are everywhere, even for non-tippers.
For folks who want a drink, plenty of bars are open right on the street, though during this trip we didn’t see any folks who were obviously drunk. On our walk, we saw miles of…smiles.
Surprise: We hadn’t stayed in any strip properties in a long time, so we were surprised when our $100 room at Golden Nugget came with a $40 resort fee. That seemed high until I checked some of the strip properties, many of which charge $45. Overnight parking at the Golden Nugget is free (instead of $36) for folks who stay at the hotel, so that was not an additional charge. Our room was nice but did not come with a refrigerator and microwave. My $16 breakfast at the Nugget’s Claim Jumper restaurant costs only $6.99 at our local casino, Barley’s.
Entertainment? I am a member of House Seats, an organization that for a yearly fee is willing to offer free tickets to fill not-quite-full showrooms. We secured two free tickets to the Delirious Comedy Club at the Downtown Grand. The crowd was small, and we were its oldest members. The evening featured four comedians, the “headliner,” Kevin Jordan, was our favorite. At one point Jordan was talking with the audience about birthdays and anniversaries. He finally turned to my gentleman friend and me and asked how long we had been married. When I answered, “We’re not married” he seemed taken back. “What happened,” he said. “Did you both get the app: “www ‘whatever’s left’ dot com?” The crowed got a big kick out of the comment as did we, the leftovers.
The staycation was a hit.