I can’t believe I haven’t written about this place yet! The Downtown Container Park has quickly become one of my favorite places in Downtown Las Vegas. It’s so different from the upper blocks of Fremont Street–very laid-back and mellow. Yet it’s got pretty much everything you’d want to occupy yourself for a couple of hours (except gambling).
Keep in mind that the following details pertain to just two visits I’ve made to the Park: Once in the evening in June 2014 and once during the day in January 2015. Other people visiting at different times or more frequently may have different experiences than I did. Many of you repeat visitors will already have been here yourselves and have formed your own opinions about it. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
What is the Downtown Container Park?
Just what it sounds like. A small compound of retail and dining where the buildings are made of interlocking containers with little shops and restaurants and bars inside. The buildings form the edges of the Park. There’s a playground in the center where families can bring their children to play, and a grassy area on the far end where they host movies and concerts. It’s really a pretty neat place, totally different than anywhere else Downtown.
Where is it?
It’s located near the El Cortez on the other side of the street. The walk there during the day and at night is perfectly safe. I mean, people were there with their children even at night, okay? It’s definitely safe.
Don’t worry about it being hard to find, either. It’s not. You’ll know it when you see it, that’s for sure. In addition to having very large signage, at the park’s entrance is a giant preying mantis sculpture that periodically shoots balls of fire from its antennae. (That in itself is worth seeing.) This sculpture was originally at Burning Man several years ago before being moved to this spot.
What can you find there?
The Container Park features small drinking and dining establishments with outdoor seating as well as retail stores. At the time of my visits, drinking and dining options included Bin 702, Oak & Ivy, The Perch, Big Ern’s BBQ, Cheffini’s (gourmet hot dogs), CupKates (cupcakes) and more. Retail shops included clothing and jewelry stores, home decor, the Art of Disney, a toy store, a candy shop, and a jerky store.
But don’t necessarily expect the same places to be there when you visit. Businesses come and go here, like pop-up stores to some extent. Stores I saw on my first visit last June weren’t there on my second visit in January this year. So if there’s something you have your heart set on, be sure to check their website before your visit to make sure it’s still there.
My first trip was in the evening, and it was cursory, because I was starting to not feel well that evening. I spent more time here during the day on my second trip. I was cursing the fact that I’d gone carry-on only on this trip. I literally did not have a square inch left in my luggage to bring anything else home with me, which is a shame. As I explored the retail shops, I saw some neat stuff I might have bought otherwise.
The containers that make up the shops and restaurants are stacked in varying configurations–two stories in some places, three in others. There is dining/seating both upstairs and downstairs. Oak & Ivy looks like a great place to relax with a drink in the evening, and the Perch looks like a good place for a meal.
As for me, though, I went cheap and grabbed a hot dog at Cheffinis. They have several different options on the regular menu, but I chose the Build Your Own version and topped it with avocado and mozzarella cheese, no sauce. It was very good, and best of all, cheap. The hot dog was $5.39 and I got a free cup of water with it.
The people working behind the counter were really cool. They told me to go ahead and find a seat and they’d bring it to me, which they did. I had a nice lunch outside at a table in the warm sunshine in January–my favorite thing in the world to do. (A nice touch is that the Container Park has recycling and composting bins here, and the signage about what to do with various items is very clear.)
If you’re spending a bit of time here and need a bathroom, there are some very clean bathrooms down in the back of the property, to the right of the stage (behind the toy store).
They also have live entertainment on the weekends at the back of the park where there is a stage and a grassy area. Thursday nights are family movie nights in the summer. (“Stand By Me” was playing the night I was there.) You can snag a nearby table or spread out a blanket and sit on the grass. I saw mostly families, couples and groups here, but don’t let that stop you from going solo. You don’t need another person to just watch a movie, right?
What’s the atmosphere like?
It depends on the time of day and day of week you visit. It’s pretty dead on weekdays before noon, which is great if you’re looking for a quiet escape from the usual Vegas crowds. You can grab one of any number of empty tables scattered around the property and eat, drink, write, think, or just regroup. Around lunchtime, people start showing up, looking for a bite to eat. It’s much busier in the evenings.
Even in the evening, there’s such a dramatic difference between the environment here and that of Fremont Street under the canopy. The Park is lovely at night, with twinkly lights on trees making it feel more park-like. There are no buskers here, or porn slappers, or costumed characters. Nobody is getting in your face trying to sell you something. Even the shop owners are fairly chill. It’s pretty laid-back.
You will see children here. Normally, I have no interest in being around children when I’m on vacation, but in this case, I think it’s probably a good thing. The fact that the Park is family-friendly means the atmosphere is less sketchy and far less crazy and boozy than other places Downtown, which is refreshing to me. The playground in the center of the park is popular with families with young children. (I can’t blame them; as playgrounds go, this one looks like a lot of fun.)
At 9pm anyone under 21 gets kicked out of the Container Park. When I was there at night, security guards were positioned around the park. I saw no reason for them (I felt like they’d be better used further up Fremont Street). But then, maybe their presence is what keeps the place so calm and normal compared to the canopy section of Fremont Street. Who knows.
The upshot for me is that as Fremont Street becomes more popular and busier, louder and drunker, the Downtown Container Park feels like a calm oasis in a sea of insanity. I’ll definitely return here again and again as long as it continues to be that. I really hope the Perch is still there for my next visit, because I’d love to try a meal there.
Have you been to the Downtown Container Park? What do you think of it?