Discover the city's creative, artsy side just off the Strip

Lisa Taggart

Locals know that there's more to Las Vegas than fake mountainsand celebrity chefs. On the first Friday of each month, thousandsflock to a Vegas-style block party ― including bands, chalkdrawing, and dancing ― in the Arts District between the Stripand the old downtown. And if you can't make First Friday, you canstill check out the galleries, antiques stores with greatmidcentury finds, and casual restaurants.

Arts District.
WHAT:
More than 30 studios, galleries, shops, and cafes,spread across about 18 blocks. WHERE: Most galleries are along Main St. and Casino CenterBlvd., from Charleston Blvd. south to Colorado Ave.

Tinoco's Bistro.
WHAT:
Casual Italian osteria where area artists oftenlunch. WHEN: Lunch and dinner Mon-Sat. HOW MUCH: $$$. WHERE: 103 E. Charleston Blvd., at east end of the ArtsFactory building; 702/464-5008.

Casa Don Juan.
WHAT:
Predictable Mexican menu but particularly tastyfood. WHEN: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner Mon-Sat. HOW MUCH: $. WHERE: 1204 S. Main St.; 702/384-8070.

Luv-It Frozen Custard.
WHAT:
Yummy frozen treats at a walk-up stand. WHEN: Open Tue-Sat. WHERE: 505 E. Oakey Blvd.; 702/384-6452.

Godt-Cleary Projects.
WHAT:
Sophisticated gallery with rotating exhibits andart books. WHEN: Open Tue-Sat. WHERE: 1217 S. Main St.; 702/452-2200.

The Arts Factory.
WHAT:
Heart of the arts scene, with 21 galleries plusTinoco's Bistro. WHEN: Hours vary by gallery, but all are open during FirstFriday. WHERE: 101-109 E. Charleston Blvd.; 702/676-1111.

Commerce Street Studios.
WHAT:
Newest gallery center houses eight studios. WHEN: First Friday and by appointment. WHERE: 1551 S. Commerce St.; 702/678-6278.

The Attic.
WHAT:
Retro shop with two stories of Elvis costumes,faux leopard furniture, and multicolored wigs. WHEN: Open Mon-Sat. HOW MUCH: $1 admission (goes toward any purchase totalingmore than $5). WHERE: 1018 S. Main St.; 702/388-4088.

The Funk House.
WHAT:
Acrylic resin lighting, midcentury modernfurniture, vintage art. WHEN: Open daily. WHERE: 1228 S. Casino Center Blvd.; 702/678-6278.

INFO: The next First Friday event starts at 6 p.m. Jan. 6.Admission is free. For details, visit www.firstfriday-lasvegas.orgor call 702/384-0092.

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