Hidden Vegas

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

Locals know that there's more to Las Vegas than fake mountains and celebrity chefs. On the first Friday of each month, thousands flock to a Vegas-style block party ― including bands, chalk drawing, and dancing ― in the Arts District between the Strip and the old downtown. And if you can't make First Friday, you can still check out the galleries, antiques stores with great midcentury 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 Center Blvd., from Charleston Blvd. south to Colorado Ave.

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

Casa Don Juan.
WHAT:
Predictable Mexican menu but particularly tasty food. 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 and art 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 plus Tinoco's Bistro. WHEN: Hours vary by gallery, but all are open during First Friday. 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 totaling more than $5). WHERE: 1018 S. Main St.; 702/388-4088.

The Funk House.
WHAT:
Acrylic resin lighting, midcentury modern furniture, 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.org or call 702/384-0092.