A Fresh Way to Take in the REAL Downtown Las Vegas

Adventurer | Sydney Martinez

There is an unsuspecting beast that awakens each night in downtown Las Vegas. I’m not talking about that grumbling alcohol-seeking, neon-craving beast that lives inside most visitors touring the metro area…I’m talking about a 50-foot, flame throwing, Praying Mantis that lives within the walls of the Container Park.

As I meandered about Fremont Street, I was awe-struck by the tunnel of neon, amount of celebrity impersonators, and multitude of live bands. Experiencing Fremont street was definitely nothing short of sensational…It made me feel alive. As exhilarating as it was, I was hoping for more of a casual, low-key evening. A resident tipped me off about the Container Park, which turned out to be a few blocks and a short walk from Fremont Street. 

To my surprise, Container Park was just that, a series of cargo containers that had been repurposed as locally owned restaurants and shops. What an incredible idea! There was definitely a cool vibe going on here, almost reminiscent of a backyard BBQ, and for a Tuesday night, the place was poppin’. A live band was gearing up for a set on the Park’s personal stage, and the lines were out the door of each restaurant. I ponied up to the line at Pinches Tacos, and a few minutes later was presented with what was promised at the door: ‘Real Mexican Food by Real Mexicans.’ The Shrimp Tacos, and the energy did not disappoint.  

With a full belly and a bit of a charge, I decided to wander. It became pretty apparent that the Container Park, aside from a killer boutique shopping spree, is basically a photographer’s dream. Brightly colored containers decorated the venue, and although I wasn’t in the thick of the traditional neon that paints the downtown, the signage provided just enough for my appetite, buzzing against the dusk desert sky. As I started to let the shutter rip, I was interrupted by a blaring announcement, soliciting people for a drum circle. A drum circle?? I’m sorry… what?  Yep, I definitely heard right…about 20 large drums were set up in a circle near the entrance, right underneath a gigantic iron Praying Mantis. 

As I tried to piece it together, I became completely captivated by the Mantis sculpture. Truly, what a work of art. Standing under this towering insect, they broadcast another announcement ‘JOIN THE DRUM CIRCLE TO HELP US WAKE THE MANTIS!’ Woah, now they hooked me. I eagerly joined, interested to see what exactly was going to happen when this metal structure was ‘awakened.’

Joined by other engrossed visitors, we began to beat the living daylights out of those drums, seeking some sort of unknown thrill. The tempo, along with my anticipation continued to build and build until it happened. The Mantis was awake…and seemingly grumpy. What I had originally assumed to be a sculpture, turned into an enormous mechanical monster, complete with neon and 5-foot tall flame-throwing antennae. 

Enamored by its artistic..…uh, flare… the combination of the rhythmic drumming and concerning flame-throwing was lullaby-esque. A truly hypnotic ‘first’ in my experience. The Container Park can’t go wrong with its diversity of food and shopping options, attention to detail and kickback atmosphere. If you ever find yourself in the Fremont Street area, do yourself a favor, walk a few blocks and check this place out. Total find!

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