Nightlife in the Adult Playground of America
By Terrisa Meeks
Las Vegas Local Expert
Las Vegas is a city full of places to drink, dance, and have a great time—and with the city's reputation as an adult playground, sampling the nightlife is almost a requirement for visitors. The bars don't have a last call, nightclubs don't close until the sun starts coming up, and celebrities are a common sight. If you want to try out the nightclubs in Las Vegas, make sure you're ready: check out the dress codes ("stylish attire" is a requirement), be prepared for a cover charge, and brace yourself for the drink prices. Vegas nightclubs boast elaborate designs, guest DJs, bottle service, go-go dancers, and a seriously hip vibe. To boost your chances of getting inside, do your best to make reservations —check ahead on the clubs' websites. Not feeling the club scene? Head downtown, where you can loosen up and check out the new Fremont East area, a small but growing section of Fremont Street with hip bars that are more about the drinks than the photo opportunities.
Downtown Cocktail Room
The first thing you might notice about the Downtown Cocktail Room--or DCR--is that the door is a little hard to find. Once you do get inside, you'll find a good, old-fashioned bar, dark and inviting. Along with the other lounges on Fremont East, the DCR is bringing back the bar scene. This is a place to have some drinks and tell some stories (or a few lies, as the case may be), which is what going to a bar in Vegas used to be all about. (702-880-3696)
This Bohemian bar's location in downtown Las Vegas makes it a beloved anti-Strip hangout for hipsters and locals seeking a low-key evening. The relaxed setting offers guests the perfect place to simply hang out and enjoy a cool cocktail or reasonably priced beer without having to worry about a dress code. Rich, charismatic decor, including barrel-vaulted brick ceilings, cozy banquet seating, dim lighting and inviting fire pits, creates a warm, mellow environment perfect for a night of drinking and socializing. The jukebox and weekend DJs offer a unique mix of old-school classics, while the well-stocked bar and generous pourings promise to please. (702-382-0577)
Krave is the only gay and lesbian oriented club on the Strip, although you'll find all kinds of people here. Surprise guest appearances by artists like Lady Gaga have given Krave a well-deserved reputation as a place where you never know who might walk through the door. The club offers some of the lower cover charges on the Strip, an extra bonus. (702-836-0830, 702-677-2869)
The Hard Rock Las Vegas consistently gives its guests some of the coolest places to hang out--and Vanity is no exception. The interior is studded with a lot of lights, even more so than you might expect even in Vegas. As for the cool factor, this is the place where the cast of "Real World Las Vegas" hung out, so its trendiness quotient is high. If you want to avoid stuffiness at all costs, head to Vanity for pulsating music and a serious party atmosphere. (702-693-5555)
High atop the very hip Palms Hotel Casino, ghostbar gives you a terrific view of the Strip. The outside patio area lets you take in the sight of all those Vegas lights, and a glass panel in the floor lets you work on any fear of heights you might have. Inside, the design is futuristic, and while there is dancing, this is a club that lets you relax and enjoy your drink--and with that view, really, who wants to dance? (702-942-6832, 866-942-7777)
With several months during the year that invite almost round-the-clock swimming, a few Vegas clubs have incorporated a pool into the mix, and Surrender at Encore is one of those. The pool's more of a decorative element, however, since wading isn't allowed. The club's vibe is a little more relaxed, with less of a dance-all-night atmosphere than a place to mingle and have a few drinks. The star attraction isn't the dance floor here, which gives it a different atmosphere than other clubs. (702-770-7300)
Some Vegas nightclubs have huge dance floors and some have elaborate interior design, but only one has a waterfall. Tryst at Wynn also has plenty of interior design, lest you think they spent all their money on the waterfall. You'll find plenty of mirrors and red velvet--this is a club that embodies its name. (702-770-3375)
With a patio area overlooking the Strip, Pure remains a hot nightclub spot, despite having passed the usual age at which most Vegas clubs shut down and remodel. This chic, upscale club at Caesars enjoys a reputation as an exclusive club, meaning it can be tough to get in. Once you do make it in, a series of rooms gives you more than one option for where to spend the evening. (702-731-7873)
One of the Strip's most desirable nightlife destinations and a haunt of A-listers in the sports and entertainment worlds, TAO brings a bit of Zen ambiance to the desert. The atmospheric club is adorned with Asian artifacts, decor and statuary, and soft lighting sets the scene admirably, along with alluring performance artists. Over the main dance floor sits the DJ booth, raining down house, hip-hop and R&B over stylish, of-the-moment patrons. An outdoor terrace and multiple bars ensure that there are plenty of pastimes on-hand. (702-388-8588)
This is a club that believes in the thinking of "go big or go home": it's got gold everything, a huge dance floor, a $10,000 drink--and those are just the high points of XS's over-the-top nightclub persona. XS at Encore doesn't limit itself to a gold-encrusted interior, either. In summer, it spills out to a pool area. The downside about all this excess at XS? The line to get is one of the longest in Vegas. (702-770-0097)
About Terrisa Meeks
Terrisa Meeks is a native born, life-long resident of Las Vegas. She became a traveler long before she could walk. Terrisa has traveled throughout the United States, from Maine to Hawaii, but she especially enjoys exploring the Southwestern United States. Las Vegas is a place she's watched grow and change. While she always enjoys visiting the Strip, Terrisa's true passion is for exploring the lightly-visited Mojave Desert. She gets giddy over hard-to-find back roads, quirky museums, and ghost towns. Her happiest travel moments involve vast expanses of wilderness and a good map.
Read more about Terrisa Meeks here.