All The Right Notes: The Las Vegas Strip's 10 Best Music Venues
By Heather Turk
Las Vegas Local Expert
Given that Las Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World, it should come as no surprise that the Strip has several different types of music venues for audiences to see their favorite artists perform in.
Some of the world's top touring acts frequent some of the Strip's biggest stages throughout the year, like the MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Mandalay Bay Events Center. During the summer months, however, many artists perform poolside at more intimate venues like Mandalay Bay Beach and the Boulevard Pool, providing concert-goers with a truly unique experience.
Vegas lounges also offer audiences a more intimate venue to enjoy live music in, whether it be "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks (who currently has a Vegas residency at Napoleon's Lounge) or "Pianist to the Presidents" David Osbourne (who performs at Petrossian Bar). Probably the Strip's most memorable intimate concert experience, however, can be found inside The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Home to some of the world's top recording artists, including Celine Dion and Elton John, The Colosseum houses the Strip's most stunning musical productions—and no seat is more than 120 feet away from the stage!
So whether you want to see your favorite act with several thousand fans, or you just want to watch a music legend up close, the Las Vegas Strip has plenty of places for people to go to enjoy a show they won't soon forget. Here's our picks for the Strip's 10 best live music venues.
Bar at Times Square
Located in the heart of New York-New York Hotel & Casino, great drinks and dueling pianos are the focus nightly at this boisterous bar. Guests can request and sing along to their favorite choruses while enjoying a cocktail from the cutting-edge beverage menu. Those who visit during the daytime can watch their favorite sports on one of 14 flat-screen TVs, play bar-top games and take advantage of the four hour-long Happy Hour Mon.-Fri. featuring Heineken drafts, house wine and select shooters for just $5 from 3-7 p.m. Table reservations are available nightly starting at 8 p.m.; locals always get in free (standing room side only). (702-740-6466)
For a more laid-back evening, head on over to the Bellagio's Petrossian Lounge, where guests can enjoy live music from a one-of-a-kind Steinway grand. Pianists perform daily from 10 a.m.-12:45 a.m. and include a range of talented performers like "Pianist to the Presidents" David Osborne, who has performed at various White House functions for Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. While you're enjoying the music, treat your palate to a house-made infused cocktail or afternoon tea. Petrossian is also known for its selection of fine caviars, making it the perfect place for those with discerning taste. (702-693-7111)
Home to resident artist Taylor Hicks, this intimate Parisian lounge is known almost as much for its entertainment lineup as its drinks. In addition to the "American Idol" winner, who performs on select nights, it hosts one of the top dueling pianos shows in town. Guests are encouraged to sing along and join in on the fun as the pianists perform a wide variety of hits throughout the evening, many at the audience's request. Sometimes, they'll even change the words or do mash-ups of related songs (think "Thong Song" and "Baby Got Back"). There's no cover charge for the dueling pianos show, so guests can enjoy even more selections off of Napoleon Lounge's drink menu. It's the perfect place to unwind and have some fun without breaking the bank! (702-946-7000)
Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill
Named for his song "I Love This Bar," Toby Keith's Las Vegas restaurant combines down-home Southern favorites and live country music to make for an experience that's sure to put a big smile on your face. Many of the country acts that perform on the restaurant's stage nightly were hand-picked by Keith himself, so guests know they're in for a real treat. Country music fans can also enjoy the acts without without having to pay a cover, giving them another reason to two-step on over! Before you kick up your heels, though, be sure to try one of the restaurant's down-home Southern favorites, like the World Famous Fried Bologna Sandwich or the Southern Fried Twinkies. It's okay--you can always dance off the excess calories later on. (702-369-5000)
House of Blues
Featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting technology in a one-of-a-kind custom-designed environment aimed at bringing fans and artists together, the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay is one of the country's preeminent live music venues--not to mention the Vegas home of Carlos Santana. True to its Southern theme, the House of Blues' decor feels like you've stepped into a Vegas version of New Orleans. The stage and music hall are at the center of HOB, with the area directly in front of the stage typically being standing-room only. During its popular Sunday Gospel Brunch, food stations are set up throughout the venue and tables are set up on the dance floor for guests to eat at. Diners can get their fill of Southern-style food before a soulful performance of authentic Gospel music. In addition to musical acts like Flogging Molly and the Gin Blossoms, the House of Blues also hosts popular comedians. (702-632-7600, 702-632-7607)
One of Las Vegas' most unique concert venues, the Boulevard Pool is a multilevel pool experience by day and an intimate outdoor concert venue with unobstructed sightlines of both the stage and Strip by night. Able to accommodate more than 3,000 guests, the seasonal venue is where the resort hosts 90% of its shows, as concerts are booked well into October. Past acts who have performed at the award-winning concert venue include fun., Robin Thicke, Kid Cudi, Weezer and The Offspring. Most shows are all ages. Tickets are general admission, but a limited number of premium cabanas are also available for rent. (702-698-7778)
Mandalay Bay Beach
One of the Strip's most unique concert-going experiences, Mandalay Bay Beach hosts its summer Beach Concert Series every year from May until September. Music lovers are invited to bring their blankets and sit on the beach or wade in the surf as they listen some of the biggest names in music perform on a one-of-a-kind stage suspended above the resort's 1.6 million gallon wave pool. Past performances have included Ringo Starr and the All Starr Band, Pitbull, The Beach Boys, Chris Isaak and OneRepublic. Tickets are general admission, but cabanas can be booked in advance. Either way, guests are sure to have a great time. (702-632-7777)
Mandalay Bay Events Center
If your favorite artist is coming to Las Vegas, odds are they're performing at this modern 12,000-seat sports and entertainment complex if they're not across the street at its sister property, the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Having played host to everything from massive headliners like Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez to huge TV specials like the Latin Grammy Awards and American Country Awards, the Mandalay Bay Events Center is one of Las Vegas' premier music venues. When artists like Janet Jackson, Journey and Rihanna aren't filling up its seats, chances are it's hosting a major sporting event like UFC or PBR. Either way, something is always going on for guests to enjoy. (702-632-7777)
MGM Grand Garden Arena
When Barbra Streisand's the first person to perform on your stage, you know you're destined for greatness. Home to major awards shows and music festivals including the Billboards Music Awards, the Academy of Country Music Awards and the iHeartRadio Music Festival, the MGM Grand Garden Arena is one of the Strip's top music venues. The multi-purpose venue has hosted numerous world-class concerts over the years, including U2, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Reba McEntire, Tina Turner, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston and Justin Timberlake. It's also the site of several major sporting events, including championship boxing, UFC and NBA preseason basketball. (702-891-7777)
The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Las Vegas' premier music venue, The Colosseum at Caesars Palace has been home to some of the world's greatest entertainers since opening its doors in 2003. Built at a cost of $95 million, it was originally created for Celine Dion's "A New Day..." but has gone on to host more than 2,000 events. In addition to being the current Vegas home of Celine Dion, Elton John, Shania Twain and Rod Stewart, The Colosseum is home to one of the largest indoor, high-definition LED screens in the world, standing 110 feet wide by 34 feet tall and weighing 31 tons. Its stage is equally massive, measuring 120 feet wide by 60 feet deep. No wonder Shania Twain felt comfortable bringing live horses onstage during her earlier performances! (888-929-7849)
About Heather Turk
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Heather's byline has appeared everywhere from The Los Angeles Times to Playboy.com--with her review of The Truman Show making the front page of The Detroit News' movie section when she was just 16 years old. When she's not at her computer writing a story for one of the many outlets she freelances for (including Allegiant Air's in-flight magazine Sunseeker, the Los Angeles Times Las Vegas Guide and CBS Las Vegas), she can often be found at the movies, on the Strip checking out the latest restaurant/show/spa/hotel opening or at Disneyland.
Read more about Heather Turk here.