Best Early Entertainment in Tahoe

10Best Early Entertainment Spots in Lake Tahoe

After a day of hiking, mountain biking, swimming or skiing, sometimes you just have to call it an early night. These 10Best nightspots in Lake Tahoe offer it all: food, drink and some early entertainment so that you can hit the hay before 10 p.m. Several of these bars and restaurants offer live music, while some offer gaming, open mic night, karaoke and even ghost stories.

For some quick food and great beer, try the Auld Dubliner at Squaw Valley and take advantage of their live music nights. Another place to grab some great beer is at Himmel Haus in South Lake Tahoe. They also have a mic night and some very authentic German food. For some cocktails and locally sourced food, try Moody's Bistro or the Cottonwood in Truckee. Each have live music nights that start early. Get out of the main tourist area and head to Meyers for the live music nights at Divided Sky.

For something unusual, go to Virginia City (about an hour from Tahoe) and go to the Tuesday night lectures at the Gold Hill Hotel. Grab dinner, a drink at the Gold Hill Saloon and listen to historians chat about Nevada miners, prostitutes and ghosts.


The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Stateline is the lake's newest casino and nightlife hotspot and the music venue, Vinyl, features various singer/songwriters, local and tribute bands, open mic nights, comedy routines and late night dancing, as well as national touring acts. Featured acts include Night Ranger and The Blues Monsters. During the summer, the hotel has an outdoor music series. The rest of the hotel contains several restaurants and the casino features 500 state-of-the-art video gaming machines and table games like Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, Three Card Poker and Pai Gow. The casino will also feature a Sports Book.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Vinyl has acts (like the Misfits) starting at around 7:00 p.m.

Christina's expert tip: You can purchase your music tickets for Vinyl online. If you have a Nevada ID, you can get special ticket deals.

Read more about Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino →

Crystal Bay Club Casino

The Crystal Bay Casino has been voted one of the best casinos in the Lake Tahoe area, but they don't let it go to their head. This casual and friendly casino on the North Shore has become known for its excellent selection of live shows as well as for their lively casino. Many locals hang out at the Crystal Bay on the weekends to enjoy the numerous entertainment that the Crystal Bay books. Acts include legends like Dick Dale and Los Lonely Boys as well as fun bands like Lil Brian and the Zydeco Travelers, the White Buffalo, Super Diamond and Tainted Love. The Crystal Bay also has comedy acts and special events with bands like the Sierra Leone Refugee Allstars. And the best thing? A lot of these music events are free. During the shows in the Crown Room, there is no smoking allowed, but dancing is. The Crystal Bay's Sports Book offers full-service action on HD Plasma monitors, the casino has table games like Blackjack, Double Odds Craps, $2 and $4 Texas Hold'em and Roulette as well as numerous slots.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Start your evening with some slot games at this friendly casino.

Christina's expert tip: Their weekend concerts are fun and lively and usually include several acts.

Read more about Crystal Bay Club Casino →

Cutthroat's Saloon in the Hyatt Lake Tahoe in Incline Village is a bar that serves up a taste of the Wild West. The decor is a fun mix of cowboy, ranch and the beauty of Lake Tahoe. The ceiling is filled with dollar bills and the massive wooden bar is lit by glowing lanterns, leather bar stools and filled with fun drinks served in big Mason jars. Cutthroat's Saloon also serves food like barbecue, chili, salads, burgers, soups fish and chips and desserts. The drink menu has cocktails, beers, wine and well drinks. This bar is not the same bar as the Cutthroat Saloon in Markleeville.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Cutthroat's Saloon is home to the members-only beer club, Craftheads United in Lake Tahoe (CULT).

Christina's expert tip: The saloon will also have live entertainment on certain nights.

Read more about Cutthroat's Saloon →


The comfortable and mellow bar is a little off the beaten track in Meyers, but is a popular locals spot for their drinks, food and live music. Come in for one of their famous sandwiches and stay later into the night for live entertainment and some fun with the friendly bartenders. Their sandwiches (both meat and vegetarian) are healthy and filling and you can get a salad (e.g. Caprese, Greek or Organic Spinach) on the side. Order the Amsterdam sandwich with goat cheese, black olives and artichoke hearts or the Kiva with smoked salmon, onions, greens and ricotta cheese. They also offer desserts such as the Mud Pie and the Teddy Bear Picnic with cheddar, organic apples, carrots and peanut butter. The bar includes several organic microbrews on tap, various cocktails with homemade juices and fruit and wine.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Come for an early sandwich dinner and stay for the live entertainment on the weekends.

Christina's expert tip: There are usually live music acts at the Divided Sky several times a month.

Read more about The Divided Sky →

South Lake Tahoe

Himmel Haus is a German restaurant and bierhaus featuring a wide variety of German and Belgian biers and wines with a simple menu of Bavarian-inspired food with a local California twist. The menu includes locally made and sustainably harvested ingredients. The bier menu includes Pilsner, Helles, Hefe Weizen, Dunkel Marzen, Bock and Doppelbock as well as Belgian biers like Lambic, Blond, Wit, Ale and Trappist biers like Chimay and Rochefort Ale. Himmel Haus has special events all week including movies nights, live music, open mic night and trivia night. Their summer BierFest is popular as well as their Oktoberfest celebration.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Himmel Haus has open mic night on Mondays and trivia night on Wednesdays starting at 9 p.m.

Christina's expert tip: The Warm Braided Br�tchen will take you back to northern Germany.

Read more about Himmel Haus →

South Lake Tahoe

Whiskey Dick's the one of the original South Tahoe dive bars frequented by both tourists and locals. The saloon features live music on most weekends by alternative, rock, bluegrass and classic tunes. When the stage is not occupied, a jukebox is always loaded with classic and new music. The bar is low-key and a popular place for pool, shuffleboard, darts and some classic video games. The bar also has a patio for summer nights. The bar serves over a hundred beers and cocktails including the toxic Alice in Wonderland for $6.50 and the Red Bull and Vodka for only $5. Each of their cocktails are generously served in 12 or 16 ounce cups, so be sure to pace yourself. You can also grab some simple pub food like burgers, chicken wings, dips and nachos.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Whiskey Dick's features free live music starting at 9 p.m.

Christina's expert tip: The jukebox is full of music from all genres.

Read more about Whiskey Dick's Saloon →

Olympic Valley

It's no surprise that the Auld Dubliner has the unmistakable feel of an authentic Irish pub – it was built in Ireland before being taken apart, shipped to California, and reassembled. In its new home, the pub attracts folks with nine draft beers (including Guinness Stout), hearty pub grub, and toe-tapping live Irish music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A tempting list of specialty cocktails includes delights like The Snowshoe Thompson, a cheery blend of Irish cream, peppermint schnapps, whiskey, and coffee. Live Irish entertainment is also featured on a regular basis with local and touring Irish bands performning Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Auld Dubliner offer Black Out Bingo every Wednesday night and summer music on the deck.

Christina's expert tip: The Auld Dubliner also serves breakfast Fri-Sun from 8a.m. to 12 p.m.

Read more about Auld Dubliner →

Moody's has become one of the best places for lunch, dinner and drinks in downtown Truckee. Their menu has been Zagat rated and they also offer a great selection of live music in their classic lounge.They are known for their season, organic and regional dishes and wines. They offer comfort dishes like Crab Toast with Dungeness Crab on sliced Ciabatta, their famous Tomato Soup en Croute (delicious!) and thin crust Neopolitan pizza. Moody's also offers sandwiches, salads and burgers. Their main dishes from the grill and rotisserie include Pan Roasted, Free Range, All Natural Chicken Breast with Purple Potatoes, Wild Arugula and Fava Beans. Moody's also has a great wine list that includes wines from around the world like Caposaldo from Italy, Elyse from Napa Valley, Paul Jaboulet from the Cote du Rhone and Pierre Spar from Alsace. You can also get wines on tap like Caldera from the California Central Coast. Their beer list is just as extensive with selections from New Belgium, Black Butte and Pyramid.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Moody's live blues and jazz music starts early in the evenings--just in time for dinner.

Christina's expert tip: Moody's Happy Hour is from 4-6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and selected items have a discounted price. The Happy Hour also includes $2 off all wine by the glass, beer and well cocktails.

Read more about Moody's Bistro & Bar →

This small cafe in Tahoe City is a mix of everything: sports bar meets lunch place meets gathering area meets live music venue. It is a beautiful, little place with comfy places to sit and plenty of parking. The decor is a mix of dark wood, nice stained glass and local artwork as well as big screen TVs. The friendly, quick staff serves up tasty sandwiches, soups and salads and has a generous happy hour. The Fat Cat Cafe in Tahoe City is a cool and laid back restaurant, bar, artists space and performance area for local and regional bands. Come here during the day for great sandwiches and salads and stay into the night for appetizers, a fun bar and live entertainment. The Fat Cat has special events for the holidays and usually has a band playing on the weekends. Past performances have been by Horsemouth, Drop Theory and the On the Spot Trio. They have open mic night every Tuesday and karaoke every Thursday. Their bar features wine, beers on draught and a full selection of cocktails.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Sign up for Tuesday open mic night at 8 p.m. and grab and early dinner at Fat Cat.

Christina's expert tip: The Fat Cat has free wifi.

Read more about Fat Cat →

The Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar in Truckee is located on a small hillside overlooking downtown Truckee, the Truckee River and the railroad that runs through town. This might be one of the reasons why this is such a popular night spot in both summer and winter. The other reasons might be because of the warm and intimate ambience with great lighting, log cabin styling and the great food and bar. Both locals and visitors will hang out here on snowy nights while waiting for the roads to clear, so there are plenty of people to talk to. The restaurant serves various entrees featuring sustainable seafood along with the best organic produce and grass-fed meat from the foothills and the nearby Sierra Valley. They include favorites like the Niman Ranch New York Steak, Pine Nut Crusted Southeast Asian Basa, and Butternut Squash Enchiladas (vegetarian), Dave also lets his creative juices flow with up to five different nightly specials. The bar serves a small selection of beers and wines and some great cocktails including the Frenchy Margarita. Happy Hour is daily from 4:30-6:30 daily and all day on Winter/Storm Watch days. The bar can get loud and crowded farther into the evening. The Cottonwood features live acoustic music on Thursday and Friday evenings. Music starts at 7 p.m. in the fireplace room during winter months and moves to the deck with a 6 p.m. start time during warmer months (weather permitted).��"Acoustic Thursdays" feature the best in FREE live acoustic musical entertainment coupled with discounts on libations and select menu items all night long in the Bar and Fireplace Rooms.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Cottonwood has live music on the deck in the summer and in the bar during the winter.

Christina's expert tip: Reservations for the live music nights are recommended.

Read more about Cottonwood Restaurant and Bar →


Meet Christina Nellemann

Christina has lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area since she was a baby. A first-generation Nevadan, her Danish parents instilled in her an intense love of travel and the wild, rugged outdoors...  More About Christina