You know about dive bars, bad decision bars, and the best bar to grab a drink while in a swimming pool. But which bars have the most historic significance and relevance? And which ones made a name for themselves by keeping a step ahead of the trends? Here’s a look at the most important watering holes you’ll stumble across while in Las Vegas...
The 17 Most Important Bars in Las Vegas
The oldest freestanding bar in the city of Las Vegas has been open in one form or another since the '40s, and was once a place where you could sit on the roof and watch atomic bombs go off in the desert. Now it’s enjoying some new (non-nuclear) energy courtesy of the downtown resurgence. Grab a microbrew on draft and soak in the history that can be found in the memorabilia on the walls, or the old safe that was discovered in the floor while the bar was remodeled a few years ago.
Off the Strip
Yeah, it’s “off the Strip,” but just barely. Stage Door has been around for years and doesn’t seem to change much over time… unlike the rest of Las Vegas Boulevard right around the corner. Stage Door is proof that you can still grab a cheap beer, keep to yourself, and play some video poker just a few steps away from the High Roller wheel, Drai’s nightclub, and other tourist attractions.
Slick yet comfortable, Commonwealth is the most modern of the new-era bars on Fremont Street. There’s plenty of light and space downstairs, and the meet-and-mingle rooftop patio wouldn’t feel out of place in your favorite college town. Bonus: The intimate bar-within-a-bar known as the Laundry Room requires a text to a secret number to gain entry. But you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.
On the Strip
While casinos, hotels and restaurants come and go on the Strip, the Peppermill remains one of the most reliable places to grab a drink in the middle of the night. The restaurant specializes in greasy breakfast grub, but the lounge next door is an icon of old Vegas kitsch, complete with plush red chairs, purple neon lights, and the famous fire pit surrounded by water.
Off the Strip
Like soccer? Crown & Anchor has two locations for getting rowdy and enjoying the world’s most popular and fastest growing sport. Just make sure you cheer on the Brits… or something. Pro tip: save a few bucks with two-dollar 20oz PBRs on Sunday nights.
Hailed as one of the best new bars in the country when it was opened by two sisters back in 2013, Velveteen Rabbit has kept the momentum going as a neighborhood hangout in the relatively quiet Downtown Arts District. The mismatched furniture may seem quirky, but the cocktail program will rival anything on the Strip. Creative concoctions include the Santa Anaconda, made with tequila, mezcal, genepy, avocado wasabi cream, and lime.
The longest running continuously open bar in Las Vegas also has the most annoying karaoke singers… but that’s part of the charm, right? The bartenders have a wild side that makes the regulars feel welcome, especially when they’re given a free PBR for guessing the suit on an upside-down card.
The phrase “on the outskirts of town” applies perfectly to this bar which also bills itself as a history museum. It was built more than a hundred years ago during a short-lived mining boom, and along with a shop next door is all that’s now left of Goodsprings. The bartenders swear the place is haunted, but it’s the perfect drinking spot to escape from the madness of Sin City. It’s also the starting point for the Vegas Off Road dune buggy tours.
A place on the Strip where drinks are considered a work of art. The menu was put together by famed mixologist Salvatore Calabrese who personally crafted “the world’s oldest martini” with spirits more than 115 years old. Sometimes history is worth preserving, and sometimes it’s worth sipping on ‘til it disappears from your glass.
East of the Strip
This vintage old-school red velvet wallpapered hole-in-the-wall isn’t really a “cafe,” unless you’re the kind of person of who prefers a gin and tonic for breakfast… which you can totally do since this place is open 24 hours. It’s also one of the best joints for karaoke and throwing a birthday party.
It’s tucked into a Chinatown strip mall, but you’re more likely to find the best Black & Blue Burger in Las Vegas than dim sum here. The Leatherneck Club is run for Marines by Marines, but everyone is welcome. Even the Coast Guard. Say hello to the bulldog mascot and check out the tribute to the troops on the wall, while enjoying the signature “Chesty” beer.
Off the Strip
There’s some tasty steaks and Italian food to munch on, but the bar is where the magic happens. Classic cocktails are made the old fashioned way... and well worth the extra few minutes it may take to put one together. The happy hour is also one of the best in Vegas, offering up those steaks at half-price.
There’s more than a few bars with great views in Vegas, but there isn’t a better place to soak in the sprawling neon of Sin City than from the top of the Stratosphere. The Air Bar is a no-frills spot with a basic drink menu, but at 108 floors above the ground, it’s also the highest bar in Nevada.
Sometimes you need more than burgers and chicken wings. The Sporting Life has set a new standard for sports bars with a menu that includes braised beef short rib, pork belly, and bacon-wrapped dates. Load up on the deviled eggs (which are just 50 cents each), and save a few bucks while watching the Rebels blow another season.
Oak & Ivy is one of the few things inside the Container Park that actually exceeds expectations, but it’s more than just the house bar for a tourist trap built from old shipping containers. There’s barely enough room inside to pull up a seat by the bar, so grab a New York Sour and check out the impressive whiskey selection before heading upstairs where you can enjoy your drink on the roof.
Every big hotel on the Strip needs a good bar in the middle of the casino floor, but the king of all lobby bars can be found at the Cosmo, passing through three floors of the resort, with enough light bulbs to rival the neon wattage outside on the Strip. Start your evening with the “Infinite Playlist”: a spin on an Old Fashioned, made with 12-year aged rum.
Ready for a road trip? One of the most secretive spots in the world is just a few hours outside Las Vegas, so take a drive on the Extraterrestrial Highway (yes, that’s the official name) and grab a drink at the closest bar to Area 51, where “earthlings are welcome.” There’s no guarantee you’ll see any aliens, but keep your eyes peeled for some new high-powered military aircraft being tested above the desert. Just stay away from the perimeter where “deadly force is authorized” to keep intruders out.
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1. Atomic Liquors917 Fremont St, Las Vegas
2. Stage Door4000 Audrie St, Las Vegas
3. Commonwealth525 Fremont St, Las Vegas
4. Peppermill Restaurant2985 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
5. Crown & Anchor Pub1350 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas
6. Velveteen Rabbit1218 S Main St, Las Vegas
7. Dino's Lounge1516 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
8. Pioneer Saloon310 W. Spring St., Goodsprings
9. Bound by Salvatore3595 Las Vegas Blvd South 15, Las Vegas
10. Champagne’s Cafe3557 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas
11. Leatherneck Club4360 W Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas
12. Herbs & Rye3713 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas
13. Air Bar2000 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
14. Sporting Bar7770 S Jones Blvd, Las Vegas
15. Oak & Ivy707 Fremont St #1120, Las Vegas
16. The Chandelier3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
17. Little A'le'Inn9631 Old Mill Street, Alamo
If you're looking to escape Vegas' glitzy, dramatic theatrics, Atomic Liquors is just what you need. Opened in 1945 as a Rat Pack hangout, this restored Downtown dive is the oldest freestanding bar in the city. Let its massive (and original) neon signage guide you indoors to its unpretentiously vintage interior with brown leather seating and antique decorations adorning the bare brick walls. The fast and friendly staff can concoct any cocktail you can dream up, or pull a draft beer from their handful of local crafts.
This place is connected to The LINQ and just steps away from Bally’s and the brand new Cromwell. It's perfect to escape the glitz of the Strip and even has a convenience store attached to it. Perfect for those who prefer their booze to go.
If you're sick of typical downtown Vegas shenanigans or simply wish you'd been born in another decade — meet Commonwealth, a massive cocktail bar inspired by and designed to look like it came right out of the pre-prohibition days. The roaring 20 are kept alive here in "The Laundry Room," a hidden backroom speakeasy with a drink menu full of classic cocktails and swing music — call ahead and try to get the password if you want in on one of Vegas' not-best-kept secrets.
Famous for the fact that Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone shared a booth here in Casino, The Peppermill is late-night boozer without the frills but all the funk.
This British-style pub is THE place to be for soccer matches -- just be careful who you cheer for. Sunday nights mean discount PBR, so check that out too.
A dark and whimsical bar in downtown Vegas with craft beers and seriously adventurous 'tails.
Dino’s has been known as the go-to karaoke spot in Vegas for some time now. It's located right off the Strip and Downtown.
This spot is one of two buildings left in the small mining town of Goodsprings, Nevada, and it's as close to the Wild, Wild West as you'll ever get. The historic Pioneer Saloon was built in 1913 and was used as a film set for decades before it became what is now one of the best bars around Vegas. Its worn wood interior is crowded with historic mementos, and its food is just as much an homage to the West and Southwest with bbq burgers, steaks and Mexican fare.
The creative drink menu and cozy atmosphere is sure to encourage some snuggling and hopefully a little smooching in one of the comfy loveseats scattered throughout this charming hangout spot.
Oddly enough, this place is better known for beer and karaoke than Champagne… it’s also one of the best places to throw a birthday party. Book a booth in advance and they’ll decorate it for you and bring out some cupcakes and a shot -- on the house!
A bar built for Marines, by Marines, this no-frills bar nonetheless welcomes everyone with open arms and free tacos (on Tuesdays). Decked out from floor to ceiling with Marine memorabilia and military gear dating back to WWI, this is unmistakably a veteran's bar, and they honor their comrades with a dollar off every draft beer during happy hour. An attached function room hosts events for up to 115 people, and the kitchen is fully equipped for turning out bbq-style comfort foods like pulled pork, ribs, and cornbread. The bar also has an outdoor patio for even more space called "The Bunker," open whenever the weather is nice (which is 90% of the year in Vegas).
This steak-and-cocktails focused restaurant is a sophisticated and romantic spot that attracts both liquor nerds and happy hour hounds. Cocktail lovers gravitate towards the lengthy drinks menu, which reads like a timeline of mixology's greatest hits, from the "Original Collins" of the Gothic Age (1776-1865) through the "Harvey Wallbanger" of the Rat Pack Era (1950-1968) and the bartender's choice of the modern revival (1995-present). Others love this place for their half-off steaks promotion during happy hour, which runs both in the afternoon and late night. The dark, leather-covered furniture and vintage wooden furnishings make this place an inviting throwback to the alluring atmosphere of old Vegas, so it's popularity is unsurprising—make reservations.
This sky-high spot is located on the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Hotel, making it the highest bar in Nevada. Other than that, it's a pretty standard spot for drinks.
Need a good place to check out a big game? Sporting Life is full of TV screens and has plenty of space plus an electronic scoreboard. Need the kind of food you don’t usually find at a sports bar? The menu has you covered with cured confit chicken wings, pork belly, seared duck breast, and bacon-wrapped dates.
This self proclaimed "craft whiskey cocktail bar" is one of the best parts of the tourist trap that is Container Park. They serve over 30 types of whiskey and an assortment of cocktails, like a signature G&T and a New York Sour.
A classy, multi-level lounge featuring an inhabitable chandelier in The Cosmopolitan. You can go inside to enjoy a hand-crafted 'tail, or just hang out above or below the chandelier to take in the view at either of the other bars.
There is literally nothing along this sunburnt stretch of Nevada highway except this extraterrestrial-themed bar and, if you believe most of said bar's patrons, a ton of top-secret evidence at the nearby Area 51 that aliens really do exist. And honestly? They'd better, because aliens are probably the only thing weirder than this collection of corrugated metal-roofed buildings where you can stay the night, shop for little-green-men memorabilia, and yes, get a drink. Go north from Las Vegas on Highway 93 past... well, nothing until you get to Ash Springs. That's where you should probably gas up before you take a left and drive past more nothing until you see the bar appear on the side of the road.