The Best Neighborhoods in Las Vegas to Spend a Weekend

Stick with the Strip or find something new.

If you think a trip to Sin City is all about the Strip, guess again. Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing destinations in the country with new neighborhoods popping up nearly as often as law firm commercials on TV. Its evolution from hotels to home communities is influencing what's possible for tourism, whether it's the neighborhood dining scene or attractions that shift away from casino culture. Just look at the sudden emergence of Vegas as a sports town with the success of the Golden Knights, the Raiders, and the Aces, who just gave Vegas its first-ever major-league championship. We may even get a baseball team too if the A's ever decide to finally show up. This doesn't happen in a city dominated by tourists alone.

In between the glitz and neon, Las Vegas is surrounded by natural beauty, ranging from the cliffs of Red Rock Canyon to the (dwindling) waters of Lake Mead. This desert town has more to offer than most outsiders realize. You can try to cram everything into just a few days or take your time and focus on one specific neighborhood. Consider the second choice. You can always come back. We've even got an airport right next to the Strip with lots of cheap flights. So whether you're looking to mix things up during your next Vegas getaway or you're already here and need to decompress with a staycation, pick out a neighborhood, plan ahead, and enjoy the weekend you deserve.

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas
Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas

The Strip

If you're coming to Las Vegas for the first time, you're probably laser-focused on the Strip—a place that falls somewhere between the Jersey Shore and Monte Carlo. The stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard runs a little more than four miles between Russell and Sahara, dominated by bright lights, giant marquees, and mega-resorts loaded with restaurants, nightclubs, and other attractions. Don't let locals scare you away by saying the Strip is overrated, expensive, and not as good as it used to be. While those observations might be true for some (and we wish the mob still ran the casinos too), we're living in a new era. Time to make the most of it.

Where to stay: If you want something fresh and contemporary, it's hard to resist Resorts World, which opened in 2021 as the first Strip casino hotel built from the ground up in more than ten years. It's full of cool stuff. If you prefer your mega-resort to come with an over-the-top theme, Caesars Palace, the Mirage, or Mandalay Bay may be more your speed. If you're looking for something family-friendly, the Luxor (an Egyptian pyramid) or Excalibur (Camelot with slot machines) will do the trick. The MGM Grand originally had a Wizard of Oz theme, but is pretty much just an emerald green hotel now. The Waldorf Astoria, Aria, Vdara, and the Cosmopolitan still have a like-new, modern feel, while over on the quiet north end of the Strip, The Strat and Sahara are both benefiting greatly from recent renovations. However, a pair of twin properties—Wynn/Encore and Venetian/Palazzo—offer the best bang for the buck (although it's a big buck) by following an all-suites format. While their resort fees are among the highest on the Strip, there isn't a parking charge. Take your victories where you can.

Things to do: You're in Vegas. See a show. There are currently six Cirque du Soleil productions on the Strip (enough to match any vibe), including the New York-themed Mad Apple at the, funny enough, New York-New York resort. Otherise, spend a few bucks on a big-name residency at Dolby Live (Usher, Aerosmith, Silk Sonic), the Colosseum (Sting, Rod Stewart, and dare we say it, Adele), or Zappos Theater (John Legend, Miranda Lambert). The new Resorts World Theatre has made a splash with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Carrie Underwood while holding out for Vegas icon Celine Dion, who remains on extended hiatus. In most of these cases, it's a rare opportunity to see a chart-topping act play a venue much smaller than an arena or stadium. And the magic shows here do more than just pull rabbits out of hats, especially Piff the Magic Dragon, Matt Franco, Penn & Teller, Mac King, David Copperfield, and newly arrived headliner David Blaine. If you just want to laugh, there's a reason Carrot Top has been in Vegas for more than 15 years. The guy is the king of surpassing expectations.

Most attractions on the Strip live up to the hype, including the High Roller wheel and AREA 15 (the home of Omega Mart, Meow Wolf's elaborate art installation modeled after a grocery story). There's even a few things to do for free, including the Bellagio Fountains and Mirage volcano (although its days may be numbered). If you're here during hockey season, grab tickets to see the Vegas Golden Knights play a game at the T-Mobile Arena. The energy is hard to beat and you'll get a glimpse of what being a local is really all about. Then again, some people are just here to gamble. You may find low $5 blackjack minimums at the Cromwell, Treasure Island, or The Strat, but it depends on the day and time. OYO (formerly the Hooters casino) has $1 blackjack 24/7.

Breakfast and lunch: If you're looking for something easy and quick, the egg sandwiches at Eggslut and seared-with-a-blowtorch cinnamon rolls at District Donuts are great grab-and-go options at the Cosmopolitan. Pronto by Giada at Caesars Palace is another safe bet with the choice of coffee and wine in the same place. Truth & Tonic at the Delano prepares plant-based breakfast and lunch favorites with healthy ingredients. For something in the opposite direction, Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar is a tourist-friendly overdose of calories at The LINQ with over-the-top, Instagram-ready dishes. Save money on lunch at Flights at the Miracle Mile Shops with a great happy hour that runs throughout the entire day. Eataly at the Park MGM will cook Creekstone Farms steaks on the spot at retail prices to take back to your room.

Dining out: If money really isn't an issue, upscale French restaurants like Joel Robuchon, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, and Restaurant Guy Savoy put together some of the most complete dining experiences in town, often with multi-course tasting menus crafted with precision by well-trained kitchen teams. If you feel a need to cross a great steakhouse off your "Things I Did in Vegas" list, Bazaar Meat, Delmonico Steakhouse, Jean-Georges, and Cut are top options to consider. Throwback supper clubs like Delilah and Mayfair Supper Club mix indulgent meals with live entertainment.

Drinks and nightlife: Vegas is a great town for drinking—and you can't go wrong with all the cocktail lounges in the big resorts. Just know the prices add up fast. That's especially true when ordering bottle service at Las Vegas nightclubs like Omnia, Hakkasan, and XS, but you'll spend the night with some of the biggest DJs in the world. Encore Beach Club, Ayu, Marquee, Daylight, and other pool parties know how to mix booze with beats day or night.

Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas | Photo courtesy of Joe Buglewicz / Las Vegas News Bureau

Downtown (Fremont Street)

The Fremont Street district of Downtown is where you want to be if your idea of Vegas was formed by watching videos of U2 or The Weeknd. Often referred to as "Old Vegas," it's the second-largest tourist area behind the Strip and while most out-of-towners make a point to visit once in the middle of their Vegas vacation, it's also worthy of its own weekend getaway.

Where to stay: Circa is the largest and most luxurious hotel in Downtown Las Vegas: a commanding high-rise that mixes old school imagery with modern accommodations. It's also 21 and over. The Golden Nugget is another big resort on Fremont Street, but choose your room wisely. The Carson tower is older and full of families with noisy kids. The Spa Tower is newer and much more quiet. The Downtown Grand and The D were both renovated from older casinos, but almost feel brand new. The Oasis at Gold Spike is a boutique hotel geared toward younger travelers.

Things to do: You'll have to dodge too many street performers, but walking down the Fremont Street Experience is something everyone needs to do at least once on a weekend trip to Vegas. The five-block pedestrian mall is covered by the Viva Vision overhead canopy with the largest high-def video screen in the world. In true Vegas style, it plays shows (digital images matched to music) every hour.

Head across Las Vegas Boulevard and you'll enter Fremont East, a neighborhood we like to pretend is "for locals." It's a hub for bars, restaurants, and an outdoor shopping mall built from old shipping containers. Gamblers will find table minimums and terms much better at Downtown casinos than on the Strip, especially at El Cortez and California (which are among the last two casinos with penny slots). The D has the only operating Sigma Derby machine in the United States. The large-format horse-racing game costs just 25-cents to play. Around the edges of all this, you'll find some plenty of weird things to do, like cool museums, including the Mob Museum to celebrate our city's affection for criminal activity; the Neon Museum, where vintage signs and marquees go to die; and the Old Morman Fort, left over from 19th century settlers.

Breakfast and lunch: Saginaw's is a 24/7 Jewish deli at Circa, chef Natalie Young's Eat is one of the best breakfast and lunch joints in Vegas, and PublicUs is a coffeehouse that scores points for making a non-alcoholic java version of an Old Fashioned. Downtown Terrace has a second-floor perch at the Container Park with bottomless mimosas during brunch.

Dining out: Oscar's (named after former mayor and mob lawyer Oscar Goodman) and the Triple George Grill are both steakhouses with a cool old-school Vegas vibe, although Vic & Anthony's is the only downtown restaurant with certified Kobe beef. But if you really want to nail the downtown dining scene (and spend a few less dollars), check out Carson Kitchen for an inventive take on New American cuisine.

Drinks and Nightlife:Speakeasy-style cocktail bars like the Downtown Cocktail Room, the Laundry Room, and The Underground prove it's possible to have better cocktails than most bars on the Strip at a lower price. Inspire and the Gold Spike aren't quite nightclubs, but both know how to pick up the pace with live DJs on the weekends. The Downtown Las Vegas Events Center hosts several music festivals throughout the year.

Downtown Arts District
Downtown Arts District | Photo by s.savanapridi

Downtown Arts District

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call the Downtown Arts District the hottest neighborhood in Las Vegas. Also known as the 18b Arts District after its original 18 blocks, the area is a locals-oriented hub of culture, art, drinks, and dining that straddles Charleston Boulevard. There's barely any gambling, restaurant chains, or neon lights, with the neighborhood preferring to thrive almost exclusively on independent ambition and entrepreneurship.

Where to stay: There's only one hotel (so far) in the Arts District: the English Hotel, a small, stylish boutique resort with just 74 rooms, a pool, and not a single casino in sight. The Pepper Club, an on-site restaurant and lounge, is a mix of Japanese and global cuisine, courtesy of celebrity chef Todd English, who inspired the name of the hotel.

Things to do: Shop around at numerous workshops and galleries, many of which are packed inside the Arts Factory and Arts Square—or just come on First Friday, a monthly art walk and block party. Particle Ink: Speed of Dark (a dark, mysterious warehouse environment with special effects and performances) and the latest production at the Majestic Repertory Theatre are your top destinations for entertainment, although the grand Smith Center, which welcomes traveling Broadway shows, is just north of the district. Otherwise, just wander around and check out the quirky secondhand antique shops for a souvenir to take home.

Breakfast and lunch: Downtown totally outperforms the Strip when it comes to coffeehouses and fortunately, these places have great food too. The Arts District is home to Makers & Finders with a weekend Latin brunch and Vesta, whose bites include locally baked, buttery croissants. There's also the Bungalow Coffee, Dragon's Alley, and the new 50s-themed Dig It.

Dining out: Choosing a restaurant in the Arts District is never easy, but your top picks are Esther's Kitchen for farm-to-table Italian, Good Pie for pizza, Yu-Or-Mi for sushi, and Main St. Provisions, which is becoming more steak-centric under the guidance of new chef Patrick Munster. SoulBelly and Braeswood are two of the best barbecue restaurants in Vegas.

Drinks and Nightlife: There are plenty of places to drink like a local downtown, but Velveteen Rabbit is your best bet for a craft cocktail, while Garagiste is one of the top wine bars in Vegas. When it comes to beer, things get more complicated. You've got breweries like Able Baker, Hop Nuts, Hudl, Nevada Brew Works, and Neon Desert, along with a few tap rooms (CraftHaus, Three Sheets, and Servehzah). Other fun spots include Jammyland (with Caribbean-themed cocktails and bites) and Taverna Costera, where most of the energy is on the rooftop deck with a variety of live entertainment.

Water Street District
Water Street District | Kit Leong/Shutterstock


Henderson is the second-largest city in Nevada, although it kind of feels like the southeast corner of Las Vegas. It's highly residential and full of shopping malls and chain restaurants. Yet it also has parks, mountain trails, and casino resorts with considerable value compared to the Strip. Henderson is best navigated by car, making it attractive to those driving in from nearby states like California and Arizona. It's also a bit closer to the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, and Lake Las Vegas, helping you get in touch with nature and other attractions beyond the urban sprawl of Sin City.

Where to stay: The M Resort is the nicest hotel in Henderson. It's right off I-15 with a modern feel and sweeping outdoor pool deck. Green Valley Ranch is a close second with a Mediterranean theme and big pool deck of its own (plus a standalone spa). Boulder Station, Eastside Cannery, and Sam's Town are just outside Henderson on the Boulder Highway strip, offering a touch of grit to match the value for customers focused on blackjack and slot machines. The Westin at Lake Las Vegas has waterside views and an indulgent spa, adding up to a romantic weekend if you book a couples massage.

Things to do: Exciting things are happening in the Water Street District, a stretch of vintage casinos that's going through a rejuvenation period with the addition of bars, restaurants, and the Lifeguard Arena for minor league hockey. Cool off at the Cowabunga Bay water park or mingle with exotic animals at the Lion Habitat Ranch. For something sweet, take a free tour of the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, which has an outdoor, three-acre botanical cactus garden with more than 300 species of plants. Lake Las Vegas Water Sports has watercraft rentals ranging from paddle boats to La Contessa, a two-level yacht with (here's the important part) two bars on board.

Breakfast and lunch: CraftKitchen and Kitchen Table are brunchy restaurants just as good, if not better, than anything you'll find on the Strip in the same category. The Stove has gone through a few chefs and revamps, but remains a lively breakfast and lunch spot in the Anthem area. Le Cafe du Val has fresh-baked pastries, espresso, and sandwiches (including a popular Croque Madame) in Green Valley.

Dining out: Hank's at Green Valley Ranch is easily the best steakhouse in Henderson and carries real, certified Kobe beef and Hokkaido scallops. Tokyo Boys is a 50s-style diner transformed into a Japanese restaurant with carefully sourced seafood. Just pull up to the bar and ask the chef for an omakase experience based on your budget. If you want awesome pizza, try Pizza Rock or Settebello in the Green Valley area and Rebellion Pizza farther north in Anthem.

Drinks and nightlife: The Las Vegas Distillery, Vegas Valley Winery, Grape Expectations (for custom wine barrel blends), and two breweries (CraftHaus and Bad Beat) are all part of a business park known as the Artisan Booze District. Two more breweries (Lovelady and Mojave) are top destinations on Water Street. If you're not into beer, try the cocktails and whiskey at Biscuits and Bourbon or Gambit, which is three bars in one, including a weekends-only tequila speakeasy.

Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon | Shackleford Photography/Shutterstock


The West Valley of Las Vegas is dominated by Summerlin, a master-planned community for people who love parks, trails, and excessive HOA fees. It's a great alternative to the Strip, because you get more bang for your buck at the hotels while being closer to Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston. Most hotels have a free shuttle to the Strip.

Where to stay: Red Rock Resort is the closest thing to a luxury Strip-style hotel in Summerlin. You get a well-rounded restaurant lineup, a big casino, and a killer pool deck. The JW Marriott is another great choice with in-suite jetted tubs and some incredible landscaping, including waterfalls, palm trees, and more grass than most Las Vegans know what to do with.

Things to do: See a game at the Las Vegas Ballpark, which is part of the Downtown Summerlin dining and shopping complex. It's home to the Las Vegas Aviators minor league baseball team. The stadium has open-air views, food from local restaurants, and a swimming pool in the outfield. Nature lovers will be more comfortable scaling the walls of Red Rock Canyon or exploring Summerlin's expansive parks and walking trails. Super Summer Theater stages a series of outdoor productions with beautiful sandstone cliffs as the backdrop in Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

Breakfast and lunch: Toasted Gastrobrunch covers all the bases for brunch seven days a week with great cocktails and overloaded pancakes. If you happen to be biking in the Blue Diamond area near Red Rock Canyon, stop by Cottonwood Station, a rustic bistro with early morning breakfast bites and fresh-baked pizzas with beer and wine on tap (offering some incentive to just hang out on the patio and forget that bike ride altogether).

Dining out: La Strega, Osteria Fiorella, and Al Solito Posto all serve a compelling, modern take on Italian cuisine. Vintner Grill often flies under the radar, but feels like an experience with white tablecloths, comfortable couch-like booths, and a fresh spin on New American cuisine. You'll be happy with a big hunk of steak at T-Bones Chophouse, but probably spend half as much at Echo & Rig and get a meal just as good. The Tivoli Village steakhouse has its own butcher shop with cuts on display near the main entrance. Harlo is a newer, fancier steakhouse in Downtown Summerlin with Strip-level flash and prices. It loves to have fun with caviar too.

Drinks and nightlife: Summerlin doesn't have much of a late-night party scene, but Jing and La Neta are restaurants that do their best to make up for it with a vibey lounge atmosphere. Ada's is one of the best wine bars in the city, featuring a lineup of exceptional and affordable bottles curated by a talented in-house sommelier team. Summerlin's tastiest beer is at the Hop Nuts Taproom inside Tivoli Village.

Boulder City
Boulder City | Photo by Sam Morris, courtesy of Las Vegas News Bureau

Boulder City

No gambling and no cannabis dispensaries, but don't worry. Boulder City is loaded with stuff to do. The charming community is just southeast of Las Vegas, mixing an easy residential lifestyle with a laid-back love of the great outdoors. Much of the city's identity and culture is based on the Hoover Dam. Sometimes the town feels like a slice of Southern California, but it's really the place where Vegas began.

Where to stay: Boulder City is full of hotels and motels, presumably for Arizonans too tired to finish their drive to Vegas. But if you're staying for the weekend, look into the historic Boulder Dam Hotel, which was built in 1933 and has a free walk-through museum dedicated to the history of the Hoover Dam. Just outside city limits proper, the Hoover Dam Lodge and Railroad Pass are the closest hotels with a casino.

Things to do: If you don't head out to see Hoover Dam, you're doing this whole Boulder City thing wrong—although the whole experience was much cooler back in the old days when you could drive right over the top. (Traffic now detours over a seperate bridge that spans the Nevada and Arizona side of the Colorado River.) Make the most of your proximity to Lake Mead with rafting, boating, and kayaking by Black Canyon River Adventures. Then continue with a hike on the Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail or Historic Railroad Trail. If that sounds like too much work, relax in Hemingway Park, where bighorn sheep travel down from the mountains and graze on the grass.

Breakfast and lunch: The Coffee Cup Cafe is your place for breakfast. Think of it as an elevated greasy spoon with beat-up license plates and out-of-town coffee mugs hanging on the walls. Milo's Inn is a cool little wine bar in the historic district that's so chill, it seems to work better for lunch than dinner.

Dining out: The Dillinger is a restaurant and bar renovated from an old bank with the best burgers in Boulder City. Fox Smokehouse is your top destination for barbecue while Toto's has been the go-to Mexican restaurant for 30 years. The Southwest Diner specializes in old-school favorites (like meatloaf and BLT sandwiches) with drinks served in mason jars.

Drinks and nightlife: Boulder City isn't exactly known for its nightlife. There's always the cheap drinks of the Backstop Sports Pub (a dive bar with history) or the wine at Milo's Inn, but go with Cleveland's Lounge, a throwback speakeasy in the basement of the Boulder Dam Hotel with regular live music. Beer lovers will prefer the outdoor garden at the Boulder Dam Brewing Co., where the stout is used in the chili and the hefeweizen makes an appearance in the "Breuben" corned beef sandwich.

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than eight years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He treats every weekend like a vacation in Las Vegas. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.