9 Places to Drink Like a Local in Las Vegas

If you want to maximize your experience wherever you visit, follow the old adage: “Do as the locals do.” Living in Las Vegas is just like living anywhere else—We get up, we go to work, and at the end of the day, we want to toss down a drink or two far from the madding crowd. Want to belly up to the same bars that real Las Vegans do? From trendy to tiki, here are 10 of our best secret drinking spots. And shhhh! You didn’t hear it from us.

Downtown Cocktail Room

Part speakeasy (the door can be difficult to find), part mixology haven, Downtown Cocktail Room is one of the coolest spots to have a well-crafted drink North of the Strip. The 3,000 square-foot room is intimate and warm, low lit by candlelight; the Fernet flows freely and the Absinthe comes scorched, if you’re so inclined. Some nights you’ll groove all night to DJs playing deep house while you’re nursing your wildly alcoholic punch bowl with friends. 111 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-880-3696, thedowntownlv.com

Bootlegger Bistro

The Italian restaurant just South of the Las Vegas Strip has seen its fair share of history pass through its doors over the past 30 years, and has maintained a vintage Vegas vibe that whole time. The lounge act is alive and well at Bootlegger, which hosts live entertainment every night, from open mic nights to sultry singers accompanied by talented pianists. 7700 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-736-4939, bootleggerlasvegas.com

Sand Dollar Lounge

Once one of Las Vegas’ most iconic bars, the Sand Dollar Blues Bar hosted huge acts such as BB King and George Thorogood in its heyday, while names such as Mick Jagger insisted on stopping by whenever they were in town. It shut down briefly in 2007 only to be resurrected a few years later, and now survives as the Sand Dollar Lounge at Bar 702. You’ll find acts like Vegas locals and legends Moanin’ Blacksnakes taking the stage, as well as rub elbows with plenty of other musicians who just got done playing their gigs on the Strip. In Bar 702, 3355 Spring Mountain Rd., 702-485-5401, bar702lasvegas.com

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Photo courtesy of Sand Dollar Lounge

Money Plays

A popular post-shift spot for those who work in the hospitality industry, Money Plays also happens to boast one of the most eclectic craft beer menus in town. Tucked under the shadow of the Palms next to a taco shop (which delivers to the bar), this hidden gem keeps 24 interesting brews on tap which you can drink as a half yard, in addition to 90 bottled beers. If it weren’t for the video poker machines inset into the counter, you might mistake it for a neighborhood bar in your town—just with more excellent drinking options. 4755 W. Flamingo Rd., 702-368-1828, moneyplayslv.com


The non-gaming hotel is tucked away just off I-15, so you have to know what you’re looking for. Pull into the clandestine valet, walk into the lobby of the boutique property and you’ll be surrounded by art just about everywhere you look—not just on the walls but the ceilings as well, in addition to opulent fountains and etchings covering every inch. There are only 64 rooms at Artisan, which makes it one of the few truly boutique venues in town, but locals swarm to the bar on weekend nights, usually as an after-hours spot. If you’re so over mainstream EDM, the Artisan’s DJs play mostly sounds from the underground, which keeps partiers dancing indoors and out on the patio well until the sun comes up. 1501 W. Sahara Ave., 702-214-4000, artisanhotel.com

Insert Coin(s)

There’s gaming in Las Vegas, and then there’s video gaming. Insert Coin(s) boasts of being the first video game-centric bar in the world, making this basically a huge arcade for grown ups. The actual arcade has more than 60 classic games for you to rack up some nostalgia, while VIP gaming booths let you play on the gaming console of your choice with the comfort of bottle service (because this is still Las Vegas). Belly up to the Beta Bar to test out the latest releases on XBOX 360 and PS3 on more than a dozen large screen TVs. 512 Fremont St., 702-477-2525, insertcoinslv.com

Backstage Bar & Billiards

Pool hall? Check! Rock ‘n’ roll museum? Check! Live music? They’ve got that too. Channel your inner rock star in the 4,000-square-foot space, surrounded by musician’s paraphernalia and gold records. The Honky Tonk Hootenanny sets up shop here, and you’ll be treated to performances by eclectic acts such as Fishbone and Big Sandy, and maybe even an occasional appearance by Triple B co-owner DJ Lethal of House of Pain and Limp Bizkit fame. 601 E. Fremont St., 702-382-2227, backstagebarandbilliards.com

Frankie’s Tiki Room

Yes, there is a bona fide tiki lounge in Las Vegas, and residents flock here on the weekends to unwinds after a long shift dealing with—well, visitors. Complete with shrunken heads, Easter Island-sized totems and faux grass huts, you might even think you’re Gilligan (or the Skipper, whoever floats your boat). You’ve got your classic Mai Tai, Zombie and Navy Grog, but the real fun is in the other rum-heavy concoctions, such as the Lava Letch and Wild Watusi, that can be served in their very own souvenir cups. 1712 W. Charleston, 702-385-3110, frankiestikiroom.com


Photo courtesy of Frankie’s Tiki Lounge

Dino’s Lounge

Las Vegans love their dive bars. Even when they’re smack dab on Las Vegas Boulevard. The dark, smoky room is about what you’d expect from a dive bar in your town, except this one takes up some of the most prime real estate in the city. Come in on a Saturday to witness some of the best (and some of the not-the-best) karaoke singers in town, and maybe belt out your finest rendition of “All About That Bass” after downing some of the cheapest drinks in the zip code. 1516 Las Vegas Boulevard, 702-382-3894, dinoslv.com


**Cover photo courtesy of The Artisan