Let’s face it: The Strip is the Times Square of Las Vegas—a crowded, expensive, flashy setting that’s geared for tourists and thoroughly avoided by locals.
Where do Vegas locals hang out when they want to relax with a reasonably-priced drink in a not-too-crowded setting? Here are 5 favorite hangouts among the Vegas local crowd.
1. Downtown Cocktail Room
This speakeasy is centrally located at the corner of Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, yet it’s incredibly easy-to-miss. Tucked away in a dark, unassuming corner, with only a small sign announcing its presence, the Downtown Cocktail Room — or “DCR,” as locals call it — is popular in part due to its secrecy. Thanks to its tinted windows and handle-less hidden door, most tourists stumble past while locals quietly gather inside.
The interior is seductive and upscale without being stuffy: it’s plush, red, and appointed with the best of Vegas style. The crafted cocktails are expensive but worth every penny, and the crowd consists of regulars who know the bartenders by name.
Pro tip: You’ll find another hidden speakeasy, called Mike Morey’s Sip N’ Tip, located inside of DCR. That’s right, it’s a speakeasy-within-a-speakeasy, and it’s equally easy to overlook. Shhh!
2. Double Down Saloon
“Shut Up and Drink” is the slogan of this dive bar, which bills itself as the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Covered with chaotic murals and sardonic stickers on every square inch of wall and ceiling, the Double Down Saloon is the place to go when you want hard rock, punk or grunge live music, pinball machines, and an anti-Vegas vibe. The crowd consists of heavily tattooed locals wearing cutoff black t-shirts. Try a shot of Ass Juice, a fruity vodka concoction served in a toilet-bowl-shaped shot glass.
This low-key hotel bar is a playground for grown-ups: the outdoor area features games like cornhole, giant Jenga, tetherball, four square, chess with two-foot-tall pieces, a several-foot-long game of Operation, and a life-sized game of beer pong that uses red trash cans as the cups.
Indoors you’ll find Skee-ball, several pinball machines and a giant bed where you can cuddle with a dozen friends. The Fiddlestix cafe, located inside the lobby, serves food 24/7, and the food and drink prices are unquestionably reasonable. The Zappos crowd is known for hanging out here at, well, almost all hours of day and night.
4. The Nerd
Do you love Star Wars, Dr. Who, The Simpsons, comic books and cosplay? If so, you’re probably nerdy enough to appreciate the one of the newest locals-favorite hangout on the Vegas scene, The Nerd.
This Fremont Street bar, tucked away from tourists with its second-floor location in Neonopolis, features a bowling alley, pool tables and (of course) plenty of video games. It offers a 50 percent discount to anyone who shows up in cosplay. The overhead music features instrumental covers of video game and genre movie soundtracks. While they serve Duff Beer, try the martini called The Springfield, ringed with Homer Simpson’s favorite pink donut.
5. Blue Martini
This upscale martini lounge and tapas restaurant, located in a shopping center in Town Square, offers one of the best happy hour specials for locals: women with a Nevada ID get their first martini free, and these drinks are top-notch, beautifully-crafted cocktails that’ll leave you tipsy after half a glass. Everyone gets half-priced drinks from 4 to 7 pm, as well as reduced food prices, and locals tend to commandeer the patio area during those prime after-work hours. Later in the evening, this venue takes on a low-key nightclub vibe, with DJ’s and other live entertainment