Looking for a memorable time on the town? From salsa dancing to sky adventures, we’ve got you covered.
RAT PACK NIGHT
Ring-a-ding-ding, do-bee-do-bee-do, what a cuckoo night. … Feelin’ the Frank yet? Not to mention the Dino, the Sammy and the Joey? Although the members of the Rat Pack are gone, they’re the eternal soul and symbol of Vegas, and a night spent in their spirit makes you just a little more of a local. Kick off your swingin’ evening digging into tasty steaks at the old-Vegas-style Golden Steer, which opened in 1958 and counted the Pack among their regulars. Then channel the guys at The Rat Pack Is Back at the Rio, where the core four (sorry, Peter Lawford) are re-created by tuxedoed impersonators who have downloaded every drop of their cool quotient. Fly to the moon with Frank. Hoof with Sammy and Mr. Bojangles. Find amore with Dino—finger-snappin’ all night long. Then head to the Golden Gate and order some Jack Daniel’s Sinatra-style, and the bartenders will know what to do. See, that’s where the Pack actually used to hang out before leaving town after a show. It was across the street from the train station.
If you want a change from the crowded nightclubs and the surprise grind-from-behind (you know the guys), try salsa, the high-energy dance that’s fun to learn—and a workout, too. Beginners can start with free lessons at Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant at 7 p.m. Thursdays with a partner session at 8 and more dancing at 9. The Mexican restaurant morphs into a full-on dance club with live music and fresh margaritas. Don’t worry about your lack of rhythm, as the pros are too busy showing off to notice your awkward moves. If one night of salsa just isn’t enough, the Tuscany Casino offers free lessons from 6-8 p.m. Sundays and open dancing until 11 p.m. Already a master of the spinning Cuban dance? Try the Tuscany’s Friday-night bachata lessons. The Dominican dance features less-fancy footwork but still offers a good time. And once you’re a Latin-dance expert, you just may decide to make this great night out a regular on your schedule.
Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant, 953 E. Sahara Ave., Suite A-27, 732-0010; Tuscany Suites & Casino, 255 E. Flamingo Rd., 893-8933, TuscanyLV.com.
Below-the-radar music is thriving. Savor it by testing your open-mic, rap-battle skills against other aspiring MCs at Vegas on the Mic (9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays) at Money Plays or at Hip Hop Roots (10 p.m. Tuesdays) at LVCS. Afterward head to Favorites for a punk/doom show by touring groups such as New York’s Occultation. The summer’s high points, however, are twin all-day-and-night cult-metal fests Doom in June III (June 1) and Las Vegas Death Fest V (June 15), both at Cheyenne Saloon, each showcasing dozens of (disturbingly named) bands.
Money Plays, 4755 W. Flamingo Rd.; LVCS, 425 Fremont St.; Favorites, 4110 S. Maryland Pkwy.; Cheyenne Saloon, 3103 N. Rancho Dr.
Want to live like the 1 percent, if only for a night? Start with a cocktail and some caviar at Bellagio’s Petrossian Bar, a staple of the hotel-bar scene and a great perch from which to people-watch. (Vegas Seven cocktail maven Xania Woodman recommends you order their fabulous barrel-aged Negroni). Then head over to Yellowtail, where chef Akira Back does one of the city’s most impressive omakase (chef’s choice) menus. If you are truly special, he might even saddle up to your table for some spirited conversation. Don’t leave without begging for an off-the-menu treat. Then, if you have $250,000 to burn, skip on over to Hyde (also at Bellagio) where six figures buys a 30-liter bottle of Ace of Spades and a fountain-side table. (Purchase this package and you’ll get to operate the waterworks at the push of a button.)
Anyone in a Great White Way mood? Before heeding the siren call of The Smith Center—our home for marquee tours—bring the curtain up on a Broadway night in Las Vegas with a hearty meal, flavored by ambience. Sorry, no Sardi’s in this town, but the Triple George Grill is a dandy alternative, fulfilling both criteria as you dine on steak and seafood, surrounded by dark-wood décor and large booths that recall Vegas of the ’40s and ’50s. After a last sip of vino, scoot over to Smith’s Reynolds Hall for a big-ticket Broadway production (such as West Side Story, through March 3). Cap it with cocktails on Commonwealth’s rooftop bar. That’s called giving your regards to Broadway in Vegas.
DIVE BAR PUB CRAWL NIGHT
First, hire a car; we don’t want the fate of your dumb, drunk asses on our conscience. After that, your dive-bar adventure will pretty much write itself. First, go to the Hard Hat Lounge for humble workingman’s beers. Then zoom over to Dino’s Lounge, where you can actively fuel your aspirations to be their “Drunk of the Month.” Follow that with a trip out to the Four Mile Bar on Boulder Highway—by that point, you should have enough of a buzz to channel Shania Twain for karaoke. Lock down your three-day hangover with the marvelously cheap drinks of Huntridge Tavern. And if you have anything left to give after that, take it to the Double Down Saloon and pour Ass Juice on it to pickle it. Mission accomplished.
Hard Hat Lounge, 1675 Industrial Rd., 384-8987; Dino’s Lounge, 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 382-3894, DinosLV.com; Huntridge Tavern, 1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 384-7377; Double Down Saloon, 4640 Paradise Rd., 791-5775, DoubleDownSaloon.com.
AMERICA’S PASTIME NIGHT
The perfectly smooth dirt and perfectly straight chalk lines, all framed by the perfectly manicured grass. Pristine white bases, all 90 feet apart. The hum of the horsehide as it travels 60 feet, 6 inches from the pitcher’s hand to the batter’s box. The crack of bat on ball; the pop of ball in glove. Hot dogs on the grill, peanut shells on the ground, mustard stains on the shirt. The national anthem. The seventh-inning stretch. Young prospects one step away from finally making it to The Show. Wily veterans one step away from clawing their way back. Does it get any better than spending a hot summer night watching our Las Vegas 51s at Cashman Field? Yeah, actually, it does: spending a hot summer night watching our Las Vegas 51s at Cashman Field on Dollar Beer Night. That’s right: a buck for a beer at the ballpark. Now that’s a great night out. (Just get there early.)
Dollar Beer Nights are scheduled for all Thursday home games (April 18 and 25; May 9 and 30; June 13; July 11 and 25; Aug. 8, 15 and 22), LV51.com.
Here’s an early tip for summer evenings: Pack a wholesome feast, some blankets and get to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park’s Super Summer Theatre early enough to spread out before the singing starts. You’ll discover a sylvan paradise in the park’s “meadow,” where you’ll commune with nature and other families who packed better meals than you (last summer, we spied theatergoers using lawn spikes to hold their wine glasses). If you’re not the picnic type, there’s a concession stand with snacks, hot dogs and, on the weekends, pizza. Oh, and there are the shows: This year’s season includes four big-name musicals: The Music Man (June 12-29), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (July 10-27), Legally Blonde The Musical (Aug. 7-24) and The Producers (Sept. 5-21).
Super Summer Theatre at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, $12 in advance, $20 at the gate, children 5 and under are admitted free, chair rental $1, SuperSummerTheatre.org.
You might not notice it during the free wine-tasting and winery tour. And you might not even pick up on it during a remarkably good lunch or dinner at Symphony’s, an upscale-casual restaurant. But it will hit you the second you step outside to inspect the syrah and zinfandel vines: Welcome to fabulous Pahrump, baby! The family-owned Pahrump Valley Winery is also Nevada’s oldest.
Open 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, 3810 Winery Rd., 775-751-7800, PahrumpWinery.com.
FAR EAST NIGHT
If you’re in the mood to sing, make the voyage over to Karaoke Q Studio. You’ll sit at a large table and make a fool of yourself—or become a budding star. There are thousands of songs from which to choose, not to mention soju and sake to loosen those inhibitions. Then it’s off to Raku, one of the best Japanese restaurants in America, where you’ll rub elbows with famous local chefs and sup on delicacies such as sawagani crab and foie gras egg custard. No sushi, please.
Open until 3 a.m. (last call at 2 a.m.), Karaoke Q Studio, 3400 S. Jones Blvd., 823-1448; Raku, 5030 W. Spring Mountain Rd., Suite 2, 367-3511, Raku-Grill.com.
PROFESSOR RAINES’ SMART NIGHT OUT
By Tara Raines, assistant professor of educational psychology and higher education at UNLV
First, fuel up on brain busting omega-3s at the UNLV-adjacent 28Go. The economical gem is right across from campus and features fantastic ramen (at lunch only) and delicious Asian fusion tapas. After the salmon poke stack, venture to Bodies … The Exhibition at Luxor. Viewing the inner workings of the body is a unique, albeit slightly creepy, experience. Spring for the audio guide and absorb all of the medical lingo you can. Then, if it’s Thursday night, drop some of that knowledge at the Crown & Anchor Pub Quiz.
28Go, 4632 S. Maryland Pkwy., 895-9899; Bodies … The Exhibition, 262-4000; Crown & Anchor, 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8676.
GALLERY HOPPER NIGHT
If you’re overwhelmed by the array of options surrounding First Friday, narrow it down by asking this simple question: inside or outside? For the art portion of your evening, choose between the outdoor street fair (on Casino Center near Charleston) and the interior galleries (Brett Wesley, the Arts Factory, Emergency Arts, Commerce Street Studios, etc.). Typically, the outdoor fair offers a livelier experience, while the galleries show more serious art. For dinner, choose between the food trucks (on Third Street, between Colorado and Imperial) and the neighborhood restaurants, which include Bar & Bistro, Casa Don Juan and El Sombrero Café in the Arts District, and Le Thai, Kabob Korner and Radio City Pizza on Fremont East. (Tip: The restaurants often get crowded, and the food trucks provide an excuse to eat fried pickles.) Finally, for your live-music-listening/booze-drinking needs, hit the outdoor stages and drink booths around the First Friday street fair, or visit some bars off the beaten path—such as the Lady Silvia, Huntridge Tavern or the Parlour at El Cortez—for a more relaxed experience. Now mark the next First Friday on your calendar and visit Vegas Seven’s DTLV.com for the latest details to help further plan your itinerary.
Bar & Bistro,107 E. Charleston Blvd., 202-6060; Casa Don Juan, 1204 S. Main St., 384-8070; El Sombrero Café, 807 S. Main St., 382-9234; Le Thai, 523 Fremont St., 778-0888; Kabob Korner, 507 Fremont St., 384-7722; Lady Silvia, 900 Las Vegas Blvd. South; Huntridge Tavern, 1116 E. Charleston Blvd., 384-7377; Parlour at El Cortez, 385-5200.
TACKY TOURIST NIGHT
You know you want to do it: See Vegas as tourists see it. Start by grabbing an alcoholic beverage in a 32-ounce Eiffel Tower container at Paris. Walk down the Boulevard to the World’s Largest Gift Shop, picking up collateral from porn-slappers all the way. At the shop, pick up that dice clock you’ve always wanted—because it says Las Vegas and it’s only $23! Then cab it to Fremont Street, where you can eat something deep-fried at Mermaid’s Casino that you’ve never had deep-fried before (try the Twinkie or Oreos, which are both only 99 cents) and get a stiff neck gawking at the Bon Jovi show on Viva Vision.
PENNY’s PLAYFUL NIGHT OUT
By Penny Pibbets of Absinthe
Las Vegas is all about pretend. Glamour, money, escorts. You can be a Gazillionaire in any casino, and no one would know it. So when I go out, that’s exactly what I do! I open my grandma’s costume chest and go to town. To start the night, I visit a retro furniture store such as Retro Vegas or Patina on Main Street. I dress up like a Vegas housewife from the 1950s, horribly mutated from the atomic-bomb testing in her neighborhood. I cook imaginary roasts, ignoring my melted fingers, call for my family to come down and eat, but they never do because they’re dead. Then it’s off to The Smith Center, where I dress like a director: all black, big glasses and a cigarette. I pace backstage, yelling at the grips, “You lazy goons! What do I pay you for?” When I get (un)kindly escorted out, it’s off to the Downtown Cocktail Room. I dress up like a mob wife/girlfriend, makeup smeared and totally wasted. I relentlessly scream outside the door for “LOUIE” to come out. After staging a beautifully dramatic overdose, I go home to eat my grandma’s leftovers, which inevitably give me a stomachache.
Retro Vegas, 384-2700, Retro-Vegas.com; Patina Décor, 776-6222; Downtown Cocktail Room, 111 Las Vegas Blvd. South, TheDowntownLV.com.
HOLD ON TIGHT NIGHT
What better way to get your date to cozy on up to you than scaring the crap out of them? The Haunted Vegas Tour promises to expose you to the spooks and spirits stalking the Valley, but before taking off, get your wits about you with a meal at the Barrymore. Settle into one of the booths and dine on lobster mac and cheese or an 18-ounce bone-in rib-eye. Complement dinner with one of their wines (they have a 50-under-$50 menu) and get a little buzz going before boarding the bus. The Haunted Tour guides are characters in themselves (one of them is a licensed mortician), and they’ll be sure to infuse plenty of morbid humor while describing the ghost of Bugsy Siegel stalking the Flamingo or the peculiar happenings at the Liberace Museum.
GET CRAFTY NIGHT
We all can’t be blessed with the crafty genius of McQueen, but we can pretend at Stitch Factory’s social classes. The workspace was designed for up-and-coming fashion mavens, meaning it’s stocked with professional-grade sewing equipment, and each class comes with a professional to guide you through the creation process. Each session has a different theme, such as personalized wine bags, braided scarves or studded headbands. The $35 price tag includes all materials—and night classes include cocktails to ease the pain of not being able to thread a needle.
Classes Feb. 28, March 1, 8 and 22; 300 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Suite 120, 476-5552, StitchFactory.com.
LIVE DANGEROUSLY NIGHT
Strictly speaking, every night in Vegas is Live Dangerously Night. On any given evening, you could narrowly escape a California driver or accidentally be married to Sinéad O’Connor. But if you want a somewhat more controlled experience, begin your night in danger town by shelling out for the Gun Store’s “Zombie Package.” You can fire a shotgun, Glock Carbine, AR-15 and a XDM9 pistol multiple times at “zombie targets,” and you even get a souvenir T-shirt. Then shoot up the Stratosphere Tower for its 108th-floor thrill rides: Insanity, the spin ride that hangs you over the edge; Big Shot, which fires you into the air; or SkyJump, which simply chucks you off the tower completely. End the night with one of the five skull drinks at Frankie’s Tiki Room—the Fink Bomb, perhaps (two kinds of rum in it, one of them 160 proof), or the thematically appropriate Zombie.
The Gun Store, 2900 E. Tropicana Ave., 454-1110, TheGunStoreLasVegas.com; Stratosphere Tower, 380-7777; Frankie’s Tiki Room, 1712 W. Charleston Blvd.
Even with the delayed Downtown opening of the storied Krave Massive, there are plenty of places for the LGBT crowd to party. If you have a hankering to start in the afternoon, try the country-western themed Charlie’s with its myriad drink specials such as two-for-one cocktails until 6 p.m. Saturdays. After a little day drinking, refuel on greasy eats while bowling in the company of many a drag queen at Drink & Drag in Neonopolis. Fed and tipsy, party Strip-style at the two-story Share Nightclub or head to FreeZone for the oldest drag show in Las Vegas with Diva Toxxx. If you find yourself leaving at 4 a.m. but still in need of a nightcap, look no further than the oldest gay bar in the city—Snick’s Place— for a cocktail with a side of freshly popped popcorn.
Charlie’s, 5012 Arville St., CharliesLasVegas.com; Drink & Drag, DrinkAndDrag.com; Share Nightclub, 4636 Wynn Rd., ShareNightclub.com; FreeZone, 610 E. Naples Dr., 794-2300, FreeZoneLV.com; Snick’s Place, 1402 S. Third St., SnicksPlace.com.
MOB NIGHT OUT
By John L. Smith, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and author of Sharks in the Desert: The Founding Fathers and Current Kings of Las Vegas
For the real-deal guys, a “mob night out” probably meant putting the squeeze on some illegal bookmakers or gently reminding a loan shark customer he was late with the vig. But when it comes to dining, mob guys have always followed the sauce. They gravitate toward great food and a certain atmosphere in which you’re likely to hear Sinatra and Dean Martin songs played.
Over the years, rich food has knocked off more guys than Tommy guns. You’ll find that combination of food and atmosphere many places in town. Here are a few: Roma Deli, Capo’s, Salvatore’s, Oscar’s at the Plaza and, of course, Freddie Glusman’s place, Piero’s. Cocktails are a matter of personal taste, but you can forget about umbrella drinks and concoctions with clever names. It’s whiskey drinks and martinis in glasses deep enough to bathe a baby. In other words, an Oscar Goodman martini.
The city’s old street guys would be flattered to know they were being memorialized by places like the Mob Museum and the Mob Attraction at the Tropicana. And then they’d try to grab a piece of the action—and torch the place when their offer of protection was declined.
How does a Mob Night Out end? With two hearts beating faster than machine-gun fire. Hopefully, no one gets hurt.
Roma Deli, 5755 Spring Mountain Rd., 871-5577; Capo’s, 5675 W. Sahara Ave., 364-2276; Salvatore’s, at the Suncoast, 636-7111; Oscar’s Steakhouse, at the Plaza, 386-7227; Piero’s, 355 Convention Center Dr., 369-2305.
If you have the stuff (and the Red Bull) to stay out all night, we suggest the new Body English Afterhours. Or wait till spring for the Drai’s Afterhours pop-up at Bally’s. Then, a half-hour before dawn, meet the crew of Viator Tours for a sunrise hot-air-balloon ride over the Las Vegas Valley, Strip environs and out to Red Rock Canyon. The 3½-hour experience begins with hotel pick-up and drop-off and comes with a light champagne breakfast. And, of course, a licensed pilot.