If you’ve been following this blog you know that I am an advocate for planning a trip to Las Vegas well in advance. Planning a trip to Las Vegas early allows you to save money on just about every facet of your trip. Prices on flights often increase closer to flight date. It’s easier to get a reservation at a restaurant or tickets to a show if you plan in advance. While hotel room rates may go down after you book early you have better selection booking in advance and you can always cancel a reservation and rebook at a less expensive rate.
Having said that, we’re heading into one of the busiest weeks of the year in Las Vegas. You’re going to want to make sure you have hotels, restaurant and show tickets reserved sooner than later. The in between Christmas to New Years Day is one of the busiest in Las Vegas. Rooms go from 20%-30% booked in early December to nearly capacity for this week, restaurants are booked and shows are sold out during this week. I’m talking about regular shows and dining experiences. Just wait until we get to the special events for New Years Eve.
There are a lot of things that are unique to Las Vegas. Piano bars are one of those things that may exist in other cities but they live in Las Vegas. Piano bars are a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment. Often times, that entertainment can be fun and other times it’s serious. Piano bars isn’t entirely accurate since there are usually two pianos with dueling or multiple vocalists. The performers will often interact with the audience giving you a really fun, jovial, experience.
Piano bars may have seen brighter days but there are still a few places where you can get in on the fun. Here are some of the best piano bars in Las Vegas.
Harrah’s – You may remember the Piano bar at Harrah’s when I was telling you about the best karaoke bars in Las Vegas. In the early part of the evening the Piano Bar at Harrah’s doubles as home to some of the best karaoke that you’ll find in Las Vegas. After the sun goes you’ll see the Piano Bar overflowing with packed crowds. The Piano Bar consistently gets great reviews from real people (Trip Advisor, for example). The identical twins, Kim and Tamara Pinegar, are one of the main attractions but they aren’t the only piano hounds playing music at the Piano Bar at Harrah’s so you can really enjoy it any day or night.
The Bar at Times Square at New York-New York has the other very popular piano bar in Las Vegas. Every night from 8pm-12pm you’ll be able to enjoy dueling pianos here. There is always a cover charge for dueling pianos at The Bar. In fact, dueling pianos at The Bar is so popular they recommend making reservations for large parties. Besides video poker at the bar there are a few differences between dueling pianos at New York-New York and Harrah’s. There is a daily happy hour from 3-7 to get you primed for the dueling pianos, there are multiple TV’s to keep an eye on the games and locals get free entry.
If you’re on the other side of the Vegas Strip you head to Napoleon’s Piano Bar at Paris Las Vegas. Napoleon’s Piano Bar offers both solo and dueling pianos. When dueling pianos are active you’ll have a blast as the two pianists battle for your tip money. To be frank, Napoleon’s Piano Bar isn’t as popular as Harrah’s or New York-New York but it’s fun and it’s strip location makes it convenient for most tourists.
All of the piano fun isn’t kept inside of casinos. Don’t Tell Mama is a piano bar located in Downtown Vegas’ Fremont East area. Don’t Tell Mama is located in between the Fremont Street Experience and El Cortez. Unlike the piano bars on the Vegas Strip, Don’t Tell Mama is mostly a locals bar featuring local talent and because of the attraction to locals you’ll end up with a packed house. Check out the Yelp reviews to see why Don’t Tell Mama is popular. Entertainment begins every night at 7pm and everyone will recommend that you arrive early to get a seat.
Piano bars are a nostalgic look back at entertainment that took place in the 20’s and 30’s. Besides the vintage feel piano bars can offer some of the most fun and inexpensive entertainment that you’ll find in Las Vegas. Not all piano bars are created the same but all of them will offer the same result – fun.
Dive bars are awesome because they are what they are and their customers are happy with that. Dive bars aren’t fancy, they’re just bars where people go to grab a cheap drink and hang out. Unlike every other city in the United States you may find video poker in your Las Vegas dive bar. Over time dive bars obtain a vibe and an aura about them that you can feel it when you walk in the door. Sometimes you can smell it and taste it. It’s okay, that’s part of the experience. These feeling are very noticeable in a city like Las Vegas where there’s so much mainstream culture. Dive bars don’t care about image and don’t try to be the same – or different – than everyone else. They just are.
Las Vegas is great because you can have any experience you want. On one of my most memorable trips to Vegas my friends and I spent a morning drinking (too much) vodka and playing blackjack at Bellagio then hopping into a limo to the El Cortez for some .25 cent roulette. It was an epic day for the ages but what stands out was the ability to go from being a high roller to a low low roller within a few hours.
Even though I live in Las Vegas now and have access to learning about places I never would have found as a tourist I still enjoy going out and enjoying the finer things in life like I did as a tourist. For me that includes a great steak, a cigar and a really good drink. I shared my favorite steakhouses earlier this year and now I want to share great places where you can enjoy a great cigar and drink.
There are two great cigar lounges on the Vegas strip that offer different experiences. Casa Fuente is located in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and has a large selection of cigars in a massive humidor. While they offer fantastic sangria and mojitos they also have very limited edition Glenfiddich and other single malt whiskies which compliment a cigar very nicely. Every now and again Casa Fuente will hold tastings of limited edition high end spirits (like Glenfiddich) that go nicely with a cigar. Casa Fuente is so devoted to high end booze that they have a special spirits society that’s open for anyone to join. Casa Fuente really is the best of both worlds. Unfortunately due to complaints from visitors at the Forum Shops the smoking space has been cut in half. You now have to smoke by the bar. This isn’t such a bad deal because the cigars and drinks are great but it was nice to have the extra space to spread out.
Nightclubs are a big deal in Las Vegas. In fact, 8 of the top 10 nightclubs in America are located in Las Vegas. There’s always been demand to get into the Vegas nightclubs but nothing like this. Now the demand is so insane that the lines are huge at clubs up and down the Vegas strip instead of just one or two hot spots. The clubs are so packed at night that almost every nightclub has a dayclub where you can soak in some rays while catching a world famous DJ drop some beats.
The increased demand to get into clubs allows the operators to charge more money and increase how strict they are with dress codes and guy codes. You now have to bring an equal amount of guys and girls with your party to enter the club. This isn’t anything new but it has never been strictly enforced at all times and at every club. The newest and most grand club on the strip, Hakkasan, isn’t hiding the fact that you can’t have a party of just guys. What’s a bro supposed to do with his bros?
Let’s set the scene. It’s 4am and you’re done with the club or gambling or whatever Vegas had in store for you the night. All you want is something to eat before you pass out. While there’s usually a sit down restaurant in every casino resort but most hotels don’t have quick and inexpensive late night dining options. I’m talking about the place where you can get a drink and bite around $10 in just a few minutes.
I always recommend having at least one glass or bottle of water before crashing for the night. Rehydrating in a dry city like Las Vegas is important for the sober or unsober. Here are some of my favorite places to grab a quick cheap bite to eat inside and outside of a casino.
Last year, the MGM Grand cornered off a huge section of tables, took away those fluffy lions, and shut the doors to Studio 54. A night at Studio 54 was always a blast and I think the name alone gave me the feeling that I was in a “special” club reminiscent of the days in 1977-1981 in New York City. Being a fan of amazing clubs and having visited many of them throughout the US and Europe, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the topic. I have spent several vacations in Ibiza, Spain and South Beach in Miami to watch the sun come up. But, now I don’t have to go so far to experience the newest and grandest nightclub in history opening its doors April 2013 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The name is not as cool as Studio 54, but Hakkasan Night Club is supposed to be way more than just a place to shake your moneymaker.
The pool scene in Las Vegas has changed a lot over the past few years. During the week the pools in Vegas may be a nice place to relax and read a book while catching some rays but that changes at a lot of hotels the weekend pool parties take over. While a few heated pools are open all winter long most of them close. The closed pools in Vegas are re-opening all throughout March with the MGM Grand pool having been the first to re-open for the season on February 22. Pool parties are a whole other story. Las Vegas pool parties come in two varieties – Big and Bigger. This is Vegas after all.
Normal weekend afternoons at many of the major resort pools have shunned RnR for DJ’s. Chances are that you won’t be able to make it through your book with the music cranked up to 10. There are fun, yet still affordable pool parties like at Planet Hollywood and Flamingo which both feature anonymous DJ’s (more on this in a second) spinning your favorite current party tunes.