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You’d be surprised at the number of people that stare at me with eyes of confusion when I tell them there is much more to Las Vegas than The Strip, let alone an entire hipster and geek paradise. After living in Vegas for two years I would actually rank the city fairly high on my “hipster meter.” I enjoyed taking my friends and family off the strip to show them alternative things to do beyond your typical Las Vegas. I’m even more excited to share the local side of Vegas with you. So, what makes Vegas such a great hipster paradise? Well, the service industry is such a strong, tight-knit community it allows for the perfect cultivation of playful and fun culinary adventures, crafty cocktails, amazing local art, an accepting place for global geeks, and a crazy underground scene that will keep you dancing all night. So, let’s explore these amazing activities off the strip!
This guide will help you navigate all the things that make Las Vegas a hipster and geek paradise. My husband hated Vegas with the flashy fake glitz and glam, but after I took him to visit my favorite alternative places he fell in love with the city and has been back several times. As with any of my hipster guides we start with brunch and breakfast, continue to local markets and galleries, let out our inner geek, and end the night with a craft cocktail and a killer club. If you want to jump somewhere right away, just use the links below. Vegas is a big city and quite spread out I always recommend renting a car to get off the strip and enjoy these amazing highlights! As always my hipster guides support local and sustainable businesses.
They say breakfast is the most important part of the day, but Brunch in Vegas is crucial to survival. Avoid the overpriced and under qualified strip buffets and nurse your hangover with these hip and local favorites.
When two dedicated culinary locals open a Las Vegas favorite, MTO Cafe, you know the food is going to be good. With their warm and inviting orange and cream decor it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy good food. Try their Yoga Pant Omelet for a fresh and healthy start to your day or indulge with Bacon Pancake Dippers. With two locations, and the occasional food truck appearance, you’ll be able to grab breakfast any day of the week!
500 S. Main St Las Vegas, NV
EAT in DTLV (Downtown Las Vegas) is usually where I end up bringing my friends or family for a late brunch. It’s a place I can be excited to showcase the very best of the DTLV revival project. The wooden decor and single string light bulbs give them the ultimate hipster vibe. Try their truffle scramble sandwich with bacon and add on their home potatoes – which are to die for. They also have vegetarian options. If you’re rolling solo, sit at the bar and watch them make your meal with fresh local ingredients!
500 S Main St, Las Vegas, NV
This is probably the healthiest place you’ll ever find on one of my hipster guides, but I somehow find myself here every single time I am in Vegas. Sometimes we need a healthy cleanse after a night of partying and the thought of greasy food makes you want to vom. Their simple, quality and fresh ingredients hit the spot. They claim to bring joy to your day, health to your body and peace to your soul. Try one of the delicious acai bowls or smoothies, or a fresh egg white and avocado breakfast burrito
9555 S Eastern Ave Suite 125, Las Vegas, NV
It’s hard to offer farm to table ingredients in the middle of the desert, but if you’re willing to look a little harder you’re sure to find it at Honey Salt. The warm rustic decor invites you into the open restaurant layout or you can cozy up on their outdoor porch. Don’t be shy and try one of their amazing cocktails for brunch, trust me we’ve all done it. Since I can’t eat brunch ALL day every day I visited here for dinner, and their dinner is just as good as they claim breakfast to be.
Hours vary, but they’re always open at least from 11:30am-9: 30 pm
Rampart Commons, 1031 S Rampart Blvd
Baby Stacks Cafe
A favorite Sunday tradition of mine and other locals expect a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it. This place is homey and it feels like a classic diner, but the pancakes are out of this world. Choose from one of their many types of pancakes from oreo to caramelized bacon. The friendly staff makes every visit feel like you’re right at home.
Yep, Las Vegas has some unique shops and markets that aren’t Louis Vuitton in the Crystal shops. Support your local business owners with these cool finds! There is an entire arts district that is great for vintage shopping and alternative finds in the middle of the desert.
The Las Vegas Container Park
Downtown Las Vegas is leading the way in hipster and sustainable culture and the Container Park is the centerpiece of this movement. Made entirely from old shipping containers this is a great place that the entire family can enjoy! The kids can play in a safe and sustainable playground. The adults can grab one of the local beers or craft cocktails while enjoying one of the hip bands playing live music. The shoppers can peruse several floors of local artists’ handy work and unique art. Come for lunch or grab dinner at one of the authentic local restaurants, like the best-pulled pork BBQ in Vegas or amazing Mexican cantina. It’s pretty small space so it can easily be explored in the afternoon or on the way to kick-start a night out. Don’t miss the fire-breathing Mantis at the entrance. It came all the way from Burning Man!
Sun: 11:00am-11pm/1am (weekends)
707 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Farmers Markets
It can be hard to find fresh produce and home baked goods in the middle of the desert, but it’s not impossible. The Las Vegas Farmers Market is the best place to find your fresh and local produce, homemade bread and other locally sourced nicknacks. The market is 2-3 times a week and appears in several locations, so you’re bound to find one near you, during your stay.
Wed/Thur and every other Saturday
Art Square & Arts District
The arts district and Art Square are the coolest part of downtown. Art Square is a compound of various locally owned shops, galleries, and restaurants. You can find everything from handmade clothing, locally made salon products, and art galleries. If you want to support local and sustainable work here in Vegas, this is the place for you. There is even a Burlesque Hall of Fame!
The Arts District is the overall area where you can find Art Square. Beyond the compound, there are some really funky thrift stores, with vintage Vegas signs, amazing coffee, craft beer halls, local home furnishings, and even more art. Stick to Main Street between Colorado and Cass street for the best finds.
1025 S 1st St #145, Las Vegas, NV
Cockroach theater started as a nomadic traveling theater that eventually found a home in Arts Square. Their goal is to bring a creative theater Vegas has never seen before and they have achieved that! With intimate seating for 99, the audience feels a personal connection with the performers. If the flashy Vegas shows aren’t your thing, check out their latest showing and enjoy a whole new experience.
If you’re lucky enough to be in town during the first Friday of the month. Make sure to head downtown for the Las Vegas rendition of First Friday. Stick to the 18b Arts District or the Fremont East area for art installations, drink specials, food trucks and much much more!
If you’re feeling a bit worn out from exploring all the hipstery goodness in Las Vegas, make sure to stop by one of these cafes for a quick pick me up. Or kick back and relax to get some work done.
Locally owned by Luiz, this cafe provides Las Vegas with some of the finest coffee and culture. Samba Latte is more than a coffee shop, it’s a community that ensures guests an upscale place to sip, socialize and received excellent customer service. Luiz was born in Brazil and grew up around local coffee farms, so he cares about where and how the coffee makes its way into every cup. There are a few locations around Vegas, including one on The Strip for your convenience.
Various locations and hours
Makers & Finders
The first time I sat down at Makers and Finders I was greeted with a warm “Welcome to The Best Coffee Shop in Vegas.” I had my doubts, I mean doesn’t everyone claim to have the best coffee? But after the first sip of my lavender-infused ice coffee, I immediately posted on facebook, “literally the best coffee I have ever had.” I don’t know what they do or how they get their coffee, but it is amazing! Bring your laptop and enjoy relaxing in the coolly shaded porch or grab a quick cup in the diner style restaurant. Enjoy your best coffee in Vegas.
Mon-Sat: 7am-4:pm Sun: 10am-4pm
120 S Main St #110, Las Vegas, NV
A local cantina style restaurant and coffee house, serving fresh local food. The coffee here is tough to compare with the above two mentions as their macadamia nut latte is to die for. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxing. It’s a great place to grab lunch, caffeine fuel or just hand out for the afternoon reading.
Typically 7am-7pm, but hours vary.
1126 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV
If you’re looking for 7 additional coffee shops in Vegas, including a mouth watering blueberry latte, check out this detailed guide on the best coffee in Las Vegas.
Craft Cocktails & Clubs
Stay tuned for my full rundown of off the strip Vegas nightlife and cocktail culture because it is one of the best places for nightlife. No, I don’t mean $15 vodka tonic at Hakkasan, I’m talking local talent and handcrafted drinks to entice your senses.
You can’t completely avoid the strip when it comes to the fine cocktail bars because the Cosmopolitan Hotel is leading the way in the Las Vegas cocktail culture. A new favorite of mine, CliQue, just opened up in the hotel lobby. Antony Sazarac has been leading its beverage team to produce some of the most creative and fun cocktails I’ve ever had. Sadly – he left to take a promotion in DC, but as someone who has consumed many of his cocktails I can assure you the menu is fantastic. That’s his hand about to light your face on fire with amazing drinks. Make sure you sit away from the bar, and um make sure you cover your eyebrows.
Mon-Fri: 4pm-3am Sat-Sun 12pm-3am
3708 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
Herbs & Rye
A cultural hub in the Las Vegas cocktail and culinary hospitality scene. This is where the top mixologists of Vegas go to have a drink made for them. The owner, Nectaly Mendoza, is world-renowned for his cocktails and creations. Winner for the best bartender of the year his bar team has some of the best drinks in the city. The menu matches their dark sultry decor featuring creative drinks from all eras of U.S. Pick the Blood and Sand from Prohibition or enjoy the Ramos Gin Fizz from the Golden Age, either way, you can’t go wrong.
Mon-Sat: 5pm-2am Sun: Closed
3713 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV
You won’t find super fancy cocktails here, but you will find a fun party atmosphere, cheap drinks, live music, and giant Jenga! That’s right, they have all the yard games from epic 4-square to life-size beer pong. I love to come here during long summer afternoons, grab a cheap beer and challenge my friends to a game of giant pool, played with your feet. The people who frequent here are typically laid back locals and visitors alike, so everyone fits in.
217 Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
This place feels like a dark and exclusive club. Only those special enough to know about it, or those that happen to find it hidden off Fremont Street are invited. The DTCR is famous for its seasonal revolving menu. In the autumn, they feature pumpkin things and in the summer, floral and citrus. Ask your bartender for their favorite seasonal drink on the menu and enjoy sipping their fine creations while listing to some deep house or calming lounge music mixed by live DJs.
Thur-Mon: 2:00-20:00 with seatings available at only certain times.
111 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV
Tacos and Beer: Techno Taco Tuesday & Nacho House Sunday
Just off the strip, a crazy local party goes off every Sunday and Tuesday. The entire underground Vegas crew comes out to indulge in fine tacos then get up to dance off the calories to sick local House and Techno DJs. Once a month, they bring someone from out of town to DJ and go all out with a parking lot tent party. The best part, it’s in an industrial area, so we can be as loud as we want, as late as we want. TECHNOOO!
Ever wonder want happens when your favorite whiskey is barrel aged in this middle of the desert? Well, that’s the question George Racz, owner and creator of the spirits, at the distillery, asked himself. Through a lot of trial and error, Racz has created some of unique local gins and whiskey to the Vegas area. The gin is made with handpicked juniper near Las Vegas and it’s to die for! Book the full tour and you’ll learn all about how to make your favorite alcohol and the answer to barrel aged desert liquor! This place is just amazing. The service is excellent and the amount you learn is incomparable, plus you get to taste all the booze after!
Boutique hotels are slowly catching on in Vegas with two leading the way. These are fun, lively and artistic places to lay your head at night and they’re both located very close to the strip.
The original boutique hotel in Vegas, The Artisan has been a long time member of the local and tourist community. The lobby is set up with grand gothic decorations from eerie fountains to dozens of vintage mirrors decorating the ceiling. The rooms hold their own artistic style as well. Artisan is LBGTQI friendly as well. The best part? They have a full blown after-hours party on the weekends. Even if you’re not staying here, swing by around 2 am to finish your dancing. Ask for David Montenegro, who is the best bartender ever! Hi, David!
1501 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV
The SLS is the new kid on the block. Having only opened a few years ago the concept is unlike any other Vegas Hotel. With sleek modern decor and rooms, the casino lobby is open and easy to navigate. They’re known as a foodie hotel with top rating restaurants like Bazaar Meats calling the SLS home. This is a great place for hip young couples or friends to stay on The Strip and the service you’ll receive will be top notch.
2535 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 8
Geeky Things to Do in Las Vegas
Take a step back from the cool edgy culture and let our inner geek. Vegas is a mecca for geeks and nerds alike with Coin Cloud ATMs, DEF CON, comic stores, and much much more! I like to think Vegas is just as much for the geeks as it is for the glamorous.
If there was one thing the desert was good for during the Cold War it was atomic testing! The National Atomic Testing Museum explores Nevada’s connection with the testing and the ramifications of the testing through fun hands-on displays and learning experiences. They even have a real nuclear reactor along with other rare artifacts from the period. It almost feels like you stepped into a game of Fall out. If you’re feeling extra adventurous make sure to check out their spooky and other-worldly section about Area 51.
Most days 10am-5pm
755 E. Flamingo Rd.Las Vegas, NV
This is seriously one of the coolest places in Vegas. It’s a non-profit neon boneyard where old Vegas signs of a glittering past have gone to glow away their final days. All tours are guided, but the information you receive is top notch, plus they give you time to wander around and take photos. Have you ever wondered what happened to the amazing Stardust or Aladdin hotel neon signs from the last Vegas trip you took in the 90s? Look no further because they are some of the highlights of the museum. This place can book up days in advance, so buy your tickets as early as possible, it’s worth it! I recommend booking the night or evening tour, so you can see the signs glow. They also allow pre-booked photo shoots for some amazing wedding photos or if you’re just a photography junkie.
Are your fingers itching to get the high score you haven’t been able to beat since the 80s? Your opportunity is waiting for you at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. With 10,000 feet of restored, to near perfect playing condition, pinball machines you’re sure to find your old favorites and even new never before seen games.
Most Days 11am-11pm
1610 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV
Ran out of cash? You swear you have a ton of money, but it’s all tied up in the Bitcoins at the moment. Your friends or the person you’re trying to buy a drink for may not believe you, but prove them wrong, with a quick easy withdraw from a Coin Cloud ATM. Coin Cloud has 6 locations in Vegas including 2 in Downtown Las Vegas.
Las Vegas has no shortage of comic stores. The two best rated and my favorite stores are Alternate Reality and Cheese Boy Comic stores. They’re both owned and operated by friendly members of the community that are available to help you with any question or need. If you can’t escape the strip you may want to try Ink and Vector in the Miracle Mile Shop.
Geeks Who Drink
If you feel like flexing your brain and challenging yourself to some tough trivia, Las Vegas hosts “Geeks Who Drink” in several locations on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The locations are at some of the best local bars both on and off the Strip. Geeks Who Drink is slowly taking of the U.S bar scene with locations everywhere from Alaska to Las Vegas. Put together your dream team and join the growing phenomenon.
Half party, half-crazed Hacker convention DEF CON is the longest running, largest and possibly the most underground hacking convention out there. Hackers, military personnel, and journalists alike join together for hacking competitions, conferences, capture the flag involving computers and networks (Come on you didn’t believe they were actually running did you?), lock picking and more. DEF CON isn’t for everyone, but if you have a knack for hacking then check out their website for FAQs and info.
Photo cred from my awesome hacking friend and bitcoin lover, Erin Scott over at Crap N’ Stuff
Las Vegas hosts a fantastic annual Comic-Con, usually in June. Vegas locals and visitors alike go all out when it comes to costumes, so make sure you’re suited up and ready to beam over. Las Vegas is also home to CES which is the Consumer Tech Trade Show and takes place in January. You’ll find the latest amazing cutting edge from around the world.
Skip Insert Coins, which has closed recently. The Marvel exhibit at the Wax Museum. It’s a small selection of superheroes and overpriced.
If you don’t have enough time to explore the entire hipster side of Las Vegas all you need to know is where DTLV and the 18B Art District are. Just walk around and explore and you’ll love the other side of Vegas you never knew existed!
Save and Pin for Later
What is your favorite hipster or geeky thing to do off the strip in Las Vegas – or did I just blow your mind that Vegas is not just for the posh and glamorous? Make sure you save this to your favorite USA travel board – or share with your friends who don’t like to gamble.
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science.