Even though your neighborhood bar is amazing when your favorite team is playing, if you want to create an experience you and your friends will remember forever, a pilgrimage is most definitely in order.
For sports fans, Las Vegas is that place.
In the last few years, Vegas has become the new go-to spot for professional sports events. We would argue it’s The Greatest Arena on Earth.
The destination has secured sports-mecca status thanks to several factors. It’s home to long-anticipated, well-loved teams of its own, including the NFL’s Raiders, NHL’s Golden Knights, WNBA’s Aces, and a host of championship games around town. The energy surrounding these contests is electric; locals have waited decades for pro sports to arrive. And with such a range of venues catering to sports fans, Las Vegas is a thrilling destination to cheer on your home team.
You can’t ignore the magic of a shared sense of purpose—whether it’s watching a nail-biter of a game or a big event like the NFL Pro Bowl, NHL All-Star Game, or NFL Draft. When people come together to witness a sports moment here, the vibe is spontaneous and wild.
And while the city’s arenas and sportsbooks are ultra-popular destinations for experiencing a big game or major sports event, the fun and excitement associated with spectating in the nation’s ultimate sports town certainly doesn’t end at the edges of the casino floor. Whatever kind of spectating experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it here.
Here’s a closer look at where to go before, during, and after a big event to tap into the Vegas zeitgeist of sports fanaticism.
Get your pregame on
There’s nothing like getting amped up for a big game or sporting event with thousands of fellow fans. One of the best places to do this is The Park, an open-air esplanade between Park MGM and New York-New York Hotel & Casino.
This alfresco spot is particularly hopping about an hour before home Knights games, which take place at T-Mobile Arena at the west end of The Park. Prior to game time, a marching band follows a procession of Vegas showgirls from the Strip to the pavilion in front of the arena. Fans line up to watch. It’s the ultimate pep rally.
Another great spot to rev your engine before the excitement of a big sporting event is downtown, under the bright-light canopy of the Fremont Street Experience.
Here, open-air stages provide a backdrop for local bands and beyond, and fans wearing team gear have a tendency to break into chants from the motherland.
Soak up every moment of the action
Once the event starts, sports fans want a place with a robust drink menu, outstanding food, and plenty of televisions. Luckily, Las Vegas is full of such establishments.
Among the newest and best: the MGM Resorts Bud Light Beer Garden in the expanse between Luxor Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay Resort Casino. Think of this 130,000-square-foot attraction as the ultimate tailgate party. Fans can cheer on their teams on massive TV screens, hit up nearly a dozen bars, and feast at food stations featuring grub from some of MGM Resorts’ most popular restaurants.
Also on the docket here: grooving to live DJ sets, taking interactive football challenges, playing life-size Jenga and chess, and enjoying special appearances from sports legends—all walking distance to Allegiant Stadium. Other highlights include the PlayStudios Suite, sports betting windows, and a VIP package.
At the Palazzo Las Vegas, Electra Cocktail Club turns one wall into a giant movie screen for big games, and the staff serves up game-day food specials such as wings and sliders. And at the new-ish Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, Money!Baby is a cross between a sportsbook and nightclub, making it an optimal spot to sit back and watch an event.
Downtown, Circa Resort & Casino is the place for watching a big game, whatever your preferred style. This hotel-casino—from magnate Derek Stevens—has two great destinations for consuming sports: Overhang Bar, which overlooks the hotel’s mind-bending three-story sportsbook, and Stadium Swim, which is what would happen if a sports bar and a sweet pool scene had a lovechild.
Kick back post-event
After every big game, it’s time to let loose and hopefully celebrate a win for the good guys. Not surprisingly, Las Vegas has this covered, too.
The best destinations for post-game revelry are those that fuse sports bars with entertainment centers. Tailgate Social, inside Palace Station, boasts more than 30 hi-def TVs in a souped-up man cave and offers loads of beer options, including plenty of hard-to-find brews along with mainstream favorites. Brooklyn Bowl, at The LINQ Promenade, boasts a bowling alley.
Downtown, there’s the Downtown Container Park, comprising repurposed shipping containers with open-air bars and restaurants, as well as a three-story treehouse in the center ripe for people watching.
Finally, at Resorts World Las Vegas, there’s the Dawg House Saloon. This buzzing enclave near the main entrance has a gourmet hot dog cart, features live music seven nights a week, and has plenty of extra space for sports fans to dance into the night. Victory has never tasted sweeter. Neither has defeat.
This article was written by Matt Villano in partnership with Men's Journal.