The Top 12 U.S. Cities With the Best Nightlife
These places really come alive at night, with plenty of bars, clubs, and more for your partying needs.
Sometimes, a great adventure needs a great party scene. Whether you're booking travel for an epic birthday celebration, bachelorette or bachelor party, or just want to check out somewhere new where you can let loose and dance the night away, certain U.S. cities are guaranteed to show you a good time. When it comes to nightlife, you may think of bars and clubs, but these cities prove there are more options available for night owls: Some have day parties that stretch around the clock, while others are meant to be roamed in order for you to stumble upon your next adventure. Read on to find out which 12 cities every party animal needs on their bucket list.
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No one should be surprised that Las Vegas is on this list. The place where secrets live in infamy ("What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas") thrives on a good time. With over 32 million visitors and $11 million in gambling revenue made in 2021, Vegas is still dominating in party-heavy tourism.
There's a reason this Entertainment Capital of the World is known for its party scene. According to financial website Money, Las Vegas has the second most bars per capita in the world. Losing the ultimate spot to Prague, Vegas has nearly 42 bars or clubs listed per 100,000 people. That means that Sin City really is the party place–in the United States, anyway.
If you know anything about the Midwest, it should be this: It's too cold for a large part of the year to do many outdoor activities, so everyone parties hard inside. And Chicago? The Windy City? It knows how to party. Not only does Chicago have a substantial art and culture scene that contributes to its nightlife, this city has an equally eclectic nightlife.
You can hang out in a bar that was once frequented by Al Capone, or spend some time at Nobody's Darling or another one of the many speakeasies around the city. Chicago's prohibition history has served it well in the century since—plus, it makes a mean Old Fashioned.
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Tinseltown is where nightlife dreams are made, literally, on the big screen. Suffice it to say that L.A. can live up to the hype you see on the silver screen.
Whether packed clubs with the hottest DJs or more nostalgic comedy clubs are your vibe, Los Angeles has both in spades. There is always something new cropping up in the city too for those frequent visitors. Maybe you'll even encounter someone on the cusp of fame—who knows!
Miami Beach, Florida
Spend the daytime checking out the early trappings of the Art Deco movement and then dance the night away elsewhere in the city. Maybe you'll discover for yourself why Miami Beach has earned the nickname, "The Magic City."
After all, there are 75 bars and clubs listed in the city on Tripadvisor. For a place with less than 90,000 residents, that's not a small number. Between Miami and Miami Beach, there are countless ways to get your nightlife thrills.
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Vegas may be the city that never stops partying, but New York will forever be the City That Never Sleeps. The Big Apple's reputation is certainly not on the same page as Vegas, though its nightlife shouldn't be overlooked: Over 600 bars and clubs are listed in the city, without even accounting for all the boroughs.
"From world-class shows and iconic jazz clubs to trendy rooftop bars and underground speakeasies, the city offers a myriad of options to suit every taste," Craig Makepeace, founder of YTravelBlog, tells Best Life. "Theater enthusiasts can catch mesmerizing performances on Broadway, while jazz lovers can explore the vibrant jazz scene in venues like the Blue Note and Village Vanguard."
Like Chicago and Los Angeles, NYC's diversity means tons of nightlife options too. Dive bar budgets to bottle service blowouts all happen here—the only catch is you have to know what you're looking for.
In Nashville, you'll find a different kind of Broadway—and a party scene.
"Nashville, often referred to as the 'Music City,' offers an unparalleled nightlife experience centered around its world-famous country music scene," Makepeace says. "The city's honky-tonks and live music venues along Broadway create a buzzing atmosphere, with talented musicians performing throughout the night. Visitors can enjoy live performances ranging from traditional country music to contemporary sounds, ensuring there's something for every music lover."
From juke joints and live music spaces to cocktail bars and rooftop lounges, Nashville means party time when the sun goes down.
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NOLA is known for a few things, not the least of which is its party scene. Bourbon Street is always wild no matter the time of day (or night), but there are also plenty of hotspots throughout the city that have something to offer visitors.
"The city's famous French Quarter comes alive in the evenings, offering an array of jazz clubs, live music venues, and bars that showcase the city's rich musical heritage," Makepeace says. "From iconic establishments like Preservation Hall to lively street performances, visitors can immerse themselves in the infectious energy of New Orleans' music scene."
If you can find your way out of the French Quarter and want to get to know New Orleans, try Ms. Mae's, which has neighborhood bar vibes (and prices), yet folks in the area actually frequent it.
In addition, Makepeace notes that New Orleans is renowned for its food—making it a great spot for those who crave a late-night snack.
"The city's diverse culinary scene, with its mouthwatering Creole and Cajun cuisine, adds to the overall enjoyment of the nightlife experience," he says.
When it comes to a music scene, other cities should keep an eye on Austin. With over 250 live music spaces, the capital of Texas is keeping the nightlife scene bopping long into the wee hours of the morning.
If you're looking for the place in the city to find a good time, head over to Sixth Street. That's where Austin really comes to life.
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It's true, there is more to find in Seattle beyond Starbucks and The Public Market. Over 175 bars and clubs would like to attest that the Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest has a prominent nightlife. Thrillist even has some ways you can embrace the weird in yourself and Seattle while you're here.
Plus, Seattle is often less crowded than some other major metropolitan areas around the country, so you can get your nightlife fix without sacrificing personal space. That's always a bonus.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina is worth your time if you're looking for a fun-filled evening.
"Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, may not be as well-known for its nightlife as some of the other cities mentioned, but it offers a vibrant and growing scene worth exploring," Makepeace says. "The city's downtown area is home to a variety of bars, breweries, and live music venues that cater to different tastes."
Even better, you'll feel welcome and at home in Raleigh.
"Raleigh's nightlife scene is known for its laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, providing a more relaxed experience compared to larger cities," Makepeace says.
If you're ready to plan your visit, he suggests going in the spring or the fall, when the city also hosts fun events like the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival and the North Carolina State Fair.
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Atlantic City, New Jersey
If you're looking for a Las Vegas feel on the East Coast, check out Atlantic City.
You can hit up the boardwalk and the beach during the day–if you opt for a visit in the summer—and work on your tan before exploring the nighttime scene.
"The city offers a unique blend of glitz and glamor, making it an ideal destination for those looking to immerse themselves in a dynamic atmosphere," Justin Albertynas, CEO of hotel price comparison website RatePunk, says. "One of the most significant attractions in Atlantic City is its casinos. They're open 24/7, making it an ideal destination for night owls."
If you're in the mood to gamble, definitely check out the casinos, but you can also head to one of the city's many popular nightclubs for a guaranteed good time.
San Fran being listed last does not indicate anything about its partying capacity. On Money's list of top bar cities per capita in the world, SF is number five. With 27 bars or clubs per capita, San Fransisco is not just home to family-friendly Friday night Full House moments—the city dwellers here are down to party with the best of them!
Thrillist says San Fran has some of the country's best bars in addition to myriad dance clubs and other unique places to get your party on. So, go dancing or grab a drink at Bawdy Storytelling and enjoy!