University District area guide

Get to know Las Vegas area by area—the best local restaurants and bars, arts and entertainment and things to do in the University District

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Lied Library, University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Bounded roughly by Flamingo Road, Paradise Road, Tropicana Avenue and Eastern Avenue, the University District is an enclave of normality and casual sophistication a mere skip from the Strip. Most businesses of note are on Maryland Parkway, with the rest of the area given over to apartments. 

The University of Las Vegas, aka UNLV (4505 S Maryland Parkway, 895 3011), runs along S Maryland Parkway, where the stunning Lied Library and a beautiful desert garden compete for visitors’ attention. The university also has many walking paths and trees, a tranquil refuge from the summer sun. 

The Marjorie Barrick Museum and the neighbouring Donna Beam Fine Art Gallery, both on campus, stage shows by student and professional artists; the former also houses 
a permanent natural history exhibition. 

Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Market, a local lunch favourite, is adjoined at the corner of Maryland and Flamingo by the restaurant’s Hookah Lounge, a Bedouin-styled cocktail bar. Across the way is the used-clothing superstore Buffalo Exchange; further up Maryland are two shopping centres filled with pizza joints, coffeehouses, bars including the Freakin’ Frog, and even a tattoo studio: The Pussykat Tattoo Parlor is one of the best in town, in a town with more tattoo shops than most. 

Restaurants and bars in the University District

Double Down Saloon

Critics' pick

No head for drink? Then hand over $20 for puke insurance: if you barf, staff will clean up. Otherwise, you’re on your own at this darkly chaotic bar. ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, they bill it, and with good reason: the music is loud, whether from the impeccably curated jukebox—filled with ska, surf, psychobilly and punk tunes—or the regular bands, and the vibe is welcoming. Acts that have graced its stage include TSOL, Dickies and the Supersuckers. It’s also known for its tasty alcoholic concoctions such as Ass Juice and bacon martinis (no one’s ever had two). Beers are a better bet.

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Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Market

Long before the idea caught on, Paymon Raouf was serving the kind of ethnic food that the college crowd adores. Even now, when so many Middle Eastern restaurants have opened in Vegas, the Med still wins out, simply because its kebabs and salads are better than anyone else’s. Next door’s Hookah Lounge is an effective companion. There’s a second location on the west side (8380 W Sahara Avenue, 804 0293).

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Crown & Anchor Pub

The British-themed Crown & Anchor manages the feat, difficult in this town, of being a freestanding, independent pub, separate from a casino or strip mall. Collegiate types and football-shirted expats head here to down pints of Boddingtons, tuck into fish and chips and bash away hopefully at Thursday’s quiz night. A newer second location recently opened across town (4755 Spring Mountain Road, between S Decatur Boulevard & S Arville Street, 876 4733).

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Things to do the University District

UNLV Barrick Museum

Technically UNLV's natural history museum, the Barrick has fine permanent displays on ancient and modern Vegas, including a wonderful collection of folk-art masks. It's also one of the city's finest exhibition spaces: a number of excellent shows have graced its front rooms, drawing from UNLV's art faculty and regional sources. It's a must for any gallery crawl; call for details of current shows.

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Kids Quest

Kids Quest has all manner of attractions, including a Barbie area, a big cliff and jungle area (very popular, these) and, of course, computer games. Kids aged from six weeks to 12 years can be dropped off for up to three and a half hours, but parents must remain on site. There are also Kids Quests at Santa Fe, Sunset and Texas Stations, as well as at the Palms and the Red Rock.

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Hotels and resorts in the University District

Sam's Town

If you like Old West-style casinos, this is your place. Though gunfire is kept to a minimum, the theme is nonetheless prevalent, from the saloon-style bars to Roxy's,the rowdy dance hall. There's even a quality western store (Sheplers). Elsewhere, modern amenities include a 24-hour bowling centre, an 18-screen movie theatre and Sam's Town Live!, a 1,100-seat multi-use venue that stages a variety of country and pop concerts. In the middle of all this is Mystic Falls Park, a ten-storey atrium whose indoor nature walk (with trees and chirping birds) gets interrupted four times daily by the Sunset Stampede, a laser light and water show. Check out the TV sets over the tables in some of the pits, and bet up to 20x odds at the crap tables. There are thousands of video poker machines, though few, if any, are full-pay.

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Sam's Town RV Park

Located just 7 minutes' walk away from Sam's Town Casino, this Las Vegas RV park offers a spacious lot for guests to park their RVs (parking for recreational vehicles only). No hotel rooms/accommodations are provided. Full RV hook-ups and pull-through RV parking sites are available.Cable TV and phone hookups are available to guests of Sam’s Town RV Park. A guest launderette and shower facilities are provided.Guests have access to a BBQ area at Sam’s Town RV Park. Pet runs are located on the property.Horseman's Park is 1.4 km away. Sam Boyd Stadium is 5 km away. Stallion Mountain Golf Club is 2.6 km away from this RV park.

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University District

A Fisher's Inn Motel

Located off Interstate 515, this centrally located Las Vegas motel offers simply furnished rooms with free Wi-Fi. It features 24-hour reception and has a guest launderette on site. Las Vegas Convention Center is 5 miles away.A flat-screen TV with extended film and sports channels is included in every room at A Fisher’s Inn Motel. All of the air conditioned guest rooms include a fridge and an en suite bathroom.Fremont Street Experience is 4 miles from A Fisher’s Inn. Located on the campus of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Thomas & Mack Center is 15 minutes’ drive away. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport is 8 miles away.

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Music and nightlife in the University District

Double Down Saloon

Critics' pick

No head for drink? Then hand over $20 for puke insurance: if you barf, staff will clean up. Otherwise, you’re on your own at this darkly chaotic bar. ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, they bill it, and with good reason: the music is loud, whether from the impeccably curated jukebox—filled with ska, surf, psychobilly and punk tunes—or the regular bands, and the vibe is welcoming. Acts that have graced its stage include TSOL, Dickies and the Supersuckers. It’s also known for its tasty alcoholic concoctions such as Ass Juice and bacon martinis (no one’s ever had two). Beers are a better bet.

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University District

Divebar

It's questionable whether Divebar lives up (or down) to its name, but the popularity of this drinking hole-cum-music venue isn't in doubt. The space is divided into two rooms, one with pub tables and the other, divided by a cutaway wall, is home nightly to everything from open mic nights to garage rock bands. Above-average bar food is available 24-7.

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University District Free

Railhead

Don't let the suburban, local-casino location fool you: the intimate Railhead still rocks, albeit a little bit more slowly and quietly than some of its distant Strip cousins. Bands who play here tend to be at the down-but-not-yet-out stage of their careers: Blue Oyster Cult, Soul Asylum and the Ohio Players have all recently headlined at the venue.

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Shopping in the University District

Desert Pines Golf Club

Critics' pick

The public course at Desert Pines has been recognised as one of the premier upscale courses in the country by Golf Digest, with a tight, 6,810-yard, par-71 layout, tree-lined fairways and nine holes on water. The climate-controlled practice facility is the best in Las Vegas.

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University District

Royal Links

Critics' pick

The Royal Links course is modelled on 11 different courses used for the Open championship; there's a replica of the Postage Stamp at Troon, and the Road Hole at St Andrew's.

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University District

Pussykat Tattoo Parlor

Owner/artist Dirk Vermin is a Vegas native and local legend who has dedicated his life to bettering the local subculture. His tattoo work is well known among aficionados; you will need to book ahead to see Vermin himself.

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