Whether your late-night poison of choice is music, dancing, comedy or drinks, these cities have the most lively nightlife scenes with something for everyone.
Are you a night owl who only truly comes alive after dark? Are the hours between sundown and when they say “last call” when you have the most fun? Then you need to live in a city that has a great nightlife scene.
Some cities just shine best when the sun goes down. Nightlife can consist of everything from casual hang-outs like drinking and dining at bars and pubs to dancing, music and other forms of entertainment at nightclubs, concerts, theaters and shows. There are also comedy venues, karaoke, gaming spots and so much more.
The key to a great nightlife scene is a diversity of entertainment options suited to all kinds of interests. They should all be easily accessible on foot or public transit and, most importantly, open until the wee hours of the morning. Best of all is when there are multiple things to do within your neighborhood. When one spot closes up for the night, you can just head next door for the party to continue.
The best cities for nightlife in America
If this sounds right up your alley, there are tons of cities boasting spectacular nightlife scenes. From a sparkling city in the desert that never sleeps to coastal cosmopolitan centers that are world-famous for their late-night attractions, here are the best cities for nightlife.
10. Minneapolis, MN
If you’re a music lover, the nightlife in Minneapolis should be on your radar. The western half of the Twin Cities has a rocking live music scene, which ranges from local acts to national tours. At night, concert venues and music-friendly bars like First Avenue and 7th St. Entry, Dakota and many more around the city offer an incredible range of genres and artists for the nighttime crowd to enjoy.
Bars, clubs and other fun nighttime hang-out spots can also be found in abundance. Popular nightclubs like the Prohibition-themed The Pourhouse and The Exchange & Alibi Lounge offer dancing, drinks and lively nightclub vibes. You can hit up everything from casual craft breweries like Fair State Brewing Cooperative to chic cocktail lounges like Parlour. One popular nighttime activity: grab some friends and hit up several bars and breweries at once on a Pedal Pub tour bike.
With one-bedroom apartments in Minneapolis costing an average of $1,455, that allows you to affordably live close to all the nighttime action.
8. Rochester, NY (tie)
Rochester? Over New York City? For the best city for nightlife in New York? You best believe it. This upstate New York city is renowned for its art, culture and music scenes. It’s home to numerous museums and elite music institutions and events like the Eastman School of Music and the Rochester International Jazz Festival. All that artistic expression and output translates to one heck of a late-night scene.
You’ll find the best of Rochester’s nightlife concentrated in neighborhoods like the East End District, Monroe Avenue, Park Avenue in Southeast and the South Wedge District. Obviously, music is a huge draw here. Head to Montage Music Hall for metal and rock, The Bug Jar for alternative and indie, Anthology Live for a mix of local and touring bands and Abilene Bar & Lounge for jazz. But there are tens more to choose from. You can also hit the dance floor at nightclubs like Vertex, or grab drinks and food at popular spots like Lux Lounge or Salinger’s.
The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Rochester is an affordable $1,085. This leaves you even more extra spending money to enjoy nights out on the town.
8. San Francisco, CA (tie)
Tying with Rochester for the 8th best city for nightlife in America, San Francisco is home to the best-ranked nightlife scene in California. The City By The Bay has long had a reputation for its late-night offerings, which range from midnight movie showings to dance clubs to theater and comedy. As a hub for the arts and culture, there’s far more to do here at night than just go out for drinks. And of course, as an inclusive city that celebrates its LGBTQ+ residents, all are welcome to come and party.
You can catch a cheap but hysterical improv show at Endgames or Secret Improv Society. Head to Cobb’s or The Punch Line for some side-splitting comedy. See the famous transgender cabaret act at popular nightclub AsiaSF, which also serves up not-to-be-missed drinks and fusion Cal-Asian food. On that note, San Francisco’s drag clubs and shows at places like Aunt Charlie’s Lounge and The Edge are not to be missed.
If you like neon-tinted, bass-thumping clubs to dance until the wee hours, you’ve come to the right place. Dance the night away at Temple SF, Cat Club (which offers themed decade or genre nights) or Audio. If you want a more relaxed, sophisticated night of trendy cocktails, check out the scenes at Trick Dog, 15 Romolo or Alchemist Bar & Lounge.
But having access to this amazing nightlife scene does cost a pretty penny. One-bedroom apartments in San Francisco cost an average of $3,557.
7. Portland, OR
The quirks and counterculture rhythms of Portland truly come alive at night. Dive into the world of dark gothic at The Coffin Club for live music, drinks and goth aesthetics galore. Catch all kinds of live music from local acts to national tours at the famous log cabin-themed Doug Fir Lounge on East Burnside. Enjoy delicious fried chicken and drinks at the beloved Reel M Inn dive bar. Bust out your best karaoke tunes at Voicebox, Alibi Tiki or Capitol. Go dancing at the famous gay nightclub CC Slaughters or Holocene. Spread throughout Portland’s many unique and diverse neighborhoods, you’ll find a wealth of nighttime fun in any part of the city.
If your tastes run a bit more risque, you can also avail yourself of Portland’s adult entertainment scene. The Rose City famously has the most strip clubs per capita of any city in the U.S. You’ll find themed and kink-oriented clubs, as well as uniquely Portland establishments like an all-vegan strip club.
As an increasingly popular city, Portland’s rent prices are going up. A one-bedroom here runs an average of $1,896.
6. Orlando, FL
Orlando may be home to the Happiest Place on Earth, but it’s also home to a thrilling nightlife scene that encompasses comedy, live music, clubs, lounges, bars and much more. The best districts to head to for walkable late-night fun are Universal CityWalk, International Drive and Disney Springs. These three areas offer everything from dining and drinks to dancing, live music and shows in a condensed package. So, there’s no wandering around trying to find where to go next. You’ll have plenty of options all around you.
Another must-visit destination is the famous ICEBAR. If you need to beat the balmy Florida heat, head to this bar which is carved out of ice and kept below freezing. Guests get warm coats and can enjoy a range of flavorful cocktails, DJ sets and elevated pub fares like flatbreads and sliders.
All that fun does make Orlando a more expensive city. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Orlando is $1,919.
5. Miami, FL
The nightlife scene in Miami is legendary. In iconic neighborhoods like South Beach and Miami Beach, you’ll find roaring nightclubs, classic bars and entertainment aplenty from dancing to shows. While great nightlife can be found throughout the greater Miami area, especially in downtown, Miami Beach and South Beach are the places to be.
South Beach is especially known for its thrilling nightclubs like Do Not Sit On The Furniture, Mango’s Tropical Cafe and LIV. These clubs are so popular, celebrity sightings are not uncommon. Enjoy bottle service, live music and plenty of dancing at any of these venues.
Miami is also a great spot for LGBTQ+ partying, especially since it was the inclusive and fun gay nightlife scene that first made Miami into a nightlife destination. Head to popular gay bars and nightclubs like Twist and Palace for a taste of the action.
As one of Florida’s most popular cities, rent in Miami fetches a pretty high price. A one-bedroom apartment costs an average of $2,825.
4. Fort Lauderdale, FL
Located just half an hour north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale is another happening city along Florida’s southeastern coast. And just like in Miami, the party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down as the crowds move from the scenic beaches into glittering nightclubs and casinos. In fact, Fort Lauderdale’s nightlife scene has even been ranked ahead of Miami’s.
Of course, nightclubs for dancing and music aren’t in short supply. You can dance to pounding bass beats and hip DJ tracks at spots like Cafe Iguana Pines. If smooth jazz is more your speed, head over to Blue Jean Blues or NYSW Jazz Lounge. Prefer country music and some line dancing? Round Up Nightclub is the place for you.
One especially popular late-night activity in Fort Lauderdale is heading to a casino. At Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and The Big Easy Casino, you’ll discover a Vegas-style atmosphere and games like blackjack and slots. And if you just want a chill night out bar-hopping with friends, hit up any of the 45 breweries and pubs along the Ale Trail for some pints and hearty pub grub.
But living in Fort Lauderdale is even more costly than in Miami. The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,255.
2. St. Louis, MO (tie)
St. Louis comes in second place among the best cities for nightlife. The Gateway to the West is also a gateway to after-hours fun and entertainment in districts like downtown and Washington Avenue. If you’re a sports fan, St. Louis is a great place for nighttime fun. You can take in a late game at Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play. But even if it’s not an at-home game night or you couldn’t snag tickets, don’t worry. Head to Ballpark Village, a complex of bars, restaurants and live music spots where you can catch a game at any of the sports bars.
On that note, beer lovers will also enjoy nights on the town in St. Louis. Why? Because St. Louis is home to the North American headquarters of beer manufacturing giant Anheuser-Busch. You’ll find tons of their products proudly stocked at local bars and restaurants. But as a beer-loving city, you can also hit up craft breweries like 4 Hands Brewing Co. and Urban Chestnut. At least 35 brewers are located within the greater St. Louis area, so you can make a night of it bar hopping between different breweries to try everything from German-style ales to artisan beers and up-and-coming styles like Saison.
All those beers at breweries and sports bars do add up, which is why it’s a good thing rent in St. Louis is more on the affordable side. A one-bedroom apartment here costs an average of $1,876.
2. Pittsburgh, PA (tie)
Tied with St. Louis in second place for the best cities for nightlife in America is Pittsburgh. Whether you’re heading to your local watering hole with friends for a few beers or going big at the slot machines at the local casino, Pittsburgh offers both chill and lively nightlife offerings.
Of course, gambling is a big draw at Rivers Casino on the North Shore. With thousands of slot machines to choose from and hundreds of table games, you can have your choice for play. But you’ll also find live shows like music and comedy at the casino’s performance venues, as well as dining and bars.
If casinos aren’t your vibe, explore other popular spots like South Side Flats and the Strip District for a wide variety of entertainment, shopping, dining and drinking opportunities. Carson Street is arguably the best one-stop area for nightlife, with numerous bars and restaurants along the street. Enjoy expertly crafted cocktails at the Prohibition-themed speakeasy bar Acacia, or channel some tropical vibes with tiki drinks at the Tiki Lounge.
You’ll have plenty of extra cash for all those craft cocktails thanks to Pittsburgh’s attractively low rent. A one-bedroom apartment will cost you roughly $1,551.
1. Las Vegas, NV
You may have guessed it, but now it’s confirmed. In a surprise to no one, the best city for nightlife is Sin City itself: Las Vegas. You’ll find bars, nightclubs and entertainment venues throughout the city, but obviously, the Las Vegas Strip is the center of the action. Here at the many casinos, bars, restaurants and clubs, the party really never stops.
You can try your hand at the slots or table games at the 30 different casinos located along the Strip, including Luxor, ARIA, Bellagio and Caesars Palace. Inside the casinos, you’ll also find whole worlds of entertainment. There are nightclubs for partying and dancing like the XS at Wynn Las Vegas, Omnia at Caesars Palace and the Marquee at The Cosmopolitan.
Bars and restaurants serving everything from boozy slushies to craft cocktails and high-end fare can be found all over the Strip, as well. And of course, it wouldn’t be a night in Vegas without taking in a show. Watch everything from magic acts like David Copperfield at the MGM Grand to entrancing theatrics at Cirque du Soleil to unforgettable musical performances by some of the greatest singers and performers of our time at Vegas residencies.
There’s something exciting and new to do in Vegas every night of the week. With one-bedroom apartments here costing an average of $1,844, you’ll be able to live close to one of the greatest nightlife scenes on earth.
The 50 best cities for nightlife
Hey, the night is still young. You’ve seen the top 10 best cities for nightlife. Now discover other spots that are renowned for their late-night adventures and activities.
The worst cities for nightlife
Not every city comes alive at night, though. Just because there are bars and clubs that stay open late doesn’t mean a city will be a destination for nightlife. Here are the cities with the worst nightlife scenes. Late-night revelers, avoid at all costs.
To find the best cities for nightlife, we looked at the 150 most populated cities in America according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Our team then looked at the total number of nightlife-related business establishments (including but not limited to bars, cocktail lounges, comedy clubs and nightclubs) and ranked each city evenly by the number of nightlife businesses per square mile of land area and the number of nightlife businesses per capita. The cities with the best overall rankings were determined to be the best cities in America for nightlife.
We excluded Winston-Salem, NC and Honolulu, HI from this study due to insufficient data.
Total establishment counts are from a database of 8 million commercially available business listings. These listings may not reflect recent openings or closings.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of August 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.