How many bars on Water Street have a reverse happy hour though?
Fleeing to Henderson is a strongly advised diversion for Las Vegas tourists saturated with high prices, dense crowds and suspect drinks. Home to people that actually live in and around Las Vegas, Henderson sits only a few minutes away from the Strip but serves a strong antidote for its expensive excess. Gold Mine Tavern is a perfect example of Henderson’s appeal, anchor to the Water Street District, a revitalized downtown Henderson corridor that feels a bit like a Midwestern downtown, in a good way.
Opened in 1965, Gold Mine Tavern is the oldest bar in Henderson, though its purchase in 2018 by first-time bar owner Samantha Bonneville sparked reinvestment that updated the space considerably. The long wooden bar and signature exterior signage were left intact as renovations focused on new flooring, an outdoor patio overhaul and updated surfaces throughout the Henderson dive bar.
Gold Mine Tavern is just one of the bars on Water Street opened or renovated over the past few years as part of a city priority to create an attractive downtown district for residents and visitors. Of course, where there is a downtown renovation project, breweries are sure to be found and in fact Gold Mine Tavern is flanked with a pair of highly regarded brewers in Mojave Brewing and Lovelady Brewing Company. Fellow bars on Water Street include Backyard, Hardway 8 and Sticks Tavern, all of these businesses making for a compelling bar crawl destination.
But Gold Mine Tavern is the heart of the Water Street District, its longevity giving it the feel of a communal, neighborhood bar no matter the young upstart bars nearby. Everything important about Gold Mine Tavern can be extrapolated from its exterior, where an old-school sign towers over Water Street, inscribed with “Gold Mine” and ringed in light bulbs. No fan of subtlety, the Henderson dive bar features another sign with the name of the bar attached, this one a string of massive block letters running the length of the building.
A row of signage can be seen at the top of the bar’s exterior windows, each pane offering a new dive bar delight. Happy hour times are listed here, a traditional block running 2 PM to 6 PM with a “reverse” happy hour available 12 AM to 9 AM (you read that correctly) thanks to Gold Mine Tavern’s 24-hour operations. Well drinks run $3 and domestic beers run $2 during both happy hours, prices that feel like a breath of fresh air compared to Las Vegas-adjacent bar pricing.
The last panel in the exterior row of dive bar amenities proclaims live music every Friday and Saturday. Live music has long been a mainstay at Gold Mine Tavern and the bar’s patio renovations have only strengthened the live music scene here. When the temperature dips below 60 at night, shows relocate inside, but when weather permits, an expansive, enclosed patio area serves as perfect backdrop to music-fueled drinking.
Inside, Gold Mine Tavern is a shotgun-style dive bar, the space a single, long rectangle flanked by an almost infinite bar rail that has thankfully been left largely untouched by renovation. Most of the bar’s regulars can be found atop the row of padded chairs that supports the bar, the wall behind the bar well-saturated screens. Gaming machines can be found embedded in the bar, thought a few machine-less seats can be found near the rear of the space.
Long tables and a single pool table fill in the rest of the Gold Mine Tavern footprint, projection screens sometimes used to extend the viewing party for major events, making the Henderson dive bar an underrated sports-watching destination. The interior amenities are capped off by what else, a looks-to-be-functional Zoltar machine ripped from the movie, Big. Proceed with caution.