Fresh off winning five medals at the London Games, Lochte, 28, headed to Sin City over the weekend with his friends by his side and his eyes wandering.
"I'm always looking for the perfect girl," he said. "Now that I'm older, I'm looking to settle down a bit."
What catches his attention? "Anyone that can make me smile and make me laugh," he told PEOPLE while hanging out at Venetian's Azure Pool. "That's the key to my heart."
While he searches, he'll continue training – Lochte plans to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio – and embrace his newfound notoriety. Having recently filmed a cameo on 90210, Lochte says he'll consider more acting.
Courtesy of Jeremy Womack
"My first thing is definitely swimming," he notes. "I'm an athlete, but if I get the opportunity and people come to me about acting or anything, I'll be more than happy to do it as long as it doesn't interfere with my swimming."
The Vegas trip – a combination of Olympic and belated birthday celebrations – is a deserved break, with Lochte having partied at both Tao and Lavo on consecutive nights with pals, including teammate Cullen Jones.
"I'm definitely taking a couple days off training," he says. "I really just wanted to go somewhere and spend time with my friends. It's been awesome."