If you could travel anywhere in the United States, where would you go? If your first answer was “the first bar I see,” you need Jesus, and I want to be your friend. You’re also probably a college student thriving off of cheap pitchers and Wednesday night drink specials.
Besides the cheap booze, though, I get it. We all love our local college bars. They hold special memories for us. But I’m sure most of us would admit, if given the opportunity, we would love a change in scenery. If we’re gonna risk missing local happy hour, it better be for a hella good reason. Here are those reasons.
Austin, TX: Lala’s Little Nugget
If you’re anything like me, you have a Christmas countdown going at any point during the year. At Lala’s, Christmas is every day. This dive bar is decorated from elf hat to little tiny bell shoes in holiday decorations from the 70’s. Recently in September, the bar reopened under new owners, who wanted to keep the mystique of Lala’s from closing forever. Be sure to try the Bloody Mary, it’s a local favorite (and not just because of its holiday colors).
Baltimore, MD: Bad Decisions
Their motto is “bad decisions, make some.” They serve you baskets of bacon. They have a legendary handwritten cocktail guide titled “The Book.” I think these facts say it all.
Boston, MA: Frost Ice Loft
Not only does this bar have pre-sale tickets and a scheduled check in time, but it is also the only indoor bar entirely made of ice. Upon admission, you’re given an insulated cape and a pair of gloves (obviously so you can enjoy your drinks in ~style~). The bar is kept at a chilly 21 degrees, mimicking the freeze on your credit card that will be placed after spending way too much money drinking here. I see you, metaphor, I see you.
Charleston, SC: The Royal American
This is not your typical dive bar. From a welcoming “bring-your-own-CD’s” rule to serving bologna sandwiches, this place really knows how to make you feel at home. It’s cheap, serves homemade cinnamon whiskey, and often has live music performances. What’s not to love?
Chicago, IL: Kuma’s Corner
If you have a “love for meat and heavy metal” like this place does, you need to check out Kuma’s corner fast. They often have local heavy metal performances by bands such as the “Weekend Nachos” (ugh, yum) and pride themselves in serving only a selection of craft brews. What they’re famous for, however, is their burger of the month. Be sure to check out this month’s burger, Ministry.
Dallas, TX: Mutts Canine Cantina
One word. Puppies. Yup, that’s right folks. Now you can get wasted and play with your dog all in one place. And if you don’t have a dog, you can get wasted and play with other people’s dogs. Not only do they have an extensive beer list and a $3 “Yappy Hour,” but they also serve treats for your four-legged friend.
Their beer garden turned dog park will become your go-to after work if you live in the area. Finally, a place for us to not be judged for wanting to be with our dogs instead of out on dates.
Detroit, MI: Grand Trunk Pub
Not many establishments can claim to have been a railroad ticket station, a jewelry store, and a magic shop all before becoming a bar. This place has a unique history that you can read all about on their site, and on top of that, they honor their Michigan background by serving as many local products as possible. If you’re into Game of Thrones, check out their annual Game of Thrones beer dinner here.
Houston, TX: Brooklyn Athletic Club
Don’t get me wrong, I love cowboy hats and mechanical bulls just as much as the next gal. But if you’re visiting Houston and looking for a slightly ~classier~ establishment, Brooklyn Athletic Club is where you should be headed. They have an indoor bar and an outdoor court for games such as badminton, horseshoes, and more, making it the perfect venue for your next “Cocktails and Croquet” club meeting (and if this club doesn’t exist, it should probs become a thing because if I ever moved to Houston, I’d totally join).
Las Vegas, NV: Heart Attack Grill
We all have those days where we eat waaaay too much and feel like we can’t walk. Do that at the Heart Attack Grill, and you get wheelchaired out to your car by a personal “nurse.” Amidst much controversy, the bar continues to produce food such as the “Quadruple Bypass Burger.” If you’ve ever wondered what a heart attack actually feels like, try eating all four patties, twenty strips of bacon, and eight slices of cheese. Best part? You can chase it all down with a spiked milkshake.
Los Angeles, CA: The Rusty Mullet
You know what they say about mullets… Business in the front, party in the back. The Rusty Mullet is the perfect combination of the two, if you count pail size drinks and bottomless mimosas as the “party” you’re looking for. This trailer park themed bar will make you yeehaw for $1 happy hour, too.
New Orleans, LA: Carousel Bar & Lounge
College students aren’t the only ones who procrastinate – Ernest Hemingway used to frequent this bar all the time when he had writer’s block. This is the only spinning bar in the area, so for once, you’ll actually feel the alcohol hit you before you even stand up.
New York City, NY: Stay Classy New York
While it may not have plenty of room for activities, Stay Classy in NYC should be the first stop on your alcohol adventure. The bar is Will Ferrell themed and just recently opened on October 25, with an Elf themed party set for this upcoming holiday season. So what are you waiting for? Head over to the Lower East Side to get buzzed off of some house made sangria and pretend you’re at the f*cking catalina wine mixer. Here’s a preview of the menu in case you’re wondering if your favorite Will Ferrell movie was captured. Bye Buddy, I hope you find your dignity.
Orlando, FL: The Imperial
Disney isn’t the only cool thing about Florida (sorry, Walt). Walk into Washburn Imports and you’ll find an elegant bar with drink names you most likely won’t understand. Dress up for a night on the town and go pretend to be someone you’re not for a little bit, I promise it’ll be fun.
Philadelphia, PA: Hop Sing Laundromat
Gone are the days of stumbling home from the bar just to realize that at two in the morning, your favorite Chinese takeout place has already closed. At this little establishment, you can order takeout from a number of local places and have it delivered straight to you while you drink. Just make sure you let the delivery guy know to play it cool, considering this bar is speakeasy style and requires the bouncer to one up you every time you ring the doorbell.
Phoenix, AZ: Toso’s Sports Bar and Grill
You know what they say – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I’m guessing that’s probably the motto of the attendees at this bar, considering it’s the only Patriots fan bar in Phoenix. Being a native New England-er, obviously this is gonna be my go-to stop if I’m ever in the area. If you’re a fan of winning too, head on over to Toso’s this season. Sorry guys, don’t hate us cause you ain’t us.
Pittsburgh, PA: Bar Marco
This bar is a safe haven for indecisive people everywhere. You’re already super worn out from deciding to go to this bar in the first place, and the last thing you want to do is look at a menu and choose something to order. Thankfully, the bartenders at Bar Marco have you covered. They’re known for relying on your personal taste to create a one of a kind cocktail for you. Feelin’ frisky? Tell them you want something colorful with tequila. Trying to drink away your most recent exam grade? I’m sure they’ll have just the concoction for you.
Portland, OR: The Lovecraft Bar
To be honest, the only scary things I like are American Horror Story and wearing day old makeup because I’m too lazy to take it off and redo it. After reading the sassiest FAQ page in existence, however, I now really like this horror-themed bar. If their decorations don’t scare you, try reading their website. The owner even scared his neighbors once into thinking he was a Satanist (but the bar has no religious affiliation).
San Antonio, TX: The Ringer Pub
The rug really ties the room together. If you’re in the mood for $4 White Russians, $3 Fireball, and a ferocious game of mini bowling, I’d visit this place ASAP. Inspired by the “Big Lebowski,” this newly opened bar has been attracting many with its great deals and unique theme.
San Diego, CA: Prohibition Lounge
Don’t let the outside of this place fool ya. It may look like a law office, but they’re just super prepared in case the United States decides to ban alcohol again. They do have a dress code for those of you looking to drink to some jazzy tunes, so make sure you slip on that cocktail dress before going.
San Francisco, CA: Noir Lounge
Ladies and gents, break out your detective hats and typewriters. Now when we get drunk and dramatic, we have a place that will accept our drama wholeheartedly. Not only will Noir Lounge screen your favorite classics like the Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity, but it will give you the excuse to break out those cheesy lines and call people “baby” without making bystanders hurl. If none of this sells you, think of how great you’ll feel when you’re slightly buzzed and think you’re the hottest femme fatale in the room.
Savannah, GA: Pinkie Master’s Lounge
DID SOMEBODY SAY FREE PIZZA?! Despite a recent drop in business, this dive bar has implemented free food as a way to get people back in. Pinkies, you’ve already stolen my heart. What’s more, President Carter is said to have scaled the bar and announced his presidential candidacy here. I guess we know where to send Drunk Uncle Bill on Thanksgiving once he starts spewing his opinion on international relations.
Seattle, WA: Unicorn
Go ahead and let your inner freak fly while eating a deep fried hamburger (bonus points if you keep it down after numerous Jell-O shots). The Unicorn’s carnie theme may be a little creepy for some, but for most, the fun atmosphere will bring back memories of your childhood outings or maybe that time you binge-watched season four of American Horror Story on Netflix. Either way, I’m making it my mission to get here someday. If bearded ladies are the norm, they def won’t judge if I don’t shave my legs, right?
St. Louis, MO: Moolah Theatre & Lounge
You know those fun theaters that we all secretly want our significant other to bring us to? The fun ones with the cuddle couches and good snacks? This place is like that on steroids. Not only can you cuddle and eat good food, but you can do it while you drink.
Washington, DC: Thomas Foolery
Do you have a soft spot for the Fresh Prince? Does grilled cheese make your heart beat fast and your palms sweat? Thomas Foolery is the place for you. The childhood-themed bar will bring any millennial back to their elementary years when ring pops and Mario Kart were all the rage. Check out their set of “bar rules” for your chance to save some cash.
And for those of you worldly travelers (and musical lovers)…
Stockholm, Sweden: Nicos’ Taverna
Gone are the days of dancing along to ABBA in your college dorm room instead of studying (loljk, that will still continue to happen). But, if you’re planning to study abroad starting next semester, make sure you stop by Nicos’, a Mamma Mia themed bar and restaurant set to open in January 2016. Bjorn Ulvaeus, former ABBA member, hopes to include guests in a story line each night, changing the stories up a little bit so every visit is new and exciting. My my, how could you resist this?
If you didn’t have an excuse to travel before, you sure do now. You’re welcome.