When it comes to higher education in America, there’s no shortage of traditions, school pride and rivalries. But one thing all academics can agree on is that college bars are sacred institutions, integral to the overall collegiate experience. Whether it’s a massive university, a small private school or local community college, chances are there’s one bar that students can’t get enough of. From delightful dives to upscale joints and everything in between, here are the top college bars in each of the 50 states across the United States.
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Since first opening its doors in 2009, Alcove International Tavern has been a favorite amongst University of Alabama students. It’s one of those crowd-pleasing places where there’s something for everybody. The bar offers more than 100 different beers (including non-alcoholic), an inventive list of Martinis, tropical island-style concoctions and a selection of well liquor that includes brands like Absolut, Jack Daniels and Tanqueray. Roll Tide!
Ask any of the 7,000 students enrolled at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks where to catch a buzz and they’re going to recommend The Marlin. This dark and intimate dive bar provides the perfect retreat from Alaska’s cold temperatures. It’s also one of the city’s best places to find live music and get your dance on. Be sure to try a local Alaskan draft beer, but leave the credit card at home, because it’s cash only at The Marlin.
Located directly across the street from the University of Arizona campus, Frog & Firkin is a clear fan favorite. Often jam-packed with students, locals and out-of-towners, it’s a prime spot to watch a football game over pints of beer or sip cocktails on the outdoor patio when the Arizona heat isn’t too unbearable. They’re also known for their food menu, which is teeming with classic drunk food munchies like nachos, deep-dish pizza and burgers.
As the name suggests, Cork & Keg is part wine bar, part pub. Known for its trendy, quiet atmosphere, it’s an ideal hangout to celebrate a special occasion or catch up with friends while sampling a few local brews or one of their 24 wines on tap. They also offer some small plates, but don’t leave without snacking on their complementary firecrackers (spicy seasoned crackers)—students swear by them.
When it comes to LA, there’s no lack of places for students to let loose. But Mom’s Bar is one that always seems to please. Consistently ranked as one of the city’s top party venues, young folks flock here every night of the week for the cheap drinks and speedy service. DJs spin the top dance tracks every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, while karaoke kicks off every Wednesday. They even host themed events like a ‘90s night each month. Plus, you’ll never have to pay a cover charge to enter, so it’s perfect for broke college students living on a budget.
Situated right on College Avenue, Colorado State University students can’t resist Tap and Handle in Fort Collins. Colorado has long been revered as one of America’s premiere destinations for beer-lovers, and this bar’s selection of 74 rotating drafts does not disappoint. Kick back in their front bar, post up on the outdoor patio or head upstairs for a more laid back vibe. The taproom is especially popular on Tuesday and Thursday evenings when different bands assemble for live jam sessions.
BAR has been a New Haven staple for more than a decade. The versatile space is a mix of multiple concepts: edgy bar, inventive pizza parlor, as well as a part-time dance club. And while it may sound like a clumsy combination, BAR pulls it off effortlessly. They serve an impressive selection of wines and cocktails, but the real crowd pleaser is their collection of house-made beers, like BAR Zombie Slayer Double IPA and BAR Damn Good Stout. After knocking a few back, order one of their signature pizza pies. Yale University students recommend the mashed potato pizza.
University of Delaware students have been frequenting this Newark hot spot since 1979 and show no signs of slowing down. The simple saloon is decked out in railroad station-style décor and has an extensive menu with American classics ranging from soups and sandwiches to their world-famous nachos. Happy hour runs from Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. and includes unbeatable deals like $2.50 Yuengling drafts and $4 glasses of wine.
Sitting in the heart of Midtown and just steps away from the University of Florida is one of Gainesville’s most beloved watering holes. Whether you’re celebrating a Gator victory, perfecting the art of day drinking, or simply looking to grab a cheap happy hour drink, this dive bar is always packed. Memorabilia from yesteryear lines the walls, a jukebox plays timeless hits and there’s even a Globetrotter Club in which anyone who drinks 30 different beers from countries around the world within 60 days is rewarded with a free trophy tee shirt.
While Atlanta has its fair share of quality bars, Athens undoubtedly rules the college drinking scene. One of the city’s must-try institutions is Walker’s Coffee & Pub. During the day, it’s a popular escape for students looking to get their caffeine fix while cramming for upcoming exams or cranking out term papers. But by night, the vibe changes completely and it transforms into a good old-fashioned pub serving beer, mixed drinks and of course, coffee-based cocktails.
Escaping to paradise for college may sound like a dream, but going to school in Hawaii also means there’s a never-ending influx of thirsty tourists swarming the best spots in town. Luckily for students at the University of Honolulu, RB Bar & Grill exists. While the occasional vacationer can be spotted sitting at the bar, it’s primarily populated by students shooting pool, singing karaoke and playing video games. RB Bar & Grill also runs happy hour specials from 1 to 8 p.m. every day of the week, including weekends.
Established in 1995, Boise’s Bittercreek Alehouse has become a cherished destination amongst locals and Boise State students alike. The gastropub has plenty of different beers on tap, which are conveniently divided into different flavor profiles (hoppy, sour, etc.), so it’s always a breeze finding a pleasing pint. Their kombucha is also a hit, as well as their classic fare like burgers and buffalo wings.
Students pursuing a degree in the Windy City can often be found blowing into Streeter’s Tavern, a popular underground hangout that’s become one of the city’s best-kept secrets. Nestled just north of Chicago’s upscale Streeterville neighborhood, it’s conveniently located across the street from Loyola University Chicago. The subterranean tavern has an informal but comfortable feel with billiards, foosball, giant Jenga and beer pong tables, ideal for jump-starting any night on the town.
Nick’s English Hut is nothing short of legendary. The bi-level sports bar has been catering to Bloomington residents since 1927. But it still manages to feel fresh and relevant, despite its 90 year run. Anybody who frequents Nick’s will eagerly explain the rules of “Sink the Biz,” a drinking game that involves a metal bucket, small weighted juice glasses, napkins and lots of beer.
As any University of Iowa Hawkeye knows, the Deadwood Tavern is the place to be. It debuted more than 25 years ago as more of a hippie bar before embracing its identity as a quintessential college bar. Today, the venue can hold more than 200 patrons, making it a solid destination to let loose on game day. Students can be found downing dirt-cheap mixed drinks while lining up at one of the five classic pinball machines.
In the mood for a $2 cocktail and pizza that only costs a dollar per slice? Well, look no further than The Wagon Wheel, known affectionately as “The Wheel” by University of Kansas students and alumni. In addition to absurdly low happy hour prices, the treasured institution also offers live entertainment, 25 different beer varieties and a killer menu. But what makes The Wheel so special is its nostalgic atmosphere, which lies somewhere between a classic college dive and traditional townie bar.
The city of Bowling Green has quickly become one of the most exciting destinations in Kentucky, with a slew of notable bars and restaurants opening up in recent years. According to partygoers from Western Kentucky University, the best place in town to enjoy an ice-cold beer is the White Squirrel Brewery, named after the notorious critters that scurry throughout the campus. Founded by a group of friends who first met during their time at WKU, the microbrewery is recognized for the authentic university memorabilia adorning the walls, as well as for using local ingredients in their homemade beers and menu items.
For those enrolled at Tulane University, The Boot is a one-size-fits-all favorite. Of course, patrons can find all of the city’s signature concoctions, but bartenders also mix up some seriously delicious original drinks too. And when it comes to the best happy hour deals in Uptown New Orleans, none can compete with The Boot. For example, they have an all-you-can-drink special every Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. followed by $1 drinks until closing, and free beer (legitimately $0) from 9 to 10 p.m. every Friday.
Maine may be known for its quaint, coastal appeal and New England charm, but the collegiate crowd will tell you that the small state knows to how to get rowdy. The city of Orono is home to the University of Maine as well as The Common Loon Public House, which opened earlier this summer. The newcomer has already made quite the impression thanks to their English-slanting aesthetic. Students especially love their creative cocktails and extensive whiskey and rye collection.
For a truly epic game day, University of Maryland attendees head straight for Cornerstone Grill & Loft (nicknamed “The Stone”). A long-standing tradition in College Park, the pub-style sports bar has been around since 1997. With a total of 27 HD TVs strategically scattered throughout the bi-level pub, there’s really not a bad seat in the house when game time rolls around.
MaryAnn’s has served as a beloved Bean Town establishment for decades, and alumni still pop in for a drink whenever they find themselves in Boston. A classic Irish pub atmosphere, regulars have affectionately bestowed the nickname of “Scary Ann’s” upon the bar. It’s a no-frills spot with great specials, and patrons can even bring their own food since there isn’t a proper kitchen.
It’s hard to have a bad time at Good Time Charley’s, and that’s exactly why this Ann Arbor hangout is a top choice for University of Michigan students (and has been since 1979). The bar is known for their colorful cocktails presented in massive Mason jars, but for a something on a smaller scale, students go with one of their countless signature shooters. The spacious outdoor patio is particularly nice in the warmer months.
With a name like The Pourhouse, you would probably expect more of a beer-centric scene. But at this Twin Cities hot spot, the name is actually a reference to the club’s Prohibition Era theme. The Dinkytown location opened in December and is one of three locations. The venue offers an enormous 12,000-square-foot space, and has a reputation for throwing some seriously epic parties. But the fun continues after the sun comes up with regular happy hours and lunch specials during the week as well.
What do you get when pizza and Daiquiris join forces? Funkys, a long-standing favorite for anyone attending the University of Mississippi or just passing through Oxford. The New Orleans-inspired establishment also cooks up killer crawfish and no visit would be complete without trying one of their famed frozen libations. Each is named after pop culture moments, like the orange and blue Tide Pod Daiquiri or the Miley Cyrus.
On game days, you’ll find the rowdiest Mizzou fans at Harpo’s, a loud and long-standing bar and grill in the heart of Columbia, Missouri. Students can’t seem to get enough of their house-smoked barbecue or stiff drinks. Harpo’s boasts five different bars ranging from a low-key tavern to a rooftop overlooking the University of Missouri and even an ice bar (the only one in Columbia).
At The Haufbrau Bozeman, it’s all about good music, great beer and happy times. Known as “The Hauf,” this hub is more of a community than a simple college bar. It’s been family owned and operated for more than 50 years, which has helped it retain it’s cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor. Local talent regularly performs live sets, and open mic nights provide the perfect opportunity to discover the Montana’s next up-and-coming acts.
Tracks is a bit on the small side, but it gets the job done nonetheless. Specialties include $5 bloody Marys (ideal for a little hair of the dog on a Sunday afternoon) as well as their chicken wings, which they claim as the “world’s best chicken.” The dive bar recently reopened after extensive renovations and it’s more popular than ever before.
For the best college bar in Nevada, look no further than The U. This bar and restaurant is always swarming with college students thanks to its prime location directly across the street from campus. The U is the go-to spot for parties before Wolf Pack games every season, but it’s their $3 drink deals and food specials during happy hour that really draw in the crowds year round. The bar also hosts special programming for all of the major school events, such as homecoming and graduation.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, Libby’s Bar and Grill in New Hampshire has you covered. Looking for cheap beer and decadent junk food like waffle fries and quesadillas? Check. Want to impress a date with fancier fare, such as grilled sirloin or lobster mac and cheese? Check. How about a place where you can dance to live DJ sets and laser shows? Yep, they have that too. It’s not hard to see why the University of New Hampshire student population flips their lids for Libby’s.
This low-key haunt is unpretentious and extremely accessible, making it a popular choice for Rutgers students since launching in 1999. Just a few blocks from campus, this simple hangout (nicknamed “The OB”) has a huge oval-shaped bar, a slew of TVs and insanely affordable happy hour specials. What more could a broke college student ask for?
If you haven’t been to Albuquerque in a while, it’s definitely worth checking out. Just ask any University of New Mexico student and they’ll be quick to boast about the city’s under-the-radar beer and culinary scene. The Marble Brewery is one of the places helping define this new chapter in Albuquerque’s ever-evolving identity. Founded in 2008, the brewery serves up an impressive roster of award-winning beers in a hip setting, and even hosts monthly events and live musical acts to keep the kids engaged.
New York has famously built a reputation for itself as being the city that never sleeps. So where do students go to drink when they’re actively avoiding slumber? Off the Wagon, of course. This NYC staple is the boisterous sister establishment to Down the Hatch, and has been serving Greenwich Village since 1998. Here, you’ll find NYU students going shot for shot next to tourists and locals alike.
When you think of North Carolina’s most popular hot spots, cities like Charlotte and Raleigh are probably the first to come to mind. But Boone, home to Appalachian State University, has plenty to offer. Take the TApp Room for example. Aware of their collegiate clientele, they offer pints and pitchers on tap, as well as two-for-one deals and other specials each night of the week. And when hunger strikes, their tacos are a tried and true solution.
Located in the heart of downtown, the Irish pub opened in 2006 and played a critical role in sparking Fargo’s renaissance. Nightly entertainment includes karaoke, game nights and trivia competitions. But the real treat is catching a live music performance at their upstairs venue known as The Aquarium, which has hosted acts such as Macklemore, Band of Horses and Aesop Rock.
If Ohio University students had to select one bar as their official college drinking establishment, it would undoubtedly be Pawpurr’s. OU Bobcats mob this dive bar to bask in its glory—sticky floors and all. Over the years, their happy hour, known as Primetime, has become a ritual in its own right. To really do the whole Pawpurr’s experience the right way, you need to order their electric blue-colored concoction called “The Blackout” (and preferably two a time).
Eskimo Joe’s is an undeniable force in Stillwater’s drinking culture. According to local lore, the moniker was originally intended to suggest that they had the coldest beer in town. Since 1975, the popular bar has been a favorite for OSU students and sits in the shadow of the university’s Boone Pickens Stadium. Fun fact: Eskimo Joe’s cheese fries are so legendary that they’ve been mentioned in not one, but two presidential commencement speeches (George H. W. Bush in 1990 and George W. Bush in 2006).
Yep, you guessed it—another beer bar! Tap & Growler first popped up in Eugene a few years back and has been pouring perfect pints ever since. But they don’t stop there. Students love breaking up a study session with a glass of wine, cider, mead, kombucha or cold-pressed coffee. There’s also a private Barrel Room, offering a unique space to host a game day party, Greek life function or any other celebratory occasion.
According to students at Penn State, Zeno’s Pub is the top bar in Central Pennsylvania, thanks to its small town charm and metropolitan amenities. The pub pours a seemingly endless array of different beers, including their own homemade options (try their rye). The knowledgeable bar staff is eager to help experienced beer drinkers discover their new go-to, or introduce freshly minted 21-year-olds to their first high-quality beer. Audience trivia nights, live music and beer festivals always guarantee a fun evening in State College.
Rhode Island might not be the first state that’s top of mind when you think whiskey, but The Whiskey Republic is here to change that. Ken Casey, lead singer of Dropkick Murphys, founded the downtown waterfront pub in 2011. Overlooking the Providence River, this place serves more than 65 whiskey varieties in addition to a full bar and food menu complete with burgers, flatbreads and your standard pub appetizers. But the revolving series of events keeps people on their toes, ranging from celebrity-hosted happenings and reality TV castings to BMX shows and surprise bagpipe performances.
Southern hospitality is alive and well in the city of Clemson, South Carolina. Just pull up a barstool at The Esso Club, housed in a former Esso gas station, and their friendly staff will have you feeling right at home in no time (even if you are from north of the Mason-Dixon line). A tradition since 1933, no trip to Clemson would be complete without visiting this renowned sports bar.
If you thought South Dakota offered nothing more than Mount Rushmore, you’d be dead wrong. In addition to housing some of the country’s most impressive natural wonders (like the Badlands National Park), there’s also a surprisingly vibrant culinary scene. Students at the University of South Dakota can’t get enough of Carey’s, which traces its roots back to 1954 and is the self-proclaimed “home of the thirst scholar.” While they don’t serve food, patrons are more than welcome to bring their own snacks. Also, make sure to bring some dollar bills since it’s cash only.
Lonnie’s Western Room is a true Nashville original and absolute gem. The iconic karaoke bar, known to locals simply as “Lonnie’s,” has been a Music City staple for nearly 30 years. Always stacked with a colorful cast of characters, Vanderbilt students know that a night at Lonnie’s is one that won’t soon be forgotten. As the name suggests, this hangout has a honky tonk twang to it, but all are welcome. Plus, 18-year-olds are allowed to enter and sing their favorite country hit, making it that much more appealing for college students of all ages.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but that’s not always the case. Take Crown & Anchor Pub, for example. The cozy English pub-inspired hangout is a favorite Hyde Park fixture. Students describe it as being extremely down to earth, serving a simple but fantastic selection of award-winning food and beer. Crown and Anchor is also open 365 days a year, so there’s never a bad time to drop by and sip a $3 happy hour brew on the exposed patio or munch on some cheese fries at the bar.
Billed as Salt Lake City’s original brewpub, Squatters has been in the craft beer business since 1989. Built within the walls of a storied downtown hotel, the brewery is also looking ahead, with a focus on sustainability and highlighting local products to create their award-winning beers. There are also lots of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available, which students at the University of Utah appreciate. And even though undergrads can’t bring their dogs to live in the dorms with them, Squatters actually has one of the best dog-friendly patios in the entire city.
It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that pizza and beer are a match made in heaven. And that’s exactly what the folks behind Manhattan Pizza and Pub were thinking when they opened in 1993. With a full bar and more than 20 beers on tap (including many Vermont-made brews), it’s been a long-time favorite for anyone enrolled at the University of Vermont. If pizza isn’t your thing, they also have salads, chicken and other bar snacks like poutine and fried pickles.
According to the official state motto, Virginia is for lovers. It was never specified if they were referring to lovers of craft beer and cheeseburgers, but we’re going to assume yes for this round up. Enter Boylan Heights. With a focus on serving guilt-free burgers and a mix of local and international brews, this Charlottesville bar has won over the hearts (and stomachs) of countless students over the years.
Washington can tend to be cold and gloomy sitting in the top left-hand corner of the Pacific Northwest. But luckily for students at Washington State University, The Cougar Cottage exists, providing a perfect hideaway from the elements. Oftentimes shortened to simply “The Coug,” this Pullman party spot has been cranking for more than 85 years, so it’s chock-full of memories. But even the youngest newcomers can add to its legacy by leaving a message in Sharpie on the back wall.
Ask any undergraduate at West Virginia University about Mario’s Fishbowl, and you’re bound to hear a colorful tale. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mario’s is notorious for their cold-as-ice beers and cocktails served in oversized, frosty fishbowl goblets. It may skew a bit gimmicky, but West Virginia University students love it. They also have some great bar food and one of the friendliest staffs around.
Jordan’s Big 10 Pub sits proudly on Regent Street, providing an idyllic location within strolling distance from the University of Wisconsin campus. Since 1999, the sports-themed, pub-grub joint has been the best place to party before, during and after Badger Football games—they even arrange a free shuttle service for customers to and from the university’s Kohl Center.
When it comes to hipster culture in Wyoming, this is as close as you’re going to get if you’re looking for a Williamsburg or Portland-esque vibe. Front Street Tavern is nestled in Laramie and is connected to the vegan and vegetarian restaurant, Sweet Melissa Café. From eclectic homemade brews (like their new elderberry rhubarb sour) to signature cocktails (people highly recommend their Moscow mules), students at the University of Wyoming know they can always count on the Front Street Tavern for a good time.