The 32 Best College Bars in America

The 32 Best College Bars in America
The 32 Best College Bars in America

Shutterstock/Jennifer Bui
Shutterstock/Jennifer Bui

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There are all kinds of things you miss after you leave your college for the real world. The outrageously cruel chants you yelled at rivals on game day. The sunny afternoons spent lying on the quad, forgetting all about that term paper you had due the next day. The house parties you and your roomies threw that got shut down by the police. But most of all, you miss spending several (maybe even seven) nights a week at these magical college bars. These are the kind of places with dirt-cheap drink deals, sticky booths, and time-honored traditions that you called home for collegiate years. They may not be pretty, but they probably had an excellent karaoke night. Or at the very least, a shot wheel. Get ready to cry into your prized alma mater sweatshirt in three, two, one: 

Flickr/Dixie Chicken

Texas A&M

Dixie Chicken

Address and Info

College Station, TX

In the A&M community, your college ring isn't truly "blessed" unless it's been through the Aggie Dunk. That involves ordering a 32oz mug off Dixie Chicken's taps, bathing your ring in that beer, and then chugging the glass for good measure. It's the kind of bar ritual only a college mainstay like Dixie Chicken has going for it, even if it was born out of accident.

University of Wisconsin

The Plaza Tavern

Address and Info

Madison, WI

Some campuses are saddled with just one or two ho-hum bar options. UW is not one of those places. Madison is home to all kinds of bars and while some people will tell you to hit up Kollege Klub or Wando's or Vintage, we're sticking to our guns with The Plaza. That's still in large part due to its famous Plazaburger, a quarter-pounder with a secret sauce that remains a delicious enigma. But the pinball machine, pool table, jukebox, and air hockey certainly don't hurt.

William Paterson University

The Shepherd & the Knucklehead

Address and Info

Haledon, NJ

Considering most college kids aren't so much concerned with beer quality as they are with housing as many Natty Lights as they can, college bars don't need to worry about an interesting and varied beer program. But The Shepherd & the Knucklehead wants those poor youths to know there's a world beyond light lager, and it aims to educate with 90 beers on tap. That includes selections from 21st Amendment, Rogue, Anchor, Founders, Dogfish Head, Oskar Blues, and many other excellent breweries you wouldn't expect coeds to drink. On the liquor side of things, there's a whiskey list with Macallan 18 Year. Damn. These William Paterson kids are spoiled rotten.

Courtesy of The Sink

University of Colorado Boulder

The Sink

Address and Info

Boulder, CO

The Sink has been "on the hill" since 1923, but for nonagenarian, it sure knows how to have fun. The low ceiling is covered in the names and deep thoughts of so many UC Boulder students -- students who love the Texas Onion Straw Burger and Buff Mac just as much as they love the $2 well specials. We could also mention Guy Fieri's visit on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, but we'd rather talk about the time the president just had to have his Sink fix.


Olde Queens Tavern

Address and Info

New Brunswick, NJ

Olde Queens has been a haven for the Scarlet Knights since 1933, even on snow days. Like any good college bar, it has a whole slew of specials (i.e., the $3.50 "shot wheel" on Mondays) and goes the extra mile by giving away a pair of Yankees tickets each week. It also has its own food truck, The Outslider, which pumps out gourmet sliders to soak up those shots.

University of Alabama

The Houndstooth Sports Bar

Address and Info

Tuscaloosa, AL

The Houndstooth wants to make sure you're plugged into the Big Al action at all times. It's got 36 flat screens inside, four outside, a 120in projection TV, and even screens in the bathrooms. Obviously, this is a great spot to be on game day if you can't be in Bryant-Denny, but it also finds ways to entertain the undergrads on the off-season. Namely, through trivia, bingo, pool, and the general mayhem thirsty college students bring.

Courtesy of Cain and Abel's

University of Texas--Austin

Cain and Abel's

Address and Info

Austin, TX

The name would imply this bar is home to a UT Austin chapter of Fight Club, but when you've got $1 beers every Tuesday, it's all brotherly love. Cain and Abel's is best known for its Texas Teas (a riff on the Long Island) and H-Bombs (Hideous liqueur and Red Bull). They're frequently on special, and frequently the cause of regret the next morning.

Boston College

Mary Ann's

Address and Info

Boston, MA

The general stickiness, smelliness, and lack of windows is what earned this BC bar the nickname Scary Ann's, but it's meant as a term of endearment. While students have their pick of Hoop Fever, Big Buck Hunter, and Photo Hunt, the best entertainment is watching your friend scream Journey lyrics after too many $1.50 Busch Lights.

University of Kansas

The Wagon Wheel

Address and Info

Lawrence, KS

Founded in 1955, The Wagon Wheel was serving beer, pizza, and "Wang Burgers" (stop laughing!) long before Old Crow Medicine Show co-opted the name. Undergrads and alums alike cluster around the flat screens on game day to yell obscenities at the Longhorns. After the score is settled, they'll stick around to flood the jukebox, dance on tables, and order that pizza (served basically 'til closing) or Wang Burger (supposedly named for a frat brother, Wanger) we mentioned.

The Swamp Restaurant

University of Florida

The Swamp

Address and Info

Hollywood, FL

This is the place that's always packed on game day, and considering the walls of Gators memorabilia, spacious front patio, and, oh right, beer buckets, it's easy to see why. The Swamp was originally a UF professor's home, but after a fire nearly took it out in '93, it was revamped to serve as a student and alumni watering hole. On top of the requisite pitchers of Bud and Rolling Rock, the bar serves "Swampritas," a rum-spiked "Swamp Juice," and a Bloody Mary garnished with a mini-burger. Clearly, it's a Gainesville landmark for a reason.


The Boot

Address and Info

New Orleans, LA

Leave it to NOLA to spawn the college bar that puts so many others to shame. Oh, you stay open until 2am? The Boot sometimes goes 'til 6am. You love your $2 shot specials? The Boot gives them out for 50 cents on Tuesdays. We could also talk about the pizza and waffle fries, but in the interest of saving the other guys some face, we'll just say it's an excellent place that K-Fed(??!!) occasionally DJs at.


The Tombs

Address and Info

Washington, DC

The name of this Hoya haven doesn't refer to where grads wish they could bury embarrassing Saturday nights. Instead, it references the T.S. Eliot poem "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town." That's a pretty esoteric origin for a college bar, but this is Georgetown. Probably the most famous program at The Tombs is the 99 Day Club, wherein seniors attempt to visit the place daily in the 99-day lead-up to graduation. Some have failed, but many have succeeded. The late-night menu of beer-cheese fries, nachos, and pork buns probably has something to do with that.

Harry's Chocolate Shop Inc.


Harry's Chocolate Shop

Address and Info

Lafayette, IN

You won't find a single bon-bon at Harry's Chocolate Shop, but you will find throngs of undergrads on any given night. The former soda fountain is now the Purdue bar to beat; it's so beloved by students, Harry's frequently sells out of bourbon bottles (think Woodford Reserve and Four Roses) bearing its custom labels. If you're at the bar, though, it has some truly lethal mixed drinks, like the Baltimore Zoo, a Long Island that subs the sour mix and Coke for beer and Sprite. As Harry's would say, "Go Ugly Early."

University of Pittsburgh

Hemingway's Cafe

Address and Info

Pittsburgh, PA

When a place is named after Papa Hemingway, you can bet it knows a thing or two about booze. But lest you had any doubts, this Pitt institution has 42 rotating taps, gummy worm shot pitchers, and spiked root beer floats in Mason jars. Hell, it even celebrates Negroni Week. Ernest would definitely approve of that menu, as well as the congregation of merry college kids burning down the house.

University of North Carolina

He's Not Here

Address and Info

Chapel Hill, NC

You won't always see sleepy puppies at this Tar Heel hotspot, but you will see those blue cups. On Tuesdays, the trademark 32oz sippers are $5. But that's not the only thing He's Not Here has going for it. There's weekly karaoke, trivia, and live music -- plus the proud senior bar-golf tradition. In this UNC bar crawl, soon-to-be grads put on their preppy finest and earn a golf score based on which drinks they order at the bars on the list. He's Not Here is usually the closer, and if you want that eagle, you'll have to spring for Champagne.

Courtesy of Rick's American Cafe

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Rick's American Cafe

Address and Info

Ann Arbor, MI

Of all the gin joints in Ann Arbor, Rick's is the one most beloved by UM students. Only they're not really searching for war-torn soulmates, or even drinking gin -- unless it's splashed in the potent house drink, the Mind Probe. While bands like the Pixies played there in the '80s, today it's a massive DJ-run dance party. Who knows? You might actually run into your soulmate mid-Humpty Dance.

Indiana University

Kilroy's on Kirkwood

Address and Info

Bloomington, IN

At Kilroy's the amenities are insane. Stuffed breadsticks, outdoor patios, free T-shirts, and consistent drink deals (hey $1 wells!) are just a few of the perks that keep the Hoosiers coming back semester after semester. Even if they should be spending part of those semesters studying for mid-terms, shot wheels will always be more interesting.

University of Southern California

901 Bar & Grill

Address and Info

Los Angeles, CA

The Galen Center is a 10-minute walk from the "Nine O," as the kids call it, but if you start game day here, you might never make it to the arena. There's a sweeping 25% off deal on food and drinks for any USC student from 11am 'til 4pm and nine 50in plasma screens displaying the Trojans at every possible opportunity. The two-for-one happy hour is also pretty choice, so you might as well save the money you would've spent on a ticket and blow it instead on the Nine O's wings and whiskey.

Courtesy of Duffy's Tavern

University of Nebraska

Duffy's Tavern

Address and Info

Lincoln, NE

If you've never seen one of these in the wild, did you even go to college? You definitely didn't go to Duffy's, which raises the bar on the undergrad Saturday night go-to by boasting 29 different fishbowls. Those are $14 during Monday happy hour, but the best special might be Tuesday's $1 tallboys. Mostly because it's called Dad's Beer Night.

University of Virginia


Address and Info

Charlottesville, VA

Yes, this bar is in a basement, and yes, the bathrooms will scare you shitless. But you're not going to Coupe's for gleaming sinks -- you're going there to drink on the back patio (excuse us, garden terrace) with the rest of the UVA student body. Specifically, you're drinking the famed Fuckin' Fuck, a mixture of lemon vodka, peach schnapps, Malibu, cranberry juice, and sour mix. By round three, you'll be saying its name an awful lot.



Address and Info

Syracuse, NY

The fight for best SU bar has always come down to two contenders: Chuck's or Faegan's. While Chuck's was making the stronger play for years, new management has turned it into a shell of its former self. So there really isn't a debate anymore: Faegan's is king. The place is home to two particularly great deals: Beer Tour and Flip Night. Beer Tour involves punching your way through a sudsy "passport" featuring beers of all types and origins. It's on Tuesdays and if you finish before graduating, you get your name on a plaque on the wall. Flip Night is Wednesdays, and the rules are simple. Tell the bartender your order, then call heads or tails. He'll flip a coin, and if you are wrong, you pay up. If you are right, your beer is free. Reckless gambling has never been so appealing.

Flickr/George Thomas

Oklahoma State

Eskimo Joe's

Address and Info

Stillwater, OK

Don't be alarmed by the maniacal grin on that guy in the sign. It's just Joe, and he probably looks like that because he dipped into EJ's always-$2.50 well drinks. The bar/restaurant/clothing shop has been an integral part of OSU since it first opened its doors in 1975 -- the proof is in the annual anniversary bash, which is so big, it regularly spills into the streets. Stillwater's "jumpin' little juke joint" also has a long history of live music. Acoustic nights are every Wednesday, but if you're more into the electric scene, you can catch those acts on the weekends.

Virginia Tech

Top of the Stairs

Address and Info

Blacksburg, VA

This Virginia Tech destination is popularly known as TOTS, and you'll probably want to house 75 of those after a long night of boozing at Top of the Stairs. Ordering the "Rail" is a requisite, as is belting your best Bon Jovi at Tuesday night karaoke. If it gets too crowded in the main bar area (and it will), you can head down the wrap-around porch to the outside area. There you can play cornhole and hit up the bonus bar for more of those Rails.

Courtesy of Knight Library

University of Central Florida

Knight Library

Address and Info

Orlando, FL

Plenty of places joke about packing in the entire student body, but Knight Library could probably do it. This utterly massive space rolls three whole bars, a fleet of flat screens and projectors, an enormous dance floor, and a patio for cornhole and beer pong into one seriously fun "library." Regulars can sign up for library cards to get comped covers and cash back, although you probably don't need them, considering the never-ending weekly specials often offer free booze.

University of Georgia

Bourbon Street

Address and Info

Athens, GA

When a bar is named after NOLA's infamous road, you can expect plenty of debauchery. But add in a bunch of tireless Georgia college students and you get scenes like the one above. Don't be alarmed if you bump into a grown man in full jester regalia as you're collecting your $3 pitcher. He's supposed to be there.

University of South Carolina


Address and Info

Columbia, SC

As one eloquent Foursquare user put it, "Dollar liquor Mondays has talent." And why wouldn't it, considering the talent is paying a single dollar for liquor. You can enjoy that $1 booze out on the enormous patio, where you might also catch a live show. Or just hang inside and discuss the ethics of Ivan Pavlov's conditioning experiments with your fellow patrons, because that's definitely what everyone is talking about.

Local Whiskey

Penn State University

Local Whiskey

Address and Info

State College, PA

Picking the best bar at PSU is not an easy task, but our sources recommend this Irish pub. You're not going in for heaps of Guinness, but rather a few of the bar's 200+ whiskeys, which include Irish hooch as well as Kentucky bourbons and Scotch. It's also got 12 beers on tap and 70 in bottles if you'd rather stick to suds. Plus, there's the late-night kitchen, which pumps out cheesesteak egg rolls and SC's best Reuben.

Michigan State


Address and Info

East Lansing, MI

The case for Crunchy’s can be laid out in six essential points. One: every visitor has carved his/her name into a table… or wall. Two: the burgers are so cheap and delicious, they may just lure you away from that "class" you need for your "major." Three: the gigantic sheets and/or nuggets of pizza. It has those. Four: karaoke. It has that, too. Five: the beer selection is actually pretty solid for a college bar. Six: it will put said beer in a mop bucket for you. And everyone knows beer is best enjoyed in a trough-like situation.

Ole Miss

Proud Larry's

Address and Info

Oxford, MS

Larry has a lot to be proud of. His live music lineup is consistently rocking, the patio is ideal for soaking up summer beers, and the Two for Tuesday deal on Larry Burgers has without a doubt made many poor college students' nights. Also, Aaron Carter performed there last August. If that isn't an achievement, we don't know what is.


Arizona State

Casey Moore's Oyster House

Address and Info

Tempe, AZ

Even though it's totally haunted, Casey Moore's is a popular destination for ASU students. They're less into the oysters than they are into the daily beer specials and outdoor seating, but the seafood is there should anyone actually decide to class up the evening. The ghosts are also there, should they decide to test-drive their new Ouija boards.

University of Oregon

Rennie's Landing

Address and Info

Eugene, OR

After Oregon students have dropped a depressing amount of cash on biology tomes at the campus bookstore, they can walk down the block to Rennie's for a pick-me-up. The bar has a sampling of Northwest craft brews on tap, as well as the house favorite Rennie's Lemonade if you're into stiffer stuff. Also, if you miss out on the Saturday night mob scene, don't sweat it. You can amble over on Sunday afternoon for a Bloody Mary and breakfast burrito.



Address and Info

Sewanee, TN

Don't expect shot specials or wild DJ nights: Shenanigans isn't a typical college bar. Instead, the ramshackle, bright-blue spot has that well-worn, well-loved feeling of an English pub, which is exactly what happens when, for the majority of its existence, a bar is the only spot to order a beer in a town isolated on a plateau. That means, on any given Tuesday night, you have a very high chance of seeing a gaggle of students in bow ties and sundresses, each holding their own pitcher, chatting with the 5-year-old kid of their professor, who is eating spicy turkey melts with his family at the next table. That you're more likely to see that than find any student who hasn't spent two-thirds of their senior year sitting on the front steps or complaining about how it's too cold to sit on the front steps, maybe just makes it the most college of bars possible. Barn-like appearance and all.

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Kristin Hunt is a former staff writer for Thrillist. Although she's still wistful for the Chuck's of yore, you better believe her name is on the Faegan's beer tour wall. Follow her to punch cards @kristin_hunt.

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1. Dixie Chicken 307 University Dr, College Station, TX 77840

Since 1974, locals have flocked to this country-themed Aggieland mainstay for its beloved burger and beer bar. Stick with tradition and order a pitcher off the tap list, and then dunk your college ring in it for good luck. Continue your streak of good fortune by chowing down on a cheeseburger and some Tijuana fries, which are essentially cheese fries with a side of ranch.

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2. The Plaza Tavern 319 North Henry Street, Madison, WI 53703

If you haven't chowed down on their famous Plazaburger, you haven't lived!

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3. The Shepherd & the Knucklehead 529 Belmont Avenue, Haledon, NJ 07508

There are 90 craft beers on tap here, and a whiskey list that includes Macallan 18 Year. You need to get here.

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4. Abel's North 4001 West Parmer Lane, Austin, TX 78727

You can't beat $1 beers every Tuesday. You just can't.

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5. The Sink 1165 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

You're going to love their Texas Onion Straw burger almost as much as their $2 well specials.

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6. The Swamp 1642 W University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603

A college neighborhood staple, The Swamp has become an icon for serving up yummy themed bites. For example their Gator Bites - battered tail meat nuggets in a mango-chili puree.

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7. Harry's Chocolate Shop 329 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906

You won't find bon-bons at this chocolate shop!

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8. Olde Queens Tavern 108 Easton Ave., New Brunswick, NJ 08901

They have their own food truck that makes gourmet sliders. Enough said.

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9. The Houndstooth Sports Bar 1300 University Blvd., Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

The take their game day viewing seriously, with 36 flatscreens and television in their bathrooms.

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10. Mary Ann's 1937 Beacon St, Brighton, MA 02135 (Allston Brighton)

Mary Ann’s, where every night is amateur night, endures as the paradigm for all college dive bars for all time. Period. BC students and alumni flock here for $1.50 Busch Lights, the signature stench, and sloppy make-out sessions. The bar’s best attributes include the “industrial chic” boarded-up windows and the excellent chance that someone will barf on your shoes.

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11. The Wagon Wheel 507 W 14 St, Lawrence, KS 66044

Like most college bars, The Wagon Wheel is charming in its own way (and just a little bit smelly). But unlike college bars, this dive isn't just overrun by undergrads. Students, recent grads, and real, employed adults can be seen here dancing or ordering a slice of their famous pizza.

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12. The Boot 1039 Broadway St, New Orleans, LA 70118

Arrive with a roll of quarters and you're everyone's best friend. Tuesday is $0.50 shot night.

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13. The Tombs 1226 36th St NW, Georgetown, DC 20007 (Georgetown)

Housed in a Federal-style townhouse that was built in the mid-1800s, The Tombs is a rathskeller-style bar named after a T.S. Eliot poem. Be sure to look for name inscriptions of people who’ve worked there -- they date all the way back to 1962!

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14. Rick's American Cafe 611 Church St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

This Ann Arbor nightclub has been entertaining both UM students and alum since 1982 with DJs five nights a week and an impressive gin collection.

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15. Hemingway's Cafe 3911 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (Central Oakland)

Hemingway’s Cafe is where everybody in Pittsburgh celebrates their 21st birthday. Located near the University of Pittsburgh campus, it’s a classic college dive bar with karaoke, dirt-cheap drink specials (Miller Lite drafts for $1.50), and an always-electric atmosphere.

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16. He's Not Here 112 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Legend has it that when a wife or girlfriend called this Chapel Hill mainstay years ago, the bartender would always respond with the same three words. And so, "He's Not Here" was born. The bar holds regular events like karaoke, trivia, and live music.

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17. Kilroy's on Kirkwood 502 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47401

Just a block away from Indiana's campus, Kilroy's is a popular haunt for students looking for a bite to eat or a memorable night out. This joint has a spacious patio, new and retro bar games, and daily specials (think $2 burgers, $1 wells, and $0.25 wings).

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18. 901 Bar & Grill 2902 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90007 (Downtown)

Established in 1947, 901's a crazy sports bar that is an official USC fan hangout, affectionately known at the "Nine O".

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19. Coupe's 9 Elliewood Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903

With only three beers on tap—PBR, Blue Moon, and a beer of the month—Coupe's is a typical dive that draws in a young crowd. The menu offers tacos, pitas, and sliders.

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20. Eskimo Joe's 501 W Elm Ave, Stillwater, OK 74074

A football's throw away from OSU's Boone Pickens Stadium, this "jumpin' little juke joint" is famous for their fresh-cut cheese fries and annually-changing t-shirts.

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21. Duffy's Tavern 1412 O St, Lincoln, NE 68508

Grab your scuba gear 'cause this Cornhusker favorite has 29 different fishbowls.

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22. Faegan's Cafe & Pub 734 S Crouse Ave, Syracuse, NY 13210

Although Faegan's is a college bar, this family-owned establishment welcomes people of all ages. The menu supplies classic pub fare (fish 'n' chips, poutine, and burgers) 40 different types of beer, and a variety of wine.

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23. Knight Library 11448 University Blvd, Orlando, FL 32817

Just like your neighborhood froyo joint, card-holding Knight Library guests get an assortment of discounts depending on the number of times they visit, like a waived cover charge or 10% back.

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24. Local Whiskey 107 E Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801

This cocktail bar serves up over 200 types of whiskey and keeps their kitchen open until 2am, guaranteeing a very delicious late night. Be sure to order the fries, which come in two sizes: plate and tray.

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25. Crunchy's 254 W Grand River Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823

Come for the Crunchy Burger, stay for the 270 ounce bucket of beer.

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26. Top of the Stairs 217 College Ave, Blacksburg, VA 24060

Hokies have been flocking to this bar—affectionately called "Tots"—since 1978 for their signature drink, the Rail. If main room gets too stuffy, guests can head over to the outdoor wraparound porch.

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27. Bourbon Street 333 E Broad St, Athens, GA 30601

Dance on tables, fall off tables. Ask for the funnel behind the bar. This Athens dive truly lives up to its name.

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28. Pavlov's 2000B Greene St, Columbia, SC 29205

It doesn't matter that Ivan Pavlov, the dive's namesake, was a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist. What's important is the $1 liquor special.

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29. Proud Larry's 211 S Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655

Proud Larry's has live music almost everyday and a menu that offers pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.

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30. Casey Moore's Oyster House 850 S Ash Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281

Not quite a college bar and not quite a restaurant, Casey Moore's Oyster House mirrors the Irish pubs across the pond that serve great food offer great craic.

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31. Rennie's Landing 1214 Kincaid St, Eugene, OR 97401

Perhaps the greatest thing about Rennie’s Landing in Eugene is that it is a bar in a house, and a “historic” house at that. The two-story drinkery, located in the home of owner and namesake John Rennie, has been a University of Oregon watering hole since 1981 and is known for its killer libations, particularly the spiked lemonade with orange- and raspberry-flavored vodkas. Rennie’s Landing is comfortable and casual; 14 beers on tap and a variety of burgers made with locally raised, grass fed beef ensure high spirits and full stomachs at all times, particularly during its extensive happy hours. Pro tip: check out the upstairs deck, where you’ll find not only fresh air but also a flat-screen TV. Priorities, right?

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32. Shenanigans 12595 Sollace M Freeman Hwy, Sewanee, TN 37375

Although the name suggests a bit of rambunctiousness, Shenanigans is casual, charming bar and restaurant with a family-friendly atmosphere.