Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
Pirates CoveAddress and Info
Nothing cools you down on a hot Alabama afternoon like a nice cold Bushwacker. Or, if you’re at Pirates Cove, like five nice cold Bushwackers and a daylong boat party. One of America’s best beach bars is best accessed by water, mostly because the party inside is but a fraction of the insanity going on in the water nearby. Alabamians and Gulf Coast visitors float pontoons right to the front, order their Bushwackers, and commence with one of the biggest weekly boat parties in the south. Complete with waterslides, an off-leash dog area, and a burger that we assume tastes just as delicious sober.
Chilkoot CharliesAddress and Info
Though the last frontier has plenty of rustic, rowdy watering holes filled with salty fisherman, this sprawling log cabin houses ten different bars and is easily Alaska’s nightlife highlight. Koot’s, as its been rebranded, has an ice bar, a Russian-themed vodka bar, a huge back patio, and nearly 1,000 seats. But the highlight is the Bird House, a nail-for-nail recreation of the legendary roadhouse of the same name, that burned down in 1996. Fifteen years later, Koot’s then-owner Mike Gordon painstakingly recreated Bird House inside his own bar, complete with the inch-thick underwear and business cards taped to the wall. Stepping inside is like traveling back to even-more-lawless 1970s Alaska, where loud music, stiff drinks, and colorful characters ruled the night.
Monkey PantsAddress and Info
If you think the concept of a monkey wearing pants is whimsical, fun, a little weird, and maybe even semi-uncomfortable… you've pretty much captured the essence of this bar. And coincidentally, Monkey Pants' most legendary feature is entirely about losing your shirt: Every night at 1am, you'll have the chance to buy any shot for a mere $1.01, and all you have to do is take your shirt off (this applies to everyone, fellas). This longtime Phoenix favorite has all the trappings of a traditionally fun bar (weekend karaoke that gets a little wild, some truly goofy trivia, a wall full of wonky Polaroids, a late-night kitchen to line your stomach), with added quirks like a weekly fish race -- which is exactly what it sounds like. This is a bar filled with twists and turns that make it more endearing than annoying, and more comfortable than off-putting. No easy feat. Especially whilst shirtless.
The White Water TavernAddress and Info
This unassuming brown-wood two-story neighborhood joint does everything you need a bar to do, and little else. It’s the best pretense-free venue for blues and indie folk rock and jazzy funk on the Interstate between Memphis and Dallas: A $5 or $7 cover will get you into an intimate room with bands you’d pay five or 10 times as much to see in a bigger city, and they’re playing on a stage all of 6 inches high, and you’re standing at nearly eye level or perched just above, sitting on the carpeted staircase that ascends to a lofted attic-nook with a couple of pool tables. The addition of a fenced-in backyard full of picnic tables on gravel made it easier to stick around for whole sets without feeling the cigarette smoke slowly dry out your eyeballs. You can buy beers for a palmful of quarters, Christmas lights unironically set a snug mood, cobwebs festoon every corner, and you’re probably standing beneath a canoe. God, the $3 pitcher nights. The lithe Hendrix grads in tank tops. The after-shaved state leg nerds rocking with sweat-stained shirts and ties swaying. There is one legitimate holiday on the calendar every year, and it is the autumn Saturday when Daylight Saving Time rewinds you to 1am when the clock strikes 2. If you are here when that hour strikes, you get to Groundhog Day the chillest, happiest hour of your week, or maybe of your ever.
Bar NoneAddress and Info
If you find yourself really missing college while in San Francisco, head to this underground cavern packed with games, both of the air hockey/foosball variety and also, more importantly, beer pong, flip cup, and other exercises in drinking and dubious athleticism that likely sapped a point or two from your GPA. The smell of stale beer is strong. The state of the bathrooms is questionable. The bouncers' ability to deal with disputes over game results and table possession is impressive. The fact that they offer darts in here is nothing short of remarkable.
Sundown SaloonAddress and Info
If you want to catch the vibes of Sundown Saloon, picture the platonic ideal of a college dive. Now, imagine that dive had just some ate an entire batch of some of the headiest, mind-enhancing sativa-infused hard candies that Boulder's resident dispensaries have to offer. That's pretty much what we have going on here. Yes, the beers are cheap. Sure, they come in pitchers. There are definitely Christmas lights lining the ceilings, and more often than not a garage band wailing in the corner. It's a destination for CU students looking to get rowdy, and Boulder townies looking to... well, also get rowdy. This is one of the bars where the appeal is seemingly basic, but just needs to be felt to be appreciated. It's hard not to have a good time here. And that's not just the weed talking.
BARAddress and Info
To those in-the-know about New Haven's pizza prowess, it should come as no surprise that the city's best bar also serves one of the best (dark horse) pies around. But this isn't the charming mom-and-pop eating environment provided by the rest of the city's apizza purveyors -- it's full of sweaty revelers, thumping bass, and more good times than you can shake a pizza peel at (not advised in such crowded quarters). That's because BAR is not just a restaurant, but also: a dance club, an indie music venue, the location of multiple bars, and a fine microbrewery. Yeah, it's pretty much a one-stop night out for most. Just don't sleep on the mashed potato pizza. Literally though, don't sleep on it -- a night spent dancing and drinking at BAR is sure to take a lot of you.
Bottle & CorkAddress and Info
Delaware gets a bad rap for being a little... innocuous. Which is a polite way to say "super-boring." But don't tell that to the purveyors of the self-described "Best Rock n Roll Bar in the World" (it actually says that on the front of the building). Bottle & Cork is a mash-up of a high-energy bar scene, and a small-ish concert venue. And they actually attract some major talent, skewing mostly toward country music up-and-comers and bands you probably "expanded your mind" to in high school (think Coheed and Cambria playing one weekend, with Lee Brice the next). But the so-called "vibes" in the music venue -- and the accompanying bar -- are extremely positive, despite the tsunami-esque swells of people that pack into this Dewey Beach institution literally every day of every summer. The only drama is potentially running out of Orange Crushes on the dance floor.
Flora-BamaAddress and Info
Florida’s wildest bar isn’t even completely in Florida, but since legally this stateline landmark sits in the Sunshine State, it’s an easy pick for Florida. It’s best experienced at the annual Mullet Toss, where dead-serious competitors toss fish across the beach to see who can throw farthest. On other nights, this bar is a maze of a roadhouse where every staircase leads to another jam-packed room with a different band playing country and southern rock. The crowd is a convergence of rednecks, military, and spring breakers drawn by the cheap beer and cold drinks. But like any good southerner, on Sunday it’s all about church. On Sunday Mornings the bar hosts two church services, and yes, you can buy a drink and sip it in the pews.
Sister Louisa'sAddress and Info
Understandably, Sister Louisa's is often abbreviated as such (or simply as "church") from its full name: "Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room and Ping-Pong Emporium." Those with an acute sensitivity to sacrilege may find this particular church isn't for them, but anyone not particularly bothered by a painting of Jesus enjoying a beer (they're by the owner, and for sale!) will find an eclectic mix of people packing the house to enjoy some cold beer and sweaty ping-pong. Oh, and for something we're pretty sure you've never done anywhere else, Wednesday nights are for church organ karaoke -- don't worry, choir robes are provided.
Arnold's Beach BarAddress and Info
Finding cheap drinks in the middle of one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations is like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet after a juice cleanse. You’re probably going to overdo it. This is why the wildest times to be had in Hawaii are at this little dive tucked away on a sidestreet off Kalakaua Avenue. By day it’s a mild-mannered tiki bar where $5 mai tais are the norm. But then one $5 drink turns into a multitude of $5 drinks because, hey, you’re paying triple anywhere else. And by the time the live music starts at night people have been sitting there all day. Locals also know where to drink cheap, so nighttime brings a collection of hard-drinking locals and the type of tourists who don’t mind spending all day in a bar. It all creates conversations, interactions, and general lunacy that’s a much-welcomed break from the tourist traps of Waikiki.
Corner ClubAddress and Info
Long before Toby Keith, Moscow’s Corner Club -- legend has it -- was a place where one could order “beer for my horses.” Among the tiny, perpetually cramped University of Idaho Vandals haunt’s many legends is the story of a patron ordering two beers, then immediately giving one to his horse outside. There are generations worth of tales both tall and true that span this joint’s 80-year-history, and a new legend can spring up anytime. That’ll happen when you combine locals, college kids, and cowboys into a place that serves beers by the tub, where there’s never a game on that doesn’t illicit rowdiness, and where the shuffleboard table is always in use. Chugging contests are a constant. Camaraderie is in abundance. This is a place where people pack in like sardines to cultivate their own lore. Some involve championship-level drinking sheep. Just ask the bartender.
The Hangge-UppeAddress and Info
Chicago only hands out a finite number of 4am liquor licenses, so the bars that carry them are pretty much promised a slew of revelers who start trickling in at about 1:30 looking to keep the party going. None of said bars deliver quite like The Hangge-Uppe, whose old-timey record-laden marquee serves as the beacon that summons revelers to a bi-level debauched dance party that leans more contemporary on the upper level. Make your way into the labyrinthine basement, however, and you'll find yourself belting out the likes of Eddie Money and Billy Joel until you find yourself making out with some stranger you met in the interminably long bathroom line. No one will notice.
Neon CactusAddress and Info
An imbibing institution located in a strip mall not far from Purdue's campus, the Cactus draws in all manner of greater Lafayette denizens looking to get the most value out of their massive plastic Cactus cups filled with seemingly irresponsibly cheap quantities of Long Island iced tea or whatever other beverage you're going with that evening. Earlier in the evenings, you may find occasionally profane piano man Bruce presiding over the proceedings in the separate piano bar, then later on the place turns more dance-y, or at least whatever level of dancing one is capable of after multiple refills of a giant plastic cocktail trough.
Fong's Pizza and Tiki BarAddress and Info
First of all: we, as a society, do not have nearly enough hybrid pizzeria tiki bars. We especially don't have enough places like Fong's, where hordes of Iowans gather in varying stages of sobriety to partake in kamikaze shots while wearing restaurant-provided fighter pilot helmets, suck down huge fishbowls of brightly colored booze with reckless abandon, attempt to counterbalance said fishbowl with several slices of crab rangoon pizza (tastes as good as it sounds), and pay for it all dearly the next morning.
The SandbarAddress and Info
This "landlocked beach bar" realizes that even states as utterly devoid of sho`reline as Kansas need a taste of something tropical, maybe more than any of us. The crowd runs the gamut from KU students to old timers. The drinks are occasionally adorned with rubber ducks or sharks (don't worry the "blood" is just grenadine). And the "hurricane" that reliably rolls in every night at 10pm is just a mix of man-made "wind", "rain", and "lighting" presided over by a woman in mermaid garb dancing on the bar. Pro tip: cover your drink.
Magnolia BarAddress and Info
While the sign indicates you're about to enter "Magnolia Bar & Grill," if you're expecting a lovely cobb salad and a family-friendly atmosphere, you've come to the wrong place. However, Mag Bar (its proper name) will provide you with cheap beer, a punk-heavy jukebox when there isn't a live band rendering said box irrelevant, and the horrifying realization that it's 3am on a Monday night and you really need to go home, if only to use the bathroom, as you somehow still haven't consumed enough liquid courage to venture into theirs.
The Club Ms. Mae'sAddress and Info
Louisiana was a particularly difficult pick, as it seems like the entire city is one big, welcoming watering hole without walls, covers, or dress codes. But the Club Ms. Maes -- aside from having a delightfully tickling name -- captures the intangibles that separate it from the rest of the revelry on Magazine Street. Is it a little more low-key, and less "bead-throwy" than other spots? Sure. But in a town where party bars live on every corner, a chill-yet-exciting, 24/7 dive bar with cheap beer (like, "bottles for $1.50" cheap), a no-frills, a locals-only vibe, and more endearing charm than Drew Brees' birthmark goes a long way. The doors are always open. The drinks are always super strong. And the floor and stools are always filled with people looking to consume some alcohol and have a good time till they literally have to physically stop. What more could you ask for?
OasisAddress and Info
Maine may rarely, if ever, reach desert-like temperatures, but you won't have time to ponder such incongruencies at Portland's most perpetually buzzing bar, what with the giant Jenga and Connect Four happening on the main floor, the live music and also-giant "beer pong" (think dodgeballs and buckets) going down on the back patio when it isn't snow-covered, and the debauched dancing happening on the more club-like upper level. Because who doesn't consider a Jenga victory, a little throwback Mario Kart (they have that too), and some mutually consensual grinding with friendly Mainers to be the components of a perfect evening? Oh, one more component: cheap 24-ounce beer cans in paper bags.
SeacretsAddress and Info
Have you ever downed beer in a pimped out inner tube under a summer sun, floating in Assawoman Bay (hehe), surrounded by 200 strangers who just might become your best friend, should your tubes happen to touch? Seacrets Jamaica USA (yes, that's a confusing name, so most people just call it Seacrets) is a full blast of Spring Break shenanigans in the center of Ocean City, Maryland. If you've never been to OCMD, it's basically the mid-Atlantic's answer to Panama City, Florida -- and Seacrets is the tropical-accented center of all the fun. It's a tiki bar, a nightclub, a music venue, and a beach bar, experly rolled into a surprisingly un-douchey package. You will see the occasional meathead handing out tickets to his own personal gun show (sigh), as you will anywhere that shirtlessness is tolerated. But the overall vibes of the bar are ultra-inclusive, and comfortable for anyone who is willing to rock a bathing suit. Even Grandma. Who would definitely appreciate the inner tubes.
Hong KongAddress and Info
One can't imagine that -- when the Hong Kong was founded in Cambridge in 1954 -- its founders knew that over the next 64 years, their humble Harvard University-adjacent restaurant would be transformed into the three-tiered palace of debauchery it is today. Its more farsighted guests start on the first floor, padding their stomachs with hot & sour soup and beef & broccoli, only to continue to the second floor to mingle over drinks (that's code for sharing multiple scorpion bowls full of alcohol while raucously laughing) before inevitably shedding their inhibitions on the gigantic, laser-filled dance floor upstairs. Of course, you could be forgiven for unwinding the opposite way, as many Boston-area residents have found themselves doing on Sunday morning at 3am. And as funny as it is to imagine intense conversations about physics and philosophy happening next to straightforward observations on the alcohol content of certain rum cocktails, it's definitely happened here. And it always guarantees an entertaining evening.
Whiskey in the JarAddress and Info
As you might expect from a Polish bar that shares its name with a legendary Irish drinking song: this place embraces those who like to imbibe. In fact, if you're a first timer you'll be greeted with a gratis shot of Jezynowka (that's Polish blackberry brandy), and if you want more, the shots here are, shall we say, priced to sell. It's the kind of hospitality that draws an eclectically diverse crowd that ensures an equally diverse soundtrack on the jukebox, helping you pass the time in the darkness until you come to, riding a bike home and arriving at the abrupt realization that you do not own a bike. Still, good times.
CC ClubAddress and Info
Every city has its legendary dives, but not every city's legendary dive can claim to have been David Carr's go-to watering hole in his fledgling journalist days or the place where Tom Arnold threw after-hours parties when he lived across the street. There was some trepidation a few years back when a local organic grocer bought the iconic punk bar, but other than edging the menu in a slightly more edible direction, they've mercifully left the place largely alone and maintained its appeal to an eclectic clientele with the shared need of the kind of place that beckons you to order one more round even though it's 1:30am on a Tuesday.
Nick's Ice HouseAddress and Info
There’s an old joke that says you don’t drink light beer, you rent it. So some of the weaker-bladdered among us might get excited when they see the bar stools at this venerable University of Southern Mississippi watering hole since they are, in fact, topped with toilet seats. Make no mistake, though, they’re not operative and you’ll still need to navigate your way to the sticky-floored restrooms. We say navigate because the place gets uncomfortably packed with college kids and cheap-beer-loving locals, all screaming at each other over live music that plays nearly every weekend. “Ice house” might seem like an ironic name for a bar that, on some nights, can feel like the Mississippi delta in the height of summer. But the bar is attached to an actual functioning ice house, and also runs a successful moving service.
Beatnik Bob'sAddress and Info
Unlike so many other so-called St. Louis party bars -- that may or may not look like a Nelly video circa '02 -- this bar sacrifices any semblance of traditional cool to just get plain weird. Firstly, it's located inside the City Museum. And while that doesn't usually scream "good time," Bob's defies the odds with batshit crazy art and tsotchkes lacing every inch of the space, quirky cocktails served under an array of multicolored lights, a fridge full of cheap brews, live garage bands that almost peel all the batshit crazy art off the walls, and a general air of "anything goes" inclusivity that comes with a crowd drawing from all walks of life, simply seeking a good time. It may not be the first bar you think of when you think of going hard in St. Louis -- but it almost certainly should be. And it's definitely the best place to get weird.
The Sip 'n Dip LoungeAddress and Info
Great Falls is, by all accounts, a town defined by its big box stores and no-bullshit mindset. Which makes it all the more jarring that it’s also home to the treasure that is the Sip 'n Dip. Hidden within the O’Haire Motor Inn, this is a paragon of gloriously kitschy tiki culture, a place where blowfish hang from the ceiling and a legion of mermaids swim by the window by the bar, doing flips and twirls as patrons suck down ultra-sugary tropical drinks despite the sub-arctic temps outside during the winter, all to the rousing Top 40 takes of 85-year-old “Piano” Pat Spoonheim. About those mermaids: local lore has it that Splash star Daryl Hannah once even donned a tail and went to work in this place. This bar is a certified legend of camp and sloshy glee hidden in the most unexpected of places, a bar that takes the definition of “wild” to soaringly OMG astonishment.
Barry'sAddress and Info
Barry's is nestled in the shadow of Memorial Stadium, but the madness here isn't confined to Husker game days (though a few Bloody Mary's out of a red plastic cup do make for an appropriate pre-game). The free-flowing booze here has occasionally landed the establishment in some legal hot water, and the service has been known to come and go, but there's still no better place in Lincoln to crowd yourself into an open-air rooftop and find yourself ready to fight some stranger over the reasons Eric Crouch didn't make it in the NFL.
Marquee Nightclub and DayclubAddress and Info
In a state whose largest city literally encourages people to do things they’ll never speak of again, you’ll find no shortage of places to have the wildest night of your life. But only one also gives you the ability to also have the wildest day of your life: Marquee at the Cosmopolitan. By night, it’s one of the best clubs in the world, with A-list DJs, beautiful people, bright lights, and no shortage of bad decisions. During the day, Marquee uses its swimming pool to host a destination pool party, where all those people who dressed to the nines at night strip down to almost nothing and dance like it’s 3am. Between the music, heat, and general lack of clothes at any hour, there’s a constant air of sex at Marquee. What with it being Vegas and all, some of the best stories you’ll never tell start here.
Portsmouth Gas LightAddress and Info
If your dad drove by the crowds lining up outside this spot inside the 1837 home of Portsmouth Gas and Light, he’d absolutely turn to you and say, “Boy, that place must be lit!” And though cringingly awful he’d also be right, as the third-floor nightclub here draws literal lines-around-the-block even when the New Hampshire weather isn’t ideal. Up there you’ll find the brief- strobe-lit moment where Portsmouth feels like South Beach, where bachelorette parties fill the VIP and New Hampshire nightlife amps up as far it’s getting. In the basement, wood-fired pizzas and cold beer flow freely in the pizza pub. Out back, you’ll find a sprawling back patio, where happy hours turn into all night affairs during the warm New England summers.
Bar AnticipationAddress and Info
What can we say about the Jersey Shore's Bar Anticipation (almost singularly referred to as "Bar A," by everyone who would actually go there) that hasn't already been screamed in the "Silent" car of an NJ Transit train at 3am between dry heaves and bites of pizza? It's one of the first things you see driving on the parkway into the Belmar/Lake Como/Spring Lake Golden Triangle of summer fun: a brick and mortar oasis flush with Orange Crushes and bathing suits. It's a beach bar. A dance club. A frat house filled with 50-year-olds in Jimmy Buffet visors. A live music venue adjacent to cabanas and beach volleyball courts. A concentrated hit of Spring Break. On Tuesdays in the summer, shore folk from all walks of life come to the legendary Beat the Clock -- where beers start at 50 cents, and tick up another quarter every hour. It's a race against time to have as much fun as possible... which is actually a pretty apt metaphor for Bar A's entire operation. Every second you spend at Bar A, the stakes are raised. The longer you linger, the more you'll like it. And the more you like it, the more your body will pay the price the next day. Because you never beat the clock, friends. The clock beats you.
SisterAddress and Info
In one corner of Sister, the sprawling New Mexico arcade/restaurant/dance hall/mega-bar, there's an enchanting mural of bigfoot and a chupacabra lovingly embracing each other. It's a little weird, but incredibly endearing. Which really encapsulates everything about Sister. This is a joint where you can snag a breakfast burrito at 11am… and really, never leave till they close their doors 15 hours later. You will spend your day snacking on Frito pies, playing pinball and classic arcade games, and sipping on $4 Tecates. When nighttime rolls around, you can dance your face off via one of their many theme nights (ska! soul!) or hope that one of your favorite indie bands is in town -- as Sister does attract some big time talent. Like the unabashed, forbidden love of two mythical beasts of urban legend, Sister is pure, weirdly fun, and maybe just a little bit naughty. But hey, it all totally works.
The Old PinkAddress and Info
Yeah, OK, there are any number of crazy spots in “the city” that can seriously bring the bedlam. But you know what makes a place go from “wild” to “completely batshit insane?” Put it in Buffalo, a city full of people who consider staying out until sunrise normal, and where they need something other than a football team to get them through winter. This massive, graffiti-covered dive in Allentown is the end-of-the-night choice for every discerning Buffalo drinker, where UB college kids cram in next to manufacturing workers, doctors take shots with off-duty cops, and nobody seems to care what anybody does or how much they make. The crescendo of crazy peaks around 3am, when the hordes leaving other, more-refined bars find their way here and drink cheap liquor to catch up with everyone else. By closing time at 4am, the crowd hasn’t thinned out much, with most of the people looking for where to keep the party going after the lights come on.
Official City Limits SaloonAddress and Info
Any bar whose tagline is “Raise Hell” is probably not a place to go for a quiet glass of wine after work. If said bar also includes a bikini bull riding contest, ditto. The bar that prides itself on being Raleigh’s country party bar brings an interesting combination of legitimate, Carolina country folk and Raleigh transplants looking to go native, who pack this two-level behemoth to catch lesser-known touring country acts. It still maintains a genuine, homey feel while drawing an attractive young crowd, a hotspot without the hotspot attitude. Even if country music isn’t your jam, it’s your best bet for a night out in Raleigh.
Herd and HornsAddress and Info
When you’re home to the greatest active dynasty in college football (six titles in seven years!), the bars in town are going to be one giant party from August to December. And yes, if you do make the pilgrimage to catch the North Dakota State Bison at the Fargodome, tailgating is a must. But if you can’t score a ticket or it’s just too damn cold to tailgate, you won’t find a better gameday experience than Herd and Horns. Here, Bison faithful pack the wood-lined walls, bringing the insanity that’s usually reserved for the parking lots indoors. The bar also sits directly across the street from campus, so even after football season it’s packed with NDSU students looking for the shortest stumbling-distance home. Though you might be able to find a rowdy roadhouse somewhere out in the prairies, it won’t match the energy and excitement that comes at a college bar with a dominant football team.
Mahall'sAddress and Info
Have you ever gone to a 6-year old's birthday party and thought: "This is OK. But I wish I was drinking. Oh, and also surrounded by a bunch of people who were drinking. Oh, and also I wish some local band would be playing in the corner?" If you said yes to all of the above -- congrats on being a fun person! Also, you should make a trip to Lakewood, Ohio, home of Mahall's, the vintage bowling alley/music venue hybrid that has all the excitement and overall rowdiness of a child's birthday party, with 100% more PBR. On first glance, this retro, refitted bowling alley might be pegged as just another "hipsterific" bar that stumbles over it's locally sourced bowling shoes while trying too hard to be cool. But there's a genuine spirit of anything goes, unpretentious fun that should quash any fear of too-cool-for-school condescension. Essentially, it's the best place to have a good time in Ohio. Even if you're not a bowler.
Edna'sAddress and Info
Edna's legendary namesake proprietor sadly passed away in 2014, depriving patrons of her habit of dancing on the bar to "Great Balls of Fire," but her legend lives on in the form of the lunchbox, a concoction of light beer, amaretto, and orange juice said to have been invented accidentally (they've sold more than 1.7 million since, according to the bar's own running tabulation). The signed dollar bills covering virtually every single conceivable inch of the bar speak to the history of the place, and the hordes of 20-somethings enjoying their first lunchbox right next to old-timers enjoying No. 500 or so speaks to its future.
Devil's PointAddress and Info
Portland has a strip-club scene unlike any other city: This is a town where hitting the strip club with friends -- male, female, binary, maternal -- is as common as waiting in line for brunch and rolling your eyes at Portlandia references. But in a city that hosts strip clubs as varied as a vampire-themed vegan joint and a steakhouse where the stages and tables are one in the same, Devil’s Point reigns supreme. The dark, red-lit place looks like a dungeon, complete with Dantean chains supporting the stage, but don’t be fooled: This is a friendly pit of hell, one where drinks are as modestly priced as the dancers are immodest. It’s also the home of an annual bikini pet wash and weekly Stripperoke, a must-do Portland combination of kink and camp where karaoke singers belt out their songs of choice as dancers do their thing. There are also occasional shows, including a recent surprise appearance by Eagles of Death Metal, who played the tiny club at the behest of friend and Portlander Danger Ehren, the city’s resident Jackass alum and a regular at the bar. Crazy? Yes. But also just another night at Devil’s Point.
Tiki LoungeAddress and Info
Ah, Pittsburgh's notorious South Side: a street unlike any other in America, where you're never more than three feet away from a crowded bar… and a pile of vomit. The Steel City's designated party area -- for better or worse -- certainly holds a mixed reputation among locals, with some residents dying to get there every weekend, with others dying to avoid the frat-tastic vibes and penchant for random fisticuffs. Consider the Tiki Lounge the ideal South Side destination for both camps, and everyone in between. Yes, it's located deep in the heart of the South Side. But no, it's not objectively awful for anyone legally old enough to rent a car. The tropical decor is top notch, the tiki drinks are some of the best cocktails you can snag in between the Three Rivers, and the dance floor is filled with more than just bros looking to grind with as many Yinzer chicks as possible. But the real beauty of the Tiki Bar lies in its many, many (and I really mean many) secluded nooks and crannies. Don't be surprised to find multiple couples making out behind one of this bar's numerous indoor waterfalls. And don't be surprised if you find yourself there in an hour, doing the same thing.
DuskAddress and Info
Providence, Rhode Island is most certainly a college town. Dusk -- the most fun bar in said college town -- is certainly not a college bar. It's a nightclub skewed towards the metal/hardcore scene with an ambiance fit for Nosferatu. It's a jet black oasis of unabashed positive energy floating in a see of fratty bars and Irish pubs. Understandably, this type of setting may seem a little intimidating for some. But fear not (despite the overall theme of "fear" this place exudes), this bar/venue is one of the most welcoming, warm, and inclusive wells of fun and camaraderie in our Nation's smallest state. Don't abandon all hope, ye who enter dusk. If you like (or can even stand) the music, you're guaranteed to have a wildly good time.
Suck, Bang, BlowAddress and Info
This bar is named after the sound a motorcycle makes when it starts up, obviously, and boasts 40,000 square feet of biker-filled mayhem and ground zero for all things rally-related in Myrtle Beach. The two-level palace creates a venerable wall of black leather on crowded days, spanning two acres and 17 bars, all tended by women who look like they just stepped off the pages of 1980s biker mag. In a good way. If you’re not into noise, this place isn’t for you, as during rallies – and even not – its burnout pit is an endless stream of revving engines and burning tires. Though Suck, Bang, Blow gets rowdy, it rarely turns violent, and if you want to see what one of the great American biker bars looks like without fearing for your personal safety, this is the place to do it.
Full Throttle SaloonAddress and Info
During the Sturgis motorcycle rally, nearly every bar within 100 miles of the city becomes a glorious hive of scum and villainy as the state’s population nearly doubles with the addition of bikers on boozy pilgrimage. And while there are certainly less-known places to get rowdy with biker gangs, there is none more iconic -- we’re talking six seasons of a docu-series on Tru TV iconic -- than the Full Throttle Saloon, smack in the middle of a thousands-deep campground. Rightly dubbed “the world’s biggest biker bar,” this seasonal spot opens for the rally and basically turns into an orgy of wild, depraved insanity that would give Hunter S. Thompson an ulcer, one where shots flow endlessly, the mechanical bull is ridden toplessly, and rival bikers are just as likely to hug as they are to throw down amid the deafening sound of revving engines and thousands of screaming revelers. There are races, concerts, fires, you name it... and there are cabins on site to ensure the party never ends. Basically, if Disneyland was full of sweaty bikers, leather bikini-clad women, and enough booze to fill nearby Sylvan Lake, it would be the Full Throttle.
Santa's PubAddress and Info
Becoming the most fun bar in a city awash with live music, party people, and copious amounts of cheap alcohol is no easy feat. But the seemingly unassuming Santa's Pub has done exactly that, largely on the strength of super cheap beers, nightly karaoke that inevitably turns into a decibel-shattering sing-along, raucous live bands -- oh, and being situated in a freakin' double-wide trailer stuffed to the gills with Christmas memorabilia doesn't hurt the charm. The tables are plastic. The patrons have zero pretension. And its exceedingly hard not to hang out here all night and have a good time. It's honestly as if your slightly redneck cousin decided to have the world's most fun house party. Every. Single. Night. And keep your eyes peeled for the occasional big-time crooner, showing up late-night to sing some hits amongst the commoners. It happens.
BarabarellaAddress and Info
In a city where bad decision bars have their own dedicated street, Barbarella stands apart as a monument to wringing the absolute last drops of fun from your night. This sprawling Downtown spot connects with Swan Dive next door via the giant patio out back, so you're technically getting into two bars at once, and while the drinks are always cheap (in both price and flavor), the music and vibe at Barbs depends largely on what themed night you visit -- Jimmy Eat Wednesday differs from TuezGayz, which differs from Grits 'n Gravy, and so on. Yes, the bar technically closes at 2am (this is Texas after all), but the dance party usually keeps going for another hour afterward, giving revelers ample time to sweat off their buzz and make the kind of lasting social connections they came for in the first place.
Funk 'n DiveAddress and Info
Finding anything that resembles “wild” in a state where draft beers are capped at 4% and closing time is 1am can be tough. The historic Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville was as wild as the wild west got and is definitely worth a visit, but these days is a little lacking on late-night lunacy. Instead, head to nearby-Ogden’s only true basement bar, where dueling pianos give way to girls dancing on tables as the night stretches into the wee hours of 12:30am. Bikers, divorcees, and solid sampling of Utah’s counterculture make up a crowd that knows the best way to party in America’s weirdest drinking state is doing shots and pounding high-ABV bottled beer. Its underground locale sits not far from Ogden’s Prohibition tunnels, and because it feels hidden the patrons feel a little less inhibited. It’s a welcomed dose of crazy in a state that can be maddeningly sane.
Red SquareAddress and Info
You might picture your average Vermonter as a syrup-guzzlin', NPR-supportin', beanie-wearin' outdoor enthusiast. And you aren't wrong! But they do know how to have fun -- specifically in the crunchy college town of Burlington, where the Red Square has developed a reputation as the college bar people actually want to go to after they snag their diplomas. The Red Square, with its eclectic (but always dance-y) music selection, surprisingly good live bands, cheap beers, and overall air of unchained revelry, acts like a magnet for fun-seekers in Burlington: everyone out and about is drawn to the Red Square at one point or another in the night. Can it get a little "bro-y" in there? Sure. But sometimes, you can look past a few pairs of plaid shorts in the name of a good time.
Rainbow Cactus CompanyAddress and Info
Virginia Beach doesn't have the same "party-town" cache as an OCMD, or Seaside Heights, for example. But sometimes you just need to scratch the surface, and find out that one of the most fun LGBTQ bars in the entire Eastern Seaboard is sitting right in VB's proverbial lap. The Rainbow Cactus Company (which sounds like an educational, public access children's TV show... but definitely is not) is known for being ultra-inclusive, having incredibly strong drinks, and interspersing some of the most enjoyable dance parties on the right side of the Mississippi with wildly entertaining drag shows that will even occasionally feature performers from RuPaul's Drag Race. There's something going on almost every night here: from male dancers, to karaoke, to paint night, and... yes, more drag shows. Bottom line: You will never be bored at the Rainbow Cactus Company. And we hope they never change a thing.
UnicornAddress and Info
Like the mythical creature that shares the bar's name, Unicorn is truly legendary in its aptitude at creating a fun, loud, and stimulating bar environment, without sacrificing any sense of friendliness. If Pee Wee Herman, Willy Wonka, and P.T. Barnum decided to give it all up and open a bar, it would probably look like Unicorn, the underground speakeasy-ish, carnival-themed bar that has gradually turned into one of the truly best times in the Emerald City, or anywhere, really. There's carnival games and themed Jell-O shots (try the My Little Pony, or the aptly named Unicorn Jizz for good luck) and an overall sense of whimsical inclusion that could break the shell of every introvert looking to imbibe for a night. And if all this delightful info isn't selling you, consider that Seattle All-Star Macklemore shot part of his video for "Thrift Shop" here. Which is a good thing. Presumably.
H Street Country ClubAddress and Info
Not everyone has the money or the status for a membership at one of the Beltway's elite country clubs, but everyone can scratch together a few dollars for a round of booze-fueled mini-golf. HSCC's abbreviated second-floor indoor course is definitely the bar's centerpiece, but it's hardly the only attraction. Between the Skee-Ball and the shuffleboard and the roof deck, it's no surprise that this place is perpetually gridlocked, but in a fun "wow everyone had the same day drinking plans today" way rather than a lame, congressional-type way. After enough beer and tacos you won't even mind the Chad in front of you alternating between networking and taking his mini golf game WAY too seriously.
Bent Willey'sAddress and Info
What's the big appeal of Bent Willey's? Basically, it's everything you want out of a late-night, rowdy bar, rolled into a tight little party burrito. You have the dance club. You have an outdoor area. You have the arcade games and pool tables if you need a recreational break from all the madness. And you even have a pizza shop included in the building to line your stomach beforehand... or to make sure you don't end up lining your toilet the next morning, after. Just be warned: this is definitely a college bar -- don't get it twisted. But if you are going to go to any college bar, in any college town, you could do a lot worse than Bent Willey's in Morgantown. It's like a college bar on steroids... and a couple shots of good ol' fashioned Appalachian moonshine (which they don't serve, unfortunately).
Jo-Cat's PubAddress and Info
Are you in Milwaukee? Do you enjoy drinking? Look behind you, because there is a 100% chance you're standing in front of a tavern right now. But what if you're looking for the kind of bar that feels like an overwhelmed house party, complete with a questionable amount of personal space? What if you're looking for the kind of place where a large man pushes past you, and you're like, "Does he play for the Packers? Should I say something?" (He does, and no, you shouldn't). You'll navigate your way upstairs. It's still crowded. But you have a beer now. You have another. The bar feels less crowded. The music seems to keep getting better. You lose track of time. By the time you come to the next morning, you're just grateful you live in a state that happens to be legendary when it comes to Bloody Marys.
The Buckhorn BarAddress and Info
Established in downtown Laramie in 1900, the Buck, as it's known by locals, has been home to generations of cowboys, hustlers, derelicts, and college kids who come to drink among one of the most impressive and bizarre collections of townies and taxidermy in America. The Buckhorn has changed little over the years, but can change drastically depending on the day and time you visit. Open 8am to 2am, by day the Buck is peopled by big Western characters full of bullshit and whiskey. Nights you'll tend to find lively local music, or college dance parties, depending on the day of the week. No matter when you stop by you'll see one of the Buck's defining scars, a bullet hole left in the mirror behind the bar in 1971 by a lovesick patron who squeezed off a round at the bartender but, presumably due to the strongly made drinks, harmlessly missed its mark.