The Most Beloved Dive Bar in Every State (How Many Have You Visited?)

Discover the heart and soul of America, one dive bar at a time.

People cheering in a bar
Updated May 28, 2024
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Dive bars are a staple no matter where you are in the U.S.

There’s nothing like a fun night on the town with good friends, cheap drinks, and some bar food to help you keep more money in your wallet.

If you’re hoping to hit up a fun (or famed) local dive while traveling, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular and beloved dive bars in each state.

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Alabama: The Nick (Birmingham)

Mirko Vitali/Adobe Happy friends toasting beer

Known as “Birmingham’s dirty little secret,” The Nick is a great place to grab a drink and a live show, whether you avoid the foolish mistakes that can come with going to a bar or not!

The bar books a large range of acts, and guests can catch a show almost every night of the week. Plus, it’s open until at least 4 a.m. every weekday and until 6 a.m. on weekends.

Alaska: Darwin's Theory (Anchorage)

luciano/Adobe Beers cheers with popcorn

A much-loved dive bar in Anchorage, Darwin’s Theory is a hit with both tourists and locals.

The dive is the “world’s biggest seller” of Cinnamon Schnapps — but there are plenty of other cheap drinks to choose from (plus free popcorn).

Arizona: Bikini Lounge (Phoenix)

fesenko/Adobe Bartender girl serving alcoholic cocktail

For more than half a century, this dimly lit (there are no windows) tiki-inspired bar has been a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Patrons can count on cheap, strong drinks — just make sure you bring cash.

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Arkansas: Midtown Billiards (Little Rock)

BGStock72/Adobe Young people playing pool

Midtown Billiards may just be the most famous dive bar in Arkansas and for a good reason.

Late-night guests can pop in for pool, music, good conversation, and legendary burgers — and they can stay until 5 a.m. when the dive closes.

California: Tiki-Ti (Los Angeles)

Jasmina/Adobe Friends group cheering mojito drinks

A beloved tiki-themed lounge open since 1961, the family-owned and operated Tiki-Ti offers a bright, fantastically decorated atmosphere.

Creative drink concoctions include the “Zombie” and the “Vicious Virgin,” which keep locals and visitors returning to the Sunset Boulevard dive.

Colorado: The Lion's Lair (Denver)

shishkin137/Adobe Golden beer taps at the bar

The Lion’s Lair has been around for nearly a century, though it’s gone through many name changes, including the Playboy Club and the Aladdin Lounge.

Guests have come to the club for years to enjoy live music and cheap drinks. The club typically has entertainment every night of the week.

Connecticut: Cuppy’s Cafe (Shelton)

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Cheerful friends toasting with drinks

A fun neighborhood bar on Coram Avenue, Cuppy’s Cafe, got a bit of a revamping during the COVID-19 lockdown.

It still stayed true to its dive roots, however. Guests can enjoy great drinks, delicious fare, and live music.

Delaware: Kelly’s Logan House (Wilmington)

Isabella/Adobe Tap stout beer

Kelly’s Logan House, in Trolley Square, is the oldest Irish pub in the state and has been serving drinks to locals since the mid-1800s.

The pub is well-known for fantastic food (including happy hour and brunch menus), great drinks, and live entertainment.

Florida: The Wreck Bar (Fort Lauderdale)

Ozgur Coskun/Adobe Anchor of wine corks

The Wreck Bar, located inside the B Ocean Resort, offers a unique experience with tiki-inspired cocktails, great seafood, and nautical decor that resembles a shipwreck.

Large portholes behind the bar look into the hotel’s pool — and, if you time it right, you may even catch a mermaid show.

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Georgia: The Clermont Lounge (Atlanta)

Marino Bocelli/Adobe group of people celebrating in a pub

The Clermont Lounge is Atlanta’s oldest strip club and a famed dive bar.

It’s located in the basement of the Clermont Motor Hotel and offers cheap drinks, endless entertainment, and even theme nights — like Tuesday karaoke and disco Saturdays.

Hawaii: Hula's Bar and Lei Stand (Honolulu)

danang/Adobe Table with a tiki beach bar

A famed gay bar that attracts locals and visitors to Hawaii’s capital, Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand has served great drinks, delicious grub, and live music for nearly 50 years.

The bar is located within Waikiki Grand Hotel and is partially open-air, giving guests a beautiful view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach.

Idaho: Broadway Bar (Boise) Diverse people hang out pub

A true dive in every sense of the word, Broadway Bar offers cheap drinks and a great environment for those looking for a laid-back night (or happy hour).

The bar’s Facebook page is full of reviews touting its great food, great people, and great times.

Illinois: Richard's Bar (Chicago)

Hoda Bogdan/Adobe Barman creating signature drink

On North Milwaukee Avenue, guests can find fun, delightful ambiance, and plenty of cheap drinks at Richard’s Bar any night of the week.

The bar also makes its own spirits, and visitors can sample their premium bourbon, gin, and vodka. And on Saturday nights, the beloved dive stays open until 3 a.m.

Indiana: Alley Cat Lounge (Indianapolis)

puhhha/Adobe Men drinking beer

The Alley Cat Lounge is one of many dives in the hip Broad Ripple area and, as its name suggests, is located down a dark alley.

Whether you’re looking to play pool, down some cheap drinks, and enjoy an array of classic dive dining (or all three), the Alley Cat has you covered.

Iowa: Carl's Place (Des Moines)

pavel siamionov/Adobe two glass of beer

Located in Des Moines’ Sherman Hill neighborhood, Carl’s place advertises itself as “on the way home from absolutely everywhere.”

In addition to cheap drinks and a great atmosphere, the bar also hosts bingo nights, live music, and more.

Kansas: Harry's Bar & Tables (Kansas City)

Davide Angelini/Adobe Bartender pouring alcohol

In the heart of Westport, Harry’s Bar & Tables is a much-loved spot with great cocktails, good food, and a large patio & deck bar.

Harry’s is also a great place to grab some late-night grub, as the kitchen stays open until 1:30 a.m. every night and offers a late-night happy hour.

Kentucky: The Back Door (Louisville)

Hoda Bogdan/Adobe Barman hand at beer tap

The Back Door Bar & Grille is in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood and is known for its friendly atmosphere, great drinks, and a plethora of bar games (from pool and Skee-Ball to video golf). 

Plus, it stays open until 4 a.m. every night.

Louisiana: Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge (New Orleans)

Useekate/Adobe Friends cheering beer glasses

Of all the dives in New Orleans, Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge truly stands out.

A bit off the beaten path, this delightful watering hole provides an ideal, no-frills (and no lights, except a few strings of Christmas lights) dive experience.

There are no fancy cocktails, but expect the dive classic (a beer and a shot) aplenty.

Maine: Geno's Rock Club (Portland)

Nastya Tepikina/Adobe Guitarist

A staple in the Portland area since it opened in the 1980s, Geno’s Rock Club is the go-to spot for live music.

The venue focuses mainly on punk and metal, but visitors can check out acts of all sorts at the bar, which is open seven days a week.

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Maryland: Ottobar (Baltimore)

pololia/Adobe Man playing guitar

Ottobar is Baltimore’s longest-running music venue, providing the area with great entertainment since 1997.

The bar’s lineup is quite eclectic — from karaoke nights to nationally touring bands to comedy shows and burlesque nights. Rumor has it drinks are cheap, too.

Massachusetts: The Silhouette Lounge (Allston)

Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe Smiling bearded male

Whether you’re looking for cheap drinks, live music, or playing a few games of pool or pinball, the Silhouette Lounge in Allston is what one might refer to as a “proper dive.”

Locals and visitors alike laud the place for great deals (plus free popcorn) and great company.

Michigan: The Old Miami (Detroit)

radekcho/Adobe Street bar with beer at restaurant

A dive bar with something of a VFW feel, the Old Miami is a well-known Detroit dive among both locals and travelers.

Patrons can find good drinks, live music, and good company in a massive backyard and patio area.

Minnesota: Palmer's Bar (Minneapolis)

Studio Romantic/Adobe Friends talking at the bar

Palmer’s Bar on Cedar Avenue has been a staple in Minneapolis since opening its doors in 1906. It’s a hotspot with plenty of regulars stopping for a drink after work.

Guests can expect a friendly atmosphere and a variety of live music almost every day of the week.

Mississippi: Martin's Restaurant and Lounge (Jackson)

Nomad_Soul/Adobe Band playing at bar

Martin’s Restaurant and Lounge started as a small grill and has grown into a Jackson staple, serving the community for over 50 years.

Visitors can expect regular specials on food, drinks, and live music. The Patio @ Martin’s hosts live music Tuesdays and Fridays.

Missouri: John's Big Deck (Kansas City)

Marija/Adobe People drinking

A dive with a twist (and several floors), John’s Big Deck offers something for everyone.

The first floor has dining, drinks, and live music on the weekends, dancing and DJs can be found on the second floor, and the third story is a massive outdoor patio with stunning views.

With plenty of food and drink specials, the bar has become a Kansas City staple.

Montana: The Sip 'N Dip Lounge (Great Falls)

Mariia Korneeva/Adobe Refreshing cocktail near swimming pool

A famed tiki bar at the O’Haire Inn, the big draw at the Sip ‘N Dip Lounge are the mermaids patrons can watch swim behind massive windows into the hotel’s pool.

With mermaids swimming almost every day of the week, great drink specials (like mimosa flights), and a delightful tropical ambiance, it’s no wonder this bar draws locals and visitors alike.

Nebraska: Beercade (Omaha)

guruXOX/Adobe young man playing pinball

As the name suggests, Beercade has plenty of classic arcade games, plus Skee-Ball, pinball, and more.

When it comes to drinks, they have more than 50 different types of beer on tap as well as a huge selection of whiskeys.

Nevada: Atomic Liquors (Las Vegas)

santypan/Adobe barman is making cocktail

Atomic Liquors is in the heart of Downtown Vegas’ Fremont East District and is famed for its appearance in several films and TV shows — from “The Twilight Zone” to “The Hangover.”

With plenty of cheap cocktails, a large beer selection, and a menu of delicious pub fare, the bar has all visitors could hope for in a dive.

New Hampshire: Penuche's Ale House (Concord)

Zarya Maxim/Adobe bar counter and beer taps

A classic dive in Concord, Penuche’s Ale House has cheap drinks, live music on Thursdays and Saturdays, happy hour specials, and more.

It’s a local hangout, but it also has a great atmosphere for anyone passing through and looking for a dive experience.

New Jersey: Wonder Bar (Asbury Park)

zinkevych/Adobe woman raising her beer bottle

One of the most well-known dives in Jersey, Wonder Bar has live music, cheap drinks, the occasional Bruce Springsteen spotting, and yappy hour (like happy hour, but with dogs).

Located right in the middle of now-thriving Asbury Park, it’s a hot destination for locals (both humans and dogs) and Jersey Shore vacationers alike.

New Mexico: The Cowgirl (Santa Fe)

KONSTANTIN SHISHKIN/Adobe guitarist in hat plays guitar

The original Cowgirl Hall of Fame Restaurant was in New York City, bringing BBQ to the Big Apple in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, one of the partners wanted to take the concept out west.

These days, guests can enjoy a massive menu, cheap drinks, live music, and an excellent patio for summer hangs at the Santa Fe location.

New York: Holiday Cocktail Lounge (New York City)

Africa Studio/Adobe friends toasting with cocktails in bar

One of many classic New York City dives, the famous Holiday Cocktail Lounge has attracted rock stars, pop icons, and poets since its opening in 1950. The Bouncing Souls even wrote a song about it.

While the cocktails may be on par with the rest of NYC’s steep prices, guests can still grab a cheap beer, plenty of pub fare, and enjoy the delightfully divey ambiance.

North Carolina: The Thirsty Beaver Saloon (Charlotte)

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe man playing in pool with friends

A small local bar with legendary status (because owners refused to sell to developers who built condos all around it), the Thirsty Beaver offers a good time for all.

It’s got cheap drinks, pool, occasional live music, and friendly staff that make it the go-to dive for many in town.

North Dakota: Bismarck Tavern (Fargo)

Adriana/Adobe drinking beer at bar pub

Bismarck Tavern is known for stiff, dirt-cheap drinks (many less than $4).

It has a large beer selection, plenty of games (darts, cards, pool, and pinball), and fun events, like an all-day happy hour if you wear Bismarck Apparel and a “meat raffle” on Wednesdays.

Ohio: Brew-Stirs Clintonville Tavern (Columbus)

Drazen/Adobe happy friends singing karaoke

A dive in every sense of the word with some extras added in (like karaoke nights and live DJs), Brew-Stirs is a local favorite and a great go-to dive for anyone who happens to be traveling through the Columbus area.

Oklahoma: The Flea (Oklahoma City)

Drazen/Adobe friends toast with beer

The Flea is a lowkey spot with a bit of everything — like games (shuffleboard, pool, darts), a beautiful patio for guests to hang out on, and regular drink specials.

Rumor has it they have incredible chili dogs, too.

Oregon: Yamhill Pub (Portland)

semerokozlyat/Adobe woman laughs at a stand-up performance

According to many Yelp reviewers, this is the dive to check out in Portland — a weird gem in a city full of weird gems.

Expect graffiti and stickers all over the walls, great beer, cheap drinks, and friendly company.

Pennsylvania: McGillin's Olde Ale House (Philadelphia)

Adriana/Adobe people cheering and drinking beer

McGillin’s Olde Ale House is one of the oldest taverns in the U.S. and the longest-running tavern in Philly.

It’s known for cheap drinks, an ever-evolving roster of food and drink specials, and over-the-top celebrations. You may have even seen one of its St. Patty’s Day shindigs on “The Today Show.”

Rhode Island: The Malted Barley (Providence)

karandaev/Adobe pretzels and beer

Known for its great pub fare (including a variety of soft pretzels — and sandwiches served on soft pretzels), the Malted Barley is a great place to grab a bite and a drink.

The bar also boasts a huge selection of craft beers.

South Carolina: The Tattooed Moose (Charleston)

peter/Adobe vintage golden beer taps

The Tattooed Moose has a bit of everything — a stacked menu (featuring a famed duck meat club sandwich), a huge craft beer selection, live music, Sunday brunches, and more.

Plus, it got the seal of approval from Guy Fieri when it was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

South Dakota: Tommy Jack’s Pub (Sioux Falls)

Studio Romantic/Adobe burger with beer on the table

A classic dive, Tommy Jack’s is a great hangout for the weekend or an after-work drink.

It has a menu stacked with pub food options (pizza, burgers, cheese curds, and more), daily drink specials, and a friendly atmosphere.

Tennessee: The Springwater Supper Club & Lounge (Nashville)

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe men playing in pool at bar

Springwater Supper Club & Lounge is the oldest continuously run bar in the state, and while it has distinct dive vibes, it also has something for patrons of all sorts.

From cheap food and drinks to pool to live music five days a week, it’s a hot spot with locals and Nashville visitors alike.

Texas: The White Horse (Austin)

WavebreakmediaMicro/Adobe  friends dancing on dance floor

A much-loved dive in Austin, the White Horse has cheap drinks, a big dance floor, regular live music, and a great atmosphere.

Visitors may have to pay a cover charge, depending on who’s playing.

Utah: Bar-X (Salt Lake City)

Jacob Lund/Adobe  friends enjoying a party at pub

Bar-X first opened right after Prohibition in 1933. The downtown pub, known for great (and cheap) drinks, pays tribute to its early days with decor reminiscent of an old speakeasy.

The bar also has live music every Wednesday and Thursday.

Vermont: Three Needs Tap Room & Pizza Cube (Burlington)

PintoArt/Adobe group of friends drinking beer

Three Needs has been serving the community for decades, though the gang only migrated to its current location on Pearl Street in 2012.

Guests can enjoy great beers, Jersey Shore-style pizza from the Pizza Cube, play pool, or hang out on the large patio.

Virginia: Wonderland (Richmond)

Marino Bocelli/Adobe people celebrating in a pub

Wonderland has a true dive vibe — weird decor, cheap drinks, loud music, and friendly staff and patrons.

Located on Main Street in Richmond, Wonderland comes recommended by both locals and visitors passing through the city.

Washington: Shorty's (Seattle)

guruXOX/Adobe young woman playing pinball

Shorty’s, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, is a great spot to grab a cheap drink and play a few rounds of pinball or arcade games.

They’re also known for their hot dog menu — offering a huge variety from Chicago style to chili cheese dogs to German sausage and kraut.

West Virginia: Sam's Uptown Cafe (Charleston)

lordn/Adobe happy friends having fun at bar

Sam’s Uptown Cafe in Charleston has a bit of everything — plenty of delicious food to choose from, cheap cocktails and beer, live music, and a laid-back environment.

Plus, they’re open until 3 a.m. every day.

Wisconsin: The Wisco (Madison)

Drazen/Adobe happy man eats burger

With cold beer, cheap drinks, a friendly environment, and a volleyball sand pit out back, The Wisco has plenty to offer guests.

The bar also hosts live music and has the self-proclaimed “best burger on the east side.”

Wyoming: The Buckhorn Bar & Parlor (Laramie)

Syda Productions/Adobe friends with drinks talking at bar

The Buckhorn is Laramie’s oldest standing bar. For years, locals and visitors alike have come for the daily drink specials, large dance floor, live music, and overall ambiance of the place.

According to many Yelp reviewers, it’s the go-to spot when you want a heavy-handed pour and a fun night out.

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Bottom line

Svitlana/Adobe drinking cocktail at the bar

For travelers on a budget, seeking out the best local dives is a great way to spend the night out and avoid wasting money on overpriced drinks and grub.

Since many bars listed here are local hangouts with regulars, it can also be a good way to mingle and get solid vacation recommendations.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.