No matter where you live in the country, from the biggest coastal cities to a small town in Wyoming, we think everyone can appreciate a laid-back drinking atmosphere and some quirky wall décor. So we sought out the best dive in every state.
These places aren’t necessarily the filthiest or the roughest dive bar in every state. You may want to stay clear of those. But these joints offer some very, very important things: cold beers, friendly folks, and a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. At these 51 dive bars, you can walk in happy or walk in grouchy, slouch on a stool, and drink Bud Light out of the bottle without anyone asking any questions.
The Nick in Birmingham has been around for 35 years, and this dive bar/music venue has had its fair share of iconic bands pass through. Black Flag, Jane’s Addiction, and Widespread Panic all played this dive bar before they hit it big. Pass on through and maybe you’ll catch the next big thing.
The Salty Dawg Saloon isn’t just the best dive bar in Homer Spit or the best dive bar in Alaska. It’s the state’s best bar, period. The salty Dawg is housed in a nineteenth century building, and the friendly bar staff will be quick to pour you one of their signature drinks, including the Duck Fast (a shot composed of Kahlúa, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and Crown Royal).
Cheap drinks, good food, and good folks can be found at the White Water Tavern in Little Rock. What more can you ask for? This historic bar has survived three raging arson fires, and it’s still standing strong thanks to stiff whiskey cocktails and a fabulous rotation of live musical acts.
For 30 years, bikers, punkers, and indie rockers alike have been congregating at Zeitgeist in San Francisco. Though the clientele has classed up a bit over the years, the bartenders are still crusty and the barbecue is still greasy. Don’t leave without trying one of their legendary Bloody Marys and drinking it out on the sprawling patio.
Two happy hours a day? Say no more. The Ace-Hi Tavern in Golden, Colorado, caters to the third shifters by opening up at 7 a.m. and running a special drinks menu, which is truly in the dive bar spirit. This bar has been around for over 130 years, with 60 years under this moniker, so its reputation as a world-class dive bar is well earned.
The Spigot in Hartford is surrounded by shiny, new bars, which makes this dive all the more charming. Their beer on tap ranges from your classic Miller Lite to regional offerings such as DuClaw. This bar comes with all the dive classics, like TVs on the wall, well-worn dart boards, and a jukebox.
This hideaway in Rehoboth Beach isn’t your typical dive bar, but Zoggs Raw Bar and Grill still ticks all the boxes. The food (such as its Caribbean paella) is phenomenal, the staff is friendly, and the drinks are reasonably priced. It’s the perfect low-key place to duck in to during a day at the beach.
Mac’s Club Deuce/Yelp
Mac's Club Deuce is the antidote you need to counteract the trendiness of Miami Beach. With a happy hour that actually runs from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., this bar is grimy and old school. But don’t let the clientele scare you off; folks here are actually as friendly as they come. Bring plenty of cash; this bar doesn’t take tabs and you may be there for a while.
Is it a dive bar? Is it a strip club? Why not both! At the Clermont Lounge in Atlanta, women dance on the stage while patrons chow down on chicken wings and sip on some ice cold PBR. What could be more divey than that? How about the bar that’s only held together by years and years of duct tape. Yeah, that’s pretty divey.
Dive Bar S./Yelp
Smith’s Union Bar is the oldest bar in Honolulu and the diviest. Patrons will be singing their sloppiest karaoke (it’s just $1 a song) while sipping on their $3 Bloody Marys during happy hour. This bar also has plenty of history. It was the watering hole of soldiers stationed on the USS Arizona, which was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Little Dutch Garden in Boise is a true local’s bar. It’s small, cash only, and doesn’t have a liquor license. But if you come here for a cold beer, a game of pool, and the company of some kindly Idahoans, you’ll feel right at home.
Free live music may just be the best thing about Chicago bar The Mutiny. For a dive bar, the sound is actually quite spectacular. But that isn’t the only reason to hit this joint up. The huge steins of beer for dirt cheap prices will keep you happy even if you don’t love punk rock.
The Red Key Tavern in Indianapolis has a few rules you need to follow. Hang up your coat and hat, use your indoor voice, don’t swear, and, most importantly, the bartender is always right. If you can handle all of that, enjoy the ice cold bottles of beer and cheeseburgers cooked on a flattop grill.
At the Deadwood Tavern in Iowa City, you’ll find townies and University of Iowa students drinking Bud Light together in harmony. It’s not fancy. It’s not cool. It just has good domestic beers, a pool table, and some pinball machines.
Kirby’s Beer Store is a Wichita institution. The walls prove it with their layers upon layers of band posters, event fliers, and Wichita State University stickers. The beers are cheap, and there’s almost always live music on the weekends — always without a cover.
Better known as “Mag Bar,” the Magnolia Bar & Grille offers all the dive bar essentials: pinball machines, pool tables, a jukebox, and cheap drinks. With a notorious (and arguably disturbing) bathroom that’s rarely cleaned, a pole on the dance floor, and a dance party offered every Wednesday, this is the place for wild nights you’ll never remember and never forget.
Bubba's Sulky Lounge in Portland has antiques seemingly everywhere — hanging from the ceilings, sitting on the bar, and bolted to the walls. If that isn’t character enough for you, you’ll find plenty of cheap drinks and locals during the day. At night, the dance floor lights up and ‘80s music pumps through the speakers for a dance party that is not to be missed.
When a place is called simply BAR, you know it’s a true dive. That’s certainly the case for BAR in Baltimore. The décor is simple, just vinyl-covered stools and a black and white checkered floor. The beers are dirt cheap, especially the Natty Light, and the bartenders are crabby. Just drink your beer, do your shot, and leave.
Abick's Bar is Detroit’s oldest continuously family-operated bar, and the tin ceiling and years’ worth of signs show its age. The drinks are cheap and the jukebox is always rocking. If you’re lucky, you may meet the bar’s mascot: the owner’s adorable mastiff named Shadow.
A South City staple since 1954, The Hideaway is truly like a bar from another time. You may or may not find patrons smoking inside, but the cheap beers, friendly owners, and plenty of TVs make up for any inconvenience that may cause. If that doesn’t sound delightfully divey enough for you, on Sundays they offer a Bloody Mary bar for just $5.
Omaha has its fair share of fine dive bars, but Homy Inn just may be the best. The walls are lined with old-school memorabilia, like Elvis posters and vintage baseball cards. Most distinctively, Homy Inn has Champagne on tap! But don’t think that means this place is pretentious; the bubbly is just $5 a glass and poured by the friendliest bartenders you’ll ever meet.
McGarvey’s in Manchester actually has some of the finest bar food in New Hampshire. Whether you’re chowing down on their chicken nachos or burgers, you’ll be more than satisfied. But the beer is cheap and plentiful too, with six seasonal selections on tap. If that all isn’t enough to get you in the door, this dive has karaoke every single night.
Situated where routes 3 and 46 meet in Little Falls, Great Notch Inn is a true roadside dive bar. Walk inside this neon-lit cabin bar, and you’ll find friendly locals sipping on cheap drinks. The jukebox plays classic rock, the bikers mingle with those who just happen to wander in, and the beer is always cold. What more could you want?
The Matador in Santa Fe is your standard dive bar. Walk down a narrow staircase, and you’ll find punk and metal music blaring from the speakers and a solid selection of bottled beers. Don’t let this small bar intimidate you; the bartenders and patrons are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever find in New Mexico.
New York City is certainly not wanting for dive bars. But perhaps there is no more iconic spot than McSorley's Old Ale House. Sawdust (and other dust) covers the floors, and knickknacks litter the shelves. You have two choices for your $2 beers: light or dark. That’s it. If that ain’t a good dive, I don’t know what is.
He's Not Here in Chapel Hill has been called the perfect college dive bar, and we can see why. If you ever went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or are just a Tarheels fan, then you have probably had a 33-ounce Blue Cup — the classic $5 cup of beer here.
Opened after Prohibition in 1936, the Empire Tavern in Fargo has been owned by the same family since 1947. The bar keeps its old-school spirit intact with a working-class client base, stiff drinks, and bartenders who are the epitome of Fargo friendly.
“Why not?” an illuminating sign outside of Columbus’s Dick’s Den asks. And, yeah, why not walk in to this bar, which isn’t too far from Ohio State’s campus. Inside, you’ll find a bar where everyone fits in and live jazz music on most nights. There aren’t many frills to this bar, but that’s just how we like our dives.
Located on historic Route 66 in Yukon, Grady’s Route 66 Pub has everything you want in a dive bar and not much else. The 16-ounce bottles of Bud Light are cheap and cold, the dart boards are well-used, and there’s live music on many nights. Catch some tunes, drink some brews, and have the time of your life.
McGlinchey's Bar & Grill in Philadelphia is dark and dingy, and the smell of cigarette smoke from years past still lingers in the air. And that’s only the beginning of what makes this joint a spectacular dive bar. You can get hot dogs for less than $1 and beer for less than $4 while you sit among Philly’s most colorful characters.
With a laid-back ambiance and dog-friendly atmosphere, Nick-A-Nees is a charming dive bar in the middle of Providence. On any given night, you’ll find a local band playing some tunes, a good selection of draft beers, and communal tables that help strangers to become friends throughout the course of an evening.
Left: Megan H./Yelp ; Right:Foursquare
You have to know where you’re going to get to The Upper Deck Tavern. You have to go through an unmarked alley to find its entrance. But once you find your way, you’ll be greeted by an unpretentious bar and mixed clientele and cheap beer. This place is a bar’s bar.
South Dakota is just full of dive bars, like, really. But we have to give props to the Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis. Can a dive bar really have its own TV show? We’ll say it can. This tourist destination is the largest biker bar in America, and it’s grimier than any other dive on this list.
J David H./Yelp
Lynnhaven Pub is a dark, dank hole-in-the-wall in Virginia Beach with a surprisingly incredible craft beer can selection. If that isn’t enough to get you through the door and into this dive, come for their barbecue. Their tacos are a thing of legend.
“No politics, no bombs, no idiots” are the rules at The Pug. If you want to get away from the hoity-toity parts of D.C., take refuge here — just, seriously, don’t ask for an Irish Car Bomb. In addition to a pork rinds vending machine, you’ll also find a laid-back staff and reasonable prices — two true rarities in this town.
Not all dive bars serve steak on the weekends, but not all dives are Doug’s Topside Tavern in South Charleston. Friendly regulars and the even friendlier Doug will greet you with some true Southern hospitality and a bottle of cold beer. Can’t ask for more than that, can you?
There’s a lot of cheap beer in Wisconsin, but the $8.50 pitchers at the Silver Dollar Tavern in Madison are hard to beat. You’ll find all your classic dive tropes here: shuffle board, pool, ATMs, dart boards, a jukebox and poker machines. It’s a great laid-back respite from your everyday life.
Wyoming is quite the elusive state, and The Virginian Saloon in Jackson is fittingly hard to nail down. Inside, you’ll find a roaring fire, cheap beer, and good whiskey. That’s nothing to complain about. And now that you’ve finished your American tour of dive bars, class up your drinking (a bit) with the country’s best bars, period.