The best bars are the watering holes where time seems to stand still. They’re places where you can go a decade between visits and when you return it feels like you haven’t skipped a beat. But what about bars where time has stood still for centuries? Those are the places that are truly worth seeking out. We’ve tracked down the oldest bar in every state and Washington, D.C.
As you might imagine, it’s not exactly a simple task to figure out the oldest anything, let alone the oldest drinking establishments. Places move locations over the years, they change names, they burn down and get rebuilt. Does a bar count as old if it’s only been in the same spot since, say, the 1980s, but the business has been around since the 1880s? And even when a bar has all the right credentials — open in the same place, with the same name — it can be tough to verify the exact year it opened (and there was also that pesky thing called Prohibition).[related]
So for today’s purposes, we’re talking about bars that have either been in continuous operation in one place for longer than anyone else in the state, or, in a few instances, bars that occupy spaces that were bars long ago and are continuing that tradition and atmosphere to the modern day (some Colonial-era taverns, for example, spent some time as private homes before being turned back into bars).
At the end of the day, these aren’t just random dive bars that happen to be pretty old. These are places that are deeply rooted in history — of the town, state, or even country — and they proudly celebrate that history. The vast majority of these bars are well over 100 years old, reaching back into the 1800s, the 1700s, and in some instances, even the 1600s. Visiting one of these bars is like stepping back in time, and having a drink there makes you a part of history. Click here to learn about the oldest bar in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.