Yair Haklai/ Wikimedia Commons
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).
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.
Charlie P./ Yelp
Dating back to 1899, The Peerless Saloon is so old that the founder bought whiskey by the barrel and sold it in glass bottles made at his own glass factory. On the National Register of Historic Places since the early 1990s, its most impressive feature is a massive, mint-condition mahogany bar that was made for the 1904 World’s Fair and was installed here in 1906.
The vast majority of the Wild West’s legendary old bars burned down over the years (all that dry wood and gaslight didn’t help), but the bar that’s today known as Big Nose Kate’s Saloon is located inside what was used to be known as the Grand Hotel, which was built in 1880. The building did burn down — in 1882 — and the quickly rebuilt building did away with the hotel entirely and just kept the bar. Today it’s one of Tombstone’s most historic watering holes, and a true survivor of the Old West.
Arkansas’ oldest bar dates back to 1905, when it was opened as a bar and casino. Hot Springs had a bit of a reputation back in those days, and over the years Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and plenty of other mobsters hung out (and visited their bookies) here. Al Jolson played there in 1915, and Mae West rolled through in the ‘30s. It became a speakeasy during Prohibition, and still retains that old-time atmosphere to this day.
Yelp/ Fronando C.
Standing strong just east of San Luis Obispo since 1858, the Pozo Saloon has been a rough-and-tumble watering hole since its earliest days (it also doubled as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop, and Jesse and Frank James are rumored to have drank here). This classic saloon was purchased by Rhonda and Brian Beanway in 1984 and turned into a beloved outdoor concert venue, and last year new owners took it over, restored it to its former glory, and reopened with much fanfare (and a full kitchen) earlier this year. Today it stands in the shadow of a massive cottonwood tree, which is as old as the building itself.
J-Bar at Hotel Jerome/Yelp
The Hotel Jerome was hailed as one of the finest hotels in the West when it opened in Aspen in 1889, and today it’s the oldest hotel in town, home to the oldest bar in the state (Golden’s Buffalo Rose Tavern opened in 1859, but the building it’s in dates from 1902). A four-month top-to-bottom renovation in 2012 revitalized it and restored it to its former glory, and the bar still retains many of its original furnishings (and is a perfect spot for an après-ski cocktail).
Dating back to 1776, this charming inn has dining rooms, a wine bar, 33 guest rooms, and a tap room that’s a great place to have a couple pints. The building that’s home to the tap room was actually constructed back in 1735, and today hosts one of the best-looking bars in America. This inn has some serious history — it was even a British command center during the War of 1812 — and is a must-visit in Essex.
Jessop’s Tavern first opened its doors in 1724, making it one of America’s very oldest bars; the building itself was constructed in 1674. Today it’s not only a time capsule of Colonial-era revelry, it also happens to be one of the country’s finest Belgian beer bars.
Fernandina Beach was a major hub for rail and sea travel back around the turn of the century, but it was missing one thing: a bar. Amazingly, the bar that was constructed there in 1903 is today the oldest one in the state. It still retains its original pressed tin ceiling, Italian marble details, and a huge mahogany and oak bar.
Picture a bar in Savannah called The Pirates’ House that dates back to 1753, and we bet you’ll be pretty close to what this place is really like. An ancient, weathered building, it’s actually right next door to the oldest building in the state, so a walk around the property (and a seat at the bar) is a great way to spend some time in one of America’s most beautiful towns.
Dive Bar S./Yelp
One of Honolulu’s finest bars is also the state’s oldest. This is the youngest oldest bar on our list, only dating back to 1935, but it recalls an era when it was located smack dab in the heart of the city’s red light district. Things have mellowed since then, but this is still a legendary dive bar.
White Horse Saloon & Hotel/Yelp
This country saloon opened in the rough and tumble days of 1907, and not much has changed since; weathered wood is still the primary motif, and even the hardwood floors haven’t changed. And if you get too tuckered out to drive home, there are still rooms upstairs to sleep it off.
The oldest bar in Chicago isn’t located in Chicago proper, but about 35 miles outside of town in tony Long Grove. It’s been going strong since 1849 (it’s been in continuous operation since then), and it’s home to a large dining area and bar room. There’s plenty of rustic authenticity to be found here, and its 35-foot long bar was salvaged from Chicago’s Great McCormick Place Fire in 1967.
The Knickerbocker, which first opened its doors in 1835 as the Cherry Wood Bar, proudly displays the state’s very first liquor license. The narrow space still has a pressed tin ceiling and an ornate long bar that dates from 1891, but sadly the player piano (which, when introduced in 1874, was one of the first in the region) is long gone.
Founder Jacob Breitbach was issued his liquor license by President Millard Fillmore in 1852, and today his bar and restaurant, Breitbach’s Country Dining, is still going strong six generations later under the auspices of owners Mike and Cindy Breitbach. Tragically, the original building burned down in 2007 and again in 2008, but the community banded together and rebuilt it just as it was before, not once but twice.
Even if this ancient building didn’t display “HAYS HOUSE 1857” across its roofline, it would still be pretty clear that it’s very old just by looking at it. When it first opened its doors (Daniel Boone’s great grandson was the first owner), it served as the town’s bar, post office, courtroom, and even its church, but today it’s just a solid place for a chicken fried steak and glass of iced tea, and its basement bar still boasts its original meat hooks, bar, and piano.
Opened in 1779, Kentucky’s oldest bar (and America’s oldest bourbon bar) has entertained everyone from Jesse James and Daniel Boone to young Abe Lincoln and William Henry Harrison (bullet holes in the wall were reportedly deposited there by James himself). Once a stagecoach stop, today it’s a historic bed and breakfast, restaurant, and tavern, and one of the best places in America to drink some great local bourbon.
This ramshackle old building has been attracting visitors to the quiet(er) end of Bourbon Street since it first opened its doors in 1772. According to legend, it served as a headquarters for none other than legendary pirate Jean Lafitte, and it spent some time as a gay bar in the 1950s. Today it’s a dark, slightly mysterious bar that’s got plenty of cozy nooks, and it’s also a great place to get a purple slushie kicked up with Everclear.
This tavern dates back to 1779, and actually has some historical significance as it was a meeting place of Mainers who wanted to break away from Massachusetts to incorporate their own state. It bounced back and forth between being a tavern and private home over the years, most recently reopening as Jameson Tavern in 1981. It retains plenty of its Colonial charm, and it’s also a great spot for a lobster.
Courtesy of Reynolds Tavern
William Reynolds constructed this building in 1747 as a home base for his hat shop, inn, and tavern, which he called The Beaver and Lac’d Hat. It narrowly escaped the wrecking ball in 1935, before being saved and converted to a library, in which capacity it served until 1974. It was restored to its former glory in 1984, and today operates in much the same way as it originally did — as a bar, restaurant, and three-room hotel (but no longer, sadly, as a hat shop). The cellar bar, called 1747 Pub, still retains many period touches, including a massive fireplace.
Massachusetts’ oldest tavern dates from 1780, when it was one of the first buildings constructed after Charlestown was burned down during the Revolutionary War. Both George Washington and Paul Revere drank under its roof. Today it’s a cozy watering hole with plenty of old-school charm and a small but dependable selection of brews and food.
Yelp/ Danielle B.
The New Hudson Inn opened in 1831, before Michigan was even a state, on the stagecoach route between Detroit and Lansing. A classic inn, the ground floor was home to a tavern (complete with a spring-loaded dance floor that gently bounced with the patrons) and the upstairs rooms hosted travelers. Today, it’s a bar and restaurant that still maintains much of its original rustic appeal, and during a 2016 renovation another secret from its history was discovered: a hidden room that served as a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Going strong since 1887, Neumann’s has never closed down (not even during Prohibition, when they served near bear and operated a speakeasy upstairs). Not much has changed in the intervening years — the back bar, installed by Hamm’s Brewery, is still there; a clock installed in 1892 still operates; and pin-ups from the 1940s still decorate the wall near the men’s room. It’s a friendly, low-key bar that’s full of regulars; be sure to stop by during Happy Hour, when burgers cost $1.
This ancient wooden building (the oldest in all of Natchez) dates all the way back to 1769, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Originally constructed as a blockhouse for a British fort from beams from scrapped sailing ships, it was taken over in 1789 by Richard King, who turned it into a tavern and inn, as well as the town’s post office. It was a private home from 1823 to 1973, when it was returned to its former glory. Today it’s a charming and cozy bar and restaurant (it received another renovation in 2013), specializing in craft cocktails, wood-fired flatbreads, and the occasional ghost sighting.
Built as a private home in 1834 by Joseph Huston, this building quickly turned into a tavern and rooming house for travelers heading west. The J. Huston Tavern is today hailed as the oldest continually-serving restaurant west of the Mississippi. There’s a tap room and three dining rooms, and its fried chicken has been hailed as some of the country’s best.
Saunter through the swinging doors of this 1863 saloon and step right into history. The Bale of Hay Saloon is the centerpiece of this town of less than 200, and it boasts a giant mahogany bar, a history of being a house of ill repute, and a very good selection of local Montana beers.
Edwin Grosvenor/Wikimedia Commons
One of Buffalo Bill Cody’s favorite bars, Glur’s Tavern is said to be the oldest continually-operating tavern west of the Mississippi, having opened in 1876. This old, white clapboard structure sadly hasn’t retained too much of its Wild West charm (the unfortunate additions of wood wall paneling and a drop ceiling took care of that), but it hasn’t changed much since the ‘60s, if that’s any consolation. Regardless, it’s a seriously historic throwback, and a solid spot for a burger and beer.
Located in a desolate Northern Nevada hamlet, the Genoa Bar dates all the way back to 1853, when it opened as a bar called Livingston’s Exchange. It’s a real slice of the Old West (no faux-wood paneling here, thankfully), with a long, old bar and dusty Wild West memorabilia affixed to the walls. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sidling up to this time-warp of a bar and ordering a whiskey without even realizing it.
New Hampshire’s oldest inn is a true slice of Colonial America (or right after it, at least), having opened in 1789. It operates today in much the same way as it did 228 years ago, offering food, drinks, and lodging to guests as a bed and breakfast. But you don’t need to be spending the night to visit its Fox Tavern, a cozy and rustic barroom with plenty of old-school charm and a menu of traditional New England-influenced pub fare.
In business since 1835, El Farol is New Mexico’s oldest bar and restaurant and one of Santa Fe’s most iconic. The low-slung building is cozy and intimate, and it underwent a thorough renovation last year. Be sure to drop in for the Flamenco show on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
New York’s oldest bar is also one of its most historic structures, period. Constructed in 1668, it was a popular meeting place for patriots during the Revolutionary War, and it’s also where England’s Major John André was held captive after it was discovered that he was assisting Benedict Arnold in betraying the Continental Army. (André was hanged on a hilltop behind the tavern.) It recently underwent a massive renovation and restoration, and stopping in there for a drink or dinner is really like stepping back in time.
Built in 1816 as an annex to a historic 1784 tavern (which still stands as the town’s first entirely brick building), this family-run tavern and restaurant specializes in food made with locally-sourced ingredients as well as local craft beers. The interior looks as if it could have been teleported from 200 years ago, and so do the servers; they wear traditional Moravian garb, a nod to the area’s early-1800s settlers.
Established in 1933 as the bar and restaurant of the luxurious Patterson Hotel (which was the tallest building in the city when it opened in 1911), The Peacock Alley Bar is still going strong even though the hotel was converted into a senior center in the 1970s. The bar is still a very classy joint, however, and it retains many of its original fixtures. It also happens to serve some of Bismarck’s finest steaks, as well as a mean martini.
The quaint and charming Ye Olde Trail Tavern has been serving spirits since 1848, and today it’s a major social hub for the equally quaint and charming town of Yellow Springs. It’s a solid spot for a burger or sandwich and a pint, and a transfer of ownership in 2017 resulted in a new kitchen, a paint job, and a sprucing up.
A 1993 fire did a lot of damage to Eischen’s, which opened in 1896, but not enough to dethrone it from being the state’s oldest bar, which it still proudly proclaims from its green awning. The bar’s centerpiece is its back bar, which was hand-carved in Spain in the early 1800s, used in California during the Gold Rush, and found its way to this bar in 1950.
Courtesy of Huber’s
This stylish bar and restaurant, which boasts glass-tiled vaulted ceilings, has been going strong inside the historic Oregon Pioneer Building since 1879. Originally called the Bureau Saloon, in 1891 it was purchased by Jim Huber, who changed the name and also brought in a chef to give away sandwiches with every drink. This helped keep it open during Prohibition, and the food served there is still very good.
If the stone building that makes up the core of this bar and restaurant looks old, that’s because it is: It was originally constructed in 1681 as a gathering spot for local farmers and inn for travelers, and it’s considered by many to be America’s oldest tavern. It’s where newspapers were read aloud daily, mail was delivered, and horse races were hosted, and that’s all before the Revolutionary War! Today it’s been thoroughly modernized, but it’s still a great place to grab a couple beers and a burger, and to possibly even see a ghost.
Originally constructed in 1652 and converted into a tavern in 1763, this striking red building soon became a popular meeting place for locals as well as Rhode Island General Assembly, and was an important tavern during the Revolution. It changed hands several times during the following centuries, and had fallen into disrepair by the time the Preservation Society of Newport County took it over in 1954 and fully restored it to its Colonial grandeur. Today it’s one of America’s most well-preserved Colonial-era taverns, and a must-visit for those traveling through Newport.
McCrady’s is the most famous bar and restaurant on our list, not necessarily because of its history, but because of its current chef-owner, Sean Brock, who’s turned it into one of the finest restaurants in Charleston. But this tavern was actually constructed back in 1778, and it played host to some of Charleston’s most notable high society (George Washington even dined in the Long Room, which is today its private dining space). It passed hands many times after McCrady’s 1801 death and eventually fell into disrepair, but it was fully restored in 1981 and today the space is once again playing host to Charleston’s elite; it’s also just a great place to stop in for a cocktail.
Buffalo Bodega Gaming Complex (as it’s known today) got its start in 1877 as the Buffalo Bar, one of at least 17 saloons in the rough-and-tumble town of Deadwood. Today it’s the only one that remains from that era, and not much inside this legendary space has changed.
This legendary Nashville dive bar got its start in 1896, served time as speakeasy during Prohibition, and exchanged hands several times before settling into its current incarnation in 1978. Both Al Capone and Taylor Swift are rumored to have drunk here, and Dierks Bentley got his start as a musician here. Today it’s one of the city’s best (and grungiest) live music venues.
Larry D. Moore/Wikimedia Commons
Founded in 1866 by German immigrant August Scholz, the oldest bar in the Lone Star State (and the oldest continually-operated beer garden in America) is still a great place to spend an evening alfresco downing some Live Oak Dunkel Weiss and enjoying some German sausages.
This bar looks like it could be right at home at Disney World’s Frontierland, but it’s the genuine article: it opened back in 1879 and has been slinging mugs of beer and shots of whiskey ever since. It still retains plenty of that Wild West charm, and reportedly received its name when a patron named Whiskey Joe decided to take a shot at a star hanging above the door.
Constructed as an inn in 1890 (it was originally called Thayer’s Hotel), this was a major gathering place for Vermont’s elite, and was even home to the city’s first phone line. Like most colonial buildings, it fell into disrepair, but it was fully restored in 1975 and turned back into a bar and restaurant. Today it’s on the Vermont Register of Historic Places, and its slanting doors, uneven doorways, low ceilings, and antique furnishings will take you right back in time.
This ancient structure was built in 1779 as — as the name might imply — a tavern and stagecoach stop, and it played host to Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Pierre L’Enfant. Over the years it spent time as a bank, bakery, general store, cabinet shop, barber shop, private house, post office, antique shop, and even a hospital for wounded Civil War soldiers. It was restored to its former glory in 1984, and it’s one heck of a place to have a drink and go exploring.
This unassuming corner building has been home to a bar since at least 1856, and today it’s home to the quirky Oak Harbor Tavern, and is popular with navy folks from the nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Base. Nowadays it’s perhaps best known for its unique ordering system; you write everything you’ve had to drink on a piece of paper as you go, and your tab is tallied up using the honor system.
The Round Robin is the main bar at D.C.’s legendary InterContinental Willard Hotel, which has been in the same location since 1847. The current building was constructed in 1901, and the ornate and old-fashioned bar has played host to just about every major political figure since then. Should you visit (which we suggest you do), be sure to order its signature cocktail, the mint julep, which was introduced to the city here by Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky.
Founded in 1899 as a small neighborhood pub, the North End Tavern is today a popular gathering place as well as a microbrewery. Pub fare, salads, and sandwiches are on offer, and even though it’s changed quite a bit since its earliest days, it’s still a living piece of West Virginia history.
This old stone building was built in 1847 as a service store on the Old Sauk Trail, and it was converted into the Pheasant Branch hotel and tavern in 1852; it may have also been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Today it’s home to one of the nicest bars and restaurants in the area, with great steaks and a solid selection of local beers.
Wyoming’s oldest bar is located in the state’s oldest town, which is today home to a whopping 62 people. The town’s historic Miners & Stockmen’s was opened in 1862 and still retains plenty of that old-time charm, with pressed tin ceilings, antique light fixtures, and 35 different types of whiskey. This is about as rustic as a bar can get, and it's right up there with America's best bars.
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