You’ve seen it in movies and TV shows, but is bar hopping an actual thing? In many places in the world, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, it most certainly is! Unlike fiction, however, it need not turn into a drunken tumble across the city, or sleeping by the park bench – which likely won’t be remembered the morning after.
If done right, bar hopping can help you find the best bars near you and even widen your social network. Just take cues from professional events, such as those hosted by bar crawl nation. With a few simple guidelines, you can make it an evening worth remembering for everyone!
What is bar hopping?
Bar hopping’s meaning is pretty straightforward– it is the act of visiting multiple local watering holes in a single night to drink and socialize. There is an entire culture around bar hopping and each one can be an adventure for the books
What is the purpose of bar hopping? To have fun, plain and simple. Many people, especially college kids and young professionals, partake in this social activity as a way of unwinding. They gather with friends and spend an entire evening free of care– a celebration of youth if you will. That said, anyone of legal age can barhop.
What is the difference between a bar crawl and bar hopping?
You may think they’re one and the same, but a bar crawl (or pub crawl) is different from bar hopping. While both allow you to revel in your local nightlife scene, how everything happens is quite different.
What is a bar crawl? A bar/pub crawl is a planned activity where you know exactly which pubs or bars you’re going to. One might even consider this a geographical strategic exercise. Now, a bar hop is an impromptu opposite, which is usually done “freestyle” and locations are decided as you go. Crawl or hop, their rules differ but the purpose remains the same: have as much fun as possible.
That said, what should you keep in mind when is bar hopping?
The Do’s and Don’ts of Bar Hopping
Bar hopping is synonymous with being carefree, but a bit of planning beforehand never hurt. How do you properly barhop? Always do your research on which areas have the best drinks and crowd. Keep an eye out for fun events such as themed bar nights and play dress-up.
Pro-Tip: Some local bars offer bar hopping packages for fairly affordable prices. This may lack the usual spontaneity that traditional bar hopping has, but it can be a great alternative for last-minute plans.
DO: Map Out Your Adventure
It may seem contrary to what bar hopping is, but mapping out your adventure can prevent potential mishaps. Thing is, once the alcohol hits, you wouldn’t want to travel too far just to get to your next stop. The last thing you want to happen is passing out before the night is over. Having a basic idea of which bars are near each other helps.
Knowing when the best time to go to a bar is also key. One downer when it comes to bar hopping is having to wait a long time in line. As per bar hopping and bar crawl rules, cutting in line is a no-no!
So, keep the above in mind to learn how to plan a bar hop right. Once that’s settled, a wild fun and fun night is guaranteed.
DO: Bring Cash and ID
Aside from planning cute bar hopping outfits (optional, but recommended for those OOTDs), make sure you’ve got cash too. Just as it is easy to swipe and pay with your card, you can also get swiped as the night deepens. If you don’t want to carry cash, there are also bars that accept smartwatch payments. Of course, having your ID is a no-brainer. Though flattering it, a case of mistaken age is too much of a bummer to be denied services or entry to your chosen bar.
DO: Always Pre-Game
Start your beer crawl or hop right with a pre-game. As the name suggests, pre-game is essentially drinking prior to the actual bar crawl. Arriving a bit buzzed during happy hour at a bar puts you in the best mood to party all night. Besides, getting all merry allows you to enjoy the live music better if you’re slightly tipsy and not hanging on to worries about school or work. Take your pick at some of these drinking games you can do during pre-game.
When pre-gaming, opt for something cheap and lightweight – enough to get that buzz but not hammered. Check out some of the best beer gardens in the United States to find a spot near you. Make sure you enjoy a pint or two of your favorite craft beer before moving on to a selection of cocktails for the rest of the night.
DO: Eat and Stay Hydrated (with water!)
The next thing to add to your to-do list when bar hopping is to eat and hydrate. Bar hopping on an empty stomach will get you drunk quicker than you can say “another shot!”. So, eating before you go to the bar will certainly help. Think of it as “lining your stomach” and keeping alcohol from getting absorbed too quickly.
We recommend high-protein food like boiled eggs, and salmon, or light but filling foods like greek yogurt and oats. All these help to reduce the crashing effects of alcohol on your body.
Make sure you also stay hydrated throughout the night– this can help minimize any crazy hangovers as well.
DON’T: Leave Your Drink/s Unattended
When bar hopping, it is easy to lose yourself in the activity and forget about your surroundings. This includes leaving your drinks unattended. Even if you feel like you’re in a safe bar, it doesn’t automatically qualify the people in them as decent. You can still meet people who may not have the best intentions. This comes with the territory and the nightlife scene.
As such, always be mindful of your drinks. Hold it while you move around to chit-chat or have someone watch over it. Do not allow someone to buy you a drink carelessly and always take your cup directly from the bar attendant once he/she has made it. These rules apply universally to bachelorette parties, birthday bar crawls, and other similar activities.
DON’T: Be Rowdy
If you’re a regular in the bar hopping scene, you know how rowdy the crowd can get as the night matures and it is fairly common as well. Protect yourself by staying away from a fight and . avoid becoming a spectacle.
Ill manners and disrespects are also not welcoming bar hopping etiquette. Treat the bartenders and other patrons with esteem and don’t be rude to the bartender and other patrons with esteem. Remember that they are not obligated to cater to your first, even if you are on a bar tour. As one of the best movie quotes in Pulp Fiction states, “Pride only hurts, it never helps”.
DON’T: Invite Strangers Into Your Group
What to do at a bar? Aside from drinking, you’ll inevitably meet people as well. It is completely fine to talk to strangers but avoid inviting them into your group. Make this agreement with the rest of your group to avoid complications later on. Note that even the best bars may have insidious characters lurking so it is best to play it safe.
DON’T: Bring Valuables With You
What to wear for bar hopping? We’re sure you want to put your best foot forward and dress up for the occasion, but do be mindful of the valuables you’ll be bringing with you. We’re talking about expensive jewelry, watches, and designer purses. If you do happen to have them, always keep tabs on your surroundings. Make sure your phone and wallet are in a secure pocket– preferably in your jacket instead of your jeans.
Pro-Tip: Depending on the area where you’re going for a pub tour or bar tour, always dress accordingly. Opt for something less flashy when going to local dive bars and dress up when headed to the trendier spots.
DON’T: Drive Drunk
This should go without saying, but always have a designated driver when you go bar hopping. When planning a bar hop, always include a person that you can call for a ride home. While Uber and Lyft services are also reliable, it might be best to choose someone you’re familiar with for extra security.
Leave the car at home and opt for a cab or car service when going to the bars you want to hit up.
Best Bar Hopping Cities in America
New York City
Bar hopping in NYC offers diversity– from some of the ritziest spots to lowkey local watering holes.
- Twins Lounge, Green Point
Address: 732 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
- Gallow Green, Chelsea
Address: 542 W 27th St, New York, NY
Bar hopping in Los Angeles is pretty laid back, with a mix of trendy bars and vintage haunts.
- The Virgil, East Hollywood
Address: 4519 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA
- The Varnish, Downtown Los Angeles
Address: 118 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA
Bar hopping in Houston is all about doing it like the locals. Forego the trendy bars with expensive cocktails and check out these H-Town faves.
- Brenner’s on the Bayou, Washington Avenue
Address: 1 Birdsall St, Houston, TX
- HandleBar, Rice Village
Address: 5219 Washington Ave, Houston, TX
Bar hopping in Chicago is surely a feast for the eyes and the palate– from local breweries, trendy wine bars, and laidback pubs!
- The Violet Hour, Wicker Park
Address: 1520 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL
- Nobody’s Darling, Balmoral
Address: 1744 W Balmoral Ave, Chicago, IL
Dubbed one of the best drinking cities in America, bar hopping in Atlanta is an adventure everyone should try at least once. It is home to many no-frills bars and pubs, where you can enjoy the casual atmosphere.
- Brickstore Pub, Decatur
Address: 125 E Court Square, Decatur, GA
- Wrecking Bar BrewPub
Address: 292 Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA
Make Every Bar Hopping Experience One to Remember!
Remember, it doesn’t hurt to have a few simple bar crawl rules before you head out into the night. Whether you’re going on a birthday bar crawl or a pre-Christmas bar hopping tour, enjoy the nightlife scene without going overboard. Regrets will hurt more than a hangover, after all.
Speaking of which, find out if hangovers really get worse as you age.