If we’re being honest, as long as you have enough money and a nice day, any city is a great place to drink. But since we’re having a moment of honesty, it’s also the case that some cities are better known for destination drinking and booze-fueled weekends than others – we’re looking at you NYC and New Orleans.
However, if you look slightly beneath the veneer of certain cities, you’ll quickly realize that outside of some of the better-known destinations, there are a few hidden gems that are just waiting to be discovered for your weekend getaway.
These underrated cities boast walkable streets, fantastic bar scenes, and unparalleled creativity in their beverages. They are also where the people you really want to be friends with let loose, have a good time, and leave with their pocket books not that much worse for wear. So which are these fabled cities? Here are five of them.
5. Providence, Rhode Island
Beer enthusiasts are already aware of the importance of Providence to the craft brew movement. However, in 2016, things got even more serious with the grand opening of Long Live Beerworks which elevated the city’s craft brew scene to new heights.
Even if you aren’t looking to hop from one New England lager to the next, Providence will provide. Step into Justine’s, an underrated cocktail bar hidden behind a lingerie shop and only for discerning customers.
Or you can have it all if you stop in at The Eddy where cocktails, brews, and wine mingle together like old friends on a lengthy menu.
While you’re in the city, don’t forget to indulge in the time-tried New England passion for oysters. Whether you slurp them down as you sip champagne or chug them in a chain with your favorite brew, you can’t avoid this classic bar snack if you’re going to put Providence on your drinking resume.
4. El Paso, Texas
If you’re coming to El Paso because you think you know tequila, be prepared to be surprised. Due to the whims of tequila distributors, it’s difficult to find many of the novel or experimental varieties within the United States.
El Paso, however, has a prime location that puts it within throwing distance of many unknown distributors who use the city to test their products in the American market. That means that any outing in El Paso is bound to be an education in agave-based liquor.
Get your start at the popular patio bar, Hope & Anchor where you can sample the Southwest at its best with chili-infused margaritas and lime-infused everything.
Alternatively, you can just sip your tequila straight out of a hollowed-out jalapeño at Mas T’Kila Bar.
If you’re more of a beer lover, that’s alright. You’ll just need to take a short trip to the outskirts of the city where you’ll find The Hoppy Monk with its impressive beer selection.
3. Anchorage, Alaska
When you think of Anchorage, you probably think about cruise ships dropping anchor in its bay or tourists stopping to board transportation for the next leg of their journey into the Alaskan wilderness. Hardly anyone, however, talks about how they went on vacation to the city of Anchorage. That’s because few realize how much is actually happening in Alaska’s largest city.
Perhaps you’ve encountered some of Alaska’s more well-known craft brews like Anchorage Brewing Company or Midnight Sun. Naturally, if we’re seeing some brews making their way to the Lower 48 states, then logically, there must be a whole host of good beer that those Alaskans are keeping all to themselves. And there are.
Whether you stop into the Blues Central speakeasy for the mystery, the F Street Station for the dive atmosphere and the world-class brews, or the Bubbly Mermaid for late-night oysters and beverages, you can’t go wrong. In the state where the sun never goes down in the summer, properly preparing to enjoy the drinking scene in Alaska means that you have a long night ahead of you.
2. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Of course, most people know that Milwaukee does good beer. Honestly, their baseball team is called the “Brewers”! However, few people realize how dedicated this city is to their hoppy brews. Besides having great little bars like Burnheart, even the public parks are brimming with beer gardens and new ones are constantly popping up.
The cocktail scene too is nothing to sniff at. For timelessly cool, try Bryant’s. For innovative concoctions that will magic your tongue with intrigue, there is the Dock18 Cocktail Lab, a local favorite brought to the citizenry by minds behind Bittercube Bitters and Twisted Path Distillery.
You might even come home and find yourself writing to your city council to encourage them to promote public park beer gardens.
1. St. Petersburg, Florida
Looking for all the beaches with none of the tourists in Florida? Then come get your drink on in St. Pete. With a booming arts district, beautiful beaches, and of course great bars, this city blows Florida’s higher-profile destinations out of the water.
Surprisingly, the craft beer scene here is on point. Imagine sitting in your shorts and getting a nice tan under the palm trees as you sip on a refreshing brew… or three. In St. Pete, you can do that if you follow the “Craft Beer Trail”. Along it, you’ll find gems like Three Daughters, Cycle Brewing, and St. Pete Brewing Company.
Not ready to spend your entire vacation sipping on beer? Just walk over to the city’s downtown. With two square blocks exclusively dedicated to quenching your thirst, you can sip on craft cocktails at Mandarin Hide or catch the happy hour at MacDinton’s or Mastry’s.
Of course, while you’re there, don’t forget to visit the beach at some point!