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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

5 Dive Bars to Experience in Bloomington

When the weather isn't cooperating there's no shame in hanging out inside. Check out these 5 dive bars that are local gems in their own right. Some offer stiff drinks at cheap prices and others have your favorite games but they all will show you a good time.

office lounge

The Office Lounge - Part bar, part package store, The Office Lounge has the classic dive bar ambiance with low lighting, inexpensive furnishings, and beer in a can (and on draft too). This is a great place to go with a big group for an epic karaoke battle on the weekends. Singing 80s classics not your thing? There are several pool tables, a full bar and tasty pub fare to enjoy as well. Try the butt steak (seriously) for lunch or dinner. So good.


Bear's Place - home to the infamous hairy bear, drinking one of these neon concoctions is an IU rite of passage. Even if you're not college kid, check this place out for their tasty burgers and craft beer. They have drink specials just about every night of the week and you can often see IU Jacobs School faculty and students play every Thursday on Jazz Night. Want to relive your glory days? Get the Alumni Hairy Bear - it's sort of like the ones drank back in school but this time with 8 ounces  of top shelf spirits. 

players pub

Players Pub - With a dance floor and tables and chairs, it’s a snug fit, but that’s part of the charm. Most people aren’t going to sit anyway; you come to the Players Pub to dance and listen to some great local and regional musicians. There is live music pretty much every night of the week and on the weekends there is usually a happy hour and prime-time show. They have a limited beer and wine menu, but it’s tasty, including some craft brews and local wines. They serve pub food plus a few Cajun-inspired items like po’ boys and gumbo. It is also family-friendly which is rather unique for a dive bar.

the vid

The Vid - This large upstairs bar brings in a wild mishmash of people, especially on the weekends, and none of them are trying to impress anyone. The Vid has a good beer selection, both craft and macro, and a full bar. There are darts and pool tables aplenty and a pop-a-shot to keep everyone entertained. If classic arcade games are more your thing, head downstairs to the forget to check out The Vid's little brother, The Cade downstairs. 

alley bar

The Alley Bar - The Alley Bar is about as close to a hole in the wall as you'll get because it is really tiny but its quirks and atmosphere make it a must try when in town. It's got all the goods: the COLDEST beer in town, peanuts (plain or spicy), old hardwood floors worn down by discarded peanut shells, and fifty of your closest friends. Once a day you can play Yahtzee for $1 a roll. If you roll a Yatzee and you could win the pot (we've seen it as large as 4K!). 4 of a kind gets a free PBR.  3 of a kind gets a high-five. Even if you don't get a seat facing the tv for sports, turn around and you'll have a great view of people watching on Kirkwood from their huge picture window.



Emily Hines

Emily Hines

Emily Hines is a Bloomington transplant by way of St. Simons Island, Georgia and was previously the digital content Coordinator for Visit Bloomington. When she's not blogging or grammin' you can find her hiking in the Hoosier National Forest with her husband and two black labs or enjoying a craft beer and slice of pizza in town.