California is home to a lot of classic watering holes. You can find bars that serve up the best beer to cozy spots crafting the best cocktails around. But how about those deeply historical bars? Or themed spaces with funky décor? In California, you’ll find one-of-a-kind bars that will give you an evening to remember. Here are the best unique bars in the state!
The colorful Tower Bar in San Diego has stood tall since 1932. The classic bar has been many things in the past including a theater and a soda fountain. The Art Deco design is reminiscent of other similar structures and has been under renovation a few times through the ages. These days, the Tower Bar is best known for live music and cold drinks, including beer mixtures and absinthe.
Melvyn’s in the Ingleside Inn is a leftover from the Old Hollywood days of Palm Springs. The menu harkens back to days of yore with tableside preparations of steak dinners and desserts that pair well with classic cocktails.
The Purple Room is a unique experience where you can spot Judy Garland impersonators as well as other Old Hollywood glamour girls. Enjoy an old-school supper club that pairs entertainment with a surf and turf dinner and a large selection of liquors, cocktails, beer, and wine.
The Tiki-Ti is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, tiki bars in Los Angeles. The family history of the bar dates back decades, as do many of the original cocktail recipes. For many years, the Tiki-Ti was the last remaining bar allowing indoor smoking but now smoking is outside only. What is the same is the fun architectural design and dedication to tiki.
The neon-sign lit Frolic Room on Hollywood Boulevard is probably the best-known dive bar in Los Angeles. Former fans of the joint include Charles Bukowski and the ill-fated Black Dahlia. Now, the Frolic Room remains a legend thanks to a famous jukebox, bartenders that wear vests and caricatures of celebrities.
The Abbey is one of the most famous gay bars in the world, nestled in West Hollywood. The bar offers a rotating selection of the latest and greatest cocktails inspired by travels as well as a curated menu of food. Special events include various drag shows and other entertainment that pair well with the house-made cocktails.
The Black Horse London Pub is notorious for being the smallest bar in the city. Similar to being crammed into your friend’s small apartment, the pub serves a limited menu of beer and is cash only, but many go for the comradery and experience of being in one of the city’s best bars.
Prizefighter in Emeryville may seem like a random stop, but the bar is often featured in travel publications around the country as being the best. Combining great drinks with great service has made Prizefighter a modern legend. The expansive menu of cocktails and drinks is constantly changing.
Just outside of Yosemite National Park is the Iron Door Saloon, dating back to 1852 and the oldest bar in California. It takes pride in being continuously open for service since first opening the iron doors way back when—although it was briefly a post office. In addition to drinks at the original bar, you’ll also find open-mic nights, live music and karaoke as well as dollar bills stuck on the ceiling—part of a still growing collection.