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What is a Bar Crawl?

What is a Bar Crawl?

Wondering what a "bar crawl" is? At Bar Crawl Nation, all we do is bar crawls, so you're in the right spot for learning the ins and outs. Heck, we even put together an official bar crawl guide to show you the way!

That said, in it's simplest form, a bar crawl is hopping around to multiple bars in one outing. It's all about changing up the environment while having boozy fun with friends.

Definition of a Bar Crawl

Merriam Webster dictionary defines a "bar crawl" as "the visiting of various bars in succession, especially as a social activity." We can get on board with that, but ultimately, a bar crawl can include bars, pubs, or nightclubs, as long as you visit them in one outing, spending a set amount of time in each before moving on to the next.

A bar crawl is also called a “pub crawl.” They mean the same thing, but people tend to say one or the other based on regional differences (think soda vs pop).

The "crawl" refers to the act of moving from one venue to the other. After you have a few drinks, it might be more of a crawl than a walk.

Bar crawls are typically a group activity. Participants plan the route themselves or join an organized event that has a predetermined list of venues. It's an opportunity to experience the unique ambiance and offerings of multiple establishments, each with their own vibe.

Although drinking is usually involved, it's not all about the alcohol; it's about the people you meet, the adventures you have, and the stories you go home with!

The Origins and Evolution of Bar Crawling

Initially emerging in the United Kingdom (fancy a pint, mate?), the concept has crossed borders and oceans, and organized bar crawl events exist in most major cities around the world.

Bar Crawl Nation enters the chat

In 2007, I went on my first bar crawl in Athens, Greece with friends while backpacking Europe. Yes, I'm old (cough, I mean, experienced)! This bar crawl was geared towards tourists looking for a fun night out. We got a free shot at each spot, and ending up at a large outdoor nightclub where we partied with other crawlers who were visiting from around the world. With the drinks flowing, and the party pumping, I can't remember all the events of that night, but a seed had been planted.

Feeling inspired, in 2008, I hosted a large bar crawl event in my college town of Buffalo, NY. The first event drew 2,400 people and the "Buffalo Bar Crawl" instantly became a sensation in Western New York. I created the concept of getting together lots of people, encouraging them to visit lots of bars, and at the end they get rewarded (with a T-shirt).

In 2015, it was time to take things global. I moved to Florida and founded Bar Crawl Nation, with our first events being held in Orlando and Tampa. The the idea was to take large bar crawl events nationwide. Most cities had one or two smaller local organizations that hosted bar crawls of their own, but there were very few national companies hosting these types of events.

Fast forward to today, Bar Crawl Nation® operates in dozens of cities around the United States, from Boston to Los Angeles, hosting a variety of themed bar crawls. We created the world's first bar crawl app that guides participants to each spot and allows them to "check in" and spin-to-win prizes. True to the idea that was birthed in Buffalo, NY, every participant that "completes" the crawl earns themselves a final reward (in our case, a credit towards T-shirts or event tickets on our website).

We now exist in an ecosystem of a few larger, national bar crawl companies (where Bar Crawl Nation is obviously the best), regional, and local players. Everything from large events like ours, to small boutique bar crawl "tours," are out there. It's easy to search online and find a bar crawl event that's close to you.

Reasons to Go on a Bar Crawl

Bar crawls are fun. They're an opportunity to meet new people, visit bars you've never been to before, and explore cool neighborhoods while supporting local businesses. Plus, you can throw back a few drinks with a sweet soundtrack of DJ tunes, live music, or whatever songs you feel like throwing on the touchtunes (do bars still have these?).

Each stop isn't just about sipping on cocktails or hopping from one venue to the next; it's about the people you're with and those you meet along the way. You could find your new favorite bartender or a new friend to take bathroom selfies with. The ambiance of different bars, from cozy pubs to bustling nightclubs, sets the stage for varied social interactions, making every crawl a unique social experience.

Bar crawls often attract a diverse crowd, providing an opportunity to mingle with individuals from various walks of life. For those who thrive on social interaction and booze-filled fun, bar crawls are an unmatched adventure into the heart of city nightlife. If you haven't yet experienced one, it's time to give it a try!

Bar Crawl Themes

Many larger, organized bar crawls, are either scheduled around holidays, or have a specific theme. This makes it fun, because you'll be partying with others who share a common interest.

Popular bar crawl holidays in the United States include Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Pride, Independence Day (July 4), Halloween, and Christmas.

Some other bar crawl themes that draw crowds are Decades (i.e. 90's bar crawl), Music Genre (i.e. "Country Music Crawl"), Onesies, TV Show (i.e. The Office), Sports Teams, Movies, and Seasons (think, "Summer Crawl").

Lastly, a bar crawl is a great way to celebrate a personal occasion. Bachelor & Bachelorette bar crawls, birthday bar crawls, and "Senior" (college) bar crawls are all popular themes as well.

Regardless of what the theme is, it's always a good idea to dress for the occasion. Whether it's wearing a themed T-shirt or an all-out costume, you'll add to the atmosphere of the crawl and have an opportunity to party with people who share a common interest with you.