If you think the novelty of theme bars has worn off, think again.
For some people, the bar experience isn’t complete unless it includes pirates, mermaids, or circus characters.
From a bar that evokes a Mexican resort to a hangout that celebrates Christmas all year long, these 27 bars know how to transport you to another world.
Sometimes almost literally.
What it is: A church-themed bar and art gallery
Designed around the owner's invented tale of a runaway nun, 'Church,' as it's affectionately known, sports a full bar and ping pong table. Get there on a Wednesday night for church organ karaoke, or any other night to take your picture in the confessional photo booth.
As much as Church is a bar, it's also an art gallery. Owner Grant Henry lines the walls of Church with his works that are both available for admiring and purchase.
What it is: A facial hair-themed bar
Of course Austin has a facial hair-themed bar. In a city renowned for its hipster population, HandleBar welcomes folks with facial hair of all shapes and sizes (and for those who can't grow any, there's always the pick-a-mustache photobooth). Play a round of giant Jenga while drinking a beverage named after a famous mustachioed person.
What it is: A Christmas-themed bar
Some bars forget to take their Christmas decorations down while others are lazy, but Lala's leaves theirs up intentionally so that every day can be Christmas. Known for its stiff cocktails and friendly bartenders, Lala's is a fun, energetic environment to get your drink on and soak up the holiday spirit -- no pun intended.
What it is: A year-round ice bar
No matter what temperature it is outside, the world's largest permanent indoor ice bar remains a frosty 21 degrees Fahrenheit. The walls, floors, furniture, and drinking glasses are all carved out of ice. Patrons don't check their coats at the door -- instead, they're each given insulated purple parkas and gloves to keep them warm while they party.
Guests under 21 are allowed before 5pm, but they're not allowed to drink alcohol -- though they can enjoy delicious 'mocktails.'
What it is: A modern tiki bar
It's as upscale as tiki bars come, but Three Dots and a Dash (Morse code for the letter V, as in 'V for Victory') makes a point not to skimp on its tiki-ness. Servers sporting Hawaiian shirts and floral dresses bring patrons drinks in hollowed-out coconuts, seashells, or even dry ice-leaking treasure chests.
What it is: A dog park-themed bar and beer garden
Now you don't have to leave your four-legged friends at home when you go out for drinks. Sit down in the beer garden with a cold beer and a warm hot dog or mutt burger. Meanwhile, your dog can go for a romp in the dog run with other dogs and dog lovers.
Mutts also sells homemade treats for pups, including dog-friendly ice cream.
What it is: A bar fashioned after an early 20th-century cruise ship
Off the lobby of The Oxford Hotel, the Cruise Room Bar opened the day after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. It's modelled after one of the lounges on the original Queen Mary, with a sweeping, rounded lacquered wood bar, neon lights, and beautiful art deco detailing. The bartenders make a mean martini, while tunes come from an old-fashioned jukebox, which is free to play.
What it is: A mermaid-themed bar
With portholes all around that look out into the aquariums of the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel, The Wreck Bar is nautically-decorated with thick hemp ropes and polished drift wood.
The most spectacular part, though, are the bar's mermaid shows, where 'mermaids' perform in 30-minute underwater shows for awed customers.
What it is: A futuristic New York-themed bar
Stepping into Wonder Bar is like stepping into Midtown Manhattan 50 years into the future. Subway-like entrances tie-dyed in a multitude of colours, underground graffiti, and pressurised bank tubes that transport drinks around the bar give off a cool, science fiction vibe.
What it is: A Beatles-themed bar
The Beatles REVOLUTION Lounge, created by the founders of Cirque du Soleil, is the night club and bar inside The Mirage. In addition to playing some of the classic British band's music, REVOLUTION highlights the psychedelic experience of the '60s with a colourful ambience and colourful drinks.
Further inside REVOLUTION is another Beatles bar, the aptly named Abbey Road Bar.
What it is: A science lab-themed bar
If a university is going to own a bar, it may as well be an educational one. Located on the University of Southern California campus, The Lab serves great food and drinks, including a selection of house-made beer, to faculty, students, and everyone else.
In keeping with the science lab theme, the gastropub also has a 'classroom,' complete with plasma TV, Wi-Fi, and direct AV hookups, which they rent out for private events.
What it is: A steampunk/Thomas Edison-themed bar
With dark, steam punk-style decor reminiscent of an old steam engine, a cargo ship, and a mad scientist's laboratory all in one, The Edison has a unique design. In fact, the building used to be L.A.'s first private power plant, according to L.A. resident and Least Likely to Leave LA blogger Paige Catanese.
The Edison is now divided into many different and unique rooms, like the Tesla Lounge and the Ember Parlour. As for the dress code, 'innovative, sophisticated, and cultured attire is required.'
What it is: An old school news-themed bar
Featuring an impressive beer list and speakeasy-esque cocktail menu, The News Room is a news-themed bard that pays homage to the heyday of newspapers. Catch a headline from the wallpaper of greatest front pages, or glance up at one of the many TV monitors that show local and national broadcasts.
What it is: A greenhouse-themed bar
Less of a 'greenhouse-themed bar' and more of an actual greenhouse that serves booze, The Greenhouse Bar contains lush plants and two full-service bars. Gravel coats the floor of the domed structure, and picnic tables replace traditional bar booths. The Food Company next door provides delicious munchies like bacon popcorn, 50-cent hot wings on Wednesdays, and, of course, plenty of veggie options.
What it is: A blacksmith-themed bar
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop, named after the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte, was built before 1772, making it one of the oldest buildings in the French Quarter. This diamond in the rough was a real blacksmith shop, and reportedly was used as a front for Lafitte to smuggle contraband in and out of Barataria Bay. Today, the piano bar's exposed brick interior and beer by candlelight gives you a glimpse into rustic New Orleans.
What it is: A stock exchange-themed bar
Exchange Bar and Grill is a fully automated, real-time drink market, where the prices for your drinks fluctuate depending on supply and demand. Wait until no one else is ordering your favourite cocktail and snag it when the cost falls to an unbelievable low, or with a little insider information, catch the 'Market Crash,' when every drink price hits rock bottom. Take a seat at the sleek granite bar and watch patron-submitted pick-up-lines scroll across the 35-foot digital ticker.
What it is: A 'Dr. Who' and steampunk-themed bar
The Way Station is the go-to hideout for Whovians to watch 'Dr. Who' premieres and hear cover bands paying homage. The cocktail menu is filled with nods to the show, such as the Sonic Screwdriver (what the Doctor calls his signature multi-tool) and the Captain Jack Harkness (another space-travelling hottie). The bathroom is a life-sized, glowing TARDIS -- the name of the time machine on the show -- and yes, it's bigger on the inside.
Last spring, showrunner Steven Moffat and the 'Dr. Who' actor Matt Smith stopped by for the finale screening.
What it is: An industrial boxing ring-themed bar
A 1928 warehouse that once anchored Phoenix's bustling produce district has been transformed into an innovative community center. The cornerstone of the restaurant, gym, organic produce stand, old-fashioned soda fountain, and retro clothing store conglomerate is The Duce Bar, featured on
It features linoleum-covered communal tables, padded-vinyl benches fashioned out of old clothing racks, and a vintage wood-and-glass Art Deco bar counter, snagged from a famous Chicago supper club. Work off the sliders and PBR at the nearby retro boxing ring, outfitted with genuine, pre-1960s exercise equipment.
What it is: A sci-fi/horror-themed bar
H.P. Lovecraft, an American writer who died in 1937, is remembered for his creepy-crawler characters and dreadfully bleak works of science fiction. The Lovecraft Bar pays homage to the world of supernatural terror that he founded. The walls are painted black, and severed doll heads and a real coffin decorate the Gothic paradise. Head over on Mondays for horror movie night, or check out the monthly calendar for 'Love Craft Fair,' which promotes local DIY culture and crafts.
What it is: A WWII-themed bar
If a well-traveled diplomat needed a stiff drink during his stopover in San Francisco during the 1940s, this would probably be his favourite watering hole. Churchill serves up WWII-inspired cocktails, such as the bourbon-laced Missouri Mule or Drake's Dry Stout (served in a mason jar). The décor is inspired by a WWII mess tent, with its canvas sofas upholstered in parachutes, coffee tables made out of explosives boxes, and a ceiling covered with big jute ropes.
What it is: A Mexican resort-themed bar
El Santo brings the Mexican all-inclusive resort to you. Patrons can enjoy a fiery combination of Baja-style foods and frosty beverages poolside on the 15,000-square-foot patio, which has a bar, cabanas, waterfall, and outdoor pool warmed by the Arizona sun. Turn the seven-days-a-week happy hour, when appetizers and Mexican draft beers are half-priced, into a mini-vacation. We suggest waiting a little while before taking a dip.
What it is: A circus and mystical creatures-themed bar
Unicorn has been described as the 'dream bar of a female Pee-Wee Herman' that plays dope music and specialises in greasy foods. Bear, gazelle, and zebra busts adorn the striped walls, producing a campy, vintage circus vibe. Indulge in classic carnival foods like corn dogs, deep-fried Twinkies, and free cotton candy. And try the not-so-kid-friendly indulgences, like Jell-O shots and a fruity, boozy drink called Unicorn Tears.
What it is: A pirate-themed bar
Piratz Tavern provides a swashbuckling experience. Wash down some Jamaican jerk chicken with an assortment of fine rum, while surrounded by skeletons, Jolly Roger symbols, and stuffed parrots.
A few years ago, Piratz Tavern had trouble making ends meet and applied for a makeover by Spike TV's reality show 'Bar Rescue.' But the show redesigned the tacky tavern as a corporate bar, angering regulars. The Piratz owners decided to mutiny and restored the bar to its original glory.
What it is: A 1980s childhood-themed bar
Mario Kart, '80s toys and candies, grilled cheese, and more than 40 types of beer and mixed beverages (any of which can be made into an ice cream float) create a whimsical bar scene that will trigger all sorts of nostalgia. Thomas Foolery comes stocked with games that any Millennial will appreciate, and has a number of 'bar rules' to keep the atmosphere loose. For example, come dressed as Carlton from 'French Prince of Bel-Air' and perform the running man for 10% off any item.
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