Always drink responsibly.

What is a Bar Crawl or Pub Crawl?

A pub crawl, or bar crawl, depending on where you’re from, is an event that takes a group of people bar hopping to different bars over the course of a few hours or a single day.

Written by DP | Updated

Bar Crawlers kicking off a Pub Crawl with drinks and confetti
How you start a Pub Crawl properly!

These bars or pubs can be located together within a small block or two, or, spread out over the town or city in which the crawl is occurring.

Multi-city Bar Crawls are only to be conducted with professional transportation services, and not you and your buddies jumping into the back of Chet’s 1975 Chevy Truck.

How does a Pub Crawl work?

While there are no official rules to a Pub Crawl, there are some commonly followed ideas and themes.

  1. A group of people travel from bar to bar throughout the day/night to complete a predefined (or evolving) route.
  2. Crawlers must have one drink per bar at a minimum. Note - this does not apply to people who do not drink alcohol and to the over-served (this comes into play later in the night)
  3. Make (at least) one stop a stop for Food. Everyone is going to need it.

From there, feel free to make your own challenges, play Bar Crawl Bingo, enjoy a Scavenger Hunt, and anything else you want to do. Bringing party supplies is always a good idea. Same goes for themed wearables (like beaded necklaces). Whatever gets the people partying.

As far as the route of the crawl is concerned, give a check to Google Maps prior to setting out on your voyage. A little knowledge of the distances between bars will greatly improve not only the experience that everyone has, but the functionality of effective travel.

Bar Crawlers eating food at one of the check-in points of the crawl
Eating during a Bar Crawl is mandatory

How to organize and run your own Bar Crawl

Organizing and running your own Bar Crawl can be a blast, depending on the size and scope of it. Gathering up 15-20 friends and hitting the town for some bar hopping can turn a boring weekend in November into the most fun you’ve ever had. On the other end, running a massive Bar Crawl for 500+ people like the now defunct Sparhawk Liquid Urban Tour took a ton of effort.

Tips for Running a Small Pub Crawl

Call up your friends, define a route, and make it happen. This usually occurs in the city that you live in, but you could organize a crawl in another city, or at the vacation destination that you all chose for your summer getaway.

Money (usually) doesn’t come into play when conducting a DIY crawl unless you hired a limo or private bus transportation to take you around. That’s why we love organic Pub Crawls.

If you’re going the transpo route, make sure everyone has committed to the crawl and paid you in advance (cash, check, Venmo, etc.).

Tips for Organizing a Massive Bar Crawl

Use a ticketing system if you’re organizing a massive Bar Crawl. Without tickets and acquiring funds ahead of time, your bank account could be up the creek.

A massive Bar Crawl requires you to get in touch with all of the bars in advance, as well as working with them to negotiate good deals on drinks and food. Also, check in with the town or city and see if you need a permit for hosting an event. The last thing you need is to be dealing with the long arm of the law after 5-6 adult bevvies. Trust us.

And, if you’re going for super scale, make sure to promote the Pub Crawl in advance on Social Media platforms and set up a hashtag for the event. Plus, incentivize sharing by offering a free ticket (or two) in the form of a raffle. This is mainly for charitable or profit-based event hosting.

Types of Bar Crawls

Guided. Patrons of a guided pub crawl follow a tour guide to and from each check-in. Guided bar crawls tend to have drink specials that have been negotiated ahead of time and transportation via bus or party bike (where all of the people pedal). You can also find guided walking tours in most major cities.

Private Tours. Some guided tour companies also offer private tours. This is great for a group of people who are looking to fire up their nightlife a bit. Corporate event planners tend to take this route when planning their special events for the holidays.

Unguided. Unguided tours occur in two ways. The first is planned well in advance, with a friend making a date, planning out a route of the best bars in the city, and sending out an invite to all involved.

The second, and best way to pub crawl in our opinion, occurs organically. This happens when you’re out for some lunch beers and say to your good buddy, “Hey, we should really turn this into a Day Pub Crawl.”

Suddenly you’re both frantically reaching out to everyone in your contacts to see who is available. These are the types of bar crawls that tend to swell in attendance as you pick up new friends at every stop once people find out what you’re up to.

A group of festive people posing for a photo during the Santa Pub Crawl
Christmas Santa Pub Crawl

Ideas & Themes for Pub Crawls

Just like Halloween, most people tend to let a bit loose when they are given a theme or costume to build around. A good party theme tends to bond the people taking part in it just a bit more, leading to some hilarious shenanigans and making onlookers a tad bit jealous that they aren’t part of the fun.

Here are a few ideas for your next Bar Crawl:

You might be thinking, why isn’t New Year’s Eve on this list? We’re not listing it because too many bars and restaurants (with bars) require reservations that night. But by all means, try and pull it off if you want to.

Pub Crawl FAQs

What do you wear to a Bar Crawl?

Comfortable clothes are the best thing for you to wear on a crawl. Also, warm clothes if you’re doing this in Winter.

There are exceptions though. If you’re on a Runaway Bride pub crawl, then you might not be wearing flats. Get it? Good.

Do you need tickets to go on a Pub Crawl?

You only need tickets for a Guided Tour Pub Crawl. Running your own shouldn’t require tickets. Unless of course you’re doing it for a charity. Then you might want tickets to help you keep track of attendance and funds raised.

Is a Pub Crawl for charity a good idea?

Sure. We’ve been on plenty of Pub Crawls that were created for the sole purpose of some old fashioned fundraising.

Can you run Bar Crawl Bingo?

Yes, you can (and probably should) play Bar Crawl Bingo. Here are a few ideas for your bingo cards. Feel free to make up your own Bingo challenges.

  • Convince a bouncer to not charge you a cover
  • Get a stranger to buy you a drink
  • Make a new friend
  • Order a Guinness at an Irish Bar
  • Take a photo with a bartender
Several people on a Pedal Bike doing a Pub Crawl
A Pedal Bike mobile Pub Crawl

Can you turn a Bar Crawl into a Scavenger Hunt?

Yes, you absolutely can turn a crawl into a Scavenger Hunt. The challenge is that a Scavenger Hunt is not just something you jump into on the fly. It takes time and dedicated effort to pull off. Here’s how you make it happen.

  1. Get in contact ahead of time with all of the bars you’re going to visit. Make sure they are good with being part of a Scavenger Hunt. Let them know when you’ll be coming and how many people to expect.
  2. Create the clues that will lead the crawlers on to the next stop (either Bar or Landmark)
  3. Prior to the start of the Pub Crawl, drop off the clues in the appropriate places.
  4. Set Goals and Objectives and make sure people follow them in order to complete the quest.
  5. Give out prizes to the winners. And, maybe even some fun consolation prizes to the losers.

Pro-Tip: To make it easier, you can place humans at the Bars and Landmarks and skip involving the bars completely.

What can you do at a Bar Crawl besides drinking?

Meeting new people tends to be the single biggest non-drinking related thing that happens on a pub crawl. That’s because 2nd and 3rd degree connections of pub crawlers tend to get excited about joining because its typically a fun event.

Eating food is other thing to do besides drinking. Same goes for enjoying the live music that you’ll invariably come across in your travels to different bars.

Can you pub crawl Walt Disney World?

Are bars and pubs the only venues that can be crawled?

No, a drinking crawl is not exclusive to bars and pubs. You can crawl breweries, wineries, and even the local pizza shops if they sell beer. If you’re a veteran, you could crawl American Legions and VFWs that serve alcohol.

Where can I find a good guided tour for a special occasion?

A Google Search or a review of TripAdvisor will probably unearth some potential guided tours you could take to crawl. A few good cities to crawl in include:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • New York
  • San Francisco

Can I play drinking games on a Bar Crawl?

Yes, you can play drinking games on a Pub Crawl. Do we recommend it? No, not really.

There are two reasons if you’re wondering why. The first is that a Pub Crawl is conducted in public. Drinking games are oft-played to higher levels of intoxication. Those two things are not a good mix.

The second is that people tend to consume more alcohol on a Bar Crawl than they would if they were just headed out to dinner at a restaurant. Playing a drinking game on top of a Pub Crawl could get disastrous.

That said, we have witnessed people bringing decks of playing cards on crawls before to play games like Asshole and High/Low. It’s your call at the end of the day.

Can I crawl bars alone?

Yes, you can crawl bars alone. What a lawful private citizen does is entirely up to them.

Maybe it’s a personal challenge, maybe it’s for sightseeing, maybe it’s because you’re bored. Whatever the reason is, just be safe.