Wisconsin has a wealth of hidden-gem dive bars—although there are many opinions when it comes to knowing what exactly makes a bar a “dive bar.” Is it the jukebox in the corner? The pool table in the back of the room? The vintage beer signs?
No matter the characteristics, all the Badger State’s dive bars have one big thing in common: they make you feel at home, no matter what part of the state you’re in, or where you're visiting from. If you find yourself in the Central Wisconsin city of Stevens Point, here are five amazing dives that will deliver the no-frills vibe, and then some:
Buffy’s Lampoon Tavern
A weathered wooden sign with faded lettering hangs above the door at Buffy’s, which sets the scene for the establishment’s no-frills interior. Inside, challenge your friends to a game of pool at one of the bar’s four pool tables, or foosball while sipping on a classic Wisconsin cocktail or brew.
Before you head into Buffy’s, pose for a photo in front of the Market Square mural on the bars’ north and west walls. The mural illustrates what Stevens Point’s historic Market Square might have been like in the early 1900s and makes this dive bar one-of-a-kind.
Elbow Room Bar
Boasting the best jukebox in town and famously friendly bartenders, the Elbow Room instantly feels familiar. With an official motto of “No Fancy Drinks,” the bar offers a great selection of local beer, including brews from nearby Central Waters Brewing Co. and the historic Point Brewery.
Elbow Room also offers several opportunities to tap your toes while getting a taste of the local community: head here for their weekly “Song Swap” nights, where you’re encouraged to bring a musical instrument—and a friend—and share music together regardless of skill level.
The name says it all—Final Score, or “The Score,” as it’s called by locals—is the place to go if you’re a sports fan. The bar’s set of 23 big-screen TVs, laid-back vibe, and collection of framed sports jerseys and memorabilia makes it the perfect place to watch the game with friends.
Be sure to order a few of The Score’s best-loved menu items, including “The Big Pavelski,” a burger or chicken sandwich topped with fried onions, mushrooms, and the bar’s famous cheesy hollandaise sauce that’s named after a professional NHL player born and raised in the area.
A dose of the Northwoods in Central Wisconsin, Morey’s Bar has everything you need for an evening of fun—pool table, dart boards, a great jukebox, and, depending on the time of year, an enthusiastic crowd for Packer games.
In the summer, Morey’s opens their pet-friendly beer garden, complete with a large fire pit (don’t forget to BYOF—Bring Your Own Firewood) and a chill atmosphere best shared with good company.
Rusty’s Backwater Saloon
A true hidden gem tucked away on a country road on the shores of the Wisconsin River, Rusty’s is a cozy, welcoming spot—and home to one of the best Bloody Marys in the area complete with toppings like minced garlic, a beef stick and cheese curls.
During the summer, you and your crew can hang out in the spacious backyard, where there’s no shortage of yard games and places to relax together. Snag a picnic table and order a plate of Rusty’s traditional fish fry—or kick it up a notch and order the Surf & Turf—a quarter-pound burger topped with Buffalo shrimp.
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