Let Us Take You To The Best Country Music Bars In The USA

Austin cityscape and river lit up at night

3.68min read

Published 27 December 2014


As a country music fan, you are one of a special breed and it would seem the followers of the genre like to stick together.

We have a mutual understanding and love of the same things – music, good times and a good stiff drink to wash it all down.

 Country singer playing guitar
Get ready to get your country on with a whirlwind tour of the States (Picture: Getty)

So, I decided to tour the best country music bars in the USA to inform your next trip around the Land of the Free.

I've featured only the cities that embrace the country genre and have a great music and bar scene to support it.

Obviously, the best country bars to hit in the USA are going to be in Music City – Nashville, Tennessee – but for the cross-country traveller who wants to hit them all, there are many other great places to go for a cold beverage and some thigh-slapping country music.

Nashville, Tennessee

Let’s start with Nashville, though – the place to listen to country music and head out to the bars at the same time.

First off, head downtown on Broadway to the esteemed honky tonk bars and watch up-and-coming stars of tomorrow play for tips with their blood, sweat and dreams.

Sometimes you will see some real gems playing there and the bar atmosphere is one of a kind.

Lights at a Nashville intersections at night
There are more venues than you can poke a stick at in busy Music City (Picture: Getty)

There are way too many venues to choose from in Nashville, as it is packed with country music in almost every bar, but make sure you hit up The Exit/In for some hip country sounds, 3rd and Lindsley to catch the fabulous Time Jumpers on a Monday night, 12th & Porter for music most nights of the week or The Station Inn for some bluegrass picking.

Need some tunes for your road trip? Check Catherine Britt's Driving Songs

Want a different kind of music fix? Drop The Needle On A Vinyl Resurgence 

Austin, Texas

This would be another favorite music town for me. I try to head there every time I’m in the States for some good music, Mexican food and some great local Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Austin, in particular, is a stand-out for country bars.

I would recommend The Continental first up for some of the best music Austin has to offer. I always seem to drink tequila and soda in this bar; it just feels like the right thing to do. I’ve seen everyone from Dale Watson to James McMurtry in The Continental and if you stay nearby in one of the many hotels on the stretch, you could see something great there most every night.

Head out of town and try to catch a great show at Gruene Hall, one of the best bars in the world for music, food and a cold beer. It has an old dance-hall feel and fantastic food to boot.

Stubb's Bar-B-Q is also great for some southern barbecue flavours and you are guaranteed to see a great show on the smaller indoor or larger outdoor stages.

 Austin cityscape and river lit up at night
Get on down to Austin for some stand-out country bars (Picture: Getty)

If you're more into the alternative scene, head to Emo’s for great alt-country bands and rock-influenced country artists.

ACL Live at the Moody Theatre is one of Austin’s premiere music venues, hosting the likes of the Austin City Limits TV show and big-name performers ranging from Nick Cave to Willie Nelson.

The Cactus Cafe features only acoustic music and is located in the University of Texas student union building. It has a full bar, local, national and international acts, and has featured artists such as Lucinda Williams and the late Townes Van Zandt.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas, also has some great country bars to get your foot stomping.

Make sure you head out to the world’s largest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas for some great music. It is in Fort Worth, but had to be included in the Dallas area of great country bars. It features a lot of mainstream acts coming through town and Billy Bob’s has been named best country music club of the year 12 times.

 Dallas cityscape at sunset
Don't wait for the sun to go down in Dallas – you can find country music 24/7 (Picture: Getty)

If you love the mainstream country scene, you are probably a Toby Keith fan, which means you should head to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill. It’s great for a night of country dancing, drinking, food and music. It has a massive dance floor and except when there's a band on, country plays through the speakers 24/7.

If you're wanting a quirky feel, try the Double Wide Bar with its trailer-trash trendy feel, beer served in a can and live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

And, last but not least, you can’t miss Gilley’s. It’s a famous country bar in Dallas, built on the Urban Cowboy fame and is actually four venues in one. It has a mechanical bull, free concerts and cold beer.

What more could you ever want?

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is better known for it’s swampy, Cajun, big-band jazz sounds but I have seen some spectacular country music in this city and it’s the best place to go to party, eat and hear live music.

On the craziest street in America, Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, there is a bar called the Bourbon Cowboy. It’s a country and western bar and a honky tonk saloon all wrapped up in one.

It has a mechanical bull and country music pumping through the speakers all day and night, as well as a great country dance scene where you can learn how to two-step or boot scoot.

Also head to Frenchmen Street and its two blocks of live music venues pulsing with New Orleans sounds. Throw a stone and hit a music venue with an amazing swampy, jazzy, singer-songwriter or big band melting your face off.

Make sure you go to Rock 'n' Bowl for some swing music and a bowl in the bowling alley while you’re at it. It has tasty burgers and beignets (pastries) and an extremely fun atmosphere.

Three people celebrating and drinking in cowboy hats
Have a go at boot-scootin' in happening New Orleans (Picture: Getty)

Boogie on down on the dance floor and even the bowling lanes while taking in some fabulous swing tunes on a Wednesday night.

So, enjoy your trip around the country bars of the USA – and, most of all, take me with you!


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