Hot Spots for Happy Hour in the U.S.

Title graphic for the list of happy hour hot spots in the U.S.

There’s something special about unwinding after a long day of work with a nice, cool drink out on the town. The bubbly atmosphere, as well as chatting with pals and sociable strangers that will soon become friends, are all things that make happy hour, well, happy! Not to mention, there’s always the possibility of meeting that special someone while sipping on your favorite cocktail — at Shane Co., we’re especially fond of this happy hour perk!

It may be 5 o’clock somewhere, but where exactly do you want to be when the clock strikes 5? Well, instead of simply Googling “happy hour near me,” we decided to find out by conducting an analysis of the best spots for happy hour in the United States. 

Methodology

We used Yelp to collect data on the 50 largest U.S. cities based on population size for the following happy hour factors:

  1. Cost of Happy Hour
  • Weight: 1.75
  1. Number of Happy Hour Spots
  • Weight: 2.00
  1. Average Number of Reviews for Happy Hour Spots
  • Weight: 1.75
  1. Average Star Rating of Happy Hour Spots
  • Weight: 1.50
  1. Average Price Level of Happy Hour Spots
  • Weight: 1.50
  1. Number of “Perfect” Happy Hour Spots (the spots with the following features as listed on Yelp: good for happy hour, outdoor seating, dogs allowed, live music, and parking)
  • Weight: 1.50

Each city was scored on each factor, with 0 representing the worst and 5 representing the best conditions. Each factor was also weighted according to its impact on happy hour. We determined each city’s final score using an algorithm that used factor scores and weights to assign a score from 0 to 50. Higher scores indicated better cities for happy hour. 

Read on to see which cities made the list!

The Best U.S. Cities for Happy Hour

U.S. map highlighting the 20 best cities for happy hour

First, we looked at the overall best cities for happy hour. Phoenix, Arizona, topped the charts with a whopping score of 40.3 out of 50. Needless to say, residents must need a cool drink or two to survive the heat in the desert landscape of Phoenix! Following closely behind is San Diego, California, with a score of 39.8, then Austin, Texas, with a score of 38. In fact, California and Texas are home to the most happy hour hot spots overall. Five of the top 20 ranked cities are in the Golden State, and four can be found in the Lone Star State. 

Happy Hour Hotspots by the Numbers

Chart with cost and review data for the top 10 cities for happy hour

We decided to take a deep dive into what makes the top-ranked cities so great for happy hour, and found many similarities. For one, a night of drinks in these cities is primarily on the lower end of the $30-40 range, with the lowest cost in San Antonio ($26.80) and the highest cost in Los Angeles ($39.10). Many of these hot spots also had highly reviewed happy hour destinations; every city in the top 10 received an impressive average Yelp rating of at least 4 out of 5 stars. To that, we say: happy sipping!

The most difficult ranking factor — and the factor that balances out many cities’ high happy hour costs — is the number of “perfect” happy hour spots. We defined perfect as including all of the following features on Yelp:

  • Good for happy hour
  • Outdoor seating
  • Dogs allowed (is it really happy hour without your furry best friend?)
  • Live music
  • Parking

The City of Angels features the most “perfect” happy hour spots with 58 identified locations. So, if you’re willing to spend a little more money in exchange for a dream night out, Los Angeles is the place for you!

Pick Your Poison: The Best Cities for Happy Hour by Category

U.S. map with the 7 best cities for happy hour by category

Everyone has a different idea of what makes a great happy hour. For some, affordable drinks may be more important than a 5-star spot, while others are scanning reviews for good vibes and positive comments. So, we took our research one step further and identified the cities with the highest score for each ranking factor so you can sip with purpose. For those looking for a financially-friendly night out, your perfect happy hour can be found in San Antonio, Texas, or Cincinnati, Ohio! But, if your dream night out involves places with only the highest of reviews, then Denver, Colorado, is your happy hour hot spot. 

Wrap-Up

Whether you’re unwinding with friends or grabbing a drink with a romantic prospect who just may turn out to be the one, it’s safe to say that happy hour is for everyone. And, what would you know…it looks like it’s 5 o’clock now. Cheers!

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