Best Bars in Iowa City

The University of Iowa was recently named the #2 party school in the United States. The Princeton Review conducted multiple surveys where anonymous online users could document their various college party experiences. The University of Iowa, which is located in Iowa City, trails only The University of West Virginia on the list. 

While these rankings do lack scientific and objective research, there is no question that Iowa City has a thriving nightlife. Thousands of rowdy revelers crowd the bars in search of affordable drink specials and a fun place to party. If you are ever in town with a craving for loud dance music and cherry bombs, you might want to try these places:


  • Located in the Ped Mall, this bar makes up for its lack of size with an outdoor “beer garden” and capacity college crowds. You can always find a decent drink special at this bar, and the outdoor seating is a major draw. Get a group of friends together on a clear fall night in the beer garden, and keep the pitchers coming. The intimate and comfortable setting is what sets this bar apart from others in the area.


  • This bar is arguably the most popular among students. It is a big space, and the layout is open to the eye. Upon entering, you come across the impossibly long bar (nearly 150 feet) stretching the length of the right wall. To the left there is a small outdoor area, and a raised dance floor. Venture further back and there are a few pool tables, and a common area. Brothers is always packed on the weekends, and there is barely standing room on Iowa football gamedays.

The Union

  • Union is the largest bar in Iowa City. This multi-floor establishment has garnered a reputation for being a very party oriented nightspot. In fact, it is more of a club than a bar. It has two levels, four different drink bars, and countless strobe/rave lights. It has a large, audio blasting dance floor that is known for hosting concerts. Wiz Khalifa, Big Sean, Afroman, and countless other artists have graced the confines of The Union.

The Summit

  • With new ownership, and having undergone serious renovations over the summer, The Summit is looking to start fresh. Summit was closed for the majority of the summer months because of floor, ceiling, and overall reparations to their bar. The reputation of Summit had been rapidly declining over the past five years, and was often called “Scummit” because of the foul smell that radiated from the bar. But the new owners want to change that perception, and take the ‘Scum’ out of Summit. The new bar is more open, has brighter lighting, and smells better. Hopefully it can revert back to the glory days, where it was the place to be.

As far as the University of Iowa, maybe the Princeton Review is on to something, for better or worse.