Skip to Content

How Old Is the Oldest Bar in America?

Would you like to drink in some U.S. history at the oldest bar in America? Refresh your thirst and indulge with us in the ancient art of hospitality as we take you on a tour of the White Horse Tavern. Through its rooms, you will discover the British invasion during the Revolutionary War, when soldiers took over the tavern. 

And uncover the original governmental sleight-of-hand as local elected officials learn to use taxpayer money to buy a politician’s lunch.

You can admire the early American architecture of the White Horse Tavern and drink at the oldest bars in the world.

Where Is the Oldest Bar in America? 

If you want to venture through the Northeastern United States, you may end up at the White Horse Tavern in Newport, R.I. This three-story clapboard building has been the home to a deep well of drinks and fine dining sporadically since 1672. 

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the White Horse is respected as the oldest bar in America and the tenth oldest bar in the world. 

About the White Horse Tavern

The White Horse Tavern, originally constructed in 1652, sits at the corner of Marlborough and Farewell Streets in Newport. It was enlarged to become a tavern and house the Rhode Island General Assembly and criminal courts 21 years later.

By 1730 the structure had gone through three owners, with the third being Jonathan Nichols, who gave the establishment its current name. However, it didn’t always serve as a tavern. British troops stayed there during their occupation of Newport during the American Revolution.

Over the years, the building fell into disrepair, and by 1952 a local family donated the funds to restore the boarding house to its former glory. Now, the White Horse Tavern has returned to its roots as a pub. It serves up drinks and contemporary cuisine in the country’s oldest bar and restaurant.

Interior of a tavern
Head to Rhode Island to visit the oldest bar in America.

How Old Is the Oldest Bar in America?

The structure that houses the White Horse Tavern was originally built in 1652, but its current rendition took place with an addition in 1673. By 1708 it became the originator of “the businessmen’s lunch,” when local councilors charged their meals to the public treasury.

The White Horse’s resilience as one of America’s oldest bars has given it great bragging rights at 349 years old.

Pro Tip: Want to drink on your adventures? We uncovered Can RV Passengers Drink Alcohol While It’s Moving?

Where Are Other Old Bars in America?

Since United States history began on the East Coast, you will find many of the oldest drinking establishments in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. However, a few popular old pubs exist in New Orleans and Delaware.

Down a pint at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. You can toast American patriots like George Washington, who spent many a day at the bar. The tavern, which opened in 1762, catered to revolutionists for 260 years.

Across Manhattan lies another old relic, Pete’s Tavern. They hold the record for longest service in New York City, having sold their first beer in 1864. Now they specialize in Italian food.

Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shoppe, founded in 1772, still serves up brews in the pirate’s favorite pub in the French Quarter of New Orleans. And the tavern has company in town, with the Napoleon House just around the corner.

The mayor of New Orleans offered shelter to the exiled Frenchman in the early 1800s. His house became known for the visitor who never arrived, but it serves guests European cuisine.

The City Tavern in Philadelphia opened before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The pub opened in 1772 and still serves craft beers and Colonial dinners. 

Jessop’s Tavern in New Castle, Delaware, will soon celebrate its 300th birthday. Jessop’s still satisfies various palates with English, Swedish, Dutch, and old American cuisines.

Woman drinking beer
Grab a pint at The White Horse Tavern.

What Is the Oldest Bar Ever?

At 1,122 years old, Sean’s Bar in Athlone, Ireland, holds the record for the oldest pub in the world. The National Museum of Ireland studied the archaeological site the bar sits on. The existing facade of the building dates back to 1725. 

But the structure has incorporated the original building, which was constructed in 900 AD. In fact, Sean’s is so old that the local castle for which the town is named is 239 years younger than the pub. Let’s raise a pint of Guinness for Sean’s – it has raised the bar on age limits!

Pro Tip: After exploring Rhode Island, drive the east coast and stay at these 20 Best Free Camping Spots on the East Coast.

Is It Worth Visiting the Oldest Bar in America?

History does repeat itself at the White Horse Tavern, as it has with all of the oldest bars in the world. What once was a popular pub during America’s roots has returned to its former greatness in the last 70 years. It now serves great food and drinks with a side of history.

Perhaps it’s time for you to try a little historical bar hopping. Maybe put the White Horse Tavern on your list of places to visit.

What drink would you order at the oldest bar in America? Tell us in the comments!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: