Midwest Main Streets: Explore the Bar Scene in Brookings, South Dakota

Take a walk down Main Avenue in Brookings, South Dakota, and you’ll at once get a clear idea of what those Midwest kids do for fun. A town where the population doubles once college classes are in session, Brookings boasts a lucrative bar district almost guaranteed to fill the streets with tipsy students each weekend.

Heading south from Sixth Street, the first bar of note in the two-block circuit is the Safari Lounge, once considered the “in” place for young-often too young-patrons to hang out and tip back a few. In recent years, the Safari seems to have lost a few popularity points and become just another stop on the way to the “good” bars.

The next stop is Ray’s Corner, one of the few bars on Main with some claim to class. The site of the annual Motorcycle Ride-Through, Ray’s is usually populated by older locals. A few doors down, Jim’s Tap enjoys a generational mix. No question here-the goal at Jim’s is always to get plastered. Popular opinion states one drink at Jim’s equals three drinks anywhere else in town.

Next door is Cubby’s Sports Bar, where young men flock during sports seasons to watch the games on three bigscreen TV’s and a dozen sets placed strategically around the bar-even in the restrooms. This is more of a fun hangout than a hardcore bar. Featuring pool tables, a tiny casino room, and perhaps the best burgers in town, Cubby’s strives to meet all the appetite demands of its typically young clientele.

Somewhat more popular is the Chevy Lounge, considered by some to be the “main” bar on Main. If you’ve come this far and can still walk straight, make sure you cross the street and go back toward Sixth Street to visit Skinner’s Pub. This is one of the most popular bars in Brookings, known for its wide selection of beers and its outdoor beergarden.

And let’s not forget another staple of Main Avenue in Brookings: George’s Pizza, which cheerfully caters to the bar-goers by selling pizza at the window until 3:00 a.m. on weekends. ‘Tis a common sight to see partyers and revelers stumbling about with a beer in one hand and a slice of George’s Pizza in the other.

Even if you’re too young for the bars or not much of a drinker, simply walking down Main Avenue on the weekends is entertaining enough. We Midwesterners are known for our friendly nature, and when we’re drunk, we’ll gladly talk to anybody. Friend, foe, complete stranger-everybody can make a few new acquaintances in Brookings on a busy bar night.

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